Asuka II One Night Cruise Report on 2008 Summer. July 17th to 18th, 2008
PRE-CRUISE TIPS & RESERVATION.
As you may aware, this ship, M.S. Asuka II is previously known as M.S. Crystal Harmony. Elegant clipper raked bow and the observation lounge on the top deck are one of the pleasant feature of this ship. As she joined in the fleet of NYK cruise, Grand Spa (Japanese Bath) and Shiseido-Salon were added on the top deck. This addition was favored by most of Japanese travelers who are used to enjoying relaxing spa time even in the public settings.
When we arrived at the Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel, which was located right on the pier that Asuka II leaves, it was aready 20:00. Asuka II was already docked at the pier, adding brilliant jewel-like lights in the Kobe's harbor night. At the reception of the Hotel, we requested the room on the west side of the hotel, from which we could see Asuka II's beautiful night lights. Our request was granted so the room number 712 was given for us.
Cabin allocated this time was 7068 in the K state category, which was the lowest category of Asuka II. However even on this category, each cabin was equipped with a large oceanview window. As a matter of a fact, there are no inside cabins sold for public on Asuka II. The difference between other oceanview cabins is that the view from the K state would be little obstructed due to the ship's structure. But when it comes to the cabin we used, which was 7068, nothing was really obstructing our view. Only difference was that we could see the bottom of the tendar boart which was stored in front of us from the window. However, we could still see the nice panoramic view of the ocean from our window..
On the desk, we found the card holder, which was similar to what Crystal Cruises offers to their guest. The shape and material of the card holder was exactly the same as the Crystal's except the color of the card holder, which was blue for the Asuka II, and green for the Crystal.
Bathroom was elegantly decorated with clear and well maintained. Shining brass was embedded at the every corner. You can still see the Crystal's logo too here, the "Champagne Seahorse" on the wall of the bathroom. Closet area was wide enough for the guests taking a longer cruises. High quality bathroom amenities were also provided and they came with Asuka Cruise logo. Plenty of fluffy towels were also provided. However it must be noted that no bathrobes were provided for the K state cabin guests.
Please be aware that each cabin gets bed-making two times a day. So when you leave the cabin, make sure that your belongings are not scattered all over in your cabin. Otherwise, you will be embarrased.
After leaving our baggage in our cabin, we embarked on an adventure of exploring the ship. First area we went was the Palm Court Lounge located on the top deck where "Welcome Champagne" and tasty canapes were served. We sat on the beautifully appointed comfortable sofa on the starboard side of the ship. On the right hand across the large clean window was the Meriken Park Hotel where we stayed last night. There were many greens beautifully arranged in the Palm Court lounge and they created natural relaxing atmosphere. Not long after that, elegantly adorned Croatian waitress approached us, offering "Champagne" and some canapes. Very relaxing and soothing exprience.
Forward part of the "Palm Court" is connected to the "Vista Lounge" where guests can enjoy the bridge view while relaxing on the beautiful white sofa. In front of this lounge is covered by angled toughened glasses which surround the lounge by 270 degree. In the evening, a bar located behind the lounge serves variety of cock-tails which supplies some accents on the cruising night.
There was a door beside the lounge that connects to the outer deck of the ship. We took this door and went out to the outer deck. Sun was brightly shining, and the carefully maintained white paint of Asuka II was reflecting the sun-light brilliantly. The outside deck of Asuka II was all covered by real teak and this brought the taste of luxury cruising. Radar was turning on the mast, smoke was comming out of the funnel, the sounds of Chinese gong (Dora in Japanese) was resounding. Yes, the ship was about to leave the port.
11:00am, ropes were loosened, and the ship was gradually pulled away from the pier by the assistance of powerful tugboats. While maintaining the enough gap between the pier, she slowly moved backward to leave the pier. Right after passing the edge of the pier, she now sets her bow toward the harbor entrance and gradually moves toward it. Beautiful scenery of Kobe on the starboard side is now passing slowly from her stern. 15 minutes after the departure, Asuka II was passing the shipyard of Kawasaki Heavy Industries. We could see a submarine under maintenance and repair work was undergoing. Also we could see the new car carrier of NYK under construction.
While ship was passing off Kansai International Airport, Captain's greeting was announced, welcoming all passengers. Captain also informed us of the current position of the vessel that ship was carefully going down toward south, avoiding many local fishing boatsboats. According to him, weather on the way to Yokohama was fairly moderate however, little rain was expected in the late afternoon.
As mentioned earier, Asuka II embraces real teak through out her top deck. This gives comfort of natural feeling. On the balustrade, there was a sign, encouraging guests to "KEEP OUR OCEAN CLEAN". Located on the middle of the top deck was a large pool with showerroom and sauna provided side by side. You can see the Asuka II logo at the bottom of the pool as well as on the front face wall, where "Crystal"'s "Champagne Seahorse" was used to be. The funnel was painted with the two stripes of red on the white base, which is the trade mark of the NYK. Uninke Crystal, the over all color of the top deck is cordinated with blue. Crystal has its own trade color green throughout their top deck
The aft of the ship is elegantly appointed so you can see the beauty of real passenger cruise ship taste. It is not like a precipitous cliff like the most of large cruise ships of now a day. The aft design of each deck creates overall beauty of this ship, creating relaxing atmosphereon board.
