The oldest means of transportation for long-distance travel is the ship.
Today, cruise ships ply routes around Japan and all over the world, providing a leisurely escape that allows people to “enjoy time and space,” as well as a means of travel.
In addition, ferries have grown with the spread of car and truck transportation, and play key roles in Japan's domestic logistics network. But like cruise ships, ferry travel also opens up new horizons in leisure.
Ferries are liners that carry passengers, cars, trucks, and semitrailers all together. Long-distance ferries have the following advantages, since they are operated mainly at night.
- Ferry travel integrates both transportation and accommodation, making trips more affordable. Plus if travelers bring their cars on board, they will have greater mobility when they reach their destination.
- When it comes to cargo transport, ferries give drivers a chance to rest while their cargo continues to move. In addition, ferries allow for "unmanned sailing" — transporting only trailers without drivers aboard. What's more, transporting cargo and people by ferry reduces CO2 emissions, the key cause of global warming, compared to other modes of transport. So they are expected to be an essential part of the "modal shift" promoted by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Ferries also help address the shortage of long-haul truck drivers and reduce labor burdens.
In general, the lower part of the hull has space to accommodate vehicles and trailers, which are loaded and unloaded via a rampway set at the stern, bow, or side of the vessel. Passenger cabins, restaurants, large public baths, and other amenities are located on the upper decks.
Some long-distance ferries are huge, with luxurious facilities almost on a par with cruise ships.
Cruise ships take passengers from one place to another, but the real joy is in the journey. Once you come aboard, the time is all yours to spend as you please – enjoying fine dining, watching a live musical performance, or just taking in the sights at sea.
Cruise ships have a full range of facilities for passengers to enjoy during their voyage. The Nippon Maru is complete with staterooms and suites on each deck, restaurants, a lounge, theater, bar, hall, luxurious spa and salon services, boutiques, and a Grand Bath that offers a panoramic view of the open sea.
The Nippon Maru is also equipped with a "Fin Stabilizer" anti-roll system to maximize passenger comfort. In addition, the vessel features a tender boat that not only serves as a landing craft and lifeboat, but also allows high mobility during port calls.