Part IV: Overall satisfaction - Cruising Land of Rising Sun

This was our 7th Tauck tour (4-20 April 2017), but the least satisfying one. One of the group from Australia said this was her 2nd Tauck tour, but would the last one, based on the ship portion of the tour. Many other Tauck tour veterans also noted that this tour was not one of their best experiences, pointing out the deficiencies of the Ponant vessel, the difficult physical activity, and the uneven quality of daily excursions.


  • Hi Larry,
    I suspect your southbound tour followed our Northbound one (ours ending April 11). Hopefully, you got to see as many gorgeous cherry blossoms as we did! I have some responses to your four posts but will just post here. I posted last week, and as Tauck Emily mentioned, the following day I had an excellent conversation with the Project Manager for Small Ship Cruising. I believe he sincerely heard what I had to say. For the future, some things can be changed and made better and some things might present more of a problem to change.
    I think your post just goes to exemplify what some of us have been thinking/posting, that many travelers prefer cruises and many travelers prefer land tours. When a company attempts to combine these two, as I think Tauck might have done here, it is difficult to fully satisfy both types! I prefer the land, you prefer the water!! However, and I sense this from your posts, Larry, that Tauck can do more to satisfy each type of traveler on this trip.
    I agree with your comments about dress. I did not notice anyone who dressed inappropriately, for day or night activities. And, I agree about the four special dinners. My husband even brought along (and wore) a sport jacket for the first trip in about 13 years!
    I also agree about changing the physical activity rating of this trip as it is a strenuous trip. I have only done one other land/cruise trip (Treasures of the Aegean), and the activity of this trip was comparable to that one, so I didn't think too much of it. In fact, it was one of my positives as we felt it was a great way to work off some of those desserts we kept having after lunch and dinner! (we're still paying for those, by the way) I did note, however, that on the last ship day only 7 our of 29 went on the Black Castle tour even though you did not have to climb the five flights of narrow wooden steps to enjoy the visit, and it was a highlight of the trip. We welcomed the level of activity as that was a plus for us, but it should be a 3.
    About the excursions...again, that was a real plus for us! We loved all of them and would have hated to see any of them removed or have had to choose which ones to take. I am not sure which ones you felt were fillers...maybe the shochu tasting?? Then again, that was an interesting process and is a pretty big part of Japanese drinking. Frankly, the stuff tasted like what I believe moonshine might taste like, and we didn't care for it. Then again, why did we buy and schlep a bottle of the plum stuff all the way back to California??? Caught up in the moment, I guess! So sorry to hear about the fish market in Busan, another highlight for us. That would be very discouraging, and I would not be happy. I hadn't even thought about the walking tour of Gion. You raise an excellent point! I got sort of taken with the hustle and bustle of the area in the morning and the occasional Geiko/Meiko walking by. I think the idea was to visit at night on our own, but we were so exhausted each night, including our pre-tour nights, we never made it.
    We were at the Westin and were very unhappy with it. The rooms were "shopworn", and it was far removed from most things except Philosopher's Walk. There was a shuttle to the train station, but it was a good 20-25 minute ride. Our TD's did conduct a wonderful walking tour of the Teramacche (sp?) shopping center, and we would have loved to be closer to things. Glad to hear the Shangri La in Tokyo was superb...we stayed at the Palace and it was outstanding!
    I purposely did not write about L'Austral as I think that can be a very subjective thing, and I don't have a lot of experience with ship staterooms. I was very interested to read your comments. I, too, thought the Wi-Fi was a pain! Every time I learned a new code and password, I had used up my 100 minutes and had to go get a new number! (A joke about the Wi-Fi was that everyone got outstanding free service at the bullring on Uwajima and managed to download all of the mail that had stacked up for days on the ship!).And, yes, those people at reception were just plain haughty! I wanted to ask a few of them why they didn't get a job they actually liked! The wait staff and room attendants were beyond friendly and efficient! We, too, thought the food was a bit uneven, but I think we could always find something we liked. We only ate dinner at the buffet once.
    A final note about the itinerary and a reply to British's comment. One of the reasons we selected this trip over the land tour is that it included so many small, interesting ports that would be almost impossible to reach/explore in one land tour (maybe on our own if we took a month to do it). And, we were not disappointed in the least about the excursions and the stops. In fact, after being in rural areas for most of the cruise part of the trip, I was a bit shell-shocked when we reached Tokyo! A whole lot was packed into 14 days! I believe many people on this trip were there because of the itinerary as well as an opportunity to maximize time in seeing all of these places. Yes, Japan is a very safe country! What a pleasure to walk down a crowded street and not have to worry about pickpockets every step of the way. And, it is the cleanest country we have ever visited! No trash, no graffiti!
    I hope Tauck does take these many suggestions to re-evaluate the organization, etc. of this trip. Next year they will have the entire ship, so perhaps they will be able to make some positive changes and make the experience an even better one!

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