Afternoon tea was served in the Palm Court lounge late afternoon. With beautiful soothing melody of the real harp, we could enjoy delightful experience of the cruising afternoon. Also, during this time, Asuka II' on board pianist played a beautiful melody as well. As it was the case for the other cruise ships, these refreshments were all included in the cruise fare.
As the route from Kobe to Yokohama involves traveling around the largest peninnsla in Japan, Kii-Peninsla, we enjoyed beutiful nature scenes specific to this area. Hi-no-Misaki & Shio-no-Misaki light house were some of these. Shio-No-Misaki is known as the southern most part of the Honshu island of Japan. We passed this landmark at appx. 16:00. As we traveled around the Kii-Peninsla, we found the group of flying fishes traveling with Asuka II. Also many seabirds came and visited Asuka II on theway. The avelage cruising speed was 18 knots per hour on the first day.
Although it was very clear and sunny when we left Kobe at 1100, thick layer of clouds begun to cover the sun and finaly heavy rain started to fall by 1530. However this rain stopped after 30 minuites. Now, a beautiful rainbow appeared in front of Asuka II. It was just perfect picturesque scene. Some said that it is impossible to determine the distance to the rainbow from the ship. According to the explanation of a seaman, the rainbow colors on the ocean appear because of a thick moist air layer through which the sunlight was only partially reflected. The thickness of this water vapor can be as think as miles. Therefore, the rainbow color is made not at the specific location on the sea, but the air condition that makes rainbow like light reflection can be spread in the vast area. I found this explanation very interesting.
However, meal itself was very tasty and nicely appointed. Towards the end of our dinner time, a Phillipino band visited our table to play a music. They asked us for some requests but no one made request to them. So they played "wish upon a star" from disney for us. The band was consist of 3 gentlemen, two guitar player and one flute player. The music was nice and soothing too.
After the dinner, Showtime by the Asuka II dedicated entertainment crew started. The show was held at the Galaxy Lounge. This includes singing and dancing of the broadway style. However we felt this was little too small and unsophisticated comparing to the show we watched on board Diamond Princess of the Princess Cruise. However, considering the size of the theater, and the nature of Japanese culture, I think it was sufficient. The number of entertainers were also fewer comparing to the other cruise ship such as Diamond Princess, Freedom of the Seas, Carnival Destiny etc.. For longer cruises, NYK cruises often invite more entertainers from the shore, such as singers, dancers, comic story tellers. During the A-style cruise which NYK cruises recently promote, the balcony class cabin guests are offered to seat at the premier seats in the theater, which are reserved at the right front of the theater.
There were night snacks available for this cruise. This was offered at the International Dining Room as well. Some fruits, Soba noodles, Prawn Shaomais were served as the night snack this time. The night snack corner was open only from 23:00 to 24:30. Unlike the most of major cruise line in the world, NYK cruise does not offer 24 hour buffet. Also the number of food items served as the night snack was fewer comparing to other cruise lines. However, thinking about the typical age of the passengers, I think this would not be a problem either.
On the second day of the cruise, we got up early and went out to the promenade deck to see the sunrise. Because of a thin vapor layers on the horizon, we were not able to see the sun coming up from the horizon. However the sunlight leaked out from the mass of cloud was making impressive scene on the pacific ocean. At that time, ship was heading toward the straight east, facing the sun at the hull. The location of the ship was about somewhere off Izu-islands. Cruising speed was about 16 nautical knot per hour. Time was about 04:30 JST.
At 09:20 on 18th of July, Asuka II passed under the Yokohama bay Bridge, a cable supported bridge crossing the entrance of Yokohama Bay which spans over 460 meters (1510 feet). Yokohama sky clippers such as the Land Mark Tower (296M), Queen's towers (Tower A 172M, Tower B 138M, Tower C 109M), Pan Pacific Hotel Yokohama (105M), Intercontinental Hotel (99.8M) welcomed us as Asuka II heads towards the Osanbashi Pier.
Hotels in English
Asuka II was docked at 1000. Exactly on time with the schedule. This time she docked at the C, D berth of Osanbashi pier, the berth facing the Yokohama Minato-Mirai district. Earier, Asuka II often docked at A, B berth (Yamachita park side) and sedom docked at the C, D side. When She visited Yokohama under the name Crystal Harmony, the pier she docked was also A, B berth. The Osanmashi Passenger terminal is completed in 2002, hosting many cruise ships from all over the world. The roof of the passenger terminal is open to the public for 24 hours, accommodating the oasis in the waterfront of the Yokohama city. This Yokohama port now serves as the home port of M.S. ASUKA II.
* This is due to the cancelation policy of the NYK Cruise which requires all passengers to pay full-amount of the cruise at this time.
No comments had been registered yet.