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Cruise ship swings by Saipan as part of annual voyage


Japan's largest cruise ship, the M/S Asuka II, made its annual voyage to Saipan on 26 March, bringing 400 passengers and 470 officers and crew members for an overnight stay on island.
The 240.96-meter long vessel (about 790 feet), owned by Nippon Yusen Kaisha, arrived after 10 hours of travel from Guam and docked at the seaport by 9am.
Asuka II's visit is part of a 10-day cruise that began in Yokohama, stopping over at Kobe, then spending three days at sea before reaching Guam and subsequently Saipan before it heads back to Japan.
The ship's arrival comes over a week after the aborted passenger landing last March 15 of another cruise liner, Queen Mary 2.
Commonwealth Ports Authority Port of Saipan manager Mary Ann Q. Lizama said that a floral shower was provided “as the ship was coming in,” while the Marianas Visitors Authority made arrangements for the local performers who entertained the ship's passengers and crew at the port. Saipan Shipping served as the ship's husbanding agent while R&C Tours was the tour agent.
Lizama led a four-member party of reporters that boarded Asuka II for a tour conducted by first purser Yukiko Shindo.
Originally built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries out of Nagasaki for Crystal Cruises fleet, Asuka II can accommodate up to 800 passengers and has eight passenger-accessible decks.
Majority of their passengers, Shindo said, are Japanese retirees.
Shindo, who has been working for Asuka II for over six years now, described their voyage from Guam to Saipan as “very calm, nice, and quiet.”
According to Shindo, Asuka II usually visits the Marianas toward the end of the year. During their December trip, however, the ship went to Asia, visiting China and Hong Kong in time for New Year.
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