Kumamoto welcomes first international cruise ship since deadly April temblors


An international cruise ship arrived at a Kumamoto port on Thursday for the first time since the prefecture was rocked by a series of earthquakes in April.

The Quantum of the Seas, which measures about 350 meters in length and carries some 4,000 passengers, was met with a welcome reception at Kumamoto’s port of Yatsushiro after departing from Shanghai on Tuesday.

The liner will return to Shanghai on Saturday.

According to the prefecture, around 10 tourist cruise ships per year typically call at Kumamoto from overseas, mostly on routes from China. But the April quakes led the Chinese government to suspend crossings to Kyushu.

A prefectural official expressed hope that increasing visitors from abroad will help the quake-hit region’s economy recover.

Earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 and 7.3 struck on April 14 and 16, respectively, with aftershocks continuing throughout the area over the following weeks. The quakes claimed 49 lives, caused damage to more than 100,000 residential buildings and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.