Nippon Maru

Former name: MHI 1188

Nippon Maru current position

Nippon Maru current location is at East Asia (coordinates 34.18793 N / 129.32291 E) cruising en route to >JP IZH. The AIS position was reported 21 minutes ago.

Current Position

Specifications of Nippon Maru

Year of build1990  /  Age: 34
Flag state Japan
BuilderMitsubishi Heavy Industries (Kobe, Japan)
Ferry route / homeportsKobe (Japan)
Building costUSD 59 million
Speed18 kn / 33 km/h / 21 mph
Length (LOA)167 m / 548 ft
Beam (width)24 m / 79 ft
Gross Tonnage22472 gt
Passengers398 - 607
Crew230
Decks9
Cabins184
Decks with cabins6
Last Refurbishment2020
Former namesMHI 1188
OwnerMitsui OSK Lines Ltd (via Nippon Maru Co Ltd)
OperatorMOL Cruises Ltd (via Mitsui Ocean Cruises)

Nippon Maru Review

Review of Nippon Maru

The 1990-built MS Nippon Maru cruise ship was constructed in Japan (by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Kobe) and delivered to Mitsui OSK in September 1990.

The vessel (IMO number 8817631) is currently Japan-flagged (MMSI 431302000) and registered in Tokyo. Besides Nippon Maru, Japan-flagged cruise ships are also Asuka 2 (NYK Line) and Pacific Venus (Venus Cruise Line).

In November 2022, Takeshi Hashimoto (Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd's President and CEO) announced that the company is considering an investment of USD 710 million in two newbuild cruise ships, with the option of two more units of the same class/sisterships. Eventually, Nippon Maru will be retired/scrapped.

History - construction and ownership

The vessel's keel-laying ceremony was held in October 1989, at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI shipyard) in Kobe-Osaka, Japan. Construction was started as hull number 1188. The liner was launched on March 8, 1990, and delivered to the Tokyo-based Mitsui OSK on September 22. The inaugural cruise started on September 27 from Kobe to Keelung-Taipei (Taiwan) and Hong Kong (China).

The vessel is operated by Mitsui OSK Passenger Line/Mitsui Ocean Cruises, which is a subsidiary of MOL/Mitsui OSK Lines - one of the world's largest container shipping companies. The shipowner MOL (1884-founded) is a Japanese transportation company headquartered in Tokyo. MOL itself is part of Mitsui Group (interlocking companies in Japan).

MOL's current fleet includes boxships/container carriers, general cargo ships (bulk carriers, LNG carriers, tankers), ro-ro ships (also ferries) and two MOPAS-operated cruise ships - Nippon Maru and Seabourn Odyssey (2009-built/2023-acquired).

MOL Group also plans to order two new cruise ships designed with max passenger capacity of ~600.

MS Nippon Maru cruise ship (MOL-Mitsui OSK)

During the ship's 2008 drydock refurbishment, Nippon Maru's hull was painted black. Mitsui OSK's other liner - Fuji Maru (1988-built) was decommissioned in December 2013.

Decks and Cabins

The ship has a total of 194 passenger staterooms, including 9 Suites (all located forward on Deck 6/adjacent to the Navigation Bridge/Wheelhouse).

There are 9 passenger-accessible decks, of which 6 are with cabins.

Three Lifts/midship Elevators interconnect decks 1 through 7.

Deck 0 is a service deck with a midship-starboard positioned tendering area and crew-only facilities (engines/machinery, crew cabins, storage, Messhall).

On Deck 1 are the Infirmary/Clinic and staff/crew-only facilities.

On Deck 2 are the Mizuho Restaurant (midship-aft Main Dining Room), the Main Entrance/Lobby Hall (both ship entrances/portside and starboard, Reception/Front Desk, Cruise Salon/Sales Office), the Smoking Lounge (midship-starboard) and one Utility Room.

On Deck 3 are the Tour Desk (shore excursions information and booking), the Dolphin Photoshop, two Utility Rooms and four Laundry Rooms. Aft are located two Grand Baths (one for men and one for women) each with adjacent Dressing Room/Lockers.

