About Drift Ice in the Sea of Okhotsk
Abashiri Drift Ice Sightseeing Icebreaker Aurora. The sightseeing ship goes through the sea of Okhotsk, breaking up the drift ice that is thickly covering the sea. Because the drift ice moves daily, you may not be able to see it every day, but sometimes it moves several kilometers out to sea, and some days you may not be able to see it at all.
Some days it moves several kilometers out to sea, and some days it is not visible at all. For this reason, some tourists visit the area many times to see the drift ice.
However, it seems that the amount of drift ice is decreasing every year, and there may be fewer opportunities to see it in the future.
Ｗhat’s Icebreaker Aurora?
The Aurora, the mainstay of winter sightseeing in Abashiri, sails through Abashiri Port. When a large amount of drift ice is overflowing into the port, the ship is sometimes unable to go out to the open sea and must navigate in the bay. Just before the ice floes come in, a school of seals often appears in the harbor to the delight of tourists.
How to make reservations for Aurora
Reservations can be made through the official website.
However, you can also make reservations through Jaran and other websites, which are a little cheaper than the official website, so it is more economical to make reservations there!
(Jaran reservation: 3,150 yen, official website reservation and same-day ticket: 3,500 yen)
It is also possible to buy a ticket at the reception desk without a reservation if there is space available on the day of the ride. Even during the season, there are days and times when drift ice cannot be seen due to wind direction, so if there is a chance of drift ice, buying tickets on the spot and boarding is another option. However, keep in mind that during busy times, reservations are the only way to reach capacity, so there is a risk that you may not be able to board the boat.
Also, please note that the cruise will be conducted even on days when there is no drift ice, so the fee paid will not be refunded.
You can check the drift ice conditions of the day on the official website. However, it is possible that you may be able to see it in the morning, but not in the afternoon.
Boarding Location and Steps to Boarding
The boarding location for the Aurora is located within the Roadside Station Drift Ice Kaido Abashiri. The boarding area and the roadside station are integrated into one building. It is located close to the center of Abashiri, but quite far from Abashiri Station (about a 20-minute walk). Buses stop here, so take a bus from Abashiri Station or other places.
Upon entering the roadside station, first go to the Aurora reception desk, inform them that you have made a reservation, and receive a boarding ticket.
To board the Aurora, you must exchange your ticket for a boarding pass at the reception desk.
When the departure time approaches, the boarding reception desk will start. The earlier the boarding reception desk opens, the earlier you can board the boat, so if you want to secure a special seat or the seat you are looking for, you should get in line early to wait in line for the reception desk. During busy times, the line gets longer as the time gets closer.
After passing through the ticket gate, it’s time to board the Aurora
Onboard information on Aurora
The Aurora is a two-story building plus an observation deck. The first floor cabin is unreserved seating, allowing passengers to view the drift ice from a low vantage point up close.
Those ice may become less and less visible from now on, so please go and experience the drift ice before it’s gone.