ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Companies

$540m luxury liner planned as Japan's pensioners gain a taste for travel

Debut of Nippon Yusen's new cruise ship slated for mid-2020s

The nearly 30-year-old Asuka II cruise ship will continue to ply the seas after undergoing repairs and renovations. (Photo courtesy of Nippon Yusen)

TOKYO -- Maritime shipper Nippon Yusen will order a second cruise ship, Nikkei has learned, as luxury travel demand grows among affluent seniors in Japan, with plans to put it in service as early as the mid-2020s.

Construction costs are expected to reach up to 60 billion yen ($541 million). Nippon Yusen's well-known cruise ship, the Asuka II, will be taken out of service temporarily for repairs but will continue to operate after the new vessel sets sail.

Nippon Yusen considered expanding its cruise ship fleet before, but a slump in its mainstay freight operations scuttled those plans. Now, with the high-end travel market picking up in Japan, the Tokyo-based company is moving ahead.

The number of Japanese guests on overnight cruises jumped 27% in 2017 to a record 315,000, according to the tourism ministry. Foreign players like Princess Cruises of the U.S. operate megaships out of the country.

An increase in affluent consumers is brightening the market outlook. Japan had 1.26 million households with net financial assets of at least 100 million yen in 2017, up 26% in four years, according to the Nomura Research Institute.

Railways are adding more luxury sleeper trains. East Japan Railway rolled out the Train Suite Shiki-Shima, an opulent sleeper, in 2017, and West Japan Railway brought its luxury sleeper, the Twilight Express Mizukaze, into service the same year. Despite costing over $4,500 per traveler, the services are popular and hard to book.

Against this backdrop, Nippon Yusen decided to expand its cruise fleet. The cost of construction varies depending on how crowded shipyards are. In the current market, the cost to build a cruise ship is estimated at between 50 billion yen and 60 billion yen. The company is closely monitoring market trends for the best time to place the order.

The Asuka II was built in 1990 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Nippon Yusen is now considering foreign builders as well.

The plan is to make travel on the older ship cheaper so as to set the new ship apart. The company will target young families in addition to the wealthy.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more