On Deck 4 are the aft Dolphin Hall (lower level 1 of 2/stage floor served by the Dolphin Bar), one Utility Room, and the full-circling Promenade Deck (wraparound open deck space).

On Deck 5 are the Beginner's Luck Casino Lounge & Bar, Conference Room, E-Cafe & Library (Reading Lounge), Card Room, Boutique Anchor, Buoy Shop, Dolphin Hall (upper level 2 of 2) and the Dolphin Lounge. Deck 5 also houses the ship's service boats (2x tenders, 2x lifeboats, 2x rescue boats).

On Deck 6 are the Kasuga Restaurant (a-la-carte-priced specialty dining venue), Shiosai (Sushi Bar), the Midship Bar, the Mermaid Theater (main show lounge/cinema), the Umi Lounge, and the Navigation Bridge (Wheelhouse with adjacent Captain's Suite and officers' quarters).

On Deck 7 are the Sports Deck (aft), Sports Veranda (portside and starboard outdoor gym zones) Lido Terrace, the Sun Deck (lower level), the wellness complex (Oasis Gym & Studio, Spa & Beauty Salon), the bow-facing Horizon Lounge & Bar (forward, with Horizon Deck/outdoor seating and Promenade).

On Deck 8 are the Sun Deck (upper level), the Walking Track, the Sliding Roof (retractable glass-cover over the Lido Pool area) and the Funnels/smokestacks.

Shipboard facilities and amenities

Shipboard facilities include Main Dining Room Restaurant (complimentary), Sushi Bar (a la carte restaurant for fresh fish supplied from local markets), Horizon Bar Lounge, Cafe and Library, Mermaid Theater (show lounge for live performances), Lido Terrace (indoor lounge on Lido Deck), Sun Deck with Swimming Pool, Wellness Complex (SPA, Hair Salon, Gym, Sauna, Treatment Rooms for massages, two indoor baths with aft-facing views).

The ship has a Card Room and a Casino.

Mitsui OSK cruise ticket prices range between USD 400-500 per person per night (with double occupancy). Deals are in the luxury travel category and all-Inclusive (excluding only alcohol).

 

Almost all MOL cruise customers are Japanese.

Onboard cuisine is traditional Japanese plus Western specialties.

Itineraries

Previously operated only in East Asia, in 2001, the ship offered its first around-the-world cruise. Nippon Maru itinerary program ranges from casual short breaks (overnight roundtrips) to voyages around Japan and Southeast Asia.

Mitsui OSK's "One Night Cruise" program is based on three themes, all of which are elaborately planned, offering a relaxed travel atmosphere and greatly expanding Japan's homeport cruising market.

In 2017 was introduced the "Tonde" fly-cruise around Kyushu Island (Japan's 3rd largest). The itinerary visited all Kyushu Island prefectures (Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga, Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Okinawa) in a single voyage. The roundtrip from Hakata-Fukuoka City visited Beppu, Miyazaki City, Kagoshima, Tokunoshima, Misumi, Karatsu.

The Kyushu-themed cruise became highly popular as it combines cruising with traveling on trains and airplanes. Shipboard dining options included food specialties from each of Kyushu's prefectures.

MS Nippon Maru cruise ship (MOL-Mitsui OSK)

In 2018, Nippon Maru offered 1- to 8-day voyages in Japan exclusively. During spring, the ship sailed to Okinawa Islands and Taiwan. The fly-cruise program included domestic and international flights to and from major cities. MOL Cruises plans itineraries combining international and domestic voyages, themed local events and festivities. Longer itineraries will also visit the USA's overseas territories Saipan Island Marianas and Guam Island (Micronesia). Mitsui OSK also considers adding one or two Southeast Asian cities as alternative homeports.

MS Nippon Maru currently visits ~150 different Japanese seaports.

The annual "Grand Cruise" is around Japan and with duration ~2 months.

