Japan's cruise business is getting back on track as ships gradually resume sailings with COVID safety measures in place after cancelled voyages due to the crisis.
Major cruise ships Nippon Maru and Asuka 2 had operated 21 trips by November 15, after restarting shortly before/after the government ended in September a coronavirus state of emergency which covered Tokyo and other prefectures.
In early November 2021, the 900-passenger ship Asuka 2 (with ~300 people onboard) entered Port Hitachinaka (Ibaraki Prefecture), becoming the first cruise liner to call at the eastern Japan port in ~2 years.
In order to prevent the spread of infections, the Ibaraki prefectural government restricted people from welcoming the vessel from the dock.
Since restarting operations in October, Asuka 2 has made a number of sailings including a trip from Yokohama (Kanagawa) to Nagasaki in the southwest, with an Asuka official saying that demand for such trips has increased.
The anti-virus protocols of the operators also feature reduced capacity. The operator of Asuka 2, which can accommodate ~870 passengers, only allows 50% of the ship's capacity. Nippon Maru also allows ~65% of her capacity of ~530 people.
The operators will conduct COVID tests for passengers before and on the day of boarding.
In May 2021, Asuka 2 embarked on a domestic voyage only to return to Yokohama after a passenger tested positive for the virus.