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About Okinawa

Okinawa Island is the largest of the 160 Ryukyu Islands lying in the Pacific Ocean. The site of one of the most intense battles in military history, Okinawa has rebuilt itself since its near destruction in 1945.

In the coastal capital city of Naha you'll find a mile-long stretch of shops and restaurants along 'Kokusai Dori'. Shuri Castle, once the royal seat of the Ryukyu dynasty, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and displays a unique mix of Chinese, Okinawan, and Japanese styles. Many traditional crafts including pottery and laquerware are still produced on the island, but woven and dyed fabrics are the most distinctive elements that made Okinawa famous.

Cruises to Okinawa also gives you the opportunity to listen to a unique and attractive combination of original Okinawan sounds with American rock and jazz influences, learn their secrets in art and produce your own souvenir or simply enjoy a scenic drive of this beautiful island.

 

Shore excursions in Okinawa

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Ancient Kingdom

Activity medium

Duration: 5 hours

Celebrate the festivals, crafts, foods and spirit of Okinawa on a tour that transports you to two of the island’s most treasured cultural sites.

The independent Kingdom of Ryukyu lasted until the 19th century, when it was incorporated into the Empire of Japan and became Okinawa. This means that Okinawa has a legacy of culture and customs found nowhere else in Japan.

Explore the crafts, cuisine and costumes of this lost kingdom at the Ryukyu Mura, a re-created village, where traditions are being kept alive. Listening to the sanshin guitar or watch the parade and performances through the town. Surrounded by traditional architecture, you can shop for souvenirs or try the local delicacies.

Afterwards, head for the peaceful and delightful late 18th century Shikinaen Garden, built for Ryukyu royalty. Simple wooden buildings and pavilions with tile roofs are artfully situated among traditionally landscaped grounds, graceful stone bridges, small forests and ponds. Meander the paths, take in all the colour of the fragrant blooms and delight in the delicate mix of Japanese and Chinese architecture, which is particularly Okinawan in flavour.

Essential information

This excursion is conducted by coach and on foot. There is approximately 2 hours of walking on this tour. Shikinaen Garden contains uneven paths and steps. Comfortable, flat, walking shoes and bottled water are recommended. Only Japanese Yen will be accepted by local vendors.

Caves & Castles

Activity mediumMeal includedShopping

Duration: 7½ hours

Discover Okinawa on this comprehensive, full day tour that has something for everyone.

Start your sightseeing journey of Okinawa by visiting the highlight of Naha, the Shurijo Castle. Join your guide as you tour the castle and its museum, which brings alive the old kingdom through its faithfully reconstructed halls, royal tombs and the impressive Shureimon Gate.

Throughout Okinawa’s past the island’s limestone caves have played an integral part in the lives of people, from shelter from typhoons, refuge and battlefields during war to even being the film backdrop of the Godzilla films. The largest and most spectacular of them all is the Gyokusendo Cave. At over 3 miles long, this spectacular cavern is filled with small streams, waterfalls, stalactites and stalagmites which have been forming over the past 300,000 years. You’ll have the opportunity to visit this cave which is part of Okinawa World, a park set up to recreate a traditional Ryukyu village, with demonstrations and shops featuring traditional crafts. Don’t miss the spectacular traditional ‘Eisa’ performance, which includes impressive drumming and dancing.

Another use for the caves was storage of a local spirit only made in Okinawa, Awamori. Still only produced on the island, it is similar to its more famous counterpart Sake in that fact that it is created from rice, however Awamori is distilled not brewed. With a visit to local brewery, you will have the chance to discover the unique beverage for yourself.

Essential information

This tour is conducted by coach and on foot. If choosing to enter the cave, be aware that passages may be slippery in places. There are numerous steps throughout the cave. It is not recommended for those with claustrophobia. Photography is permitted at Shurijo Castle but not in the museum. Visitors to Shurijo Castle must negotiate steep steps and uneven surfaces. Shoes must be removed during visiting the south and main halls at Shurijo Castle. Only Japanese Yen will be accepted by local vendors.

Naha Highlights

Activity medium

Duration: 4 hours

Experience Okinawa’s past and present on a tour of Naha city.

