Far East Cruise – Japan, China, Taiwan & Hong Kong

21 days


The Far East is incomparably exotic and mystical. It combines customs and traditions, tastes and sounds, going back thousands of years, from Southeast Asia to the Far East and India. Our unforgettable tour/cruise on one of Holland America’s luxury cruise ships, we’ll visit a number of fascinating destinations in the Far East: Japan, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. While seemingly similar, these countries are all quite different. The contrast of West and East is noticeable in each of them. Large statues of Buddha on the one hand, and skyscrapers on the other alongside simple bamboo huts. Huge markets filled with all sorts of wonderful products alongside small boats with farming people selling their produce. This tour is filled with new and exclusive adventures.


Days 1, Thursday: Tokyo
Arrival to Tokyo airport (NRT), capital of Japan since 1868. Meet the tour leader at the hotel.

Day 2, Friday: Tokyo, Meiji Shrine, Harajuku and Shibuya
After breakfast, we’ll set out to get to know this special city. We’ll visit Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the memory of Emperor Meiji who brought Japan’s feudal system to an end. We’ll visit the quarters of Harajuku and Shibuya, the main hangouts of Tokyo’s younger generation. Shibuya is truly 21st Century with its huge video screens and bright lights. We’ll return to the hotel tom prepare for Shabbat.

Day 3, Shabbat: Tokyo (Erev Purim, Megillah Reading)
After Shabbat services and breakfast we’ll embark on a walking tour of the area near our hotel. We’ll join the Purim celebrations of Chabad of Tokyo for Megillah Reading on Motzaei Shabbat.

Day 4, Sunday (Purim): Tokyo – Nikko
After breakfast we’ll drive to Nikko, located in the mountains of Tuchigi Prefecture on the Kanto plain. We’ll visit the national park, including Kegon Falls, the highest waterfalls in Japan. We’ll visit the complex of temples and shrines of Nikko, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. We’ll examine the delicate wood carvings on the walls of the buildings, which reflect the unique Japanese construction style, along with the impressive wooden roofs.

Day 5, Monday (Shushan Purim): Tokyo, the Fish Market, Edo Tokyo Museum, Ginza, Asakusa & the Akihabara Electronics District
Today we’ll visit Tokyo’s famous fish market where huge fish are auctioned to the highest bidder early every morning (entry dependent on permission of the authorities). We’ll visit the captivating Edo Tokyo Museum which tells the story of the city and recreates the home and streets from the 16th century. We’ll continue to the bustling quarter of Ginza and the Temples of Asakusa in Tokyo’s old entertainment area. Its huge colorful temple is the most important one in Tokyo, alongside which we’ll find a charming passage filled with stalls selling all kinds of wares. This is a thrill for every visitor. We’ll end the day with a visit to Akihabara, Tokyo’s electronics hub.

Day 6, Tuesday: Tokyo – Yokohama. Welcome Aboard the luxury Holland America MS Volendam
Today we’ll complete our sightseeing in Tokyo and then make our way to Yokohama harbor to board our luxury cruise liner which will be our floating hotel for the remainder of the tour. Sailing is at 10 p.m.

The MS Volendam is one of the most beautiful ships in the world – and one of the newest in Holland America’s new luxury fleet.

  • 9 stateroom decks
  • Restaurants and lounges with large, panoramic windows
  • Boutique elegance
  • New bar area in the atrium
  • Upgraded theater with shows every night
  • All the staterooms display Holland America’s concept of comfort
  • All gusts have window staterooms. (Balcony staterooms are available at extra cost)
  • Deluxe comfortable beds from the “Mariner’s Dream” range, with quality bedding Plush toweling robes
  • TV and DVD (bring your selection from home or borrow from the ship’s library)
  • Plentiful cupboards and storage space
  • Complimentary fresh fruit daily in your stateroom
  • Tea, coffee, juices available for your enjoyment 24 hours a day
  • Complimentary shoe shine service
  • Tasty, abundant kosher meals

The ship also has a variety of theaters, musicians and bars galore, a casino, spa, health club, pool and Jacuzzi as well as a full staff of entertainers on call daily.

Day 7, Wednesday: Shimizu, Hakone
Today we’ll anchor at Shimizu. We’ll disembark and make our way to Hakone, a village known for its many hot springs. It’s located on the banks of Lake Ashi, in a volcanic region. The volcanic activity nowadays is limited to bubbling mud and steam vents. Hakone Shrine is located near the banks of the lake, with its large vermillion Torii standing in the water. We’ll visit the Open Air Museum with its impressive collection of sculptures created by artists from all over the world, as well as its large collection of works by Pablo Picasso. After the visit we’ll return to the ship.

