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A Quick Cruise: The Royal Wing

Are there days when you simply want to get off land and sail on a boat? At Yokohama Bay in Kanagawa, Japan, there’s a small recreational vessel called The Royal Wing, and she’s all set to put you on a little cruise whenever you feel like it.

The Royal Wing. Views of the nightscape as seen from the ship.

The Royal Wing. Views of the nightscape as seen from the ship.

The boat, 86.7m (284ft) in length with a carrying capacity of 630 passengers, goes on very short, daily cruises around Yokohama Bay and Tokyo Bay. She has several restaurants and view decks, and offers three “cruise plans”: a lunch cruise, an afternoon tea cruise, and two dinner cruises. Each lasts for two hours, and on certain days there are also guided mini-tours of the ship, and special events such as cruise-with-your-pet-dog.

Full course dinner at The Royal Wing.

Full course dinner at The Royal Wing.

Cruises in the evening are a lovely affair, with a view of the twinkling stars above on a clear night. If it’s cloudy you may content yourself with the artificial lights around the bay, giving off a mysterious glow against the pitch blackness. The dining room’s interior is very simple: white walls, blue-gray carpeting, dark wooden chairs upholstered in beige leather, and white linen. A full course Chinese dinner, prepared by China Great Chef Master So Keili, awaits the seafaring (well, bay-faring) diners. When I surprised my husband with a dinner cruise to celebrate his birthday, I wasn’t that surprised to find out that around half of the couples that night were also celebrating birthdays. No, we didn’t do a loud, boisterous singing of the birthday song: a pair of musicians on the piano and violin did the instrumental rendition for us. Aside from the live music, a young woman did balloon tricks, asking each diner what her favorite animal was and creating that from a single tube-shaped balloon. Midway through the dinner we went up on the sun deck for a breather. It was in the middle of summer but being above water guaranteed a cool breeze.

Afternoon tea on The Royal Wing.

Afternoon tea on The Royal Wing.

Another little excursion we went to is the afternoon tea cruise. This time there is no night scenery to enjoy, but it’s the cake buffet that everyone’s after. While the restaurant for the dinner cruise is on the second deck, the cafe is on the third. Louver-like glass panels separate the cafe from an adjoining hallway, and glass panes with paintings of flowers adorn the wood-veneered supports. Unlike the full course dinner, tea time is a very casual (and given the presence of little children, noisier) affair.

Mini tour of the ship.

Mini tour of the ship.

On the days when it’s scheduled a guide takes a group of passengers for a mini tour inside the ship. We got to say ahoy to the captain and his crew. The captain showed a little boy how a piece of sonar equipment could detect fish underwater. We also took a peek inside the engine room, which looked like machine art to me.

Inside the ship. Top: small room for private parties. Bottom: entrance hall and gift shop

Inside the ship. Top: small room for private parties. Bottom: entrance hall and gift shop.

The Royal Wing’s a fun ship, indeed, she has something for everyone. If you’re feeling really nautical you can even hold your wedding there. While we were taking a walk along the harbor we witnessed a very happy couple tying the knot aboard the ship, with the captain there to declare them husband-and-wife. The ship has a banquet hall for special events, and smaller rooms for private parties. There’s also a gift shop where you can get a pair of ship-themed mugs, among others.

For those of us that can’t board an ocean liner and take a luxury cruise around the world, or don’t own a private yacht, this little ship welcomes anyone wanting to cruise just a bit. There are better full course dinners and cake buffets on land. But The Royal Wing always seems to have a steady stream of people wanting to go on board. Perhaps that’s because, as Robert N. Rose has written, “Ships are the nearest thing to dreams that hands have ever made, For somewhere deep in their oaken hearts, the soul of a song is laid.”

Framed photo in the entrance hall. Inset: My husband on the sun deck.

Framed photo in the entrance hall. Inset: My husband on the sun deck.

What About You?

Have you been to the Royal Wing? How did you like it? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below!

External Links

The Royal Wing – the ship’s official site.
State Library of Victoria – source of Robert N. Rose quote.

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4 comments

  1. Sharon /

    I’ve been on inter-island vessels and the best part is the clear skies and 180 degree view for stargazing.
    Would like to sail a yacht at least once.
    Favorite ship I like going to? MV Doulos (when it was still sailing) Cheap books galore! See here.
    I still have books I haven’t even started from that ship.

  2. krissw /

    nightscape pics are cool! the one at the bottom’s got a nostalgic kinda feel. lucky you to get a shot with no one else around! also like the sepia-toned dining room. does the counter really curve or was it the camera?

    • Thanks, Krissie! If I remember correctly the counter didn’t curve, so it must be how I took the photos–joining two frames manually. The restaurant’s located on the bow end of the ship so the walls do curve to form a contoured trapezoid.

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