Seabourn Sojourn, Osaka to Alaska
Seabourn Sojourn Kobe to Seattle This was something of an impulse buy, as we had only nine days between arriving home from a crossing on Seabourn Odyssey and flying to Osaka. Fortunately Seabourn do the laundry! We flew from Heathrow to Osaka, via Hong Kong, with Cathay Pacific, having spent a night at BW Flightlink near the airport. We had a three hour layover in Hong Kong, which, considering the queue for immigration was about right. Arrival in Osaka was easy with Seabourn reps everywhere and we were driven to The St Regis Hotel. As an introduction to Japan, the St Regis was amazing. A butler showed us to our suite and took several minutes to demonstrate all its amenities, including remotely controlled curtains and lighting, huge TV, little kitchen area, and the bathroom, which had low level lighting at night and a door at each side of the bed, so neither of us had to walk around the bed. The lavatory was very high tech, with a heated seat and an array of buttons for all eventualities. Of course I had to try them all! The shower, in the wet room was very high pressure I want one! We only had one night at the St Regis, and after a very enjoyable evening in the bar, where I practised my limited Japanese, much to the amusement of the staff, who were very helpful, we retired to possibly the most comfortable bed on the planet. After breakfast and a short time spent photographing the garden, we strolled around the district and found a 100 Yen shop, where I spent considerably more than 100 Yen. Our pick up was on time and the drive to Kobe went smoothly. Embarkation was swift and efficient and we were greeted on board by Sophie, our CD. We decided to have lunch on deck and were delighted and amazed to meet our friends, Karen and Jim, from North Carolina, with whom we have sailed many times. They had not told us they were sailing! Karen said she had a difficult time not mentioning it on FB. THE SHIP Very briefly Sojourn is one of three identical sisters, each carrying a maximum of 450 guests, but with solo travellers it is usually more like 420. All siut3es, except Deck 4, have balconies. Bathrooms are roomy, with bath and walk-in shower with a glass door, twin wash basins and fluffy towels and mats. The walk-in wardrobe has ample hanging space and drawers plus a safe that is actually big enough to hold more than two passports and a wallet. A small, well lit vanity unit is between the two doors. There is additional drawer space in the bedroom and a sofa, table, two chairs and coffee table in the sitting area. Balconies are furnished with two recliners and a small round table. There are five dining options: The Restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; The Colonnade, likewise but less formal; the Patio Grill for lunch and dinner on deck; Restaurant 2, by reservation, but soon to become the TK Grill when the ship goes to dry dock in December and 24 hour Room service. We prefer the Colonnade for breakfast and the Restaurant for lunch and dinner. There are four bars: The Club, with live music from 6.30 p.m.each evening; the Observation Lounge, open for afternoon tea at 4.00p.m. then a piano bar in the evening and the Patio and Sky bars on deck open from 1.00 a.m. and noon respectively. The theatre is comfortable and spacious, but with the usual pillars to obscure view in some areas. Shows are pre-dinner at 6.30 p.m. and after dinner at 9.45 p.m. Crew are friendly, efficient and usually know guests by name in a couple of days even the captain! ITINERARY The first port was Aomori, a small town, where we took an excursion to see the Big Buddha. The area was beautiful and we had the added attraction of the Sunday Flea Market where local crafts people sell their wares. A few Yen changed hands. After the visit to the shrine, we drove back to town and were escorted to the museum built to house the floats that are used in processions. They are very well displayed and impressive. Of course the museum had a shop and the credit card got an airing. The second port in Japan was Hakkodate where we explored on our own. Several guests were anxious to visit the fish market and try the oysters, until they saw the price and thought better of it! The day was a bit wet, so we just walked to the Red Brick Warehouses which have been built to house tourist type shops for food, beverages and souvenirs. Then it was back to the ship for lunch. The third port was Koshiro, where we had an excursion booked to the Crested Crane Reserve, the Wetlands Wildlife area and a fish market (yes, another one). The weather was against us all day and we were very glad of the Seabourn all weather jackets that we had been given. One guest remarked that we looked like a school outing I thought more like a care home outing! We saw the cranes, looking a bit damp, then went on the Wetlands, but the walkways were wooden and very slippery, so we decided a beer was the best option. Our last stop was the fish market, where we were told we would sample sashimi. I pleaded vegetarianism, as I really dont like raw fish. We left Japan and had a nine day crossing to Kodiak. Sophie, Judy and the team worked very hard to keep us entertained and the days flew by, especially since we lost an hour a day crossing time zones. We also crossed the International Date Line, which meant we had Wednesday 19 May twice! Our first port in Alaska was Kodiak, a friendly little town, with a couple of museums, a beautiful Russian Orthodox church and several interesting little shops. We spent quite a while in the church, talking to the priest, who was Irish. Next was Juneau, the capital of Alaska, where there were a lot of options for excursions, but, since it was a beautiful day, we decided to explore the town. Alaskans are lovely people and always ready to help the visitors who contribute so much to their economy! The credit card spent more time in the retailers hands than mine. We spent a morning in Glacier Bay, gliding smoothly over very clam water and sharing it with only one ship, so it was very peaceful. The glacier has receded a lot since we were last here. Our final Alaskan port was Skagway, which is probably my favourite. The main attraction is the Yukon and White Pass Railway, but we travelled on that last time, so we wandered around the town. I loved the bar with a sign that said No wifi, talk to each other. Our last port before Seattle was Victoria, and since we had another wet day, with thunder and lightning, and weve been there before, we stayed on board. Disembarkation was again very easy and we spent the day at the Fairmont Olympic, which is very central and enabled us to take a stroll and find Macys. However, since the luggage was very close to the weight limit, I couldnt buy much. Our flight was only slightly late and we had a comfortable night, landing at Heathrow around 1.30 p.m.
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