15% Ponant Bonus
PONANT is the first cruise company to take you to the heart of the sublime landscapes of the tropical islands in southern Japan during an expedition cruise. On this all-new 8-day itinerary aboard Le Soléal, from Taiwan to Okinawa, you will discover the rich natural heritage, traditional villages and craft of the Okinawa archipelago and the Ryukyu Islands.
As you depart from the Port of Keelung, in Taipei, the capital of the lush island of Taiwan, you will set sail for the southern islands of Japan, including Ishigaki, the capital island of the Yaeyama Islands. In the heart of the magnificent Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, you will be able to enjoy the dynamic atmosphere of the eponymous city or discover Kabira Bay, renowned for its idyllic scenery, combining crystal-clear turquoise water and beaches of white sand.
Following a new port of call in the picturesque village of Taketomi, with its traditional Okinawan dwellings and its idyllic sandy expanses, Le Soléal will sail south to the island of Iriomote. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this little corner of paradise will enchant you with its authentic and preserved character, with its wild beaches lying alongside traditional villages surrounded by luxurious tropical forest: jungle, mangrove, rivers, waterfalls. This unique biodiversity is made up of many endemic species.
You will then head for Kumej, the island that linked Okinawa to China in the past. Famous for its ‘Eisa’, a form of folk dance performed to the rhythm of traditional drums, this multifaceted island will reveal itself through its natural treasures: the mythical Mifuga rock formation or the idyllic beach of Hatenohama, a point of reference for fans of the underwater world.
Your next port of call will be Zamami, in the Kerama Islands. You will enjoy the unspoiled beauty of this pristine island, known the world over for the distinctive blue of the surrounding sea, called ‘Kerama blue’. The sea life in the area is also exceptionally rich and sea turtles can often be spotted swimming among the coral.
Le Soléal will sail to the coral island of Kikai. You will be fascinated by this enchanting island with beautiful beaches and turquoise waters. Its lush seabed and biodiversity will allow you to enjoy a captivating exploration.
You will disembark in Osaka, a modern, forward-looking city, in the heart of the Japanese archipelago.
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*Price is per person, based on double occupancy, based on availability, and subject to change at any time. The category of stateroom to which this price applies may no longer be available.
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Important trip details
The evolving COVID-19 health formalities are available in real time by clicking here.
Given the particularly changing international sanitary context, this itinerary as well as the land programmes and shore excursions may have to evolve according to port authorisations and governmental regulations in force at the time of your trip.
Therefore, for even greater peace of mind, we strongly recommend that you book your land programmes before and after your cruise with PONANT.
Health formalities related to COVID-19 will be confirmed to you before your departure.
In this exceptional context, your safety remains our first priority. The effectiveness of our procedures, our cutting-edge medical equipment and the smaller scale of our ships means we can offer maximum safety so that you can relax and enjoy your cruise. The revised passenger circuit and our enhanced hygiene measures can be found on this page: https://au.ponant.com/sail-with-confidence.
The information below is current but subject to change at any time without advance notice from government authorities. Please consult your respective government agencies for visa and health information.
Passport valid for at least six (6) months beyond the completion of your trip. Passport must contain at least two completely clear, blank, unused visa pages for each visa required, not including any amendment pages. Visa pages with stains or ink from other pages in the passport are not usable. Guests who deviate from the scheduled embarkation or disembarkation port should research the foreign entry requirements for the port country. Due to government regulations, regrettably, Ponant will have to deny boarding to any guest who fails to obtain the appropriate travel documentation for this trip.
Warning about the use of drones: the use of drones aboard PONANT ships, whether they are sailing at sea, at a port of call or anchored, is strictly forbidden. The use of drones on land in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is also strictly forbidden by international polar regulations. In other regions, it may be possible to use drones on land if permission has been obtained from the relevant authorities of each country and each region travelled through, as well as a pilot’s licence that should be obtained from your home country. Passengers are responsible for obtaining these permits; they should be able to present them at all times. Passengers who do not obtain these authorisations expose themselves to the risk of legal proceedings.
Passengers may take part in scuba diving activities, providing certain conditions are respected, in line with the applicable health, scientific and medical conditions in force on the day of the dive.
Passengers who wish to scuba dive are required to provide the onboard diving monitor with a valid medical certificate authorising them to scuba dive, as well as their certification card and their up-to-date dive log. Within the context of the health measures relating to Covid-19, you will also be required to complete a health declaration. You will be given this form when you pre-book your dive.
