Jan 18th… 89-Day World Cruise aboard the CRYSTAL SERENITY – 5 Star Award…

Crystal Cruises is part of NYK Line and Cruise Line History.  The famous Japanese steamship company saved Jewish refugees escaping Nazi Germany in 1941 aboard the MS Heian Maru.

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5 Star Rating from Cruising The Past: Crystal Cruises maintains the great glamor, first class standards and excitement of ocean travel.   When getting there was half the fun.   Crystal Cruises carries on the elegant tradition of the NYK Lines.  The famous Japanese company had a worldwide fleet of the finest ocean liners.  During the 1920s and 1930s they provided top first class service. 

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Screen shot 2014-01-18 at 7.54.48 PMCrystal Cruises’ 2014 World Cruise Sails from Los Angeles to London on January 18th… aboard the award-winning Crystal Serenity. Five “segment” voyages combine for 89 days of intimate discovery, visiting some of the world’s most popular cities, with numerous overnights in port, from Asia to Africa. This video follows the ship’s itinerary, showcasing the incredible destinations along the way.

Click here to see the full itinerary for the CRYSTAL SERENITY World Cruise …

Crystal Cruises Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of NYK Line,  currently has two large, luxury-class cruise ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. These ships are highly regarded around the world, and the company has won the prestigious Travel & Leisure magazine’s World’s Best Large-Ship Cruise Line award for 16 consecutive years, an unprecedented achievement in the industry.  Cruising The Past awards the Crystal Cruises one of the best and most reliable cruises lines operating. Carrying on the great tradition of the NYK Line.

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NYK LINE (Crystal Cruise Lines) saved Jewish refugees in 1941 aboard the MS Heian Maru: Jewish refugees on the ship ‘Heian Maru’ viewed from the Great Northern dock in Seattle, July 1941.  

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Passengers eagerly await debarkation from the motor ship ‘Heian Maru’ of the Nippon Yusen Kaisya Line moored at the Great Northern Dock. The ship had been delayed at sea for two days after President Roosevelt declared a freeze on all Japanese assets in the U.S on July 26, 1941. All passengers left the ship in Seattle including 13 Seattle-bound passengers and the 69 bound for Vancouver B.C. Many of the passengers were refugees from war-torn Europe. The ship left directly for Yokohama on August 4, 1941 after discharging its cargo.

A brief history of NYK Line… 

Michael L. Grace is an authority on the history of NYK Line and trans-Pacific passenger services.

Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), which literally translates to the Japan Mail Steamship Company, was first created in 1885, the result of a sensible merger between two Japanese shipping companies, Yubin Kisen Mitsubishi Kaisha (The Mitsubishi Mail Steamship Company) and Kyodo Unyu Kaisha (The Union Transport Company). Two red stripes were adopted for the new company’s house flag, symbolizing the mutual goodwill of both companies and the hope that their combined fleets would one day serve the entire world.

In due course, NYK Line became Japan’s national
shipping company. Their subsequent passenger ships were given government-authorized mail-carrying status and therefore the highest priorities. The affixation was similar to the designation R.M.S. (for Royal Mail Ship) used by the most prominent British liners.

Wonderful video of the HIKAWA MARU… NYK LINES (CRYSTAL CRUISES)

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THE HIKAWA MARU was operated by the NYK Line. She was the only Japanese passenger vessel to survive WW 2. In her 30 years of service, the HIKAWA MARU crossed the pacific 254 times, carrying around 25,000 passengers and a great volume of cargo. NYK Line is now a worldwide shipping company that owns Five Star Crystal Cruises.

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The Hikawa Maru sails for Honlulu and Canada during the 1950s…

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Fullbright scholars sail aboard the Hikawa Maru in 1960… on one of the last runs for the Hikawa Maru before being retired.  Crystal Cruises was NYK Lines next venture into passenger travel.

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The Rio de Janeiro Maru ready to sail from Yokohama for South America – 1930

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First Class dining salon aboard the Rio de Janeiro Maru – 1930s.

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First Class lounge aboard the Rio de Janeiro Maru – 1930s. 

