‘Queen Beetle’ entered on Japan-Korea route – First international service after pandemic

JR Kyushu Jet Ferry (Headquarters: Fukuoka City) starts the service of Fukuoka-Busan route again from November 4, 2022(Friday) with their new high-speed ferry “QUEEN BEETLE”.

JR Kyushu Jet Ferry "QUEEN BEETLE" that will be in service for the first time on the Japan-Korea route (Image by: JR Kyushu)
JR Kyushu Jet Ferry “QUEEN BEETLE” that will be in service for the first time on the Japan-Korea route (Image by: JR Kyushu)

New Queen could not go to Korea for 2 years

The Japan-Korea international connection by the sea of the JR Kyushu Group, which celebrated its 30th anniversary since the launch of the Beetle II in 1991, has been canceled since March 9, 2020 due to travel restrictions due to the spread of COVID-19. Along with the relaxation of border measures by both Japan and South Korea, Japan-South Korea maritime exchanges have resumed for the first time in about two years and eight months.

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The passenger ship that will enter service is the trimaran QUEEN BEETLE, which was built by Austal in Australia in 2020. Under the supervision of Mr. Eiji Mitooka, a designer of Don Design Associates (Itabashi City, Tokyo), she was newly built with the aim of being a vehicle that serves as a purpose of travel, not just a means of transportation. The guest room is much larger and more open than the conventional Beetle, and you can spend a comfortable time with a spacious seat. The ship is equipped with a duty-free shop unique to international routes, a kiosk where you can enjoy meals, a kids’ room where children can play safely, a nursing room, and a bicycle storage area. She won the 2022 Good Design Award for its striking crimson hull design and mobile space that accepts a variety of movements.

She arrived at Hakata Port for the first time on October 15, 2020, but there was no prospect of being able to enter the international route it was supposed to be engaged in.

For this reason, they have acquired a patent from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) Japan, and from April 2021, they operated a domestic sightseeing course around Fukuoka Bay, Okinoshima, and Itoshima. Furthermore, by changing the ship’s flag from Panama to Japan, she has become possible to operate domestic routes, and so far, special operations have been realized on the Hakata-Mojiko and Hakata-Nagasaki routes (See the figure below about the schedule for Japan-Korea route).

JR Kyushu Jet Ferry “QUEEN BEETLE” starts the Fukuoka - Busan route

Commemorative fare with 50% off

For the time being, the resuming Fukuoka-Busan route, will be operated on a special schedule by a single QUEEN BEETLE only on weekends. In November 2022, a total of 10 flights will be operated, and vessel departing from Hakata Port (9:00) and bound for Busan Port (arriving at 12:40) will depart on November 4 (Fri), 5 (Sat), 12 (Sat), 19 (Sat) and 26 (Sat), from Busan Port (15:00) to Hakata Port (arriving at 18:40) on November 4 (Fri), 6 (Sun), 13 (Sun), 20 (Sun) and 27 (Sun). The travel route is 213 km and takes about 3 hours and 40 minutes.

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Because a 50% discount on the regular fare is applied to boarding in November, the one-way fare is 8,000 yen for adults and 4,000 yen for children (standard class / required fees separately such as fuel surcharge and so on). Due to the application of seaport-specific border measures, certain conditions apply to use, such as not being able to board if you are not feeling well, such as a fever of 37.5 degrees or higher. Both Japanese and South Korean nationals are eligible for a visa exemption for sightseeing, but when entering South Korea, it is necessary to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) at least 72 hours before departure. Also, when entering Japan, it is necessary to apply for fast track in advance by “Visit Japan Web” at least 24 hours before check-in, and a 3-time vaccination certificate or a negative test certificate within 72 hours prior to departure is required for this screening.

For the time being, reservations for Japan-Korea routes will be accepted only by telephone (Fukuoka: +81-92-281-2315 / Busan: +82-51-469-0778). The vessels departing from Busan require advance reservations by 17:00 two days before boarding, but the vessels departing from Hakata can be boarded without a reservation if there are vacant seats. According to the easing of border measures, they are planning to resume accepting online reservations.

The Japan-Korea route will continue to be resumed in stages, and the schedule from December onwards will be announced around the end of November. Please note that there will be no sailings during the period from November 28 (Mon) to December 16 (Friday) as the ship will be docked.

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