Day 8, Thursday: Osaka, Kyoto
Today we anchor in Osaka. We’ll travel to Kyoto, Japan’s cultural center. The city was Japan’s capital for over 1100 years, the “Jerusalem of Japan”, and is home to over 3,000 temples and shrines. Japan’s emperors are still crowned here. Our visit to the city will include the famous Nijo Castle, build by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. This will be followed by Ryoanji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple world famous for its garden created in the Zen Kare Sansui style – sand, stones and rocks. We’ll also take in the opulent opposite – the ancient Kiyomizu temple, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 9, Friday: Miyazaki
Today we’ll anchor at Miyazaki, on the southeastern coast of the Island of Kyushu. We’ll visit the famous Jingu, dedicated to the memory of Japan’s first emperor, Jimmu. We’ll continue to visit Heiwadai Park, with its Peace Tower Monument built from stones gathered all over Japan. We’ll continue to one of Japan’s historic castles, well known for its collection of local handwork in ceramics, wood, lacquer and bamboo. We’ll end the day on the tropical island of Oshima, surrounded by beautiful beaches and unique rock shapes.

Day 10, Shabbat: Aboard Ship
Today we’ll be able to appreciate some of the luxuries that the ship offers. We’ll enjoy Shabbat services, meals and shiurim, marvel at the scenery, and share one another’s experiences and special knowledge.

Day 11, Sunday: Shanghai – the Jewish Quarter, Yu Yuan Gardens
Today we dock in Shanghai, China’s financial capital. Shanghai is undergoing a super-fast evolution from its intriguing ancient culture to “future shock” city. Lofty skyscrapers, elevated highways, bridges and tunnels and technological advances seen in very few cities. We’ll visit the old Jewish Quarter and the Ohel Moshe Synagogue, which was the spiritual center of the 20,000 Jews who lived in the ghetto during World War II. Here we’ll learn the fascinating story about Jewish Shanghai in those days. From there we’ll continue to Yu Yuan, an area of the city built in classical Chinese style. We’ll ascend the Jin Mao Tower – one of the tallest in the world, for a panoramic view over the Huangpu River and the city.

Day 12, Monday: Shanghai – The City planning Museum and the Shanghai Museum
Today we’ll visit and stimulating and attention-grabbing museum – the City Planning Museum of Shanghai, which presents the modern development of this metropolis. We’ll view a gigantic – but very detailed – model of the city. We’ll continue to the world famous Shanghai Museum with its displays of historical and cultural artifacts from China’s past. We’ll stroll along Shanghai’s famous footpaths – Nanjing Road and the Bund – from where we’ll view the creative architecture of Shanghai’s skyscrapers as well as some of its classical buildings from the previous century.

Day 13, Tuesday: At sea – lectures and luxury
A day at sea enables us to relish many of the luxuries the ship offers. This is time to relax and pamper ourselves with any of the many facilities aboard ship.

Day 14, Wednesday: Naha, Okinawa, Japan
Today we anchor at Okinawa, Japan, one of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Okinawa Prefecture is made up of a series of islands southwest of Japan’s main islands. We’ll dock at Naha, capital of Okinawa and tour the island, its beaches and turquoise waters.

Day 15-16, Thursday-Friday: Keelung, Taiwan. The National Palace Museum
Today we’ll anchor in Taipei, capital of Taiwan. A huge metropolis, filled with skyscrapers, glass and steel towers and wide boulevards. Over the next two days we’ll tour around Taipei. We’ll visit the National Palace Museum with its collection of thousands of Chinese cultural artifacts, dating back millennia. The museum was founded in 1925 in the Forbidden City in Beijing. In 1949, during the civil war in China between the communist and nationalist forces, the government smuggled this immense and valuable cultural heritage out to Taiwan. The museum in Taipei was only founded in 1965. We’ll continue to the expansive memorial site to Generalissimo Chang Kai Shek, who established the republic of China in Taiwan in 1950, after he deserted with his army from the mainland at the end of the civil war against the communist forces. We’ll see the temples of Longshan and Confucius, as well as Tower 101 – one of the tallest in the world, at a height of 509 meters and 101 floors!

Day 17, Shabbat: Hualein, Sea, Lectures and Relaxation
Today we dock at Hualein, Taiwan. We’ll spend the day enjoying the facilities on board the ship. Shabbat services, Shabbat meals and shiurim. Everyone is invited to share their knowledge with the rest of the group.

Day 18, Sunday: Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Today we lay anchor at Kaohsiung, the second largest city in Taiwan. We’ll stroll on the promenade along the Ai River, or the “Love River”, in Chinese. We’ll visit the Lotus Lake, symbol of the city and see the Pagodas reflected in its waters as well as the surrounding temples. We’ll visit the reconstructed area known as “two stations”. Afterwards, we’ll return to the ship.