Naha city, can boast to being home to the World UNESCO Heritage site of Shurijo Castle, the seat of power during the 500-year reign of the Ryukyuan Kingdom. Destroyed in World War II and rebuilt in 1992, the castle’s hilltop location provides gorgeous views over the city of Naha. During your visit, discover its importance, most evident in the main hall, the Seiden. Re-built in the original style, the lavish décor and striking red colour is unique to Shuri Castle, giving you a taste of the original splendour which surrounded the Ryukyu Kings.

Coming back down to earth, you’ll discover the lively Kokusai Street, which is Naha’s commercial heart. You’ll have approximately 1 hour’s free time to enjoy this international street of hotels, department stores, theatres and restaurants, which combine cosmopolitan flavour with local colour. For a truly unique experience you can visit the Makishi Public Market. Here you will see colourful local produce, fresh fish and meats, and many busy food stalls where sweet and savoury snacks are cooked on the spot. This lively and bustling “kitchen of Okinawa” is the perfect place to stop, see and taste some edible wonders!

With your camera full of photos and your stomach full of delicious local treats, re-board your motorcoach for the short trip back to port.

Essential information

This excursion is conducted by coach and on foot. Order of visits may vary. Photography is permitted at Shurijo Castle but not in the museum. Visitors to Shurijo Castle must negotiate steep steps and uneven surfaces. There is approximately a 1 hour guided tour around Shurijo Castle. Not recommended for passengers with limited mobility. Comfortable, flat, walking shoes and bottled water are recommended. Shoes must be removed during visiting the south and main halls at Shurijo Castle. Only Japanese Yen will be accepted by local vendors.

Okinawa at Night

Activity mediumMeal included

Duration: 4½ hours

Experience an evening of Okinawan culture with dinner and dancing.

Begin your introduction to the unique culture of the island of Okinawa, with a journey to the seat of power of the Ryukyu kings, the Shurijo Castle. Rebuilt and destroyed numerous times over the years, this hilltop castle will provide you with wonderful views and a look into the Ryukyu kingdom of old.

Separated from Japan in many other ways than just by water, the island of Okinawa is unique in its traditions and culture. This can be best experienced during a visit to a local restaurant, which specialises in Ryukyu cuisine, influenced by Okinawa’s trading partners, China and South East Asia.

Ryukyu Buyo is a form of dance that dates back to the 600s. It has evolved from the ceremonial arts used by priestesses to express their appreciation to the gods in the spirit of prayer. The most famous dance was performed for the kings, courtiers and visiting foreign dignitaries and over dinner, you too will experience this elegant dance of fluid movement and elaborate bright costumes.

Essential information

This tour is conducted on coach and by foot. Photography is permitted in the grounds of Shurijo Castle, but not in the museum. There is approximately 1½ hours of walking on this tour, including steps and uneven surfaces.

Okinawa Past and Present

Activity highMeal includedShopping

Duration: 8 hours

Cultural delights abound with this a full day of sightseeing in central Okinawa.

Okinawa was once a kingdom in itself, with it not falling under Japanese dominion until the latter half of the 19th century. To truly discover the history and heritage of the former Ryukyu people, a visit to the Ryukyu Mura is a must.

Buildings from all over Okinawa’s Ryukyu period have been lovingly relocated here, allowing you to discover and learn all about the beauty, culture and crafts of this vanishing society. Immerse yourself in traditional skills, such as pottery and playing the Sanshin guitar. In between shopping for the handmade souvenirs you can enjoy the traditional parade of dancing and music.

After lunch you’ll continue the Ryukyu Kingdom theme, with a visit to Shurijo Castle, where you have a guided tour, and a chance to experience this gilded highlight of Okinawa.

Stepping forward in time, you’ll see how both past and present are represented in Kokusai Street. This bustling hub of enterprise is a joy to discover and with plenty of free time here you can delight yourself in the sensory tableau of local life.

Essential information

This excursion is conducted by coach and on foot. Photography is permitted in the grounds of Shurijo Castle, but not in the museum. Visitors to Shurijo Castle must negotiate steep steps and uneven surfaces. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Shoes must be removed during the visit to the south and main halls of Shurijo Castle. Japanese Yen is required for any purchases.

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