Russia’s Ring of Fire: Sea of Okhotsk wildlife & Volcanoes

06/05/22 to 06/15/22
SH Minerva
11 Days
2 Guest
Price From
$ 10,715
Per Person
Trip Details

Explore the volcanic peaks, human history, and rich wildlife of the infamous Pacific Ring of Fire on this 11-day adventure. You’ll experience traditional Japanese culture on Otaru and witness the blend of Russian and Japanese influence in the fascinating city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk before setting sail through the volcanic Kuril Islands. Hike on the vibrant green peaks of active volcanoes and search for the diverse wildlife that is supported by the fertile environment here. Our expedition team will be on hand to explain everything you need to know about the geothermic activity in this region. Experience all of this aboard your small, boutique cruise ship as you cruise this fiery corner of the world in comfort and style.

Trip Highlights
Keep an eye open for steller sea lions on Urup Island and northern fur seals on Tyuleniy Island
Learn more about volcanology from our expert team of on-board specialists
Get up close to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Sarychev Peak on Matua Island
Itinerary Map
Otaru Day 1

An important port on Hokkaido - Japan’s northernmost island - Otaru retains much of its original architecture. Restored warehouses along its picturesque canal, lined with Victorian street lamps, have been converted into restaurants and boutiques selling sake, music boxes and renowned Otaru glass. Built on the herring industry, its trading history is evident from the terminal station of Hokkaido’s first railway line to the Herring Mansion on the outskirts of town, once owned by rich herring fishermen.

Korsakov Day 2

Our ship docks off Korsakov, a port city on the south coast of Sakhalin Island - Russia’s largest island - in the Pacific Ocean. From here, most passengers take the short trip to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the island capital. Between 1905 and 1945, Japan ruled this part of the island and the mix of architecture is evident, while the local Korsakov museum documents this turbulent period.

Tyuleniy Island Day 3

Tyuleniy means “seal” in Russian, so it is hardly surprising to see steller sea lions cohabiting with more than 100,000 northern fur seals - the largest species of seal - who gather here on overcrowded beaches. Our cruise coincides with breeding season in the Sea of Okhotsk, so we should get to see black fur pups being nursed in these dense rookeries. Equally prolific are seabirds: tufted puffins, crested auklets, Pallas’ warbler to name a few.

At sea Day 4

Days at sea are the perfect chance to relax, unwind and do whatever takes your fancy. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, trying to spot a whale from the deck, reading a chapter or two, or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to the green days spent exploring on land.

Yankicha Island Day 5

A highlight of the Kuril Islands, the flooded caldera surrounded by emerald green peaks is the summit of a submerged volcano where the lagoon waters bubble and fumaroles plume around the perimeter. And if hiking around this beauty spot is not enough, then a chance to catch sight of alcids - Brunnich’s, common and pigeon guillemots, crested and whiskered auklets, tufted and horned puffins - that breed here are an added bonus, especially as night falls and they swarm in their thousands.

Atlasov Island Day 6

The highest volcano in the Kuril Islands volcanic archipelago, Vulkan Alaid rises to 2,340m above black lava beaches where you might spot shorebirds and waders, such as long-toed stint, Eurasian wigeons, black and white-winged scoters, harlequin and tufted ducks, Red-faced cormorants clinging to the cliffs complete the scene. This remote island was also the site of a gulag - labour camp - for women political prisoners in the Soviet era who were sent here to raise foxes for fur.

Sarychev Island Day 7

The volcanic peak of Sarychev (also known as Fuyo to the Japanese) covers almost the entirety of Matua Island. It is one of the most active in the Kuril Islands chain, having erupted at least 16 times in the last 250 years. The most recent eruption was famously caught on camera by the International Space Station. On the sides of this young, symmetrical volcano, birders will be delighted to see Eurasian bullfinches, Siberian rubythroats, eyebrowed thrushes and peregrine falcons. During World War II, Matua was the site of the most extensive Japanese base in the region – relics and ruins from this turbulent period can be spotted in the undergrowth which is slowly obliterating the island’s wartime past.