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Sayonara Dinner – First Class elegant menu cover…Screen shot 2014-01-08 at 3.22.19 PM

First Class “farewell dinner” aboard the SS TAIYO MARU   featured caviar… NYK Lines had carried on the deluxe service of their famous trans-Pacific liners aboard Crystal Cruises. 

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Japanese-American passengers sailing from California to Japan aboard the MS Chichibu Maru in 1935.  Many of these loyal Americans would be interned by President Roosevelt during WW2.

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MS Chichibu Maru leaving from Los Angeles Harbor in 1938.  

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Sailing day in San Francisco.  The MS Chicibu Maru leaving San Francisco for Asia in 1935 on the NYK Trans-Pacific express service.

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 Japanese-American Boy Scout Troop 41 sailing from San Francisco to Asai aboard the MS Siberia Maru in 1929.  

Historically, NYK Line opened the first regular Japan to the USA service in 1896 (the first arrival was met at Seattle with a 21-gun salute). They grew quickly. In 1901, just sixteen years after their formation, they already ranked as the seventh-largest shipping company in the world. A decade later, in 1911, an NYK freighter delivered the first cargo of trans-Pacific cherry tree saplings, a gift from the City of Tokyo to Washington, D.C. These same cherry trees line the banks of the Potomac to this day.

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Rowing (Crew Team) sailing to America aboard NYK liner in the 1930s…

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NYK Line was featured in the Warner Bros film ACROSS THE PACIFIC in the 1940s…

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Scenes from ACROSS THE PACIFIC with Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet…

Cruise Ship History: JAPAN’S Trans-Pacific Liners – Were the fastest between the US and Japan prior to World War II.

In 1935, at the invitation of Waseda University, the Yale University Baseball Team came to Japan from New Haven, Connecticut on NYK’s Tatsuta Maru , and returned aboard Asama Maru.  The team is seen with the captain and a ship’s officer.  Six years Japan and the USA would be at war.

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Breakfast on the MS Heian Maru – First Class

(Left: First and Second Class Accommodations aboard NYK Liners.) One of Japan’s proudest periods in passenger shipping was the 1929 building of two of the finest and most luxurious ships ever to sail the Pacific Ocean – the Asama Maru and Tatsuta Maru.

They were Japanese-designed and built, coming from the renowned Mitsubishi shipyard. At some 17,000 tons, they were then-traditional class-divided ships, and had provision for cargo as well as the all-important mails.

They were routed on NYK Line’s premier express service, regularly sailing from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kobe and Yokohama to Honolulu, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Their passenger areas were of the highest quality, much of it in traditional European style.

There were polished woods, stained glass skylights, fine dining rooms, lounges, library, gift shop, hair salon, comfortable cabins and a swimming pool on deck. This was luxury cruising at its finest.

The Asama Maru was the first to enter service in 1929 and she soon set the record for the fastest crossing of the Pacific on the Yokohama to San Francisco route. Her sister, the Tatsutu Maru entered service in 1930. In 1936 the Tatsutu Maru become the first merchant ship to pass under the new Bay Bridge linking San Francisco and Oakland. They were routed on NYK’s premier express service, regularly sailing between Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kobe, Yokohama, Honolulu, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Yokohama to San Francisco, for example, took 15 days. Fares by the late 1930s started from $190 in second class and from $315 in first class. Their passenger areas were of the highest quality, much of it in traditional European style. There were highly polished woods, stained glass skylights, fine dining rooms, lounges, a library, a gift shop, hair salon, comfortable cabins, and a swimming pool on deck. This was luxury cruising at its finest. Their First Class accommodations were especially fine and attracted such notable passengers as Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin and his wife Paulette Goddard, Helen Keller and Efrem Zimbalist. The Asama Maru was the first to enter service in 1929. She soon set record for fastest crossing of Pacific on Yokohama-San Francisco route. NYKLuggagelabel1 The Tatsuta Maru entered service in 1930. One of the notablemoments in her career was in 1936 when she became the first merchant ship to pass under the bridge (length of the main structure, 6.8 km; width, 19.8 m), linking San Francisco and Oakland. Ceremonies of the opening were held at 11:10 a.m. on the 12th November 1936, on the Oakland side, and at 11:40 a.m. on the San Francisco side.

