Asuka 2 Review and Specifications
Specifications of Asuka 2
|Year built||1990 / Age : 29|
|Builder||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Nagasaki, Japan)|
|Owner||NYK Line (Yusen Cruise Co Ltd)|
|Operator||NYK Cruises Co Ltd|
|Speed||22 kn / 41 kph / 25 mph|
|Length (LOA)||241 m / 791 ft|
|Beam (width)||30 m / 98 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||50142 gt|
|Passengers||872 - 960|
|Decks with cabins||8|
|Former names||Crystal Harmony|
|Christened by||Mary Tyler Moore|
Current position of Asuka 2
Review of Asuka 2
MS Asuka II cruise ship is owned and operated by NYK Cruises - subsidiary of the Japanese container shipping line Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line). Ship's namesake (MS Asuka) is currently operated under charter by Phoenix Reisen under the name Amadea. Besides Asuka 2, Japan-flagged cruise ships are also Pacific Venus (Venus Cruise Line) and Nippon Maru (MOL-Mitsui OSK Line).
History - construction and ownership
Asuka II was built in Japan and originally named "Crystal Harmony". The vessel was constructed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries at the shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan, The cruise ship was ordered by and built for Crystal Cruises.
In 2006, Crystal Harmony ship was transferred from Crystal Cruises to the parent company Nippon Yusen Kaisha. The vessel began operations under its current name, "Asuka II". As of 2017, Asuka 2 is the largest cruise ship registered in Japan, followed by Pacific Venus.
During the ship's maiden voyage (as Crystal Harmony ) in South American and Caribbean waters, the ship caught on fire after water entered the engine room. The ship drifted for 3 days. All passengers were offloaded in Panama City, then the ship was towed to Curacao island for drydock repairs.
Cruise itinerary program
NYK Line's Asuka II cruise itinerary program offers short Japan-based cruises leaving out of Yokohama and Kobe. Also offered is an annual World Cruise (round-trip from Yokohama Japan). The 102-day long itinerary visits ports in Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, other ports in China), also (via Suez Canal) in Europe (the Mediterranean, Azores Islands) and USA (New York, Florida, California, even Alaska). NYK Line's "World Cruise 2018" feature ports of call were Lisbon, Rome-Civitavecchia, Valencia, Gibraltar, Bilbao, Hamburg, Halifax (NS Canada) Saint John (Canada), Baltimore MD (USA).
Yokohama-based NYK Cruises witnessed huge demand for its 6- to 13-day trips to Nansei and Ogasawara Islands in autumn 2017 and beyond. In addition, the company resumed its 102-day 'round-the-world cruises from March 2018 (departure March 25) after suspending the service in 2016 because of a series of global terrorist attacks and a variety of other factors. The roundtrip world voyages depart from Yokohama and visit ports in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia. All of them take place on NYK Cruises flagship Asuka II - Japan's largest luxury liner. The ship has been docked due in part to terrorism concerns, but NYK Line decided to reopen it after being flooded by clients requests.
In 2019 (February) the ship had scheduled a 33-day Southeast Asian cruise to Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.
NYK Cruises planned for Asuka 2 a 103-day World Cruise in 2020, with a scheduled departure on April 2 and ending on July 14 (2020). The itinerary is roundtrip from Yokohama and visits ports in Southeast Asia, India, Red Sea (Suez Canal transit), Mediterranean and Northern Europe. Follows Transatlantic crossing to Iceland and USA East Coast (visiting NYC New York). Next destinations are the Caribbean, Panama Canal (transit), USA (visiting San Francisco CA and Hawaii), then back to Japan.
Most Asuka II staterooms are outside. There are a total of 461 outside cabins, of which 260 feature private balconies. There are also 19 inside cabins. All cabins have TV & DVD player, Mini-refrigerator, safe, minibar, tea-making set, hairdryer. A full range of toiletries is provided.
