Queen Elizabeth Maiden Visit To Kagoshima

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.

QE arriving at Kagoshima

QE arriving at Kagoshima

 

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.

KAGOSHIMA JAPAN

 

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.

Tour busses lined up awaiting their guests

Tour busses lined up awaiting their guests

 

“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.

images from the bus drive through the town

Images from the bus drive through the town

 

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.

Ferry to Sakurajima Island

Ferry to Sakurajima Island

 

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.

Sakurajima Volcano in Kagoshima, Japan

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.

Mt Sakurajima Volcano

The very active Sakurajima Volcano

 

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.

View to the bay from the volcano

View to the bay from the volcano

 

Sakurajima Island

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.

Udo & Christina - Radish - Ash covered cars - Oranges

Udo & Christina – Radish/Daikon – Ash-Covered Cars – Oranges

 

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.

Sengan-en garden in Kagoshima

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.

Sengan-en Garden

Images From Sengan-en Garden

 

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

Japanese Vending Machine

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”

Kagoshima port welcomes Cunard Queen Elizabeth

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.

Samurai warrior dress up

Samurai warrior dress up

 

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.

Kagoshima band playing drums

Kagoshima band playing drums

 

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.

Images from Leaving Kagoshima

Images from Leaving Kagoshima

 

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.

Britannia dinner

Britannia dinner

 

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.

 

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    […] It was fascinating to watch, especially the way that some actually handed over their tips… hand shake with hidden dollar, nice open hold it out in front, others that got off and opened their wallets and searched we saw it all. All this was going on as the locals were entertaining on the dock, they did some dances in costumes and a band played in-between, not a patch on the sail away ceremony that we had leaving Kagoshima in Japan on the Queen Elizabeth. […]

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    […] Tonight or rather in the early hours of tomorrow we will officially cross the Equator about 2am. This will be our second time this year, our first being on the Queen Elizabeth heading north to Japan. […]

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