The Best Cruise Lines To Sail To Japan

The Best Cruise Lines To Sail To Japan

Japan, with its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and bustling cities, has always been a captivating destination for visitors. While exploring this beautiful country is typically associated with land-based adventures, cruising to Japan is gaining popularity as an exciting and convenient way to experience its diverse wonders.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the best cruise lines to sail to Japan, explore popular ports of call and potential Japan cruise itineraries, and answer essential questions about cruising in Japan.

Whether you’re considering Japan cruises in 2023 or looking ahead to Japan cruises for 2024 and 2025, this guide will help you chart your course to this incredible country.

Is cruising a good way to see Japan?

Cruising to Japan offers a unique, spectacular and convenient way to explore this enchanting country. Japan is made up of four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, and other smaller islands.

With a Japan cruise itinerary, you’ll get the opportunity to see a lot of this gorgeous coastline as you sail from port to port. You’ll also discover places that often aren’t included in typical land-based holidays, providing a different insight into the country.

Cruise holidays make travel effortless, with no need for multiple hotel check-ins, constant packing and unpacking and the hassle of long train journeys or domestic flights.

It’s a luxurious and relaxing way to explore new places, allowing you to take in all the sights while enjoying the ship’s fine dining, entertainment and leisure facilities. Moreover, this way of travelling can work out better value than paying for these kinds of luxuries ad hoc, especially if you take time to seek out the best Japan cruise deals.

What cruise lines sail to Japan?

Several cruise lines are offering unforgettable Japan cruises in 2023 and are already booking Japan cruises for 2024 and 2025. Each cruise line has unique appeal and itineraries, so it’s worth taking some time to explore which is most appealing for your holiday.

Here are some of the top cruise lines for you to consider:

Princess Cruises

Known for its immersive cultural experiences, Princess Cruises offers various itineraries that take you to popular Japanese cruise ports such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.

Their onboard enrichment programs help you gain a deeper understanding of Japanese traditions and cuisine, from evenings of karaoke, folkloric dancers and traditional comic storytelling, known as “rakugo”, to delicious regional dishes to sample.

Royal Caribbean

With its innovative ships, Royal Caribbean offers a blend of fun, adventure and relaxation.

Cruises to Japan with Royal Caribbean often include stops in bustling cities like Tokyo and Kobe, allowing you to experience the best of modern Japan alongside its ancient history of temples and shrines.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line offers timeless elegance onboard its ships, where its extensive activity and enrichment programmes allow you to get a closer insight into your destinations.

Port stops include the historical cities of Kyoto and Hiroshima, where you’ll get a glimpse into Japan’s past. Some itineraries also offer the chance to discover some more remote islands, such as Ishigaki.


MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises offers an affordable way to cruise to Japan. Their voyages typically visit ports like Tokyo and Kagoshima, with extended stays in ports of up to 12 hours.

Back onboard, you can enjoy international dining, engaging entertainment and family-friendly programmes.

Cunard Line

For those seeking a classy and sophisticated cruise experience, Cunard is an excellent choice. Their Japan cruise itineraries combine the country’s fascinating ancient traditions with its vibrant modern cities.

Cunard Line visits various destinations in Japan, from the natural landscapes of Aomori with its cherry blossoms and the World Heritage Site of the Shirakami Mountains to the cultural city of Kobe. Therefore, take time to browse its Japan cruise deals to find an itinerary that checks all the boxes for you.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Known for its Freestyle Cruising concept, Norwegian Cruise Line offers flexibility in dining and entertainment.

Its wide variety of itineraries includes shorter Japan cruises, packed with all the highlights, to longer immersive cruises where you’ll get to explore everything from the heights of the snowy peaks of Mount Fuji to the serene beaches on Ishigaki Island.

What are the most popular ports in Japan?

Japan offers a unique combination of vibrant urban centres steeped in rich history, culture, and architectural wonders, and breathtaking landscapes with majestic mountains, tranquil cherry blossom gardens, and pristine coastal vistas.

If you have time for an extended holiday, there are Japan cruise itineraries that allow you to discover a little of every aspect. However, if you are not blessed with so much time, there are many popular cruise ports in Japan that are a must-visit:

Tokyo Cruise Port

The capital of Japan, Tokyo, is a bustling metropolis with something to offer everyone. From Asakusa’s ancient temples to Shinjuku’s neon-lit streets, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Tokyo.


Osaka Cruise Port

Osaka is a vibrant city known for its delicious food and friendly people. Some of the most popular attractions in Osaka include Osaka Castle, Dotonbori, and Universal Studios Japan.


Kyoto Cruise Port

Kyoto is Japan’s former capital and home to many of the country’s most famous temples and shrines, such as Kiyomizu-dera and Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto is also a great place to experience traditional Japanese culture.

Other popular cruise ports in Japan include Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki.

What is the best length cruise to visit Japan?

Determining the ideal length for your cruise to Japan depends on your interests and the specific places you want to explore. However, here are some general guidelines to consider:

1-Week Cruise

If you have limited time, a 7-day cruise is a great introduction to Japan. You can visit major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, experiencing a mix of modernity and tradition.

2-Week Cruise

A 14-day cruise allows for a more comprehensive exploration of Japan. You can delve deeper into cities like Osaka, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki and enjoy some leisurely days at sea.

Extended Cruises

For a truly immersive experience, consider extended cruises spanning three or more weeks. These journeys often include less-visited ports and offer a more in-depth cultural experience.

Cruising around Japan is an excellent way to explore the Land of the Rising Sun, offering convenience, cultural enrichment, and diverse itineraries. The choice of cruise line and length ultimately depends on your preferences and the aspects of Japan you wish to discover. However, whatever your choice, it will be an adventure that you’ll cherish forever.

If you have any questions about cruises to Japan or would like help booking one, please get in touch with our cruise specialists.

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