Day 12 – March 15th. 2014.
“Cunard Queen Elizabeth maiden visit to Kagoshima”
We arrived into the beautiful port of Kagoshima with clear skies the sun glowing and many happy Japanese cheering and waving flags to the ship as she came alongside the pier. It is a wonderful welcome for the maiden visit of Cunard Queen Elizabeth.
Our tour is first thing this morning so after getting up very early and having breakfast in the Lido we made our way to line up for customs and passport control. There was a huge line and our tour was an early one for which the meeting point at 8.30am was the Queens Room where we are to wait for our tour. Japanese customs had set up in the Britannia restaurant and we eventually got our turn. They took fingerprints and photo ID before giving us a visa sticker in the passport, valid until June 13th. Yay, we are legally allowed to stay.
Having a tour booked through the ship you often get to disembark quickly, especially as the buses are on a tight schedule, and it was not long before we were heading off and onto our coach. What a contrast to Rabaul, the minivan with filthy windows and the poor suspension was replaced by luxury coaches, crystal clean windows.
“Sakurajima Island and its very active volcano”
First stop was Sakurajima Island and its very active volcano. To get to the ferry terminal we drive through town for a while passing some sights which all goes by quite fast.
Ferry to Sakurajima Island
We drive on the ferry and then get off and go to the top deck. The ferry took us to the island, which is actually not an island anymore since the eruptions of the past it has now joined it to the mainland.
The crossing is only 15 minutes and soon we are back on the coach heading up to the Yunohira Observatory at an altitude of 373m on north peak of this volcano. The scenery is great and on a clear day, you can get wonderful photos. But as with everything nothing is guaranteed, fingers crossed.
The weather is good to us and we had a clear view of the volcano all we needed now was for it to erupt… And boom there she blew, as if on request just for us she let out clouds of ash into the sky, a pretty awesome sight.
The fact is, that Sakurajima is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Currently (2014) this volcano is one of the few that are in constant (persistent) activity. Eruptions can be expected every 4-24 hours. So I guess there was a good chance we could witness this eruption.
About 45 minutes later you could feel and see the ash falling onto us as we walked around the area. Both Moni and I had very sore lips after this day, not sure if it is the temperature change to getting colder or the volcanic ash. The ash was not hot, just dusty sort of thing. The whole area there is covered in charcoal grey/black ash which builds up like snow. The view from up here is great and you can see the bay below.
The Island of Sakurajima grows some famous produce one being massive daikon (radish) in fact Sakurajima holds the record for the heaviest radish. Another product that is very popular back in the UK is the Satsuma orange. I remember devouring these as a child around Christmas time.
Sengan-en garden in Kagoshima
After the making the way back down to the ferry and across to the mainland, our next stop was the Sengan-en garden.
A borrowed landscape garden. Here we stayed about one & half hours in which we walked around. The garden has lots of manicured trees and shrubs and small ponds, with the volcano and water as a borrowed landscape which is how it is intended it to be viewed.
On walking around we came across our first vending machine and promptly had to try it out. In with the cash and out came the chosen tin of coffee (hot). How cool is that… It tasted ok as well, a bit like a strong espresso with sugar.
Japanese Vending Machine
Then we took a look at the souvenir shops and the glass making factory which is next door. Beautiful pieces of artwork made from wood, metal and glass are on display. Good job we are not able to carry any more stuff as I could see us taking a liking to a few items.
That concluded our two tour highlights and it was then back on the coach to return to the ship. We drove through the town on the way back during that time our guide explained lots of excellent information. Eventually, we arrive back at the dock and stumble through the stalls that the locals have set up along with lots of people milling around.
“Kagoshima port welcomes Cunard Queen Elizabeth”
I get to dress up like a samurai and make some warrior sounds which get the locals laughing, after my photo shoot we continue on and sample some local foods and drinks.
The sound of drums draws a crowd and we watch for a while as the young band put on a rousing show before we make our way onboard for afternoon tea with Udo & Christina.
Afternoon tea in the Queens Room where plenty of finger sandwiches, mini cakes, and scones are consumed, seeing as we missed out on lunch except for samples. The good conversation between us all continues around the table. The guys (Udo & Christina) had tried to arrange afternoon tea and dinner in the Queens Grill with us, but unfortunately, it is not possible, so we arranged that we all could have dinner in the Britannia Restaurant at 8.30. This was not a problem.
Time flew by and the captain announced that we will be shortly leaving Kagoshima, so we all went back to our cabin to watch as we sailed away… What an awesome send-off, people singing, clapping and cheering, a real party atmosphere.
Now that is what I call a send off for such a majestic liner and that’s what cruising is all about, not just a get on here, get off here trip, more of a whole experience. We all loved it and watch for ages as we gently ease out of the harbour with the sun setting in the distance, it’s a great sight to see.
Britannia dinner with Udo & Christina
Next, we showered and met up again for dinner. A fun night was had with good wine and fine food.
After dinner, we went back to their (Udo & Christina) cabin and finished some of the complimentary wine. They get a new bottle of choice as soon as they finish one, Christina had a bottle of baileys. It was then off to bed with the clock showing gone midnight.