Natalii bay (Urup Island) Day 8

Next stop is Urup Island, whose name is derived from ‘salmon trout’ in the Ainu language. It was formerly known as Company’s Land. Roughly rectangular, it is the fourth largest of the Kuril Islands at 120 kilometres by 20 kilometres. The island’s bulk consists of four groups of volcanoes, and thus the island is dotted with craters, ravines and hot springs. Land at black-sanded Natalii Bay in the northwest of the island to come ashore. Keen ornithologists will enjoy spotting the island’s winged inhabitants: crested auklets, tufted puffins, and pigeon guillemots all nest on the island. There is also a colony of black-legged kittiwakes.

At sea Day 9

Today as you sail, you’ll bask in the endless comforts of your ship. From the deck, marvel at the dramatic sea views. Relax with a nurturing facial treatment or massage in the spa or delve into the ship’s learning resources. Or, simply take refuge in your cabin and enjoy the opportunity to rest.

Korsakov Day 10

Return today to Korsakov, which is used as a stop for ships entering and leaving Russia. In addition to being a port of call for these formalities, the city was the site of an Ainu fishing village frequented by traders from Japan and early Russian explorers. Between the end of the Russo-Japanese War and the end of World War II, the town, then called Otamari, was Japanese – although most traces are gone, such as a Shinto shrine and several monuments – a falling-to-ruin Japanese-style bank building remains standing. In nearby Prigorodnoye, several tributes to the Land of the Rising Sun can be seen, including a tribute to fallen soldiers. Be sure to visit the local market on Sovetskaya Street, Korsakov’s strawberries are supposed to be delicious

Otaru Day 11

Arrive once more in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island and disembark in Otaru as your 14-day luxury cruise comes to an end today. If there is time before you begin your journey home or onwards, be sure to explore this picturesque city is known for its historic canal, unusual architecture, sake distilleries and impressive views of Mount Tengu. Once a centre of trade between Russia and Japan, Otaru was gripped by a boomtown fever which saw the merchant class investing in the construction of stone and brick, Western-style buildings. Walk alongside the city’s canal through an area now populated with informative museums and shops. Visit the Herring Museum, which pays homage to the role that herring fishing played in Otaru’s fortunes. Dating from the late 19th century, this hilltop herring mansion (nishin goten) had a dual role as both a processing facility and also a residence for workers. A short distance from the Herring Museum, lies the Aoyama Villa, an impressively crafted mansion and family, which was home to the prominent Aoyama family. Learn the story of the rise and fall of this successful family of fishermen. Venture to Mount Tengu where you can visit the Tengu House with its displays of more than 700 goblin masks.

Rates Include
One night pre-cruise 4 or 5 star hotel accommodation with breakfast
All transfers between the hotel, port and airport
Onboard accommodation
All meals onboard including room service 24 hours a day
Coffee, tea, soft drinks & select alcoholic beverages 24 hours a day
Lecture programmes by our experienced expedition team and guest speakers
Shore excursion programme led by our expert expedition team
Branded Swan Hellenic expedition parka
Use of rubber boots for shore landings
Standard WIFI inclusion
Onboard gratuities & port taxes
Itinerary Map

09:00 AM – 05:30 PM (EST)

+1 (800) 537 6777
Number of Guests
19 m2 Sleeps 2
Oceanview staterooms features 2 single beds, bedroom and living room and a luxurious ensuite bathroom.
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Balcony D5
28 m2 Sleeps 2
Located at the forward and aft of the ship, these balcony staterooms feature 2 single beds or double bed bedroom with living room area, a luxurious bathroom and your own private 6m2 balcony
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Balcony M5
28 m2 Sleeps 2
Located at the centre of the ship, these balcony staterooms feature 2 single beds or double bed bedroom with living room area, a luxurious bathroom and your own private 6m2 balcony
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Balcony D6
28 m2 Sleeps 2
Located on deck six, these balcony staterooms feature 2 single beds or double bed bedroom with living room area, a luxurious bathroom and your own private 6m2 balcony
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44 m2 Sleeps 2
Our Suites features a superking bed and separate living room with and a soothing flame-effect fireplace a luxurious ensuite bathroom and a 12 sq.m. private balcony.
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Premium Suite
49 m2 Sleeps 2
Our grandest suites features a superking bed and separate living room with and a soothing flame-effect fireplace a luxurious ensuite bathroom, spacious walk in wardrobe and a 12 sq.m private balcony.
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Other Available Dates
If you really like this cruise but the date is not suitable for you, we are glad to offer other dates for the itinerary.
Please find below all our date offerings.
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09:00 AM – 05:30 PM (EST)

+1 (800) 537 6777