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Sailing day for NYK Line passengers ship… 1930s… 

Shortly after noon the Tatsuta Maru passed under the bridge in view of the many thousands of people who had gathered to witness the opening of the bridge for traffic from vantage points on the San Francisco side of the bay.

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SS TAIYO MARU

Until the completion of the Seto-Ohashi in Shikoku, Japan, the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland had been the longest in the world. In 1937 the Asama Maru suffered a mishap when she was driven aground in Kowloon Bay during the Great Hong Kong Typhoon. After the outbreak of the Second World War both ships were requisitioned as troopships but unfortunately both were sunk and did not survive the war and it was left to the Hikawa Maru to re-establish the trans-pacific service.

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NYK LINE Passenger Service during the 1920s and 1930s…

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6 comments

  1. The ship was scheduled to be converted to an escort-carrier around 1943 (38 aircraft) but before this could commence the ship was sunk on April 28th 1943 by USS Gudgeon (SS 217) some thirty miles south west of Naso Point, Panay Phillipines in position 10.25 N., 121.50 E. The Gudgeon claimed three hits out of four torpedoes fired. The Kamakura Maru was unescorted at the time, probably relying on her speed to keep clear of submarines. The torpedoes were fired at 01.00 hrs and according to the submarine report she sank in twelve minutes. In the dark the Gudgeon had only seen the silhouette of the liner. About a year later the Gudgeon would sail into history, lost without trace, presumably sunk by Japanese air attack.

  2. Sailing today on the world cruise. What a ship. Going with my parents and hope to have a great ship. Terrific internet so qood! Passing Catalina right now.

  3. cruise expert jeremy

    NYK is proud to announce that the NYK Group’s Crystal Cruises* has been selected as the World’s Best Large-Ship Cruise Line in the annual Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best Awards” readers’ survey. This win is Crystal’s 18th consecutive triumph. The ultra-luxury vacation company is the only cruise line, hotel, or resort to win its category every year since the awards began.

    “To win this prestigious award once is a tremendous honor. To win this award for 18 years is humbling — a testament to the passionate dedication, professionalism, and creativity of our extraordinary staff,“ says Crystal president Gregg Michel. “Never resting on our laurels, each year we thoughtfully refine our Crystal experience with new entertainment choices, design enhancements, culinary attractions, and shore-side options. Consistent throughout is authentically warm service, exceptional quality, superior choices, and unwavering attention to detail. We are inspired to continuously improve our service to each discriminating guest.”

    Crystal’s winning score for 2013 reflects thousands of jet-setting readers’ ratings across six areas: service, itineraries/destinations, activities, accommodations, food, and value. Crystal Cruise was also recognized in the survey for offering the World’s Best Service (Large-Ship).

    Further attesting to the consistency of its ratings, Crystal was also recently honored with one of TravelAge West’s WAVE (Western Agents’ Votes of Excellence) awards for the cruise line with the highest client satisfaction (for cruises of less than 1,100 passengers). This was the seventh time for Crystal to receive this honor from these travel industry professionals.

    The NYK Group will continue its efforts to provide its customers with an unsurpassed standard of service.

    * Crystal Cruises
    Established in 1988, the company offers a range of luxury cruises on its two ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, which were recently recognized as the top two medium-sized cruise ships in the world.

    Crystal Symphony: 51,044 tons; 922-guest capacity
    Crystal Serenity: 68,870 tons; 1,070-guest capacity

  4. Such a wonderful piece on Crystal and the company behind their great cruise ships. NYK suffered during WW 2 with a total loss of their liners but made up for it with Crystal Cruises.

  5. Sailing to Japan today. What a wonderful trip it will be. Weather in LA so great! Happy to be aboard!

  6. Thank you for this treasure chest of a story! There is so much information that is new to me. For me the best part was learning about the Jewish refugees that did get to America unlike those who were aboard the German liner St. Louis. The NYK liners were quite attractive ships. I like the combination of modest size but with the proportions and designs like those of much larger ships. What with the part of the world in which the NYK liners operated and their, to my understanding, economical size and speeds, I can easily imagine that even the liners lost in the war could have had long and profitable careers.

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