- The cruise company resumes operations in East Asia after a lengthy hiatus.
- Five unique itineraries are set to entice travelers seeking diverse voyages in the region.
- Japan’s decision to welcome international cruise ships signifies a positive shift for global tourism.
Seattle, WA–Cruise company Holland America Line announced restarting its services to Asia after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus in a press release on November 30.
Japan’s Reopening to Cruise Ships
The decision to resume operations in the East Asian region comes after the government of Japan reported on November 15 that the nation is ready to start receiving international cruise ships again.
“We’re grateful for the work that the Japanese authorities have done to allow for a return to cruising,” said Gus Antorcha, President of Holland America Line, adding that their customers liked “longer voyages to unique parts of the world.”
According to the report, the cruise line’s MS Westerdam will start the Asia Season in February 2023. The five different itineraries offered include:
- Indonesian Discovery
- Japan, Taiwan & The Philippines
- Japan Explorer
- Japan Discovery
- Southern Japan
Holland America Line’s packages for the Asia Season will be 11- to 14-day voyages, after which the ship would make a 14-day “North Pacific Crossing” from Yokohama to Seattle, Washington, where Westerdam will port for its Alaska season.
The MS Westerdam was built in 2004, refurbished in 2020, and has 984 staterooms capable of holding 1968 passengers (with a max capacity of 2362) served by 820 crew staff. It has 11 passenger decks (7 with cabins), 14 lounges and bars, 3 swimming pools, and 5 outdoor jacuzzis.
According to another report, Japan had sealed its borders to cruise ships after the mass outbreak onboard the Diamond Princess at the start of the pandemic and only recently made a move to lift the restriction.
“Japan is now ready to start receiving international cruise ships again,” said Tetsuo Saito, Minister of Transport and Tourism, in the report.
Return Schedules and Future Departures
Although the exact date of the lifting of the ban has not been announced, the first ship that will set sail is the Japanese ‘Nippon Maru’ bound for Mauritius, scheduled to depart on December 15.
What We Think
The re-emergence of the Holland America Line into Asia alongside diverse itineraries signifies a resumption of travel experiences long missed.
Japan’s decision to reopen its ports to international cruise ships represents a pivotal moment for global tourism, hinting at restored confidence in the industry. This positive shift aligns with a hopeful trend in the gradual return to pre-pandemic travel norms.
It reflects not only an eagerness among travelers for unique and extended voyages but also a testament to destinations’ efforts to revitalize and sustain tourism. The move signifies a promising future for global travel, fostering optimism for a robust revival.
Read the full press release here.