The best way to reach Niigata is to fly into Tokyo. To make life easier for our guests, Jan and I have learned to provide a value-packed PreCruise package that tempts most participants into arriving 3 days before embark. In this case our optional PreTour will meet flights at Tokyo’s Narita Airport. While our packed bikes continue directly to Niigata, participants will spend two or more nights in group hotel in Tokyo. Following two days of guided exploration, our embark morning deluxe coach transfer to embark.
While two full years of interim scouting will allow us to fill in all the details, here are some highlights of the special itinerary being developed for Santana’s 51st cycling cruise. Next June we’ll provide detailed flight guidance that will allow our participants to snag those free award flights the day they’re released.
We will sail south from Niigata along a beautiful coastline and circle back along the southern coast to Kobe. We’ll pedal the pristine roadways of Japan as well as their excellent network of bike routes to explore the diverse island of Honshu.
From Kobe this tour includes a deluxe coach transfer to central Tokyo OR Tokyo’s Narita Airport.
Castles, Shrines, & Temples
Samurai Villages, Homes, & Sword Smiths
Beautiful Parks & Gardens
Breweries, Sake, & Sushi
MS Caledonian Sky
Japan Cycling Cruise
The M.S. Caledonian Sky is an all-suites expedition-rated cruiser. In addition to 7-seas worthiness and advanced stabilization, an expedition ship is designed to put teams of explorers ashore in places like the Galapagos or the Antarctic. To get scientists and their delicate equipment ashore an expedition ship uses landers instead of tenders. The Caledonian Sky has six large landers to allow dry-foot landings at a boat ramp or protected cove. A normal cruise ship requires ports the same way airliners need airports. Caledonian Sky, however, provides helicopter-like flexibility. With this unique ship we have a newfound freedom to design rides that aren’t dictated by the location of airports, harbors or hotels.
Unlike the research vessels used by biologists, the all-suites Caledonian Sky is a luxurious expedition ship that provides fine dining, relaxing amenities and restful sleep. Moreover, this capable ship solves the common failure of bike tours, where a week or two of van-supported cycling won’t allow you to experience enough diversity. The Caledonian Sky allows an optimal cycling vacation by transporting cyclists up to 180 miles while they sleep. Imagine a cycling tour that explores 10 regions in 10 days—without a transfer or change of hotels.
The dining room is large enough to seat everyone at once. Our five-star chef will create a regionally inspired menu for each meal with multiple choices for each course. The sommelier will provide wine pairings. Beer and wine are included at dinner. The ship serves three meals a day, and on certain days a mid-ride lunch is provided. When all day rides move in different directions, most cyclists will snack at local bakeries and cafes before returning to a welcoming buffet that will tide you over until dinner.
Another place with seating for all is the ship’s Main Lounge where we bring aboard local entertainers and naturalists. The smaller Panorama Lounge is a great place to read a book, catch up on email, or enjoy a cocktail at sunset.
It’s okay to feel sorry for your friends back home while dining on the Lido Deck. If you want to take lounging to a new level the beautiful Sun Deck is a great place to work on your summer tan.
Videos of the MS Caledonian Sky
Frequently Asked Questions
Japan Cycling Cruise
Q: What are the exact dates?
A: Poring over charts showing climate and rainfall, we chose mid-June for long days of sunshine and daily high temperatures in the 70s. Spring rains will have disappeared and peak humidity won’t arrive until the following month. We’re proud to have arranged the perfect dates: June 24 to July 3, 2020.
Q: Will I get seasick?
A: The MS Caledonian Sky was built to stabilize itself during expedition cruises to the extremely rough waters of Antarctica, the waters of Japan won’t even challenge the stabilizers. Compared to other vessels of it’s size, this ship is like riding in a Cadillac.
Q: What’s the cost?
A: Due to Santana’s friendship with Noble Caledonia, our per-person first-in pricing for this 10-day event in Japan starts at $5899. Premium stateroom categories cost more. Lowest pricing in every category is limited to the first few rooms. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE. Our reservations page shows pricing of available staterooms.
Q: Is this a good deal?
A: Anyone who has visited Japan will tell you about expensive meals and accommodations that aren’t tailored to Western tastes. Our luxurious solution is an all-suites ship with an array of 5-star cuisine that includes local specialties. To celebrate our 50th cruise, and to thank our participants for the support that caused us to reach this incredible milestone, we’ll launch this first event of 2020 at a very special price!
