Japan Data

Cruise Ships Returning to Japan’s Ports, But with Fewer Passengers


Cruise ship demand is rebounding in Japan as the number of calls to the country’s ports more than doubled in 2023.

In 2023, the number of cruise ship calls to ports in Japan more than doubled from the previous year to 1,854, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism. This was 63% of the peak 2,930 calls in 2018. However, the number of passengers visiting Japan by cruise ship remained at 356,000, or only 14% compared to the number in 2017, when they reached a high of 2,529,000.

Of the total 1,854 port calls, 1,264 involved foreign-based cruise ships and 590 Japan-based vessels. The port that saw the highest number of calls was Yokohama with 171. Nagasaki came second with 96, and Bella Vista Spa & Marina (Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture) and Kobe tied for third with 91 calls each.

Number of Cruise Ship Calls to Ports in Japan

Number of International Visitors Entering Japan by Cruise Ship

The number of visitors to Japan by cruise ship rose sharply between 2015 and 2017, due to increased demand from the Chinese cruise industry. In particular, many cruise ships from China called at various ports around Kyūshū and Okinawa. This came to a halt when the spread of COVID-19 meant that international cruises were suspended in March 2020. Last year, 2023, marked the first year that operations resumed.

The MSC Bellissima, one of the largest cruise ships to provide cruises from and to Japan, arrived in the Port of Tokyo in March 2024. Sailing under the flag of Malta, she measures 315 meters in length and has a passenger/crew capacity of 5,655. The renowned MS Queen Elizabeth will also embark on her first cruise from and to Tokyo in 2024, making this year a special highlight for cruises.

Aiming at recovery in the Japan cruise industry, the government has set targets for 2025, which include 2.5 million cruise ship passengers visiting Japan, 100 ports of call for foreign-based cruise ships and more than 2,000 port calls by such ships.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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