“I Spy” a cruise boat from high atop Shiomi Toll Bridge by car, and on foot from the boardwalk at Verney Park! If you’re curious like me, you’ll just have to pay the fare to discover all that is lurking within this southern portion of Tokyo Bay. Besides the sound of the waves and the ocean breeze in your hair, A Cruise of Yokosuka Naval Port is undoubtedly unique to the city. It is the only cruise in Japan that offers an up-close view of vessels from the United States Navy 7th Fleet and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
The Port of Yokosuka evolved 160 years ago when Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States Navy sailed into Tokyo harbor aboard the frigate Susquehanna. In 1854, a treaty between Japan and the United States was signed which would allow trade and the opening of Japanese ports to U.S. merchant ships. In 1865, a Shogun government official by the name of Oguri Kozuke no Suke expressed the urgency of reforming Japan’s military and played a major role in developing a modern navy for the island nation. Soon after, the construction of Yokosuka Ironworks began and the Port of Yokosuka eventually became one of the largest naval ports in the world.
Last year, major improvements were made to the boardwalk adjacent to the shopping center and the area closest to the pier. Once a lackluster thoroughfare, the wooden deck was completely replaced, the pattiserie Chateraise was extended to include a small souvenir & ice cream shop, and Shioiri Terminal was created to accommodate passengers for A Cruise of Yokosuka Naval Port on Seafriend. Not only is Shioiri Terminal the place to purchase tickets, you can also find unique souvenirs such as Yokosuka Curry, pins of the Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels, and Navy Beer. Or, simply relax in the café before your assigned departure time. At any rate, the area sprawls with visitors daily, come rain or shine.
A Cruise of Yokosuka Naval Port is a popular place to visit among large tour groups. For this reason, you may want to line up early at the pier to find a great spot on the upper deck of the boat. The Seafriend can accommodate 80 people on the uncovered top deck and an additional 55 persons in the enclosed bottom deck. Total capacity can vary depending on the weather, too. Just be sure to dress appropriately and arrive prepared.
The cruise will take approximately 45 minutes and includes an educational narration (in Japanese) from the quirky crew. However, if you listen closely, you could still make out names of vessels ranging from submarines, destroyers, and if you’re lucky, the aircraft carrier. If you’re really interested in learning more about the vessels, I would recommend you jot down the number of the ship for research later. Or, use your smart phone to Google vessels during the tour. Just be careful it doesn’t fall into the ocean!
Shioiri Terminal hours are 10:00am to 4:30pm daily. Cruise departure times are 11:00am, 12:00am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, and 3:00pm. General admission is 1,400yen for Adults and 700yen for Elementary students. A discount is available for large groups. Small children are free and passengers requiring wheel chair assistance are most welcome.
To access A Cruise of Yokosuka Naval Port, the closest train station is Shioiri on the Keikyu Line. Use the footbridge and walk across towards Shoppers Plaza (Daiei shopping center). The pier is on your left hand side. Or, 10-minute walk from either Yokosuka Sta (JR Line) or Yokosuka-Chuo Sta (Keikyu Line). By car, you can park at Shoppers Plaza. Bring your parking ticket to Shioiri Terminal for 2-hours free parking validation.