How low? Even though our costs are considerably higher for Japan, it’s priced the same as our equal length 2019 New Zealand cycling cruise that uses the same ship—a repeat cruise which sold out in less than 24 hours. With standard suites for our 10-day cruise of Japan starting at only $5899 per-person, this premier event could sell out even faster.
Q: What about tipping?
A: Santana’s cruise hosts don’t accept tips. Santana’s comprehensive “cruise extras” fee of $300 per person includes cycling-specific extras, support teams, admissions, guides, and Sergio’s Coach (our non-rider coach bus). Shipboard gratuities, collected at the event, are $180 per person, and go to the ship’s crew. Port Fees are $400 per person.
Q: Are some staterooms better than others?
A: Certainly. The MS Caledonian Sky features deluxe bedding and spacious floor plans. The rooms have a private bath with shower, air-conditioning with adjustable thermostat, and are soundproofed. All Caledonian Sky staterooms are located on the exterior, and offer South Sea views or balconies.
A: Every stateroom is a suite. About 40% have balconies. Pricing varies by location and floor plan (see the Stateroom Reservations section below for pricing details).
Q: Has anyone done this before?
A: We will be the first group of cyclists to experience a Japan Cycling Cruise. The entire ship is ours, which allows a cycling specific itinerary that makes use of the Caledonian Sky‘s expeditionary capabilities.
Q: What’s the next step?
A: A near-immediate sell-out of this event is anticipated. Early-in pricing is limited to the first few rooms in each category. Pricing listed on the Stateroom Reservations section is the current pricing. Refresh your browser to see any changes that may have occurred if you delay booking after loading this page. To lock-in availability and the lowest pricing on a RISK-FREE basis, reserve your space through our PayPal portal. PayPal’s secure website is open 24 hours per day, accepts all major credit cards, and automatically adjusts for remaining stateroom availability. Reserving your spot is RISK-FREE. In each category the prime location staterooms will be assigned in the same order as the time stamp of your booking.
Q: What do you mean by RISK-FREE?
A: When you use your credit card and book through PayPal, we’ll give you 14 risk-free days to think it over and clear your schedule. If you change your mind, send an email to Matt@SantanaAdventures.com within two weeks to cancel the PayPal transaction and obtain a full refund.
Q: What if we change our minds after 14 days?
A: Because full-boat charters are binding, non-cancelable contracts, Jan and I will only enter into this charter based on your confirmed-through-PayPal commitment. In effect, we undertake a huge risk by guaranteeing full payment on your behalf. After entering into this obligation, we cannot afford for you to back out—for any reason. This is no different than the clear written policy that existed for all except one of Santana’s prior chartered-ship cruises (this Japan charter will be our 50th!). While preparing for our 2009 Danube event I neglected to include the following proviso. That’s the year a group of friends, after verbally agreeing to pay in full and then stringing Jan along for many months, decided to cancel their plans. Lesson learned! Here it is (again) in writing:
Santana’s acceptance of your registration and non-refundable deposit for this event is subsequent to your agreement to pay the remaining balance in full. While Santana allows limited refunds on rallies and tours, Santana’s cruises are non-cancelable and non-transferable. When the possibility of paying yet not attending is unacceptable, Jan and I recommend Travel Guard trip insurance. For the past 20 years hundreds of our clients have relied on Travel Guard coverage without complaint. An informative application will be mailed with your invoice; and further information is available online.
Q: Have you ever relaxed your refund policy?
A: Jan and I have willingly resold a number of fully prepaid staterooms for a fee of $500 per person—which was waived when a vacating couple found someone to take their place. When there has been more than one pending resell request, those who paid-in-full earliest had their space resold next. Using this non-guaranteed method (which is grossly inferior to trip insurance) Jan and I have cheerfully refunded over $250,000 in otherwise non-refundable and non-transferable cruise fares.
Q: How are staterooms assigned?
A: In any category all rooms are identical. Using the PayPal timestamp, those who reserve earliest get staterooms closest to the prime areas of the ship, which Bill and Jan both prefer. If friends desire a pair of adjacent staterooms the timestamp of the first reservation determines the location of both rooms. In short, we will not take requests for specific room numbers. Those who book early obtain prime positioning.
Q: How do we get to and from the tour?
A: Detailed info by July ’19. Those who arrive and leave on the embark and debark days will receive FREE Airport transfers.
Q: Are rental bikes available?
A: Yes. If you own a nice bike that fits, however, bringing it with you is relatively easy and inexpensive. More info on this in Bill’s Travel Tips. Single bike rentals will be arranged, includes delivery to Sapporo and retrieval from Tokyo, we will notify all participants about 60 days prior to the event.
