• Kyodo

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HTB Cruise Co. is launching a ferry service between Nagasaki and Shanghai on Wednesday, offering a one-way ticket for as low as around ¥13,000.

HTB Cruise, a subsidiary of theme park operator Huis Ten Bosch Co., aims to have 100,000 passengers board the ferry annually and boost the number of Chinese visitors to the Dutch theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture.

The company will operate one round trip per week until mid-March and increase the frequency to twice a week through the end of May.

The number of passengers will be limited to around 300 to 400 until the vessel’s cabins are renovated by June, after which it will be able to accommodate about 1,000 people, the company said, adding that some 230 reservations came in for Wednesday’s inaugural cruise.

Laox Co., a Japan-based home appliance retailer owned by a Chinese company, and restaurant chain operator Ringerhut Co. will open outlets aboard the ferry, which will also have a stage for music entertainment and a bar. A casino is also being considered.

The service was originally planned to start last year but was delayed by the earthquake-tsunami disaster and nuclear crisis in the Tohoku region, which caused a sharp drop in the number of Chinese coming to Japan.

“We will continue to face a tough time for some time, but we aim to secure two ships in the future and attract 200,000 customers (a year),” said Huis Ten Bosch President Hideo Sawada.

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