"Island Cruise" itineraries visit two UNESCO sites - Ogasawara/Bonin Islands and Yakushima Island.

"Fly and Cruise" itineraries also visit Hokkaido Island (Shiretoko Peninsula, Otaru/Sapporo, Rebun Island), Okinawa Island, Taiwan (Keelung).

Asian-themed voyages include "Taiwan Grand Cruise" (visiting Keelung-Taipei City, Kaohsiung, Hualien) and "Gourmet Cruise" (to Hong Kong, Keelung, Kaohsiung).

"South Pacific Islands Cruise" itineraries from Kobe visit Yokohama, Guam Island (USA), Tahiti Island (French Polynesia), Hawaii (USA).

Due to the Coronavirus crisis, in 2020 the Nippon Maru ship suspended all Mitsui OSK Line cruises scheduled for the period March-November. The revised program (mainly Japanese coastal voyages) between November 2020 and August 2021 included a total of 37 departures. The vessel's passenger capacity (398 lower berths) was limited to 40-60%. A total of 20 cabins were allocated for onboard quarantine purposes.

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Ship's powerplant is based on two Mitsubishi marine diesel engines (model 8UEC52LA) with combined power output 15,7 MW. The propulsion system (hybrid contra-rotating) includes bow thruster and two controllable pitch propellers (1x forward CPC plus 1x aft propeller / Kamome rudder). The propulsion employs one conventional CPC (fore-located, driven by the main engine) with a motor-driven "rudder propeller" (aft-located).

In addition to its Japanese officers and key service staff, 130 Filipino crew also work on the ship. The shipowner MOL was founded in 1884. MOL's passenger shipping services started in 1908, with Transpacific crossings between Japan and Central-South America. In 1939 were launched two newbuild ocean liners - Argentina Maru and Brazil Maru. Mitsui OSK Passenger Line was founded in 1970.

MS Nippon Maru cruise ship (MOL-Mitsui OSK)

On December 13, 2018, in an official ceremony, Mitsui OSK Passenger Line was awarded for its "Nippon Maru One Night Cruise". This program offered 3 themed voyages in 2018:

  • (September 21-22) "Yokohama-Kobe Bread Festival Cruise" with various fresh-baked bread
  • (October 22-23) "Autumn Setonaikai Inland Sea" with food specialties from 9 prefectures in the Seto Inland Sea (Setonaikai) and special breakfasts showcasing local delicacies from each prefecture
  • (December 25-26) "Kobe-Yokohama C to Sea Cruise" with various themed onboard events

"The Cruise of the Year" award recognized MOL Group for its contribution to Japan's cruising industry by developing new products and enhancing services. The annual award is issued by "Japan Oceangoing Passenger Ship Association" and "Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism", and sponsored by "Japan Tourism Agency" and "Japan Association of Travel Agents".

Nippon Maru ship refurbishments review

On July 12, 2019, the shipowner MOL announced a scheduled drydock refurbishment of Nippon Maru.

The February-April 2020 drydocking project resulted in the following deckplan changes:

New bow-facing family cabins with large (non-opening, floor-to-ceiling) slanted windows were added forward on decks 4 and 5. Most of these staterooms (Ocean View Suites) are Triple (max capacity 3 people) and some are for families and groups (accommodating max 6 people).

Neptune Bar was relocated to Horizon Lounge (forward on Deck 7).

The Wi-Fi coverage was upgraded to shipwide - except only the Dolphin Hall.

Some of the interior spaces and all passenger staterooms received new carpeting.

The vessel's main machinery equipment was upgraded - including the old engines running on HDDDEO (Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Oil) were replaced with new engines running on LSFO (low-sulfur marine fuel oil). The works also included hull cleaning and repainting.

Nippon Maru's last major refit was in 2010 when more passenger staterooms were added to Deck 6, along with the venues Horizon Lounge (bow-facing/forward Bar Lounge on Deck 7) and the wellness complex "Spa and Salon". During drydock 2010, the hull was also repainted with MOL's new livery (royal blue color) and round-shaped porthole windows were installed.