Located on the island of Hokkaido (Japan’s northernmost island), Otaru is a lesser-traveled town, but nonetheless a fabulous place to visit during an Asia cruise. Since it is a port city with significant ties to the fishing industry, you can count on a fabulous dining scene. Freshly caught seafood and sushi await! Otaru is also famous for its glass-blowing industry, which means you will also discover a fabulous art scene. From museums to beaches, outdoor attractions, and endless opportunities to discover local art and culture, you’ll fall short of something incredible to do in Otaru!
Several cruise lines offer cruises that visit Otaru, but Ponant is the only cruise line that currently features cruises from Otaru. If you’re looking to enjoy warm weather, then plan to travel between August and September. Your best chance of avoiding rainfall is in early July, while April is the best month to avoid extreme humidity (though with this usually comes large crowds).
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The following cruise destinations can be visited on a cruise that includes Otaru, Hokkaido. Select a destination to view the upcoming cruises that are available:
The following cruise lines offer cruises sailing to Otaru, Hokkaido. Select a cruise line to view the upcoming cruises that visit Otaru, Hokkaido:
These cruise lines enhance what mainstream cruise lines typically offer, by providing their guests with higher quality service and cuisine, along with more spacious public spaces and accommodations.
Depending on the cruise line, the ships in this class range in size from small to very large.
These cruise lines appeal to a more discerning traveler, and are typically more expensive than mainstream cruise lines, but more affordable than the luxury lines.
These cruise lines fit (quality and, usually, price-wise) somewhere in between Premium and Luxury cruise lines.
A country club casual atmosphere can be expected on these lines, as can be elegant accommodations and gourmet cuisine. These cruise lines are a great option for adults looking for a upscale, yet laid back, vacation.
Unique itineraries are often available on these cruise lines, as their small-to-mid-sized ships can visit ports of call that large ones can't get to.
The pricing on Azamara Club Cruises includes select beverages and pre-paid gratuities, while the pricing of Viking Ocean Cruises includes shore excursions and select beverages.
These cruise lines offer a truly unique vacation experience, with a wide range of possible amenities and itineraries. Some are expedition cruise lines, others have sailing yachts or are coastal ships.
On these types of cruise lines, there's usually a focus on a specific destination or theme. Itineraries are usually very destination intensive, aided by the fact that they're able to reach many ports of call that larger ships can't.
Expedition cruise lines are a great fit for adventure-seeking travelers, featuring exciting destinations like the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, and the Norwegian coast. During the cruise, there will usually be plenty of interesting lectures given by experts on the destination being visited. Often, shore excursions are included in the cost of the cruise. In fact, some of these cruise lines have all-inclusive pricing. There's a definite focus on the ship's surrounding scenery, as well as opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitat. Small, but comfortable, ships are commonplace here, with anywhere from basic to very luxurious public spaces, cuisine, and accommodations (depending on the cruise line and ship).
Sailing Yachts, sail-assisted motor ships, offer a really unique vacation experience. Accommodations and cuisine on these intimate vessels can be anywhere from good to fantastic, depending on the cruise line. Destinations offered by these cruise lines may include the Caribbean, Europe, Panama Canal, Tahiti, and Costa Rica.
Value is a key feature of these popular cruise lines, as they offer lots of activities, entertainment and dining options, along with a variety of stateroom types. Some of the cruise lines in this category have ships with unique innovations like water slides, rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, surfing simulators, bowling alleys, and boardwalks.
Their ships are usually anywhere from mid-sized to very large "mega" ships, accommodating thousands of guests. These ships give the feel of being in a large resort.
Mainstream cruise lines are a great option for just about everyone (including multi-generation families, and first-time cruisers), and typically have great youth programs.
During the cruise, entertainment may include Broadway productions, Vegas-style shows, comedians, and music. Some of these lines have select formal nights during the cruise. Specialty restaurants are becoming more and more common (some which have a cover charge for this type enhanced dining experience). Buffets are usually available throughout the day, besides room service, and the main dining room(s).
When the finest cruise vacation is your top priority, this is the place to start.
On a luxury cruise line, guests experience highly personalized service, a more intimate (and usually formal) onboard experience, gourmet cuisine, well-appointed accommodations, and fantastic amenities. Many of these brands have smaller ships, allowing them to reach ports of call that the larger ships can't, which results in unique itineraries.
All of these brands feature a version of all-inclusive pricing, and some of them have ships with all-suite accommodations. Although these cruise lines are usually more expensive than the rest, they also provide their guests with so much more, resulting in a fantastic value when considering all that's included.
Becoming more and more popular, a river cruise is an immerse and destination-focused vacation experience, on a small and luxurious vessel.
River cruises sail through the inland waterways of some of the world's most interesting vacation destinations (i.e. Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America), and provide their guests with a greater opportunity to spend time visiting more unique ports of call than a traditional cruise typically would.
Because the destination is the star of a river cruise, (typically guided) shore excursions are included at no additional charge by many River cruise lines. There are usually many interesting lectures given during the cruise, by experts on the history and culture of the region being visited.
Among the famous rivers that one may take a river cruise on are the Rhine, Mississippi, Seine, Danube, Mekong, Nile, Yangtze, Amazon and Douro.
These are just a few of the more popular tourist attractions in Otaru, along with a brief description:
♦ Otaru Canal
Otaru Canal has been playing a significant role in the city’s history since the 20th century. Originally used to unload large vessels (prior to modern docking), the canal and surrounding area were beautifully restored in 1980 as a tourist attraction. During the day, you can take a leisurely stroll along the canal and check out the many museums, shops, restaurants, street artists, and beautiful scenery. If you can visit in the evening, you’ll get to experience an atmosphere illuminated by gas lamps (which also pays homage to Otaru’s history). You will also have the opportunity to take a canal cruise to see even more sights (available during both the day and night).
Not surprisingly, Otaru is filled with many fascinating museums. For example, one of the town’s most popular art museum is Otaru Art Base (featuring a large collection of stained glass and Art Noveau pieces). There’s also the Nitrori Museum of Art and Kitaichivenetsia Museum (featuring Venetian-style glass art). Other noteworthy museums include Otaru Museum (featuring train and rail exhibits), the Bank of Japan Otaru Museum (finance museum housed in historic bank), and Otaru Aquarium (great for families). For those who are interested in local culture and literature, the Otaru Literary Museum is a can’t-miss.
♦ Beaches & Resorts
Since Otaru is located on an island, it is home to many fabulous beaches and resorts! One of the most popular beaches for relaxing is Ranshima Beach, which features soft golden sand and beautiful clear waters. If you’re looking for a more lively scene, then you mustn’t miss Otaru Beach or “Dream Beach,” which features many bars and restaurants, making it a hip party spot. A few other options you have include Otamoi Beach (featuring unique rock formations along the coast), Zenibako Beach, and Shioya Beach (perfect for swimming, kayaking, and admiring Otaru’s dramatic cliffs).
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