Photo: TokyoSky/Shutterstock

Tokyo Will Park a Cruise Ship in Its Harbor to House Visitors for the 2020 Olympics

by Tim Wenger Oct 3, 2019

The 2020 Olympic Games come to Tokyo, Japan, next summer, and hotel rooms in the area are already filling up. With 15,000 athletes and over 600,000 foreign visitors expected to come to the city for the games, the Nikkei Asian Review reported that even basic, run-of-the-mill hotels are charging over $600 per night, per person. The city is staring at a 14,000-room shortfall for the duration of the games. Even Tokyo’s notorious capsule hotels, which put sleepers in tight but efficient confines and typically run around $20-30 per night, are offering rates in excess of $100 while the Olympics are in town.

Between the crowds, the price gouging, and Tokyo’s already frenetic pace of life, what’s a traveler left to do in their search for housing during the Olympic games? One option is to rent a cabin on a cruise ship. The city plans to park a massive ship at Yokohama Port during the games to combat the shortage of hotel rooms. Japanese regulations require all hotel rooms to have a window, but an amendment put in place last year allows for exemptions during major events. If you’re heading to the Olympics next year and haven’t yet booked lodging, an inner-ship stateroom might be your best option — unless, of course, you’re open to the idea of crashing on the floor in one of Tokyo’s 24-hour cyber cafes. Rooms on the cruise ship are expected to cost between $270 and $2,700 per night, depending on amenities and location on the ship.

Tourism in Japan has boomed this year, with the country easing its strict Airbnb policy in order to accommodate the surge in traffic. The country’s tourism bureau reported three million visitors in July of 2019, a 5.9 percent increase over the same month in 2018. Tokyo’s cruise ship will include restaurants, an onboard theater, and other entertainment offerings available to guests. The idea of using cruise ships as floating hotels was previously tried by the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, which hosted the winter games in 2010, charging upwards of $650 per night for a room, though that cost did include dining onboard the ship.

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