Japanese ferries, houseboats and short cruises
Update: 21 February 2017
In Japan, using ships for both sightseeing and transportation purposes is recommended. We introduce the outlines, services and how to get on to ferries, houseboats and short cruises in Japan.
There are about 200 ferry services from short routes to long routes including routes longer than 300 kilometers in Japan. Now, there are also services including to Korea, Russia and China. Ferries in Japan are useful for both sightseeing to isolated islands and a way to travel a long distance. Among them, most of the medium to long distance ferries have cabins. The room types includes VIP rooms like suites, state rooms like the 1st class cabins and dormitory rooms with double-decker beds.
The ferry fare varies depending on the shipping company, the distance, the season, and room types. It's better to check the website of the ferry you are interested. Sometimes when you pay one adult fare, you may not be charged for one to two babies or children (under the age before they enter a school) traveling with you. Also, if you are taking cars and/or motorbikes, an extra fee is charged.
Houseboats are one of the Japanese traditional cultures that you enjoy meals and drinks on a houseboat on a river. It started from about the 17th century, but they still operate even now. It is used to see the river scenery and fireworks. Some of the houseboats are equipped with Karaoke facilities for banquets. It can accommodate from about 20 people to about 100 people if it's a big houseboat.
The houseboat fare varies, but generally from 5,000 JPY. If you'd like to get on one to have a meal and/or enjoy a seasonal event, it can cost 40,000 to 50,000 JPY depending on the details. Please check the fare in advance.
Short cruise service
If you'd like to tour around Japan, there are short cruises from one night to one week. You can go to various tourist spots in short, and what's you can stay in a ship while enjoying the service dedicated to cruise ships such as meals and dance parties, which is attractive. In particular, if you use a cruise ship managed by a Japanese company, most of them provide Japanese meal menus.
Short cruise fare
In many cases, 3 days and 2 nights short cruise costs more than 50,000 JPY. It can be hundreds of thousands JPY depending on the room grade you selected. The fare includes accommodation, meals and other service charges.
If you get on a short distance ferry, you may not need to make a reservation and just go to its reception on the site on the day. Houseboats and short cruises provide meals so you need to make a reservation in advance. Some companies accept bookings on the day, but reservations may be full on the weekends when there are many other people who want to do the same. In general, making a reservation is by phone or on the internet for ferries, houseboats and short cruises. Some of them have an English website and provide guidance in English. Also, you can make a reservation through a travel agency.
*This information is from the time of this article's publication.