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New cruise ship to ply Okinawa waters

Date Posted: 2011-10-14

Okinawans will soon see a new cruise ship sailing between Shanghai and Okinawa.

China’s largest port group, Shanghai International Port Group, is set to conduct a test cruise this month, bringing a cruise ship capable of carrying 1,300 passengers to both Naha and Ishigaki ports. SIPG says it will use a ship belonging to another company for the test cruise.

Ishigaki is slated to receive the cruise ship October 14th. The vessel will be the first to tour Okinawa from Shanghai. Shigenobu Asato, Chairman of the Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau, says “Okinawa has strong appeal for repeater tourists, and we expect people from Shanghai will come back to Okinawa.” SIPG has indicated it could begin regular cruise ship service to Ishigaki and Naha starting next October.

SIPG’s general manager, Connie Zhang, says it’s targeting wealthy passengers for its cruises. “Okinawa is suited to being a resort because of its history, its scenery and the nature of it’s people,” she says, and adds “we’ve been to the main islands of Japan, but from now on we will place our business focus on Okinawa.”

A cruise ship based in Taiwan, the Aquarius, now makes weekly visits to Naha and Ishigaki. The Aquarius is operated by Star Cruises.

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