Expedition programmes include activities such as Zodiac® outings and landings (sometimes with "wet landings"), moderate walks to more active hikes, all accompanied by your expedition team of naturalist guides.
Ports of call, visited sites, outings and landings will depend on weather conditions, winds and the state of the sea. These can force a change of plans at any time. The Captain and the Expedition Leader may at any time cancel or stop any activity, or even modify the itinerary. The final itinerary will be confirmed by the Captain, who will take into account the touristic quality of the sites and above all, the safety of the passengers. His decision will be based on advice from experts and authorities.
Travelling to isolated regions is an exhilarating experience. In remote areas, please remember that you are far from modern hospitals with full medical facilities, thus evacuation is extremely expensive. Without adequate medical coverage, all expenses will have to be immediately paid with your personal funds. We urge you to subscribe to full coverage insurance, choose your insurance company very carefully, be extremely vigilant and ensure your insurance is fully comprehensive, especially if you are insured by your credit card. PONANT offers an insurance contract with extensive guarantees, please contact us for more information.
During your visits to some local communities, all guests will be required to dress respectfully. Ladies must have their shoulders and thighs covered. Gentlemen should have their shoulders covered also.
Ideal clothes for life on board:
During the days spent on board, you are advised to wear comfortable clothes or casual outfits. The entire ship is air-conditioned, so a light sweater, a light jacket or a shawl may be necessary. When moving about in the public areas of the ship and the decks, light but comfortable shoes are recommended.
In the evening, you are advised to wear smart-casual attire, especially when dining in our restaurants where wearing shorts and tee-shirts is not allowed.
Depending on the itinerary and the program of your cruise, an Officer’s Evening with a white dress code may be organized. Therefore, we encourage you to bring a stylish white outfit for the occasion (otherwise black and white).
During the cruise, two gala evenings will be organised on board. Thus, we recommend that you bring one or two formal outfits.
A small shop is available on board offering a wide range of outfits, jewellery, leather goods and many accessories.
A laundry service (washing/ironing) is available on board, but unfortunately there are no dry cleaning services. For safety reasons, your cabin is not equipped with an iron.
OUTFITS ON BOARD:
In your hand luggage, remember to bring any medicines that you need, and possibly a small spare bag of toiletries (in case of delay in the delivery of your baggage by the airline). Remember to always have your travel documents with you in case you need them: hotel vouchers, cruise vouchers, return flight tickets... Never leave them in your hold luggage.
All our cabins have a safe. We recommend not to go ashore with valuable jewellery.
Diving - Expedition Cruise
Supervision of the dives
Your dives will be led by your PONANT instructor. He will take care of your safety and that all goes smoothly. On some diving sites, as in natural reserves or if the local regulations require it, a local guide will escort the diving.
Level required for scuba diving on this cruise
The minimum level required for scuba diving on this cruise is 2 star CMAS or the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver (or equivalent). The certification card, the diving log book and a recent medical certificate (less than 12 months) must be presented at the beginning of the cruise to our main diving instructor.
Process of the dives (certified divers)
The instructor reserves the right to check divers’ ability for maximum safety. As we will dive in remote places, the dives will be done without decompression stop. A safety stop of 3 minutes at 5 metres will be mandatory. The depth that can be reached will depend on the certification of the divers:
Duration of the dives
The diving activity lasts from 2 to 3 hours, which includes the journey to the diving site and the diving. This duration may vary according to the site, the level of divers, weather conditions and the number of participants. For experienced divers, the duration of dives varies between 35 and 60 minutes depending on the site, the diver’s experience and consumption.
Mask and snorkel: for health reasons due to Covid-19, we strongly recommend that you come on board with your own mask and snorkel .As an exception, you will be able to borrow them in accordance with sanitary conditions.
The passenger may participate in scuba diving activities, subject to compliance with certain conditions established in accordance with the health, scientific and medical measures applicable on the day of the dive.
* within the limit of available stock.
Embarkation 24/3/2023 from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Departure 24/3/2023 at 6:00 pm
On the north-east tip of Taiwan, the harbour city of Keelung stands on one of the most beautiful coasts on the island. Nearby is the spectacular natural park of Yehliu, famed for its striking rock formations. It's easy to tour the city's historical sites on trails that cross the lush green hills surrounding the harbour from Chung Cheng Park to Fort Ershawan, you can enjoy superb views of Keelung and the coastline. But the main attraction is the Miaokou night market, where you can taste some typically Taiwanese culinary delights.
