Pacific Naval History

I am currently booked on a Maasdam cruise August 28 from Yokahama to Sydney calling at most of the major historical sites that were the focus of World War II naval and military campaigns. Ports of call, in 29 days, in addition to Honoriara, Guadalcanal, are Hiroshima, Nagasaki (both featured occasionally on other cruises), Naha in Okinawa, Iwo Jima (cruising past), Saipan, Guam, three ports in Papua, including Lae, plus Rabaul, and Ghizo and Honoriara in the Solomon Islands, ending in Sydney. I have read a lot of Pacific naval history and have casually looked to see if there were any reasonably priced cruises calling at these ports. Crystal offered such a cruise some years ago, but there have not, to my knowledge, been other offerings. Many of these destinations are difficult to reach. I'd hope the line has reached out to veterans' and other organizations in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the U.S. to increase the diversity of the passenger list. The sailing is billed as "Legends of the Pacific," rather opaque in view of the unique nature of the itinerary.

I'd hope that some readers of this message will welcome the availability of this sailing and discover it, as I did, by chance

Laurence (Larry) Miller

Tags: Guadalcanal Solomon Islands

6 Answers

We did a Pacific War Cruise in the early spring of 2001. Yokohama to San Fran via Honolulu, 30 days. Our cruise was on the Regal Princess (The first Regal). We hit all the ports you are doing pretty much, plus a few more, including more than a few stops at sea over areas of heavy naval engagements where loved ones were lost and many wreathes thrown overboard from our ship. Spent an entire day running around Iron Bottom Sound but were unable to get off at Guadalcanal due political unrest, so Rabaul was added. Rabaul was the most interesting of all our visits. You can't port at Iowa Jima but we circled the island twice which took the better part of a day plus a constant narration from one of the onboard Pacific War experts.

Since retirement I have been a sort of a war historian. Being that I was born in Alaska before the war, which soon after the Japanese invaded (Kiska and Attu) then bombed Dutch Harbor, and my dad was a pilot for the largest war contractor up here, I developed a keen interest in the Pacific Theatre. Plus, I had an uncle in the Army and assigned to the Pacific. Before we embarked I boned up on my pertinent history by reading "The Pacific War 1941-1945" by John Costello. Excellent book, which I took along for reference.

The cruise was a very good one. I was hoping to meet and chat with some real War ll veterans. Unfortunately, there were very few on board who were officer and policy types during the war in the Pacific, due to age. I knew this before we left, as my own father would have been 94 then. He was 36 years old when we forced the Japanese out. So, considering these older veterans would most likely have a spouse the similar age, it was unlikely both would be in condition to book the cruise. There were quite a few veterans though, almost all who had been in their teens when assigned in the Pacific. Made a few friends with some including our table mates. However, very few of those who were that young then went on to study military history or were aware of many policy details involved with the conflict, so they were unable to undertake in pertinent discourse on the subject.

One time though, I was reading a book in a quiet little nook on deck and had my copy of my Costello laying by me. An old veteran stopped by after he saw my book and asked, "How did you like that book". I said, I really liked it. He said he had one similar to it. Then he was quiet for a bit but just stood there. After which he said "They didn't have much good to say about Mac Arthur in my book. I was sweating the question, who is this guy, Army, Navy or Marines, as they didn't see eye to eye about Pacific War history? But I responded, well neither did they in this book. Quiet again. Then I said, to be honest, my hero was "Bull Halsey". He then broke into a big smile, I lucked out, he was Navy.

One element on the cruise that I didn't care for was those younger guests who had contemporary radical military ideologies and walked around with chips on their shoulders. In my opinion, when I heard those discussing aspects of the war, it was usually a study in gross ignorance.

Princess, may not run these anymore since they just have much larger ships now, with the exception of the Pacific Princess but it is usually on the World Cruise circuit. I do hope you enjoy your voyage, like I did.

I am really grateful for your report. I have been unable to engage anyone at HAL on this subject.

I'm OK because I have the books, pictures, and information to enjoy this cruise even if there is no onboard program reflecting the itinerary. I hope there is.


As usual, an interesting and dare I say an "entertaining" read. Not quite sure what you meant by "contemporary military ideolologies". Since the military went all volunteer, it has found it necessary to offer inducements, some astoundingly large, to encourage enlistments of, shall we say, individuals who would never consider the military as a career. Instead, it is merely a stepping stone to bigger and better things.The idea that you could get chased around injun country by "them" wasn't in the deal. There are those whose only experience with what happens when the politicos run out of options or get backed into a corner are purely theoretical. Nothing ever goes bump in the night, unless its their partner du jour.