Q: How many miles each day?
A: In addition to our daily pair of zero-mile options (remaining on the ship or exploring the islands via our panoramic-window coach), every day has multiple cycling routes. Anyone who can ride a gentle 35 miles will be able to enjoy cycling every day. If you prefer hills or want to spend additional hours in the saddle, we’ve got you covered. At each morning’s breakfast you’ll get a map charting the day’s cycling routes and recommended stops. During a brief route talk you’ll hear about each route’s grades and difficulty. Santana’s vets have learned to love and rely on their handlebar-mounted gps units. Available for less than $200, these touch-screen marvels prevent the age-old problem of getting lost or riding unplanned miles. Santana supplies free electronic mapping and route files. Simply select the route and follow the highlighted map.
Q: What’s the difference between a SAG-wagon and Santana’s SOS/treasure vans?
A: Most tour companies use SAG-wagons that haul luggage and “sweep” the route between overnight stops. The drivers refill water-bottles, fix flat tires, and retrieve riders who can’t manage the easiest route between the widely spaced hotels. The problem, of course, is that the roving vans tend to be annoying until you actually need help. At that point it’s common to wait for two or more hours until one shows up. Although SAG drivers can fix a flat, they don’t have the tools or know-how to handle serious mechanical problems. Instead, they drive you to a bike shop (which explains why SAG-wagons disappear for hours at a time). This tour’s SOS van is driven by a pro bike mechanic who brings tools and spares. When you phone him with the coordinates from your GPS, he’ll arrive in a flash to get you back in the saddle. Because Santana expects participants to fill their own bottles, fix their own flats, and choose a ride they can finish, our SOS drivers are underworked, and have time to retrieve your shopping treasures.
Q: Does the Caledonian Sky have WiFi? Does the ship have an elevator?
Will there be menu selections for vegetarians, vegans and picky eaters?
A: Yes to all of the above.
Q: What if we have more questions?
A: The easiest way to get any further info is by phoning or emailing Matt, who is happy to answer your questions.
+1 (949) 677-7896 Matt@SantanaAdventures.com
Q: What if I run into problems with Reservations or PayPal?
A: The easiest way to get help is by phoning or emailing Matt, who is happy to help guide you.
+1 (949) 677-7896 Matt@SantanaAdventures.com
Japan Cycling Cruise 2020
June 24 to July 3, 2020
Full Cancellation policy appears below. Your deposit signifies an acceptance of those terms.
|* Fares are Per-Person & Double-Occupancy|
|* Fares are set at time of purchase, and are otherwise subject to change based on availability.|
|* Please note that the number of rooms in each category is limited and unchangeable.|
Stateroom Prices are per person, double occupancy
Deposits listed below are per stateroom, and are for two participants
|Our comprehensive “cruise extras” fee of $300 per person covers a long list of off-ship activities, admissions, guides, rider support, SOS-Vans, and our non-cyclist panoramic-window coach. Port fees are $400 per person.
Crew Gratuities of $180 per person will be collected at the event.
|Your initial Stateroon-Holding-Fee is an escrow-like payment which remains fully refundable for 14 days. After 14 days, your Stateroom-Holding-Fee will be converted to an Event Deposit. At that point a dated invoice will be issued. To get pre-existing coverage you’ll want to purchase Travel Insurance within 14 days of your invoiced date (or within 28 days of placing your Holding Fee). Unless you cancel in writing within that 14 day period, the following Scary Cancellation Policy applies to Santana’s chartered cruise events:|
|Because cruise ship charters are binding, non-cancelable contracts, Jan and I will only enter into this charter based on your confirmed-with-a-deposit commitment. In effect, we undertake a huge risk by guaranteeing full payment on your behalf. After entering into this obligation, we cannot afford for you to back out, for any reason. This is the same policy that existed on all but 1 of Santana’s 49 previous cruises. While preparing for our 2009 Danube event, I neglected to include the following provision (shown below). That’s the year a group of friends, after verbally agreeing to pay in full and then stringing Jan along for many months, decided to cancel their plans. Lesson learned!|
|Santana’s acceptance of your registration and non-refundable deposit for this event is subsequent to your agreement to pay the remaining balance in full. While Santana allows limited refunds on Rallies and Tours, Santana’s Cruises are non-cancelable, non-transferable, and non-refundable. When the possibility of paying yet not attending is unacceptable, Jan and I recommend Travel Guard Trip Insurance. For the past 20 years hundreds of our clients have relied on Travel Guard coverage without a single complaint. An informative application is available upon request; and further information is available online.|