For Japan's cruise sector, those restrictive pandemic protocols are now coming to an end after the country's Transport Ministry announced 15 November to lift the ban for international cruise ships.
The ministry said that in light of many cruise ship operators and port authorities’ associations over these three years to implement safety protocols and Covid-19 guidelines, Japan is now ready and confident to resume its international cruise operations and receive international ships at its ports.
“Japan is now ready to start receiving international cruise ships again,” said Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito. “We will create an environment that allows tourists to enjoy their cruise without worry while in Japan.”
International cruise liners need to comply with Japan’s new guidelines, which involves ensuring three Covid-19 vaccine shots for all crew members and at least two vaccine shots for passengers. Under the guidelines, cruise ships are also required to have extensive ventilation, distancing and disinfection of common areas.
A Japanese ship sailing from Yokohama in December to Mauritius and returning in January will be among the first few cruise ships leaving and entering Japanese waters under these protocols.
Other international cruise lines will be expected to discuss with local port authorities regarding their entry plans. Prior the its sea closure, Japan’s cruise industry was a relatively robust one which saw more than 2.15 million cruise passengers visit the country in 2019, as the Transport and Tourism Ministry revealed.