Cruise ships made 387 port calls to Okinawa in 2016

According to a report compiled by Okinawa Prefecture General Bureau, cruise ships made a total of 387 port calls to the ports in the prefecture. The number marks a new record for the seventh consecutive year.

The number of port calls exceeded the previous record of 219 in 2015 by 168, and was a large contributor to the increase in the number of foreign tourists, mostly from Taiwan and China.

Naha Port welcomed 193 port calls from cruise ships in 2016, up from 115 in 2015. Ishigaki had cruise ships docking 95 times, up from 84 in 2015, Hirara Port on Miyako Island had 86, up from 13, and Nakagusuku Port in Okinawa City had eight port calls in 2016, while it had none in the previous year. The port calls to Nakagusuku Port were the first in five years. A new cruise company started regular port calls to Hirara Port on Miyako.

However, the new record fell short of the 457 that the General Bureau had projected. The bureau Port Planning Division explained that the reason was “influence of weather conditions like typhoons” that prevented ships from docking. The General Bureau is due to announce its estimate for 2017 soon.

In the world cruise ship industry, he trend is towards larger cruise liners to 160,000-ton-level, like “Quantum of the Seas” and “Ovation of the Seas” with passenger capacity of more than 4,000 coming to Okinawa regularly. Officials at the General Bureau say that in the view of larger and larger cruise ships plying the seas of Southeast Asia, the capacity of wharfs and terminals in Okinawa ports have to be increased to cope with the large-scale ships. The facilities in general must also be improved in order to maintain the functional quality of secure Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine services.