Shipboard dining options - Food and Drinks
There are several dining venues on Asuka II. The non-smoking Four Seasons is an elegant dining room with a raised central section and a lot of space around each table. Dinner in the MDR is in two seatings. There are no set assignments. Other dining options include the Japanese extra-charge Umihiko restaurant, specialized in sushi and sashimi dishes. The 40-seat Prego is for occupants of Royal and Asuka suites. For casual meals, there are Lido Cafe and Lido Garden Grill. Additionally, The Bistro is a casual spot for pastries and coffees.
Shipboard entertainment options - Fun and Sport
Asuka II has 8 passenger accessible decks, a pair of swimming pools, eight bars, a tea room, casino, theatre and fitness centre. The one-level Galaxy Lounge is the ship's show lounge, with a sloping floor. There is a good amount of open deck space onboard and despite her age, Asuka 2 is among the top rated luxury cruise vessels serving the Japanese market.
Asuka 2 wiki
Vessel's (as "MS Crystal Harmony") Godmother was Mary Tyler Moore (1936-2017) - US producer, movie and TV actress. She was best-known for her sitcom roles in "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961-66) and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1970-77). Mary Moore was also popular as a social advocate for animal rights and vegetarianism.
For 2017, the Japanese liner was honoured "Cruise Ship of the Year". The award marked the 26th straight year that NYK LIne-owned ship (Asuka II, and the boat's predecessor Asuka / now Amadea) has been selected for this honour. The highest rating was given to the vessel by the readers of the Japanese magazine "Cruise". Each year they vote for their favourite ship, also sharing the reason for the vote. Many readers underscored the boat’s modern interior, stylish atmosphere and superb hospitality (omotenashi) marked by highest-quality service and staff's exquisite manners.
In 2017, Asuka 2 was awarded in 2 categories - "best Japanese-flagged" and "best overall" ship. Fun fact is, that the Asuka cruise brand is receiving the "Cruise Ship of the Year" award every year since 1992.
In January 2018, all passenger staterooms were upgraded with new power adaptors and USB charger ports A large flat TV was installed in Palm Court (top-deck located bar lounge) to display cruise itinerary maps and call port information.
On on December 9, 2018, NYK Cruises arranged an onboard welcome party for kids with rare and serious diseases and their families. A total of 74 such guests attended the Christmas event on the liner while it was docked in Yokohama. The special guests, escorted by 60 volunteers (including NYK Cruises employees) toured the Xmas-decorated Asuka II and enjoyed themed entertainment with a hula dance lesson, gifts exchange, Las Vegas-styled production show.
In February 2019, 50% of NYK's Asuka Cruise company was sold to the Japanese company Anchor Ship Partners (2010-founded, specializing in ship management and investments). The sale price was not disclosed. Acquisition's closure was planned for March 2019. Also announced were plans for extensive drydock refurbishment of Asuke 2 liner and building a new liner. In 2015, NYK Line sold the premium brand Crystal Cruises to GHK (Genting Hong Kong).
MS Asuka II refurbishment 2020 review
In 2020 (January-February), the liner is scheduled to enter drydock in Singapore for a 45-day long refit and refurbishment project at Sembcorp Marine Admiralty Yard (shipyard owned by Sembcorp Marine Ltd). During the drydock refurb, the vessel will receive the following new/upgraded facilities and amenities:
- All staterooms will be extensively renovated and redesigned by adding the traditional for Japan tatami-mat (flooring material) sleeping area. All cabin TVs will be upgraded to smart TVs with the infotainment system (Internet and on-demand movies).
- The new reading lounge will provide a quiet space for relaxation, an extensive book selection, WIFi and Internet (for smart devices), PC stations.
- Some of the ship's restaurants will be refurbished.
- In Lobby Deck's entrance hall will be mounted a large HD LED display.
- Wi-Fi coverage will be upgraded to shipwide - accessible in all staterooms and public areas, excepting only a few quiet zones).
- A large outdoor Jacuzzi (whirlpool bath) will be installed on Sun Deck.
Technical enhancements during the drydock include installing a scrubber system (gas scrubber) - an air pollution-controlling system that removes particulates and some green gases (SOx and NOx) from ship's exhaust streams.
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