Cocktail Cruises in Tokyo: Sumida River & Beyond
Although the image many people have of Tokyo is of towering skyscrapers and busy metropolitan streets, the city is located on the stunning Tokyo Bay, which offers plenty to see and do for both locals and visitors. One of the many maritime activities available are the Tokyo Bay cruises, which provide the perfect setting for an upscale lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner as well as a nice way to pass the time with some drinks in the evening. These cocktail cruises range from the traditional nighttime dinner cruises known as “yakatabune”, to inexpensive booze cruises with dancing and entertainment called “nouryousen”. A wide variety of people also use bay cruises for private events, including school excursions for students and office parties for company celebrations.
Read on to learn all about booking a Tokyo Bay cruise and the different kinds of cruises that are available.
Discover Tokyo’s Day & Dinner Cruises
Booking and Access
Days and Times
Most Tokyo Bay cruises operate seven days a week, with many of them operating 24 hours a day. Some cruises may close for business between lunch and dinner, so you should confirm directly with the cruise company about their business hours.
The price for a Tokyo Bay cruise ranges from around 3,500 to 5,000 yen for lunch and 7,000 yen and up for dinner. Some cruises, including the summer nouryousen (“booze cruises”) start at under 3,000 yen for entry and may offer additional discounts, for instance, to passengers who come dressed in yukata.
Depending on the size of the yacht or cruise ship, Tokyo Bay cruises can accommodate anywhere from 45 to 250 people. Especially on the bigger cruise ships, there may be a combination of sitting and standing areas in addition to private rooms that can be booked for your group. There may be a minimum or maximum person requirement for some cruises, so be sure to confirm with the cruise company before booking.
Boarding / Return Point
Depending on the cruise, there are different points about the city for embarkation and disembarkation including Shinagawa, Odaiba, Harumi, and Takeshiba. Cruises typically return to the same passenger terminal from which they departed.
The accepted forms of payment vary by company, but major credit cards such as VISA and MasterCard are usually accepted. Depending on the company, other foreign credit cards like Diners Club and American Express may also be used, in addition to Japanese payment services and credit cards such as JCB, APLUS, SAISON, J-DEBIT, UnionPay, and MUFG. In addition, some cruises may accept cash payment at the ferry terminal ticket window.
Many cruise companies only offering booking only in Japanese, but the Gurunavi reservation assistant is available in case you need help, just look for the red “Reservation Support” button on the page of the cruise you’d like to book.
Food and Drinks on Cocktail Cruises in Japan
The traditional nighttime yakatabune cruises typically specialize in Japanese food, often serving fresh fish and seafood, with dishes like sashimi and freshly battered and fried tempura. Other popular meal options include Japanese dining options like yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) and hot pot, both of which can be easily enjoyed in a group.
Cruises may also offer Western-style dining with popular dishes like pizza, pasta, and risotto. Expect plenty of wine to accompany all of the delicious food.
French food is the perfect choice for an elegant lunch or dinner cruise. The options range from more casual fare such as French onion soup and grilled steak, to luxurious haute cuisine such as hors d'oeuvres garnished with caviar and entrées made with Ise spiny lobster and foie gras.
Another popular type of theme for yakatabune pleasure boats is teppan cooking, or food that’s grilled over an iron cooktop. This includes dishes like okonomiyaki, a savory mixed crepe from the Osaka area, as well as monjayaki, the Tokyo equivalent. Yakisoba fried noodles may also be served.
Other Menu Options
Some additional menu options that you may find on lunch and dinner include nomihoudai (all you can drink) and tabehoudai (all you can eat) courses, special happy hour prices, and BYO party plans where you can bring your own alcohol on board. Some ships even offer their own sommelier on board to help you select the perfect wine for your meal.
Look for dietary-specific menus if you have any special requirements such as allergen-free or vegetarian meals. If you’re cruising with children, you may want to look for a plan that offers a separate kids menu for children.
Many cruise ships are equipped with various forms of entertainment, including karaoke, group games such as bingo, and a projector screen for displaying your own videos, as well as live music and shows on the bigger cruises.
Tokyo Bay pleasure cruises offer a variety of themes, including wedding and engagement party cruises, pirate and naval-themed cruises for a bit of fun, and yukata cruises for the summertime.
If you’re enjoying the cruise with your family, you’ll want to look for a ship that offers a kids menu for and is equipped with child seats, a diaper changing area, and a play space to the keep the kids occupied.
Not all facilities in Japan are easily wheelchair accessible, so you’ll want to make sure to contact the cruise in advance if you require wheelchair access.
Although free wifi is not yet widely available in Japan, some cruise companies may offer it on board their ships. Ask the cruise staff if they offer free wifi and start uploading your cruise selfies even before you disembark.
Even if you don’t speak Japanese, not to worry. More and more cruise companies have English, Korean, and Chinese-speaking crew members on board to help serve guests.
A Tokyo Cruise Is a Day - or Night - to Remember!
A Tokyo bay cruise is a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion, for a unique lunch or dinner with some friends, or simply get a new perspective on the city! Check out the Gurunavi listings for the best cocktail cruises in Tokyo.