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erniebernie

Vancouver to Japan September 2019

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Hi just wanting to hear from anyone who has just done this cruise as we are booked on Q027 in 2020 and was wondering what you would suggest we do and possibly dont do in the ports/excursion and also how was the weather and the seas.Many Thanks Allison 

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Queen Elizabeth didn't actually do a Vancouver to Japan cruise in September. She returned to Southampton in August after her first Alaska season sailing in an easterly direction via the Panama Canal and was doing Norway, British Isles, Iceland, and Baltic cruises in September. She did do a Japan to Vancouver voyage in May with several of the same ports as your cruise, so perhaps someone who was on that earlier cruise in the opposite direction can help with your questions.

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erniebernie, as Bluemarble says, this past year 2019 the QE went from Australia up to Japan, then to Alaska and Vancouver, and then returned to the UK via the Panama Canal and the Atlantic. 

 

The wife and I were on the Tokyo-Alaska-Vancouver voyage, in May 2019.  Port calls were Tokyo, Aomori, Sapporo, Kodiak, Anchorage, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier, Icy Straight point, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria, and Vancouver.  We has a wonderful time, and the Alaska scenery was amazing.  Sea conditions throughout were surprisingly calm.  While the Alaska inside passage was typically flat, we were expecting some big waves on the eastbound transpacific crossing.  But each sea day was calm and quite cold (mid-single digits C), especially by Australia summertime standards.   The Alaska ports were a little warmer, 10-12c or so, especially further south.  Vancouver and Victoria were both high teens, low 20s.   

 

The stop at Hubbard Glacier was breathtaking.  It was a sunny day, and the ship did several turns around the face of the glacier to give both sides of the ship good views.  There's an aerial photo currently featured on Cunard's facebook page.

 

I don't know what September 2020 in the westward direction will be like.  You can see forecast sea conditions a week or two in advance on several web sites.   Do a google search for Ventusky, magicseaweed, or passageweather, all of which have sea state and weather forecasts. 

 

Let me know any other questions, and happy to help if I can.

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The weather on this route can be great, or horrible.  Past performance is no guarantee.  That said, I did this route a few years ago and the weather was fine.

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I've not sailed your trans-Pacific route, either.

But I can tell you that the sea current generally flows anti-clockwise, which will help the skipper with his fuel bill!
 

More to the point, the prevailing winds are westerly / south westerly, so you will be travelling into the wind across the Pacific, which won't help with perceived temperature or - should the sea get choppy - the motion of the ship. For the same reason, it does not surprise me that sfred's (above) eastbound crossing was relatively calm.
Same sort of winds prevail in the North Atlantic, which we have taken several times. Much prefer east-bound to west-bound there. Sorry!

But to quote Fats Waller (who definitely will not be on your cruise), "One never knows, do one?".

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Thanks everyone for your replies and weather reports  as I cant do anything about the weather I will ignore it for now.  Sfred can you tell me what you did in Aomori and Sapporo if anything as we have never been to Aisia and are not sure if it will be easy to walk around doing our own thing or should we get on a ship tour. I see you speak nearly the same language as me 🙂 so was wondering if you found the language barrier a problem. Thanx Allison

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Hi Erniebernie.  We did our own thing in both Aomori and Sapporo.  While English isn't as widely spoken as in Tokyo, it is still easy to get around.  I used to go to Japan frequently on business, and know enough Japanese to get by, but it isn't absolutely necessary.

 

In Aomori the pier and brand new cruise terminal is adjacent to the city; no need for shuttle buses.  Directional signs are in both English and Japanese.   We walked around the main shopping streets, went to the city municipal onsen baths, and the city parks which had cherry trees still in blossom (the cherry blossoms had already gone in Tokyo).  Cunard had excursions available to the outlying onsens and shrines. but we were completely happy with the things doable on your own by foot from the pier.  We had a very tasty and inexpensive lunch in a Japanese restaurant near the train station, and if you did not speak Japanese you could easily order by pointing to the items you wanted on the menu.  There is a great tourist map available on the internet in pdf which shows the location of all the city sites. 

 

https://www.en-aomori.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/aomoricityguide_en.pdf

 

In Sapporo the ship docked in the industrial town of Muroran, and a free shuttle bus went into town where you could catch a train to Sapporo.  The biggest feature of Muroran is a large steel mill, but there is a very scenic coastal walk to the town of Noboribetsu that I can definitely recommend if you like that sort of thing.  It is a full day's hike, and hilly at times, but has beautiful views along the rocky coast.  If you didn't want to do a big walk, just going to the lighthouse at Cape Chikyu is worth the time. 

 

https://en.japantravel.com/hokkaido/the-amazing-coastline-of-muroran/46422

 

Otherwise, a ship excursion would probably be the way to go, as the area's national parks and volcanic hot springs are all a bit remote from Muroran, and a train to Sapporo would have taken several hours.

 

I recall reading something about how Cunard is going to dock at a different place, closer to Sapporo, in future years.  There is also a town called Otaru, northwest of Sapporo, where many cruise ships go.   I don't recall the details.  It is probably worth checking your itinerary to see. 

 

Free and very fast wifi was also usually available, and we had no problems connecting our phones.  You probably know also that there is no tipping in Japan.

 

Hope this helps - let me know any questions.

 

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Hi sfred Thank you so much for that information the PDF is brilliant  so much to see and do.Im sure I will have lots more questions once I have sat down and studied it.The coastal walk looks amazing. Thanks again. Hope those fires are far enough away from you,terrible things. Regards Allison

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You're very welcome.  Thanks for asking about the fires.  We live in the Brisbane CBD so are quite safe, but folks out in the country have been doing it very tough and have some challenging days still to go.  I hope they will be okay.

 

A couple of additional items about Japan that I forgot to mention in the earlier posting:

 

o    In Aomori, the cruise terminal is on the Shin-Chuo wharf, square A3 on the pdf map.  The main shopping street is called Shinmachi Street, and has several department stores, a fish market, and coffee shops.  The municipal onsen, in case you wanted to have an authentic Japanese bath experience, is on the road marked highway 7, map square B1.  A bit of Japanese language skill helps here - the onsen attendants did not speak English, but again you could point to a "menu" of services to select what you wanted (bath only, towel, amenities kit, etc.).  The main train station has lots of restaurants and cafes.

o    In Muroran, the web site I mentioned which talks about the coastal walk suggests a city bus to Cape Chikyu.  We walked the route easily from the Muroran train station in only 20-25 minutes or so, and made it part of our coastal hike.  Muroran was our last port call before starting our eastbound transpacific to Alaska, so we wanted to stretch our legs while we had the chance.

o    If the Queen Elizabeth docks next year at Otaru rather than Muroran, you'll have a very different set of options for the day.  Sapporo is much closer to Otaru, only a short train ride, and the town of Otaru is much more interesting than the steel mill of Muroran.

 

https://otaru.gr.jp/wp-content/themes/otaru/pdf/eng_1.pdf

 

Hope you have a wonderful time!  We sure did on our cruise in May.  I'd say it was one of the best Cunard trips we've ever done.

 

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