Although not officially classed as a ‘sea day’ in reality that is what it was. However it is one done at a very leisurely pace. Wednesday is spent rounding the edge of the Island of Hokkaido referred to as the Shireteko Peninsula.
At one point along our passage we stop, dead in the water, for a few minutes. Had the sun cooperated at all it would have made for a enjoyable sight and a more scenic view all the way. As it was, there were clouds galore, enough wind to be uncomfortable and a chill in the air.
The coastline offered much the same as others our travels have taken us past but, as always, showed the rugged beauty that nature can and does carve out over time. The occasional waterfall cascaded down the exposed cliffs and dark, yawning mouths of many caves opened, begging to be explored.
Clouds covered much of the hilltops so full views were not possible. Yet, in so doing, they provided an interesting ceiling.
On our way once more, we head out to open ocean. By Thursday morning, with yet another time change to implement, we will arrive in Korsokov, Russia.
Prior to leaving Kushiro, we endured the process of clearing customs on board. The fact is that our next formal stop would be in Russia, so we were leaving Japan even though not necessarily leaving the ship. A final decision had to be made by everyone on board as to whether to get off in Korsokov or not. If yes, it was only possible to do so as part of a ship guided tour. Entering the port to simply walk around is not permitted. If no, it was not possible to change that decision as official documents had to be obtained prior to even leaving with a tour.
Much time had been spent before coming on this cruise watching a variety of Netflix shows and YouTube videos, trying to get some semblance of where we were going and the people and culture we were about to encounter. Naturally part of that included Korsokov, Russia.
This became another in a very short list of places we have decided to NOT get off at during a cruise. The different views of people who have been on similar cruises with a stopover in Korsokov all had pretty much the same information. It is perhaps unfair to judge any place based on others perceptions, but given that they were all almost identical, that is what was done.
It is a small, formal penal colony that has not changed a lot over the years. True there has been commercial development, but there was no real appeal, at least nor for us. The ship had to moor off shore so tendering was necessary. Certainly nothing different than we have done numerous time before in other lands, but indicative of this part of Russia. Interestingly enough, as I sit here upstairs, just outside the food court, 10 Russian military women sit at my group of tables. Just one row over, another group of Russian military men also sit. All enjoying lunch from the buffet.
There was no indication of anything even remotely uncomfortable by them or any of the surrounding passengers or staff. Nor would I suggest there should be. But I cannot remember that type of presence on any other cruise in any other country. It could very well be normal practice here and I have no problem with that. It was just…unusual.
Weather-wise it has improved a little. The clouds are breaking up presenting more visible blue than we have seen in a couple of days. Also less wind and a rise in the mercury level in the thermometer, provide a bit of a photo-op, at least of the immediate harbor. Later today we set sail once more, this time with Otaru, Japan as our destination. And there, we DO have a tour planned.