Our fourteen night journey across the pacific on the Celebrity Millennium was much more about transportation than it was about seeing exciting ports of call. Booking the cruise also gave us the excuse we had been looking for to visit Japan since the cruise embarked from Tokyo. That said, the ship did need to stop and re-fuel, so we got the opportunity to get out and stretch our legs in two places we had never considered visiting; Hakodate, Japan & Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Russia.
Hakodate, Japan is home to a star-shaped fort built in the mid-1850’s. I assumed it was built that way just to be awesome, but after doing a little bit of research I found that the shape allows for greater numbers of guns on its walls and reduces the number of blind spots where a cannon cannot fire. Also, it looks super cool from up above. Well, according to the pictures we saw it does. The only way to see would have been to go up into the tall, white Goryōkaku Tower.
We did not go up into the tower, but we did enjoy the grounds of the fort, which are now used as a public park and a popular cherry-blossom-viewing spot. Being that much further North meant that the seasons were a little behind the South and we got to catch more of the cherry blossoms than we had seen anywhere else.
The best part of our day in the town was the excited group of school girls who swore that I looked just like Taylor Swift and wanted to take picture after picture with Tom and I. I don’t really see the resemblance, but I guess all white people kind of look the same.
After Hakodate we continued our slow journey Northwards to our second stop, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia. There are no roads connecting the peninsula this city sits on to the rest of the world, so the only way to visit this port is by boat or airplane. Though the surrounding countryside is probably stunning, we had a (correct) feeling that there was little “to see” in the town, but the lure of leaving the boat for a few hours was enough to put big grins on our faces.
The town was a pretty austere place, but interestingly enough there was a “love gate” covered in padlocks in the city center that was acting as a backdrop for wedding photos that afternoon.
After a couple of hours of walking around the town checking out the local hamburger stands and grey blocky statues we just couldn’t take the “heave-ho-rocking” feeling of land sickness and fled back to what felt like the stillness and stability of the ship.