"My war" made me permanently cynical when it comes to the body politic. My bodies were not theoretical. Most of my unit were reduced to names on The Wall. My wifes brother retired with an amazingly high rank..Did almost 25 years, now lives in Panama City, Panama, like a king in a high rise, on pension that would choke an elephant. Not once in 25 years did he EVER even hear a shot fired in anger, or do an unaccompanied tour, or a hardship tour, or draw hazardous duty or combat pay. We don't have anything to say to each other. On certain occasions, I wear my CIB. The dates aren't always the obvious ones. The rest are in a bag in a drawer. Those who know what it is, know what it is. Those who don't, well, neither I nor any grunt I know would even bother to explain it. You can't communicate the noise, smells, and yes fear serving in a line infantry outfit with a bad attitude. you just do your job.

In keeping with the theme of all this, my wife asked my once if I ever wanted to "go back". I care for her to much to have brushed it off...The country I knew, with all its warts, no longer exists. Those hills and jungles, are now parking lots and industrial parks. Their output is now on sale daily in Walmart. It would be very easy to go back, I'm certainly financially able to do it, and I have the time. And a supportive wife. There are specific tours for certain "notorious" areas that not only have an interest for some GI's, but, interestingly, some elderly folks on the other side, and/or their surviving children...Perhaps you ran into some of the same second and third generation types. (Unlikely they would suffer from the "contemporary military ideology" fungus.) The thought to go has crossed my mind, and a cruise would be my preferred mode of travel, for all the usual reasons. Then I get a grip, and think ANYTHING pleasant having to do with that place would be blasphemous.

We're heading down to NO Wed morning. It seems appropriate that this will be one of my last posts b4 shutting down. I have raised "old school" to a fine art on cruises. The phones go in the safe, I carry no tablet, its left in the car. The investments and relatives can take care of themselves. So can we.

Again, great thread and your response KENN. Cathartic in a way.

Oh, I'm really not talking about meritorious individuals who have been there done that but those who don't know squat about the military or its history, I'm referring to those who get on board a venture like that in order to strut their stuff using bombastic rhetoric, attempting to impress. You know, the war monger type, using a cowboy analogy: The "All hat and no cattle" mentality.

I said, "young" but that isn't entirely true. Here is one example that I recall. Normally, I tried to sit near friends during the many excellent lectures we had on board during the cruise and to avoid even being near the aforementioned guests. One time I screwed up though and couldn't help but overhearing a story told to a small group of like minds about the Japanese Zero. It so happened, we had just left Rabaul on the island of New Britain. If you will recall there was a lot of "Island Hopping" by the U.S. and allies in that part of the world during the war, where Japanese held islands weren't invaded by ground troops but merely shelled and bombed into submission. Rabaul was one of those, but more importantly, it was a prime Japanese base, even known as the Japanese "Pearl Harbor" of the South Pacific. Rabaul is something to behold, since we didn't land there the military ruins are still everywhere today. For instance, we saw a number of broken up and corroded Japanese Zeros. Local kids would gather war artifacts from the surrounding tropical jungle and sell them along the roadside. Like, Japanese helmets covered with moss, some even with shrapnel holes in them. I tried to buy one from a local youngster but my efforts were thwarted by screeches from my wife.

Anyway, I digress. So this old boy was telling his buddies how the Zero came into existence. "Howard Hughes had made the prototype and sold it intact to the Japanese before the war." "While it was being loaded at dock-side a dent was accidentally put in the side of the fuselage. After the Japanese received it they copied it by the hundreds, they even included the "dent". My gosh, how dumb do they come?

For what it's worth, here is just a part of the story of the Mitsubishi Zero-Sen. On October 5, 1937 the Japanese Navy furnished the Mitsubishi and Nakajima companies with its requirements for a new fighter with a maximum speed exceeding 310 m.p.h., the ability to climb to 9,840 feet in 3.5 minutes, maneuverability and range exceeding any existing fighter and an armament of two cannon and two machine-guns. These demands were far in excess of any previously made of the Japanese aircraft industry. Nakajima pulled out. But, Mitsubishi accepted the challenge and under their chief designer, Jiro Horikoshi, they built an aircraft that at the time was the world's foremost carrier-based fighter and when it first appeared over Pearl Harbor it was a complete surprise to American forces.

Anyway, that kind of crap was the only downside of the entire voyage. I have a few more similar anecdotes, most pretty humorous but so stupid it is hard to get anyone to believe you.

By the way, have a great voyage you hear. I’ll be sitting here on the beach. Sniff, sniff.

Thanks for that. Plan to, because...well..we plan...doing nothing is an art form. Sitting somewhere breathing in and out isn't a bad thing...consider the alternative. Cya in a couple weeks!!

Interesting read !

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