Located to the south of the main island of the Yaeyama archipelago, Ishigaki boasts all the aspects of an authentic piece of paradise. You've guessed it, you don't come here for its skyscrapers but for its pure emerald waters and idyllic beaches. The waters off Shiraho, on the island's south-west coast, have one of the largest areas of blue coral in the world.
Off the coast of the Okinawa Prefecture, Taketomi Island (Taketomijima) is fascinating for its traditional character, preserved in a beautiful, lush setting. Like its big sisters, Ishigaki and Kuroshima, this island in the Yaeyama archipelago is the ideal destination for an immersion in typical landscapes and the insular way of life of the former Ryukyu Kingdom. Here, time seems to have stood still. There are very few cars about; bicycles and carriages drawn by imposing oxen remain the only means of transport. This is an ideal opportunity to wander through the picturesque streets lined with traditional dwellings with red-tiled roofs and lion-shaped shisa statues placed in front of the vast majority of houses to keep evil spirits at bay.
Nestled in the very heart of the Yaeyama archipelago, Iriomote Island conjures visions of a hidden paradise. With 90% of the island covered by thick jungle, crossed by rivers and impressive mangrove forests, Iriomote is an ideal destination for fans of large preserved spaces. With exceptional fauna and flora, this lush jewel is home to many endemic species: you may be lucky enough to get to glimpse an Iriomote cat or a crested serpent eagle. During this port of call, you will also have the possibility of admiring the captivating underwater world during a free diving session or contemplating this lush jungle close up on a cruise along the calm waters of the island’s rivers.
Located 90 km (56 miles) to the south-west of Okinawa Honto, Kumejima is a multifaceted island home to natural treasures. Hatenohama, a stunning 7 km-long (4.3 miles) fine-sand beach, promises wonderful carefree moments discovering the exceptional underwater worlds off the coast of Kumejima. Mifuga, a rock formation on the north coast of the island with a hole right through its middle, is a great example of the erosion along the coast. The eastern peninsula offers another geological feature, visible at low tide: 1,000 flat rocks each around one metre (3.2 feet) in diameter, formed by the contraction of lava from a nearby eruption a million years ago. They create a rocky plateau resembling a traditional Japanese tatami, hence the name Tatami-ishi.
Zamami is an island in the Kerama archipelago, 40 km (25 miles) west of Okinawa Island in the China Sea. Visitors to this 16 km2 (6 mi2) quasi-uninhabited isle are enchanted by the many untouched natural treasures they find here. You will discover a tranquil island with lush vegetation, lined with stunning white-sand bays bathing in the glimmering ‘Kerama blue’ waters around the archipelago. Zamami is also renowned for the beauty of its coral reefs, where multicoloured fish engage in an endless mesmerising ballet. The observation deck on Mount Takatsuki reveals stunning views of the Kerama Islands, granted national park status in 2014. With subtle shifting shades of azure above and all around, this island truly is paradise.
Located between continental Japan and the main island of Okinawa, Kikaijima is a small preserved coral island where nature unfurls in all its splendour. Amidst this abundance of plants, you will be enchanted by century-old trees, majestic banyan trees and sugar cane plantations, which produce a delicious brown sugar. This island, inhabited since the 10th century and located on the trade route between China and Japan, has a turbulent history. During your exploration, perhaps you will notice some ancient coral stone walls, like an echo of the ever-present ocean. Between the white sandy beaches and the limestone coastlines, you’ll also be able to enjoy a snorkelling trip and delightful possibilities for swimming.
During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.
Arrival 31/3/2023 early morning
Disembarkation 31/3/2023 at 8:00 am
Like its big sister Tokyo, Osaka is the product of ancestral traditions and amazing technological innovations. And despite its size, its location on the Pacific Ocean give it a sense of serenity. The main historic landmark is the 16th century Osaka Castle, which stands proud in the midst of majestic skyscrapers. The lively streets of Dotomburi and the bizarre Shinsekai district attract thousands of locals and visitors. A multitude of restaurants offer menus full of regional specialities: takoyaki, made with octopus, and other succulent dishes such as kushikatsu kebabs.
Explore the planet’s most remote tropical regions during a PONANT expedition cruise. In the heart of Oceania’s archipelagos or the Indian Ocean atolls, along the wild coastlines of Central America or Australia, our luxury amenities and services will make your expedition cruise an unforgettable experience. Our expedition leaders and their teams of naturalist guides devise exceptional itineraries and organise daily outings, shore visits in Zodiac® dinghies, or snorkelling when the cruises are conducive to it, to take you as close as possible to nature. Aboard the ship, they share their knowledge during lectures on a variety of topics such as the fauna and flora, the history of the great explorations, geology and climatology. On land, using the local transport options or during hikes, discover the must-see natural sites and, for a few hours, partake in the life and ancestral customs of the local populations.
