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Understanding Japan? It’s a Cruise with Zegrahm

July 8, 2013 Conferences No Comments Email Email

In March, Melissa Smith, Personal Travel Specialist of Spencer Travel in Sydney, won the Luxperience 2013 early bird award.

In May, she sailed on a 14-day heritage cruise to cultural sites in Japan, courtesy of Seattle-based Zegrahm Expeditions. Here’s her unvarnished report.


Melissa Smith Personal Travel Specialist of Spencer Travel

Q: What impressed you most about the Zegrahm trip to Japan?
The seamless way in which the trip was coordinated. Zegrahm boasts a very high repeat clientele rate for a reason.

Q: How flexible were the guides and the itinerary?
The itinerary was pretty much set, but there were opportunities to break away for small amounts of time.

Q: What were your personal highlights?
Waking up in a new port each day, the Japanese culture, food, temples, shrines, gardens, and hot springs. My highlights were Kyoto, Kurashiki, Miyajima, Hiroshima, the zodiac ride — and the conversations around the dinner table.

What quality did Zegrahm deliver that other operators could learn from?
The exceptional manner in which the expedition was run — professional, organised and well planned out. The knowledge of the ‘on-the-ground’ tour guides was outstanding and a huge part of the success of the trip. The lectures were also of a very high calibre. They added detail to the learning of Japanese culture, religion, history and traditions.

IMG_0782_250x188Q: What was the advantage of doing this immersive trip by cruise vessel as opposed to car, bus, train or plane?
It was the simplest and fastest way to see so much in a short amount of time. Waking up in a new port each morning to discover a new location was wonderful.

Q: How did the trip change your perception of Japanese people and their culture?
The Japanese people and culture are unique and incredibly intriguing. They are delightful, helpful and caring people who go out of their way to please. The culture was a highlight: a wonderful blend of Buddhism and Shintoism.

Q: How important was the dining experience?
Very important.The conversations around the dinner table were fascinating, intelligent and a level above your ordinary holiday conversations due to the amount of learning we were experiencing.

Q: Was the balance between free time, privacy and structured activities well thought out?
If you committed to the expedition fully, then there was very little spare time. However, if you chose to, you could miss parts such as the excursions or lectures.

Q: What kind of client would you say perfectly fits the Zegrahm cruise profile?
Well travelled clients interested in embarking on an expedition that is seamlessly organised, interesting, unique. Clients who want in-depth exposure in the countries they visit. All Zegrahm clients seemed to have one thing in common: they were genuinely committed to learning and trying to understand the country and culture at hand. Upscale, sophisticated travellers are responding to that.

Q: So how are your Japanese language skills now?
Terrible! Konichi-wa?

Q: What sort of relationship will Spencer Travel have with Zegrahm now?
Zegrahm have proved themselves as an excellent operator. I am sure all their trips are executed in the same wonderful manner. We will promote the Zegrahm products to our clients who are looking for this type of life experience.

Q: Any final thought for readers contemplating sending clients on a Zegrahm cruise?
I can personally vouch for the fact that Zegrahm do an exceptional job as a top-end operator. I had the opportunity to experience this trip first hand and speak to many repeat Zegrahm clients. I wish Zegrahm the best in breaking into the Australian market. Their product will speak for itself.

A full trip itinerary is available here.

For further information visit or email

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