This is a followup to a previous question of mine where we established that it is possible to travel between the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan.

So now that we know that it's possible, and because this idea keeps coming back to me, I'd like to get some specific answers to how to do the one leg:

  • Which shipping companies would take a passenger between Taiwan and Okinawa (or some southerly part of Japan)? And how can I contact them?
  • What range of prices should I expect for the cheapest options in either direction?
  • Did you finally do the trip to Taiwan by boat? I thought about doing that from Korea. But havent gathered any information about that by now, besides that all companies went bankrupt.
    – Wallone
    Sep 20 '13 at 2:47
  • Im looking to make a similar trip in a few weeks. Hard for me to see if there have been any changes on this, as all posts link back to old news. So has something changed or is flying still the only option? Regards, S
    – user19292
    Aug 14 '14 at 18:28
  • I didn't find a boat and ended up flying. This doesn't mean somebody else couldn't find a boat ... Aug 15 '14 at 4:22

If I am reading multiple place on the Interwebs you may be out of luck. There were ferries running regular scheduled service from Taiwan to Okinawa but they apparently went bankrupt (OpenJourney confirms this as well).

If one to believe Wikitravel there is an irregular service offered by Star Cruises but I can't confirm through their website this to be true.

Japan Guidebook site still refers to a ferry service on a now bankrupt line but also gives a referral to another line which may provide ferry service to Okinawa from Kagoshima but that's about it.


Tried looking for freighter sailings between Taiwan and Japan. There are cruises that run along the China coast with stops in multiple ports including Keelung and Kaohsiung in Taiwan with other stops in Pusan. It is possible that if you're really set to travel without flight you might be able to catch a ferry from Pusan and then take one of the ferries running to Japan and then catch one or 2 of the Domestic Ferries running to Okinawa. I am not really for this mode of transportation but if you're set to travel by sea connections via South Korea and Osaka would be your best bets.

  • Yes I've known about the defunct ferry company for years - victim of the 2008 GFC. It's mentioned in the parent question and one of the answers there seemed to debunk the cruise option I thought ... Jan 7 '13 at 3:27
  • 1
    @hippietrail It doesn't debunk it. It mentions the possibility of it happening but you need to get in touch with Star Cruises to confirm. Made an edit.
    – Karlson
    Jan 7 '13 at 3:46
  • Yes I love ferries, in fact I may be our local expert on Japan-Korea ferries already (-: So being able to join them up all the way from Korea to Taiwan would be a great trip for me! Jan 7 '13 at 7:07
  • +1 for the research work and useful links even if another answer suggests that it is not entirely up to date.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 20 '13 at 8:53

Star Cruises operates cruises in 2013 from Keelung, Taiwan to Naha and Ishigaki in Okinawa. Their website is astonishingly disorganized, slow and flaky, but a search for cruises in July 2013 from Keelung indicates that they operate the Keelung-Ishigaki-Keelung route almost weekly in summer, with departures on July 3, 10, 24 and 31, with two-night cruises from TWD 15,000 (~US$550) and some boats going on to Naha.

The interesting question is whether they'll permit one-way passage, or if you have to return to Taiwan afterwards; a quick read of the passage T&C didn't find anything one way or the other. I suppose you could always pay the full fare, hop off in Ishigaki/Naha and just not return, but you'd need to ensure that you get a full-fledged tourist visa at Japanese immigration and not just a cruise landing permit.

  • 2
    $550 return? That is very doable! Especially if there's a one-way option for about half that price. Great work @jpatokal! Jan 7 '13 at 7:05

According to the Ryukyu Shimpo, a new service was started in the spring of 2016 between Taiwan and Ishigaki (Okinawa) once a week. The ship that makes the trip is the Natchan Rera. The route was just put on hiatus last month (Mainichi Shinbun article) but is expected to resume from May 2017 as a charter service.

Wagon Group cruise line (Chinese only)

Press release by Wagon Group (Chinese only)

  • Wow! I wish I knew about this before I left Taiwan for Mainland China. I might be in Japan now! Dec 26 '16 at 5:25
  • If we can find something or someone else to corroborate or confirm this I would love to make it the new accepted answer. Dec 27 '16 at 18:04
  • 1
    Well, it still seems like the answer is usually "no", except occasionally.... If it resumes, it's likely to only be once a month (Mainichi article). Still, it's an option, which is why I listed it up.
    – Kent
    Dec 27 '16 at 21:57
  • Once a month during the season is definitely something some of us would plan a trip around. Dec 30 '16 at 17:14

Besides the home ported Star cruise ships in Keelung, other cruise lines like Princess, Royal Caribbean, Costa offer short itineraries including Okinawa, a sea journey of 16 hours, but sometimes with an extra 'day at sea'. Your stay in port is all you'll get, it's back on board after the usual 8 hours ashore.

The Okinawa ferries ended service in mid 2008 and are not likely to reappear in port.

A better option is to fly on the low cost Peach airline. For a total of less than what is often a casino cruise you can fly daily between Taipei and Okinawa in 1:30 hours. Also daily to the nearby island of Ishigaki via Osaka, which serves Taipei and Kaohsiung.

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