Short getaways, themed voyages and circumnavigations of the whole country are among the highlights of Princess Cruises’ new 2017 Japan cruising season mid next year, all of which will take place onboard the Japanese-built vessel Diamond Princess.

In what will be the line’s longest season in Japan, running from April to November 2017, the season will consist of 39 individual departures ranging in length from five to 17 nights, visiting six countries and offering capacity for up to 75,000 passengers – a 27% increase in available berths compared to last year.

Diamond Princess offers several Japanese cultural experiences onboard which guests can indulge in, ranging from dining, entertainment and health/wellness features. In the buffet and restaurants, guests can order their favourite sushi and sake, while noodle stations serve a rotating selection of ramen, soba and udon noodles. The traditional Japanese Tamagoyaki omelette is available daily for breakfast in the main dining room. Outside of Japanese food, guests can enjoy cultural Japanese “rakugo” storytelling and origami classes or even partake in some Japanese relaxation at the ship’s authentic Japanese bath house.

Among the highlights of the season are a nine-night Circle Japan cruise departing 17 October 2017 and taking guests around the entire country, calling in at ports including Aomori and Toyama and especially timed to take advantage of the autumn foliage. At the other end of the season, three of Japan’s famous Spring Floral Festivals can be seen on one cruise departing on 20 April. This voyage will visit the Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Festival in Akita; the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival in Aomori and the Tonami Tulip Festival in Toyama.

Other major events timed to coincide with a cruise include the Nebuta Float Figures and dancers of the Aomori Nebuta Festival and the bamboo poles & lanterns of the Akita Kanto Festival – both visited on any of eight 17-night voyages which feature late night departures to maximise the time spent enjoying the attractions.

Travellers with only a limited time available for a cruise can plan around one of four short voyages departing from Kobe on 30 June or from Tokyo on 21 July, 13 September and 26 September. Each sailing will visit Busan, South Korea and either Nagasaki, Kagoshima or Shimizu, the latter being famous for offering landscape views of Japan’s iconic Mt Fuji.

The port of Tsuruga will be visited for the first time, opening up access for cruise travellers to the Tojinbo Cliffs and Eiheiji Temple. Diamond Princess will also visit South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Korsakov in far-eastern Russia, with a variety of UNESCO World Heritage sites among the list of highlights available to see.

If you’re keen to delve deeper into the Japanese way of life, Princess is also offering an opportunity to explore Kyoto and Tokyo in greater depth via two land-based extension itineraries, which can be added on to most departures. These multi-day add-ons are rich in Japanese culture and allow guests to visit attractions such as Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple, Lake Ashi, the Geisha District and Nomura Samurai House. Guests can learn traditional sushi-making techniques and view a Japanese Washi paper making demonstration.