Behind-the-Scenes: Exploring New Ports in Japan with Windstar

If you love a good behind-the-scenes glance at cruise planning like we do, read on…!

We are constantly working with local tourism boards and government agencies around the world to find new places to sail. When offered the opportunity to experience a new product first hand we love to take full advantage to learn more so our guests can be among the first to see new ports of call and exciting destinations without large crowds or overwhelmed tourist sites. Melissa W., Product Manager for the Mediterranean and Asia recently got the chance to visit ports of call in Japan including Toyama, Maizuru, and Otaru (Hokkaido Island). Here she shares some fascinating information and insights she gleaned from her visit.

Welcome to Japan, arrival at the Toyko Airport. Looking forward to a week of site visits at new possible ports for WSC future deployment.


While visiting the port of Toyama we had the opportunity to visit Keijusha Washi Bunko to learn how the traditional Washi paper is made. After learning the process we had the opportunity to try on our own. We then toured the facility where the artisans were painting the traditional windsock carps on washi paper for the upcoming Boys Festival.


When visiting the city of Otaru on the Japan Sea, we discovered the importance of glass blowing. This tradition is carried down from the once utilized glass fish buoys. They continue the art of glass blowing by creating all sorts of glass products. In this photo, we are creating a drinking glass for the common rice wine, called sake.


A beautiful view of the Tokyo Bay, one of the many beautiful cities you can visit from our turn port of Yokohama. Don’t miss spending a few days in Tokyo the largest city in the world. You will be amazed by how clean and friendly this city is!


Prefecture of Sapporo
On my visit to Japan, I met with many Tourism offices that assisted me in seeing the highlights of their ports and local cities. Here is a group from the Prefecture of Sapporo, in the city of Sapporo. There ports and cities are full of new and exciting experiences from culinary, to tasting tours such as local sake, to experiences that involve many of the local artisans that will teach you their traditional techniques and tell you about the history of their art.


Tsuruya Yoshinobu
While in the city of Kyoto we visited Tsuruya Yoshinobu more than 200 years as the most famous Confectionary Shop. They demonstrated their skill at creating beautiful handmade confectionary from white and black bean paste. The confectionary was in honor of the cherry blossom trees throughout the city and celebrating Spring. Once the presentation was complete it was paired with the traditional powdered green tea, Macha.


When inspecting the port of Maizuru we took a trip out to the Kurotanicho where we visited the papermaking studio in Kurotani. We toured the facility and the paper shop. Buddhism and papermaking were introduced to Japan from China around 1400 years ago. Today washi is used for books, woodblock prints, wrapping, and clothing.


The kimonos for men and women have a long history especially in the city of Kyoto. They offer experiences for guests that allow them to try on this traditional Japanese outfit. It is not an easy process and requires help in getting dressed in a kimono.


Toyama Castle
An iconic site in the city of Toyama, the Toyama Castle, also called Azumi Castle. It was built in 1543 and is well maintained, definitely a photographers picture opportunity.


The seafood in Japan, and especially on the Sea of Japan (the western coastline), is very popular and fresh. It is utilized for much of the sushi and is plentiful anywhere you visit in this region. There are many markets with fresh as well as the snow crab auction daily in the port of Imizu, which can be very impressive to watch as it is open to the public.



Windstar’s Asia and Arabia cruises offer larger-than-life adventures and exceptional experiences only possible on a small ship. Star Legend will proudly sail into the hub of must-see Asian cities where larger ships typically dock on the outskirts. The agile yacht sails on routes less traveled, visiting out-of-the-way islands, and charming harbors that big ships skip. Itineraries are carefully crafted with scenic cruising and active exploration in mind.

The new itineraries span cosmopolitan marvels like Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo but also explore the smaller ports and villages, unspoiled islands, and exotic shores of Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, Borneo and the Philippines.

By day, the yacht may anchor at hidden harbors and tropical islands of the South China Sea where cruisers swim, snorkel, water ski, and stand-up paddle board right from the ship’s Watersports Platform. By night, guests gaze at star-filled skies from the unique Open Bridge, learning from the Captain where their yacht will navigate next. Adventures include sailing the majestic Yangtze River, “selfies” set off by glimmering skylines, tasting authentic Asian cuisine, chasing Japanese cherry blossoms, and kayaking amidst towering limestone pillars in Halong Bay.

New journeys of discovery center on the romantic, the exotic, and the cultural wonders of Arabia. Two one-time-only repositioning sailings visit Egypt, Arabia and the Indian Ocean in fall of 2017. Choose Athens to Dubai via the Suez Canal with a chance to see Petra and Luxor; or Dubai to Singapore via India and Malaysia with a visit to the beautiful beaches of Phuket. Combine the two for an incredible 34-day cruise without repeating ports.

Windstar’s 6 destination-centric Asian itineraries offer a choice of 10 departure dates and include a round trip Singapore cruise to Malaysia and Thailand; three cruises between Singapore and Hong Kong via Malaysian Borneo, Brunei and the Philippines; two Hong Kong to Bangkok (or reverse) cruises via Vietnam; one Hong Kong to Beijing cruise via Taiwan, islands of Japan and mainland China; a Beijing to Tokyo sailing via South Korea; and two Tokyo to Osaka (or reverse) cruises. Guests can combine cruises for an extended voyage of up to 43 days.

Tailored (optional) shore excursions offer numerous chances to experience awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and learn about the local history, cuisine, and art of both ancient and modern ports. Specialized programming on board by expert guest lecturers expounds on the individuality of the cultures and intricacies of the history of the region. On board Star Legend, yacht guests will enjoy regionally-themed cuisine, exotic libations, entertainment and activities with a local flair, and always gracious and attentive service.

For additional information on Star Legend and new Asia and Arabia cruises contact a travel professional or Windstar Cruises by phone at 877-958-7718, or visit

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