Update: Sadly, Pacific Venus has retired from cruising with its final voyage ending on Jan. 4, 2023. Ship owner Japan Cruise Line announced on Nov. 1, 2022 that it will pull out of the cruise ship business entirely after the Pacific Venus completes its New Year’s 2023 cruise to Okinawa and Amami Oshima. No announcement yet about the fate of the ship.
Friend Ship, cruise ship.
Pacific Venus (ぱしふぃっく びいなす) was the second largest cruise ship in Japan and the least known among the Japanese public. It might be because the parent company is not as famous as the huge maritime shipping companies behind the other two Japanese cruise ships, Asuka II and Nippon Maru.
The ship was operated by Osaka-based Japan Cruise Line (日本クルーズ客船) founded in April 1989. The cruise line was branded as Venus Cruise.
The ship is owned by Osaka-based Shin Nihonkai Ferry Co., Ltd. (新日本海フェリー株式会社), a car ferry company operating in the Sea of Japan since 1970. Their ferry routes ply between Maizuru (northern Kyoto), Fukui, Niigata, Akita, and Hokkaido. It has a fleet of large car ferries outfitted with passenger cabins in multiple classes. Core member of the SHK Line Group of Japanese ferry operators and hotels.
Japan Cruise Line started cruise ship service in July 1990 with two ships, an old ship named New Utopia (built in 1974, retired in 1997) and a new ship named Orient Venus. In 1998, the newly built Pacific Venus was added.
In 2001, Orient Venus was given to Nihon Charter Cruise Co., an affiliated charter cruise company. It was later sold off in 2005. Nihon Charter Cruise Co. was a joint venture with Mitsui O.S.K. Passenger Line, Ltd. and dissolved in 2014. Japan Cruise Line now operates only the Pacific Venus.
Pacific Venus was the last Japanese cruise ship to restart cruising in late March 2022 after laying idle for seven months during the pandemic. It has struggled during the pandemic and the ship’s owner finally decided to pull out of the cruise ship business from January 2023.
Pacific Venus’s motto was “Friend Ship.” Meaning that they were very friendly and full of warm hospitality. Even first-time cruisers were made to feel comfortable and not intimidated. It’s nice that they had a motto. All cruise ships should have a catchy motto or nickname that we can remember.
“Venus” is associated with love. The official website included a large photo of a couple hugging each other with PR text saying that you can meet an unforgettable person onboard. A Japanese-style love boat? There were no single cabins though, so solo travelers had to pay slightly more to stay in a twin-bed cabin alone.
All cabins had an ocean-view window or balcony. Very few cabins had a balcony. Since the ship’s home port was Osaka, many cruises started from Osaka or Kobe. Good for people in western Japan.
The top-deck lounge on the 12th deck was a casino game room (adults only) with panoramic windows in front of the funnel. The ship also had a tea ceremony room, outdoor pool with seawater, freshwater jacuzzi, and free Wi-Fi in the ship’s public spaces, but not in the cabins. Free Wi-Fi could be used up to 30 minutes at a time, and up to ten times a day.
The PC Room was where you could rent a laptop computer to access the Internet for around ¥500 per 15 minutes.
Being all white, the ship looked kind of plain. Perhaps they should’ve painted some hull art like so many mega-ships overseas. Give it some pizazz to stand out more. On the inside though, it was certainly not plain. As gorgeous as any cruise ship could be.
Farewell Pacific Venus…
Unfortunately, the Pacific Venus became another corporate casualty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it restarted cruising in 2022, it could not reach pre-pandemic passenger numbers. It’s a tough and costly business for sure.
Its final voyage left Kobe Port on Dec. 27, 2022 for its New Year’s cruise to Ishigaki, Okinawa island, and Amami Oshima and returned on Jan. 4, 2023. The cruise was fully booked. The ship got a warm sendoff at Kobe Port by many people and even the Kobe Fire Dept. Band. The ship’s captain gave a thank you speech. They even had fireworks as a surprise before the ship left at 5:00 p.m.
Otsukaresama to all the Pacific Venus crew and staff. Hopefully, the ship will find a useful, second life.
|Pacific Venus (in service until Jan. 4, 2023)|
|Built||1998 by Ishikawajima Heavy Industries (IHI Corporation), Tokyo|
|Capacity*||620 pax, 204 crew|
|Wheelchair cabins||2 “Deluxe Rooms”|
|Length / Width||183.4 m / 25 m|
|Operator||Japan Cruise Line|
|Parent company||SHK Line Group|
|Remarks||Parent company is a consortium of ferry companies. It pulled out of the cruise ship business in Jan. 2023.|
Pacific Venus: Pros
・Homeported in Osaka for frequent cruises from western Japan. Great for people in Kansai.
・Very friendly staff and crew.
・Geared better for families.
・Few cabins had a balcony.
・Not so famous in Japan.
・Not international (passengers almost exclusively Japanese).
・No website in English.
Official website (in Japanese): https://www.venus-cruise.co.jp/
Also see: Nippon Maru or Asuka II
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