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"Sea Chateau" offers luxury and brilliant sunsets

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-03-14

This is the season when the days get gradually longer, and the feeling that summer is just around the corner is everywhere. As the warm weather approaches, so will the fabulous sunsets that Okinawa is known for. One of the nicest ways to see a great sunset is by boat out on a calm sea. The water begins to glitter, as the sky turns into brilliant colors before twilight is consumed by night. The cool ocean breeze helps to create the tropical romantic atmosphere that island sunsets are known for.

There are several tour operators offering sunset cruises on the island, each with their own attraction. One of the cheapest and nicest cruises is offered by Marine Tourism Development Incorporation. Their beautiful and sleek "Sea Chateau" offers great comfort, and plenty of space both inside and on top the upper deck. The 33 meter long vessel departs daily from Tomarin port, offering a sunset cruise that includes dinner, drinks, and entertainment.

The first thing you will notice about the Sea Chateau is that it is very clean and well kept. Made from aluminum, there is virtually no rust. Walking inside there are plenty of tables with wide and comfortable seats, each with its own window. There are also larger tables in the center for bigger groups, and there are conveniently located toilets at the stern.

As the luxury cruise ship heads out to sea, you can relax with a drink, and view the horizon. Whisky, awamori, and soft drinks are on the house for the entire evening. Beer can be purchased for 500, and cocktails are also available for about 700 and 800. Dinner is served shortly afterward, which consists of an 'all you can eat' Chinese buffet. Spring rolls, stir fried vegetables, chicken, noodles, and salad are just some of the delicious entrees you will find. All of this is accompanied by acoustic guitar player and singer Kiyomi Yamakawa. Her lovely voice sings out both popular Japanese and American favorites as the sun begins to set.

Weather permitting, the ship will take a course for the airport and then head north towards Makiminato, before returning to port. The upper deck, which is all open, gives you a great view of the sunset as you relax or drink the night away. There are plenty of tables and chairs to sit and relax, or you can stand at the ships rails, while watching the sun sink into the sea. The city lights of Naha become more and more visible as night falls, and romance fills the air. As the glowing orange sky fades away, the Sea Chateau begins to head home.

The price for the cruise, which lasts for and hour and a half, is 7,500. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 years old pay 3,500. Guests are asked to meet at the north end of Tomarin Port at 5 pm. Departure is at 5:30 pm. Starting from April the meeting time and departure time are 30 minutes later.

The Sea Chateau can also be chartered for 250,000. The large ship can accommodate up to 96 people, which makes the price quite inexpensive per person for large groups. It is excellent for parties and weddings. "We let the guests bring their own food and drinks. They can even barbecue out on the upper deck if they want. We have karaoke, or you can bring your own music," explained Manager Mihoko Maeda. The Sea Chateau can be chartered for both day or night, but not during the same hours as the sunset cruise. "The cruise for a charter usually lasts about two hours, but we sometimes give time service if the guests are really having fun.," said Maeda.

The Marine Tourism Development Inc. also offers other marine leisure activities, including trips out to smaller islands. During the summer months the Sea Chateau has a "Tropical Night Cruise" for only 2,500 for adults and 1,000 for children, which includes a free cocktail or soft drink, and complimentary snack.

If you wish to make a reservation please call at 869-2241. Only a little English is spoken, so please speak slowly, or send a fax to 862-8841. Please write your name, intended reservation day, and number of people.

Treat yourself to a romantic evening, or enjoy a night out with friends this summer on the Sea Chateau.

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