Day 19, Monday: Hong Kong
Today we’ll sail to our final destination on this journey, Hong Kong. We’ll arrive to Hong Kong’s cruise terminal in the afternoon, disembark and head out to explore this fascinating, exciting and colorful city. We’ll visit Nathan Road in Kowloon before making our way to the Ohel Leah Synagogue. After the tour, we’ll return to the ship, which is still our floating hotel.

Day 20, Tuesday : Hong Kong, Repulse bay, Aberdeen, Victoria Peak
On our final days, we’ll sail around repulse Bay, one of the Islands most attractive beaches. We’ll wander among the old colonial buildings before continuing to the fishing village of Aberdeen. There we’ll discover an ancient community that lives in houseboats, in complete contrast to the condominium towers surrounding them. We’ll take the 100-year old funicular to the top of Victoria Peak, the most visited site in Hong Kong for a magnificent panoramic view of the city, the Island and the mainland.

Day 21, Wednesday : Hong Kong – Back home
Here our journey comes to an end. Laden with experiences and memories we will fly back home.

Dates & Prices
Tour Code Departure Return  
Tour Code Departure date Air + Land * Land only * Single Room**

* Price per person in USD Iin double or twin room.

** Supplement for single room.

* Price of tour is subject to due to change in Air Fare.

Need to Know

Tour Guide: Shai Yogev

Price Includes:

  • 14 day cruise on a Holland America cruise liner
  • Air conditioned coach for all the tours and transfers in the itinerary
  • Tours, visit and entrance fees in the itinerary
  • First class hotels
  • Kosher half board throughout the tour. Facilities to make sandwiches for lunch
  • Tips for local service providers
  • Tour guide from Shai Bar Ilan staff

Price Excludes:

  • International flights, including fuel charges and taxes (may change)
  • Tips for ship’s staff only $160 (to be paid directly aboard ship)
  • Chinese Visa $70
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Evening programs not included in the itinerary
  • Tips for the Israeli guide – $5 per person per day

Kashrut on Tours

Only strictly kosher food is provided to our travelers on all our tours. On some of our tours we are able to provide glatt meals. Kashrut is of utmost importance to us and we take special measures to ensure that everything served is kosher.

The meals:
Breakfast is prepared using our utensils. We use local fresh fruits and vegetables, and we use milk products when they are permitted. We use kosher cereals, and bread. We usually serve hard boiled eggs and sometimes scrambled eggs or omelets. At breakfast, we prepare our lunches so that people have their choice as to what they eat for lunch. We bring food from Israel to supplement what is served in the hotel such as cheeses, peanut butter, tuna, etc.
For dinners, we serve either fish or meat (usually chicken) as our main course. In areas where meat is not available nor readily acquired, we will have fish. When possible, we acquire the meat locally from Chabad or other reliable kosher source, and in some cases we fly the meat in from Israel. We try to provide as many meat meals as possible. The main course at dinner is preceded by soup and salad and accompanied by freshly prepared vegetables. Dessert typically consists of fresh fruits.
We do not guarantee Pat Israel and Chalav Israel for all destinations.
In many destinations we have our own dishes and silverware. Where we don’t, we provide disposables at the meals. When we cook in hotel kitchens, we use our own knives, cutting boards, pots and pans, cooking implements and disposable metal trays. All food preparation is done on covered surfaces under the strict supervision of our trained staff/guides who function as our mashgichim.

We make great efforts to assure that our travelers will experience local foods first-hand, while maintaining stringent observance of Kashrut laws on all occasions.

On most of our tours, you will be accompanied by two of our staff members- one a guide for the tour who is knowledgeable about the places you are visiting and will accompany you throughout the day and the second, a person who will deal with the logistics of the tour and provide kashrut supervision in the kitchen.

It is our aim to provide the finest hotel possible in each area we visit. We require our hotels to allow us to work in the kitchen and to supervise the cooking and there are many hotels that are not willing to cooperate. They simply have no desire for us to be “meddling” in their cooking process nor are they happy about our bringing our equipment into their kitchens. We work very hard to find the best hotel in the area that will meet our requirements. Because we are not ready to compromise on kashrut, we may not always be able to use a five star hotel.

Cancellation Terms:

  • Cancellation for any reason from time of registration up to 90 working days* before departure – $97 per person registration fee only
  • Cancellation for any reason from 89 to 30 working days* before departure – $97 registration + $1500 per person
  • Cancellation for any reason from 29 to 11 working days* before departure – $97 registration + $2500 per person
  • Cancellation for any reason from 10 working days* and less before departure – full cost of the tour and all added expenses
  • If visas to destination countries and flight tickets have already been issued at the time of cancellation, these will be added to the cancellation fees mentioned above.
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