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Tara Jane

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About Tara Jane

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

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  • Location
    Melbourne Australia
  • Interests
    Travel
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Japan

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  1. Tara Jane

    Yokohama Pier

    Thank you BruceMuzz. We will do the train and taxi maybe with a brief stop at Chinatown for those who would like to.
  2. Tara Jane

    Yokohama Pier

    Hi BruceMuzz Do you know which is the closest station to the Yamashita Pier? Is it walkable to the ship and are taxis available to take us right up to the boarding area? We are a group of 6 oldies and 2 use walking sticks so not all that agile. We are familiar with Osanbashi but apparently our next cruise leaves from Yamashita.
  3. We always get JR passes but we travel widely. Kyoto and Tokyo themselves aren't very JR pass useful other than the train line to the bamboo forest area in kyoto and one train line in Tokyo. The bonus of having a pass is being able to take side trips to places like Nara Takayama Kurashiki Nikko Kamakura and the convenience of not having to buy individual tickets. You could even take a day trip from kyoto to Hiroshima and Miyajima but 3 days in kyoto for a first visit is barely enough time there. You are going to Nagasaki on the cruise although it is very different to Hiroshima. I'm not sure of your schedule but a 7 day pass is available for 29000 yen. Yes there are metro passes Tokyo one day for about 1000 yen by memory and kyoto has several types of bus and bus/train passes.
  4. Tara Jane

