Nippon Maru

Nippon Maru Review and Specifications

Specifications of Nippon Maru

Year built1990  /  Age : 29
Flag state Japan
BuilderMitsubishi Heavy Industries (Kobe, Japan)
Ferry route / homeportsKobe (Japan)
OwnerMitsui OSK Lines Ltd (MOL) via Nippon Maru Co Ltd
OperatorMitsui OSK Passenger Line Ltd (MOPAS)
Speed18 kn / 33 kph / 21 mph
Length (LOA)167 m / 548 ft
Beam (width)24 m / 79 ft
Gross Tonnage22472 gt
Passengers398 - 607
Crew230
Decks7
Last Refurbishment2017

Review of Nippon Maru

MS Nippon Maru cruise ship entered service in 1990. The liner was built in Japan (by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) and delivered to Mitsui OSK in September 1990. Besides Nippon Maru, Japan-flagged cruise ships are also Asuka 2 (NYK Line) and Pacific Venus (Venus Cruise Line).

History - construction and ownership

Vessel's keel-laying ceremony was held in October 1989 at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) shipyard in Kobe, 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).

MS Nippon Maru cruise ship (MOL-Mitsui OSK)

The vessel is operated by Mitsui OSK Passenger Line, which is subsidiary of MOL (Mitsui OSK Lines) - one of world's largest container shipping companies. The shipowner MOL (founded 1884) is a Japanese transportation company headquartered in Tokyo. MOL itself is part of Mitsui Group (interlocking companies in Japan). MOL's fleet includes boxships, general cargo ships (bulk carriers, LNG carriers, tankers), ro-ro ships (also ferries) and the cruise ship Nippon Maru.

MS Nippon Maru cruise ship (MOL-Mitsui OSK)

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

Cruise itinerary program

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 cruises around Japan and Southeast Asia. Mitsui OSK's "One Night Cruise" program is based on three themes, all of which are elaborately planned, offering 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 prefectures (Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga, Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Okinawa) in one voyage. The roundtrip from Fukuoka (Hakata) visited Beppu, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, Tokunoshima, Misumi, Karatsu. The themed cruise itinerary became highly popular as it combines cruising with traveling on trains and airplanes. Shipboard dining options included food specialties from each of Kyushu Island's prefectures.

MS Nippon Maru cruise ship (MOL-Mitsui OSK)

In 2018, Nippon Maru offered 1- to 8-day cruises 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 USA's overseas territories Saipan Island (Mariana Islands) and Guam Island (Micronesia). Mitsui OSK also considers adding one or two Southeast Asian cities as alternative homeports. MS Nippon Maru currently visits around 150 different Japanese seaports.

"Grand Cruise" is around Japan. " Island Cruise" visits two UNESCO sites - Ogasawara Islands and Yakushima. "Fly and Cruise" itineraries also vist Hokkaido Island (Shiretoko, Otaru, Rebun Island), Okinawa and Taiwan (Keelung). Asian-themed voyages include "Taiwan Grand Cruise" (visiting Keelung, Kaohsiung, Hualien) and "Gourmet Cruise" (to Hong Kong, Keelung, Kaohsiung). "South Pacific Islands Cruise" itinerary from Kobe visits Yokohama, Guam, Tahiti, Hawaii.

Shipboard dining and entertainment options

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, indoor bath with seaviews). The ship has Card Room and no Casino (forbidden by Japanese law).

Mitsui OSK cruise ticket prices range between USD 400-500 per person per night. Deals are in the luxury travel category and all-Inclusive (excluding only alcohol). Almost all MOL cruise customers are Japanese. Onboard cusine is traditional Japanese plus Western specialties.

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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).

MS Nippon Maru cruise ship (MOL-Mitsui OSK)

In addition to its Japanese officers and key service staff, on the ship also work 130 Filipino crew. 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.

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 breads
  • (October 22-23) "Autumn Setonaikai Inland Sea" with food specialties from 9 prefectures in Seto Inland Sea (Setonaikai) and special breakfasts showcasing local delicateses 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".

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