Every year during Obon holidays, hubby and I go to hubby’s ancestral home in Ichinomiya City in Aichi prefecture to meet our in-laws and relatives. We usually travel by flight as Akita and Ichinomiya cities are far apart. However, this year hubby’s office had nine days holidays in Mid August for Obon festival, so we used the opportunity to do some sightseeing in western Japan. We did most of the travel by our car. But while going, we went from Akita to Tsuruga City in Fukui prefecture by sea and enjoyed the cruise resort for a day. Later we did sight-seeing in Kyoto, Shiga, and Tottori prefectures, and then visited hubby’s ancestral home. It was fun.
We traveled by a cruise ferry named Azalea and enjoyed exploring western Japan and Sea of Japan. We did one day and night cruise, which was very pleasurable and scenic way to travel. On 11th August, hubby and I started from our home in Yurihonjo City at about 7.30 am and reached Akita seaport by our car at 8.30 am. We parked our car in the queue of cars waiting to board the ferry. At about 8.45 am, a crew staff of the ferry directed the waiting queue of cars and hubby drove his car up the ramp on to the second floor of the ferry. Meanwhile I went to the waiting lounge at the seaport, and after waiting for about ten minutes I entered the third floor lobby area of the cruise ferry. Ferry Azalea is a cruising resort in Sea of Japan operated by a company named Shin Nihonkai Ferry. This company operates an extensive network of ferry routes between the Honshu and Hokkaido islands in Japan. Ferry Azalea started the previous day from Tomakomae City in Hokkaido prefecture at about 7.30 pm, and had transit stops at Akita and Niigata ports before reaching its ultimate destination Tsuruga City. I was amazed by the huge size of the ferry. The length of the ferry is 195.4 meters and weighs about 20564 tons. The ferry has five floors. 926 people can be on-board and 186 trucks and 80 cars can be loaded onto the ferry. The speed of the ferry is 22.7 Knots.
Front portion of Ferry Azalea at Akita seaport
Back portion of the ferry
Ramp to load cars and trucks on-board
Second floor waiting lounge at Akita seaport
People waiting at the lounge
Hubby parked our car at the second floor parking area inside Ferry Azalea and then walked up to the third floor lobby area where I was waiting for him. The ferry left Akita seaport at 9 am. We wished to see the ferry depart from the port, so we went to the backside deck of the third floor to get a better view. The view was simply amazing. Celion Tower looked so tall and impressive from the sea. Afterwards we walked along the side deck of the third floor and enjoyed the views of the sea around us. Next, we climbed up a few stairs and walked along the side deck of the fourth floor of the ferry. We took several photos of the lovely passing views.
Ferry Azalea leaving Akita seaport
Celion Tower and the sea as viewed from the backside deck of the third floor
I am standing at the backside deck
Passing views as seen from the side deck of the third floor
Side deck of the third floor
Hubby enjoying the views from the side deck of the third floor
The ferry as viewed from the side deck of the fourth floor
Hubby enjoying the views from the side deck of the fourth floor
A pair of seagulls at the side deck
After enjoying the outside views for some time, we returned back inside the ferry. We went to the enclosed forward saloon deck located on the fourth floor and enjoyed viewing the front of the ferry. The forecastle deck, which is the front most point of the ferry, looked so clean and reminded us of the movie ‘Titanic’.
Enclosed forward saloon deck
Hubby enjoying the views
Front most point of the ship as viewed from the forward saloon deck
After some time, we went to see the lobby area located on the third floor of the ferry. The lobby looked beautiful and had a wonderful design and pattern. The lobby was stately, elegant, and tastefully adorned with artwork and bright lights. The ornamented spiral staircase in the lobby looked so grand and exquisite. The lobby was really an attractive area where we saw many travelers and guests relaxing and networking with one another. We took several photos of the lobby from various positions and angles for the sake of memory.
I am standing in the lobby of Ferry Azalea
The bottom of the ornamented spiral staircase in the lobby
This photo is taken from the bottom of the spiral staircase with the camera pointing up towards the ceiling
Elegant staircase and artwork
Hubby climbing up the staircase
I am climbing up the staircase
Hubby standing in the lobby of the ferry
Hubby watching television in the lobby area
Afterwards we went to our room located on the third floor of the ferry. We wanted to keep our baggage and also relax for some time in the room. Ferry Azalea has various types of rooms, namely, Suite Room (double), Deluxe Room B (twin and Japanese style), Suite Room B (twin, Japanese style, and four bed style), Tourist B (four-berth cabin with two upper and two lower berths), and Tourist J (Japanese style for 16 people). The details about these types of rooms can be found in this homepage (Japanese). Although we booked our tickets almost two months in advance, we got only Tourist B cabin type room. This is because nowadays cruising has become a crucial leisure activity and important element in travel itineraries of many Japanese people. So the travelers usually book their tickets almost six months in advance. We were not aware of it, and so we got only the cabin type room. But the cabin was very neat and clean, and had a baggage rack. All the four berths in the cabin had a blanket, a pillow, a bed sheet, and a pillow cover. Initially I was a bit apprehensive about sleeping in Tourist B type room but eventually we liked our cabin style room. It was actually fun.
Hubby is standing in the corridor in front of our room. Several Tourist B type rooms are located to his right side and a Tourist J room is located to his left side.
I am standing in our four-berth cabin. The baggage rack is seen in the background.
