Carnival’s Princess Cruises will return to Japan in March 2023 after a nearly three-year hiatus


People look out aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, operated by Princess Cruises, as it docks about 25 miles off the coast of San Francisco, California, on March 8, 2020.

Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

Princess Cruises, a Carnival Corporation brand, will resume travel in its home port of Japan early next year, the company said in a press release on Friday.

Beginning March 15, the Diamond Princess will depart Tokyo for five to 19-day cruises, the press release said.

The return follows an announcement from Japan’s Ministry of Transport last month that a two-and-a-half-year ban on international cruise ships was being lifted. Under the country’s new guidelines, crew members must receive three vaccinations against Covid, while most passengers must have at least two, the Associated Press reported.

“The reopening of Japanese ports to the international cruise industry is an important and welcome development that not only greatly expands vacation options for guests, but also helps to significantly strengthen Japan’s tourism economy,” said John Padgett, president of Princess Cruises. , in the press release.

Japan initiated the cruise ban in March 2020 after a fatal coronavirus outbreak occurred on the Diamond Princess, a Princess cruise ship, in February. The spread forced about 3,700 people on board into a two-week quarantine.

Since Japan reopened to international cruises, other holiday ships are gearing up to return to the country. In a Wednesday press release, Holland America Line, also a subsidiary of Carnival, announced some of its own routes in Japan for early 2023.

Japan joins a growing pool of countries warming up to cruise tourism again after a lull for Covid. Reuters reported that New Zealand lifted its cruise ban at the end of July, while Australia lifted the bar in April and Canada even earlier in November 2021.

Cruises are the next frontier in the easing of pandemic-era tourism restrictions in Japan, which have devastated multiple sectors of the multibillion-dollar tourism industry. In June, the country reopened its borders to international tourists.

The countless global tourism restrictions sank the cruise industry. The biggest brands have been forced to halt operations, often after the coronavirus has spread fatally on board. Carnival, Royal Caribbean Cruisesand Norwegian cruise linethe leaders in the market saw their shares plummet by more than 80% in 2020.

Cruise lines have been building steadily since the initial shutdown, but the industry’s recovery has been hampered by macroeconomic headwinds such as rate hikes and a potential recession. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, all of which accumulated massive debt during the pandemic, saw their stocks fall in September as the Federal Reserve continued to raise interest rates.

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