Venus Cruise (Japan Cruise Line)
Japan Cruise Line was founded in april of 1989 by several Japanese ferrycompanies for the purpose of starting up a Japanese domestic cruiseline. Japan was very new to cruising the new way, although several companies had experience in oceanliner services. The most well known of them were the NYK Lines and Mitsui OSK Lines, of whom NYK had the longest and most well-known history in passengershipping. Japan Cruise Line started operations in july of 1990 with the purpose-built Orient Venus. The ship measured 21.000 tons and had a passengeraccomodation for 626. The ship was built at the Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Yards at Tokio and was built in a time when also NYK and Mitsui OSK strenghtened their cruiseservices from Japan.
Mostly because the name of the ship, the company styled itself as Venus Cruise and is totally dedicated to the Japanese market. It's ships are seldom seen outside the Pacific and information to be found about the company is rather limited. With the exception of a small emigrantservice ran by OSK Lines throughout the 1960's, Japanese passengershipping was virtually ended with the second worldwar, but in the late 1980's, like everywhere else in the world, renewed enthousiasm for ocean sailings and holidays at sea were the reason several new ships were built, although in Japan they still could be counted on one hand.
It seemed though that Venus Cruise was popular, as the company decided to built their second ship Pacific Venus, launched in september of 1997 and starting service in april of 1998. Although she also undertakes longer cruises, she has been seen in Europe only once when she sailed a single worldvoyage. She is now the companies only ship, as Orient Venus had been laid-up and sold in 2002. She now is sailing as the Aegean Paradise, after being known as Delphin Voyager and Happy Dolphin in the meantime for European charters.
According to the line's president Yasuo Iritani in 2012, there is a large demand for cruises in Japan, but there are no plans of building a new ship. Passengers first have to come aboard and leave again with a good impression of cruising in Japanese style. The company prefers a step-by-step growth, but with no new developments in almost twenty years, I am curious what and when their next step may be.
More information can be found at the website of Venus Cruise, but it seems to be only in Japanese, without a translation available.