During an introduction to scuba diving or a more advanced dive for holders of the necessary certifications (level 1 on yachting cruises and 2 on expedition cruises), explore the planet’s most beautiful underwater environments in the company of a PONANT diving instructor, as well as a local instructor when required by local legislation. They will ensure that your dives are conducted smoothly and safely: supervision of four certified divers at a time, evaluation of diving skills and experience, adherence to safety stops, zones and the maximum depth authorised.
Enhance your cruise and extend your trip with a carefully designed programme.
Day 1 - Taipei
Meet at Taiwan-Taoyuan international Airport in the Arrival Hall. Look for PONANT sign. You will be greeted by our local representative off the flight selected by PONANT or any other flight (provided that you have previously communicated your flight schedule to your travel agent).
You will be transferred to the hotel The Okura Prestige Taipei 5*, located at the heart of Taipei.
Rest of the day and dinner at leisure.
Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2 - Taipei / Shifen & Jiufen / Keelung
After breakfast and check-out, you will depart the hotel in the morning to explore Jiufen & Shifen (about a 50-minute drive from Taipei).
Before 1950, these were both gold and coal mining towns. Today, their authentic old-world atmosphere makes them popular destinations to enjoy a local Taiwanese experience.
Shifen is a small, traditional mountain village with a railway running through it. Its ancient streets are unique and famous, as this is one of the only remaining places in Taiwan where the old houses are so close to the railway tracks. You will get to observe an activity that is typical in Shifen: releasing paper lanterns into the night sky for good luck. The preferred place to enjoy this “sky lantern” experience is right in the middle of the train tracks!
This tradition was invented during the Three Kingdoms period (220-265). Originally, the lanterns were used to communicate military intelligence. In the early 19th century, the Lantern Festival was brought to Taiwan, where annually, at the beginning of the spring planting season, people would release “sky lanterns” into the air as a prayer for the coming year. For many years, the “Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival” has had a brilliant history. In addition to enjoying its reputation as part of the sky lantern tradition in Taiwan, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival was voted by the Discovery Channel as the second biggest night-time celebration in the world. The sky lanterns carry the prayers and vows of the people; through them, the festival-goers seek the purification of their souls. The festival advertises the Taiwan spirit to the world. The main activity consists of buying lanterns and writing wishes, dreams, and prayers on them for the coming year, then releasing them into the night sky.
You will then make your way to Jiufen, where you will enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before visiting the old city. This will be followed by free time to stroll along the narrow streets.
It is said that a long time ago there were only nine families in Jiufen. Before the roads were built, all materials were transported via ships, so it became customary to always order nine units of a same item – one for each of the families. Hence the name of the place, Jiu Fen, meaning nine parts. Located on the north-east coast of Taiwan, it used to be the centre of gold mining. The village is built on a mountain side and faces the sea. In 1890, someone struck gold near it. The poor village with only nine families soon attracted 4,000 families of prospectors. Once considered the gold city of Assai and called Little Shanghai or Little Hong Kong, with the decline of gold mining activities Jiufen faded. Later, several movies were shot there, some of them gaining international recognition. For example, The Sad City won first prize at the Venice Film Festival and awakened people's memory of this village.
During your visit, the prosperous old streets and buildings will bring the town’s history to life under your eyes. The place is full of traces of its golden past. Now, there are many unique teahouses in the area. These teahouses are the best stops during your visit to this mountain village. You will also enjoy beautiful views of the Keelung outer sea.
You will then be transferred to the pier of Keelung to embark on board your ship.
Located in the cosmopolitan Nanjing and Zhongshan commercial district in the heart of Taiwan’s capital city, The Okura Prestige Taipei is the perfect place to relax in a refined atmosphere.
The hotel combines a luxurious design and a contemporary-classic architecture. It features Chinese, Japanese, and European restaurant options. All rooms are decorated in an elegant style and offer modern amenities.
Upgraded rooms are also available depending on availability and on a supplement basis. Contact your travel professional for further detail.
Your programme includes:
Your programme does not include:
Contact of your hotel:
The Okura Prestige Taipei Hotel
9 Nanjing E. Rd Sec. 1, Taipei, Taiwan
Telephone number: 886-2-2523-1111
Duration and order of the visits may vary. To know your PONANT flight schedule, please contact your travel agent; it is also indicated on your electronic ticket included in your travel documents.
Total : AU$800