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Travel the sea and discover the Ryukyu Islands and beyond

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-07-30

Travel by boat has always conjured up images of romance, and evokes a sense of freedom inside of us. For those looking to unwind in an unhurried fashion, there is no better way to travel. It offers you the time to relax, and also prepares your mind and heart for what mysteries lay beyond.

A spirit for a bit of adventure and love for the ocean is all that is needed for a cruise through the East China Sea. The "Hiryu", a 167 meter cruise ship that departs out of Naha, can be your passageway to some of the beautiful southern islands of the Ryukyu archipelago. Stopping in the ports of Miyako and Ishigaki, it is a great chance to see some of Okinawa's most stunning and isolated islands. Both Ishigaki and Miyako have long been known for their distinct cultures and own traditions. They offer fantastic white sand beaches, great diving and snorkeling, and plenty of areas to explore. Both ports are also a hopping point to smaller and more pristine islands.

The "Hiryu" also cruises beyond Ishigaki, where it eventually takes curious souls to the bustling cities and mystical country side of Taiwan. Keeping alive many of the Chinese traditions brought from China, Taiwan is filled with culturally rich sights, sounds, and tastes.

The Arimura Shipping Company's passenger cruises aboard the "Hiryu", puts you on a vessel that has been designed to meet the needs of travelers who are not in a hurry. The ship is immaculately clean, and gives you floating luxury. The expansive deck lets you take advantage of ocean breezes and the warm sun. It is equipped with a small swimming pool and a jacuzzi. The "Hiryu" gives you a choice of both fine dining or a quick snack to satisfy your hunger. You can enjoy a drink at either the "Captain's Bar" or the "Panorama Salon", where you can view the ocean from inside, through the ship's windows.

Guests are treated with excellent service from the time they board the "Hiryu". As you enter the beautifully designed main reception hall, resembling a hotel lobby, you are greeted by friendly staff ready to assist you. The four hundred and twenty four beds are divided into second class, first class, and special class. The second class rooms have six beds to a room, with shower and television. The first class rooms are located on the port and starboard sides of the ship, which gives each room an ocean view. There are four beds, a small sofa, refrigerator, a bath and shower, and a television with 24 hour video service.

Children will especially enjoy exploring the "Hiryu", while adults can lounge in comfort. A cruise aboard the "Hiryu" will also give you an opportunity to meet some of the locals, and also some Taiwanese nationals.

Hiryu's Monday night, 8 pm departure time from Naha enables you to sleep to the sound of the ocean, arriving at 4 am in Miyako, and at 9:45 am in Ishigaki. The schedule helps you to save on hotel accommodations, and you do not have to take a day off from work on your departure day. Your arrival time also lets you enjoy your first day at your destination starting early in the morning. The price for a one way second class ticket aboard the "Hiryu" is 3,880 to Miyako and 5,350 to Ishigaki. First class tickets will cost you 7,770 to Miyako and 10,700 to Ishigaki. Arimura Cruises also makes a family trip very affordable and fun. Kids under the age of six board for free, while children between the ages of six and twelve ride for 1/2 price. There are also discounts available for the purchase of a round trip ticket.

Continuing on from Ishigaki to Taiwan is another six hours, arriving in Keelung at 5:15 pm. The cost for a Naha to Keelung second class ticket is 15,600, while a first class ticket costs 18,600.

Arimura Cruises also heads in the opposite direction, bringing you to the ports of Nagoya and Osaka in mainland Japan.

Although the "Hiryu" is not comparable to something you might find in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, you can still get the pleasure and experience of a cruise at a very inexpensive price. If you have the time, and always dreamed of taking a boat to a foreign port, definitely consider one of Arimura's Cruises. Check for different departure dates, times, and ticket prices by calling 860-1980.

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