CruiseNew port facilities in major cities under construction to receive bigger ships.

Japan wrap: Yokohama, Osaka and Miyazaki revamp ports for cruise traffic surge

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Yokohama is expecting to receive more than 70 foreign ships this year.
Yokohama is expecting to receive more than 70 foreign ships this year.

In Yokohama, the second largest city after Tokyo, cruise ship traffic is set to rise this year and 2019. More than 70 foreign ships are expected to call – a 28% increase from last season, said Yutaka Yasunaga, senior vice president of marketing for the Yokohama Kawasaki International Port Corporation. 

Japan is becoming increasingly popular as a cruise destination, and major ports in the country are undergoing major refurbishment or expansion as they gear up for more and bigger ships in the coming years. 

In Yokohama, the second largest city after Tokyo, cruise ship traffic is set to rise this year and 2019. More than 70 foreign ships are expected to call – a 28% increase from last season, said Yutaka Yasunaga, senior vice president of marketing for the Yokohama Kawasaki International Port Corporation. 

In anticipation of this surge in ship and passenger numbers, a new cruise ship facility will be ready in April at the Daikoku terminal, which will also be lengthened along with dredging to accommodate larger ships. In addition, the new Shinko terminal with commercial facilities and a hotel will be ready by late 2019.

A second construction phase for the Daikoku terminal will expand it further, allowing two megaships to berth at the port by 2023. 

Plans to redevelop the port’s Yamashita pier are also underway. At present, the port can handle four large ships concurrently with a 30-minute transfer time to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Peak season congestion and air draft limitations posed by the Yokohama Bay Bridge are some of the challenges that the expansion aims to overcome.

Yasunaga added that the city aims to have a bunkering solution in place for LNG by 2021.

Over in Osaka, popular as a destination on its own and its proximity to nearby Kyoto and Nara with world heritage sites, its cruise terminal is scheduled for a complete refurbishment in 2019. A temporary terminal will be set up on the pier while construction is underway.

According to a spokesperson for the port of Osaka, the number of cruise ships calling has been steadily on the rise since 2014. 49 calls are expected before 2018 ends, which would match last year’s record numbers. 

Port officials are eyeing future turnaround business, as the Kansai International Airport is just a short distance from the dock. More berths are planned in the future, as the port aims to be one of the main homeports in Japan. It has also developed a custom shore excursion offering, working with cruise lines and tour operators to present various tours available in Osaka.

Port officials in Miyazaki Prefecture are also gearing up for a surge in cruise traffic in the coming years.

The Port of Aburatsu, upgraded in late-2017, can now take megaships, including the 204,000-ton Dream-class ships by Carnival and Costa. It is expecting to receive the Queen Elizabeth in April 2020, and a new expanded tour bus parking lot for the port is scheduled to complete by the end of the year.

Cruise lines can also take in various port stops in the area, with Hososhima and Miyazaki accepting smaller ships.


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