Luxury cruise ship planned for Kyushu and Okinawa in 2020

Kyodo

Ryobi Holdings Co. is considering launching a luxury cruise ship service that operates in the Kyushu area and Okinawa as early as 2020, the company’s top official said Monday.

The cruise ship would be designed by Eiji Mitooka, the industrial designer who also designed the luxury sleeper train Seven Stars, which also operates in the Kyushu area, said Mitsunobu Kojima, chief executive officer of Ryobi Holdings Co.

The Okayama-based transportation and distribution company hopes to boost travel demand by linking the cruise ship service to Seven Stars operated by Kyushu Railway Co.

“Both services will expand as a result of connecting land and sea,” Kojima said, adding that all 60 guest rooms on the 120-meter ship will be suites and live trees will grow on its decks.

The cruise ship’s routes may changed in accordance with the seasons. New destinations around Japan, such as in the Seto Inland Sea, and routes to Busan and Jeju Island in South Korea are also under consideration, he said.

Destinations around Japan could include the cities of Hiroshima, Okayama, Kobe, Yokohama and Tokyo, Kojima said. The ticket prices for the service has not been set at this point, he added.

The order for the cruise ship — with an estimated cost of about ¥8 billion — will be placed with a Japanese ship builder.

“We will make the best cruise ship in Japan, which will be top-level globally as well,” designer Mitooka said. “We hope we can help passengers rediscover the joy of sailing.”

The Japanese government aims to increase the annual number of overseas visitors to 40 million by 2020 and to 60 million by 2030 as part of efforts to boost domestic economic growth.