    Yokohama Pier

    Are you saying you are now docking at Osanbashi pier or Yamashita pier? Osanbashi pier is very well set up. We have been on the diamond princess on 3 cruises around Japan. Immigration etc is very well run, we were in our cabin within 15 mins of getting out of the taxi, though we did have priority boarding. It has a coffee shop, good seating and quite a bit of tourist info including hiring of portable wifi and info from cruise port navigation about personal tours at various ports of Japan. Taxi and shuttle drivers will know the Osanbashi pier. I cant answer about Yamashita as we will be boarding there on 5 May for the first time.
  5. Love Japan, never get enough of the lovely people, sadly though the western ways are creeping in particularly around the major cities. A couple of years ago we would never get on a bus without a younger person usually students offering us their seats. These days they have their heads in their phones either not noticing or choosing not to notice older folk standing. We still have people offer us their seat but often they are much older and more needing of the seat than we are. It is quite difficult to convince them that we are ok to stand, as the older folk consider it an honour to have us in their country and therefore we are their guest. Dont be surprised either to be given little gifts as you go about, often paper cranes but also a packet of sweets, some fruit or whatever happens to be in their shopping bag when they come across a visitor to their country. Fruit is very very expensive so make the most of the fruit on the ship.
  6. August is festival time in Japan. We did a wonderful cruise last August 19 night b2b. Our time in port was much longer than previous cruises in Japan due to the festivals. Negative is the terrible heat and humidity and yes we did miss one port due to left over typhoon weather. 2 years earlier some of our group were delayed flying Gold Coast to Narita due to a typhoon. Fortunately they had allowed 2 nights pre cruise so still managed to make the cruise ok.
  7. If you are referring to the princess cruises, Japanese guided means that it is spoken in Japanese language. The english guided tours are spoken in english. On our cruise last year the Japanese speaking tours were much cheaper and so many english speaking people took the tours for various reasons, often large number in family so cost a factor, and also the english speaking tours sold out much faster. There is a limited number of english speaking guides in Japan and I guess they are able to ask more per hour for their skills/guiding and therefore princess can charge more and make more $$ themselves too. I have been on Japanese spoken tours in my early days of visiting Japan not cruise related. There was always someone who spoke enough english who would give me a basic explanation of what we were seeing. I guess if you are wanting to see rather than learn about what you are seeing you might be content with one of the Japanese guided tours.
  8. Good to know a few words, the one I use the most is sumimasen = excuse me. Always use that when asking. I probably only know a dozen real Japanese words and am about to go on my 14th trip to Japan. Always DIY sometimes with a cruise. That shows how easy it is to get around with heaps of research and help from locals. One thing to be aware of is that the railway stations are HUGE. Some will take you 10-15 mins to get out eg Kyoto, Osaka, some of the Tokyo stations. When you have booked your hotel make sure you ask which exit to take as there are many exits going in all directions. If you take the wrong exit its a long walk back through to the other side. If you are still looking for accommodation in Kyoto we are staying at Hotel Masahisa Senbon Shimodachiuri its not a hotel but more of a small apartment. We usually try to stay in apartments as they are cheaper and have a lot more facilities eg washing machine and microwave and small hotplates. I booked it via booking.com for the ridiculous price of aud $150 for 3 people for 3 nights total non refundable. It is new, only opened late last year and I am guessing the bargain price is to get known. 7-11, family mart and lawsons will be your new best friend in Japan, they are everywhere and very reasonable price for food on the go, but healthy, they will heat anything that you want heated in the microwave. Most standard hotels ie not the 5 star ones, have a laundry room with machines and dryers and sometimes there will be a shared microwave in that room. Often vending machines too. No coffee so take your own if you area coffee drinker. Only green tea provided and very small cups so take a mug if you like me enjoy a good size mug of coffee. Nikko is a good day trip from Tokyo and also I recommend Nara as a half day from Kyoto. In Tokyo the metropolitan government building has a great view, open til very late at night and free entry. Better views than the skytree and tokyo tower in my experience.
  9. I highly recommend using a goodwill guide. They are english speaking volunteers who give of their time to show you around their city. The only cost to you is the guides transport, entry fees and meals if you are with them at meal time. We hav used these guides in many cities all over Japan and never been disappointed. It i always nice to spend time with a true local, If you decided to book them you need to book as soon as available as they are in high demand at all times and more so on cruise days. https://www.japan.travel/en/plan/list-of-volunteer-guides/
  10. A lot will depend on your time in port. We have cruised on the diamond to all those ports other than toba Osaka. Kochi we took the shuttle from ship to centre of town then the hop on hop off bus by another name it was very cheap and 50% discount for cruisers. Bus location 10 min max walk from where bus dropped us. Lunch at a lovely beach side area then back to town then walked to koch park and castle. Kagoshima similar took the shuttle then walked to ferry to take us over to the volcano island. Did the ho ho bus around the island. Info for that google cute pass kagoshima. We had enough time to go on a night bus route before heading back to the ship. Busan did the hoho bus really enjoyed the day getting out of the main town. First stop was United nations memorial and cemetery. Excellent. Rest of day on bus stopped at a few places but had to be aware of time to get back to ship so unable to cover all routes. Previous cruises had been to city and not impressed. Aquarium was very good another cruise as we were located right next to it but last July were at a new port. Nagasaki easily done with day tram ticket. Went to peace park and memorial. Very different to the Hiroshima but equally as significant and necessary to visit I believe We have done 3 cruises around Japan on diamond and added DIY travel pre and post cruise using JR rail pass. The Japanese people are very helpful and gentle. There is also a lot of Chinese on board which you may confuse unless you know a bit of the Japanese language. I wasnt aware just how many until we were going through immigration in one of the lounges on the ship for non Japanese travellers Be sure to participate in as many activities as possible. They make a real effort to mix culturally. One special activity is to have volunteer Japanese cruisers dress us westerners in traditional clothing always very popular so go early to get your ticket. Limited number allocated. Hop on hop off buses are known by different names in Japan but googling each town will give you the info you need they are often called a loop bus. Very reasonable price usually between 500 -100 yen for a date ticket but dont come with commentary just a day transport ticket with routes. The bigger cities like Osaka and Tokyo now have more of the ho ho buses as we know them with the equally increased fare.
  11. I know you have already booked but this info might be useful for others. We arrived on a flight from Melb mid afternoon. Immediately went to the desk for free singapore tours however they were fully booked so we were unable to get onto a tour. Our luggage had already been checked from Melb to our final destination Malta and we had had hand luggage only which we put into luggage storage at the airport. We had prebooked our 6 hour slot at the transit hotel. once we were rid of the hand luggage we took the train in to the city, walked around the gardens by the bay, marine areas and other local tourist areas, Back to the hotel, check in, shower, bed and check out after 6 hours, followed by breakfast before boarding our next flight to Dubai then Malta. Easy to do, not expensive as hotels go to be right there ready for the next flight. I believe our suitcases were actually held at singapore airport as for security reasons they needed to be on our plane but I didnt care as I didnt have to deal with it between Melb and Malta. We flew Emirates but apparently if we had flown singapore we would have been able to pre book the singapore tours on line prior to travel.
  12. We have used many goodwill guides over the years and have never had a specified amount stated. During our email discussions of where we would go and what we would see I asked the guide how I should approach the transport as we were to use the one day bus tickets. I asked would they like me to buy a one day ticket for them when I purchased ours prior to the day we had the guide which the gude said would be the best. In Tokyo it was mostly walking and just a few trains and I just bought their tickets at the machine with the guides help when I purchased ours. Entry - purchase their ticket along with ours but some guides actually had free passes for some places, so would tell me if they didn't need a ticket. Meals yes I just paid for their meal along with ours. The gift is a great idea and what you suggest is good. Their homes are so very small so nothing big but a small bag is useful. I expect as it is a set amount that the guide may ask for the 3000 yen when you first meet, if not I would offer it at the beginning as the guide might be reluctant to ask. I would not buy another card as chances are your guide already has one, its what the Japanese use to get around. Have a wonderful day, the hardest part for us is keeping up with the guide, don't be afraid to ask to slow down if you find they are walking too fast. They are super excited to show you their city and are so much healthier than many westerners and walking is no issue even to the elderly Japanese.
  13. Not sure if I explained myself properly. Last July for example we sent the luggage from Osanbashi pier to our hotel in Okayama. We took hand luggage only with us up to Gora /fuji area for 2 nights. On arrival at our hotel in Okayama our luggage was already in our room for us. Courier staff / hotel staff/convenience store staff will all fill in the paperwork for you. If staying in a hotel staff will arrange pick up so you won't even need to take it to a convenience store.
  14. We used the one at the Osanbashi pier last July. It wasn't the usual black cat company but equally as good and about the same price. Price depends on distance and measurements of the luggage. We use it all the time in Japan. Sometimes we take hand luggage only for a night or two and send the larger luggage to our next stop. Just remember to allow a day for arrival, depending on distance. Yokohama to Kyoto should arrive the following day. Ensure you have notified the receiving hotel that you will be sending luggage via courier.
  15. Check out goodwill guides. They are volunteers who are very happy to spend a day showing you around their town. Only cost to you is their transport, entry fees and meals if they are with you at meal time. Very important is that you book asap as they are in great demand on cruise ship days and there is a limited number of guides available as many are uni students and also business people still working, but giving up their time a few days a month to this service. https://www.japan.travel/en/plan/list-of-volunteer-guides/
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