Hubby is sitting on one of our berths
After taking rest for about 15 minutes, we left our room at 10.30 am. Next, we went to the vending machine corner located on the third floor of the ferry, and got some Onigiri, sandwiches, a bag of potato chips, and a can of beer. We also filled an empty PET bottle (we had it with us!) with water from a drinking water facility also located on the third floor. We enjoyed having Onigiri and other snacks sitting at the promenade deck located on the fourth floor of the ferry. The promenade deck was enclosed type and we loved viewing the sea. It was very nice and relaxed environment.
Hubby standing in front of the vending machine
Hubby standing next to the drinking water facility
Promenade deck located on the fourth floor of the ferry
Hubby relaxing and having snacks at the promenade deck
Next we went to Cafe Lounge located adjacent to the promenade deck on the fourth floor of the ferry. We noted that some on-board entertainment show was going on. A juggler performed many funny tricks with balls and juggling clubs on stage. We sat and enjoyed the show for about 20 minutes. It was really funny and entertaining, and I compiled a video of the juggling show.
A juggler entertaining the travelers with his tricks
A complied video of on-board entertainment by a juggler
Cafe Lounge is located almost at the back end on the fourth floor of the ferry. After the on-board entertainment, we opened a door that led us directly to the backside deck of the fourth floor. We enjoyed the passing views from the deck. In fact, I was awestruck by the beauty of the sea all around us. We saw two Jacuzzi style tubs at the deck, and many kids were enjoying the bubbling water in Jacuzzi. In addition, there were many white lounge chairs on the deck, and we spent quiet some time sprawled on the chairs. It was really a lazy relaxed time for us.
I am standing at the backside deck of the fourth floor
Back end of the fourth floor of the ferry along with Jacuzzi tubs
Kids enjoying the bubbling water in Jacuzzi
Hubby sprawled on a lounge chair at the backside deck
The ferry offered gourmet food. There were two restaurants named ‘Grill’ and ‘The Restaurant’ located on the fourth floor of the ferry. The restaurant named ‘Grill’ required prior reservation for eating. So we had lunch at ‘The Restaurant’ at about 1 pm. This restaurant offered a buffet style meal and a large variety of items to choose from. The food was delicious and we overate.
People waiting in a queue inside the restaurant
Hubby having lunch
Due to the heavy lunch, we were rather sleepy and took rest for almost 4 hours in our cabin room. The ferry had made a one-hour stop at Niigata port but we slept through that port stop. We got up at 5.30 pm and were quite refreshed. At 5.45 pm, we had dinner at the same restaurant where we had our lunch at the fourth floor. I was not at all hungry but had dinner just to enjoy the experience. Later we relaxed for some time at the promenade deck located on the fourth floor itself. Next we went to the public bath-house, also located on the fourth floor of the ferry. We wished to take a relaxed bath but the bath-house was rather crowded that time, so we decided to skip bathing that day! To pass the time, we again went to the backside deck of the fourth floor and relaxed on the lounge chairs for almost an hour. It became dark by 7 pm and the sea seemed so mysterious.
Hubby relaxing at the promenade deck after dinner
I am standing outside at the back end of the fourth floor of the ferry. We can see that some people are having dinner and enjoying the sea.
I am relaxing on a lounge chair at the backside deck of the fourth floor
At about 7.30 pm, we went to video theater room located on the fifth floor of the ferry. At the theater room, we enjoyed watching an English musical comedy movie named ‘School of Rock’. It was a funny movie. Afterwards, we returned back to our cabin room located on the third floor, and retired to our berth beds. Hubby fell asleep almost immediately, but I was awake almost the entire night as I had slept for long hours in the daytime.
I am standing in front of the video theater room
Video theater room
Hubby preparing to sleep in our cabin room
Hubby climbing up to the upper berth
We got up at 4.30 am the next day. There was announcement over the PA system that the ferry would reach Tsuruga terminal seaport at 5.30 am. So we packed our baggage and went to the second floor of the ferry where our car was parked. It was an unusual experience to see so many travelers waiting in their vehicles in long queues. We took several photos of the second floor of the ferry. Waiting in our car, I realized that it takes a lot of time for the ferry to dock at the port and to lower the ramp. Finally at about 5.45 am, we drove off the ferry in Tsuruga seaport. I compiled a video of us driving down the ramp and off the ferry. We also took a few photos of the ferry while driving by Tsuruga seaport.
Many cars in queues at the car parking area on the second floor of the ferry
Hubby standing next to his car
I am standing at the second floor of the ferry
A ferry staff busy preparing for docking at Tsuruga seaport
Ramp of the ferry is being lowered at the port
A compiled video of us waiting at the second floor car parking area of the ferry, and driving down the ramp and off the ferry
Front portion of Ferry Azalea along with the waiting lounge of Tsuruga seaport
Back portion of the ferry along with the waiting lounge of the seaport
Hubby and I really enjoyed the one day and night cruise on Ferry Azalea. It was very pleasurable experience for us. Next we drove towards Kyoto prefecture. On our way, we saw a signboard with ‘Obama’ written on it, and I was reminded of our trip to Obama City back in 2009. Further along the way the scenery became very pleasant. After a couple of hours we reached Chionji Temple in Miyazu City of Kyoto prefecture about which I will write in the next post.
A signboard with ‘Obama’ City written on it
Beautiful scenery on our way to Kyoto prefecture