Santa Maria sailboat is a cruise ship anchored at the Hatoba dock near the Tempozan Harbor Village and Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium. It takes its passengers on a 45 minute long round-trip cruise of Osaka Bay, passing by many famous spots of Osaka. The sailboat itself is a replica of the famous ship of Christopher Columbus, albeit twice the size of the original. Its spacious decks offer an excellent opportunity to explore Osaka from the sea, whether from comfortable rooms or the upper open deck. The Day Cruise is scheduled to depart every hour and takes approximately 45 minutes. On the other hand the Twilight Cruise takes around 60 minutes and unlike the Day Cruise reservations in advance are highly recommended as they are given priority when boarding the ship.
Since the Osaka Harbor is facing westward, the cruise offers a stunning view of the sunset. The departures are limited by season, operating mainly on weekends between April and October, however private charters are also available that take precedence to public departures. For travelers interested in the Twilight Cruise we strongly recommend confirming departure date and time in advance as boarding will be refused if the ship is chartered privately.
The interior of the boat is decorated with items related to Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the new world, with various artifacts on display including ropes, anchors and more. There are also sofas and refreshments available for a more leisurely experience.
In good weather the stunning seaside scenery together with the fresh sea breeze feels particularly great and we highly recommend this cruise for both young and old.
Cruise around the famous spots of Osaka Bay
The Day Cruise and Twilight Cruise are quite different, both in atmosphere as well as the route. During the day the ship sails around the many famous spots of Osaka Bay visible from the seaside, including but not limited to the Tempozan area with the giant ferris wheel, Universal City and the Universal Studios Japan, Tempozan Grand Bridge and many more.
At sunset the cruise takes you to the so-called Diamond Point of the Osaka Bay, Minato Bridge, Namihaya Bridge, Sennen Bridge and other famous local spots all observable from all decks including the Sala de Patio observatory deck on the second floor.
Especially the point at which the three bridges appear interconnected is quite a sight, available exclusively on this cruise. The upper deck is completely open and even though it does not offer any shade, what it does offer is the liberating feeling of the sea breeze as you cruise the sea. There are four decks in total, with benches and binoculars installed on all of them so you can enjoy the scenery far and wide. The second floor Sala de Patio deck also features a small shop with refreshments and even though the view through the round windows on this deck is also great, the seats by the windows get taken fairly quickly so please keep that in mind. If you would like to make use of the seats by the windows a bit longer we highly recommend purchasing refreshments from the shop to go with the view. Please be advised that bringing your own refreshments on board is prohibited and all refreshments must be purchased on board.
Apart from refreshments there are also souvenirs available, so you can commemorate your cruise with something more physical than just memories and pictures. Embarking on this sailboat feels almost like you are either a pirate, or an explorer embarking on an adventure into the unknown, making the cruise a very popular experience for all age ranges. Time flies as the scenery changes around you, so be sure not to miss a single moment!
Kick back and enjoy the cruise in special premium seats
For a surcharge of 500 yen you can enjoy the special seats on the third floor “Sala de Vista”. This deck comes equipped with first-class rooms furnished with comfortable sofas and an excellent view. Included in the price is also either a drink or a premium ice cream, so it is well worth the investment. The maximum capacity is 40 passengers so we recommend inquiring in advance at your earliest convenience. It is a very popular choice as it enables you to take a look around the ship at your leisure without having to worry about your seat. The whole room can be also reserved privately, making it an excellent choice for groups, for celebrations, events and more. The whole room is air conditioned and thus highly recommended especially in the hot and humid summer. On one hand the upper deck offers an excellent view of the surroundings free of charge and it comes with benches, however the benches are on a first come first serve basis and must be taken early. On top of that, summers in Japan are hot and humid and the upper deck offers little to no shade, so for those who would like to spend the cruise slightly more pleasantly the Sala de Vista might be a smarter, more elegant choice.
However the front row seats inside are also on a first come first serve basis, so if you would like to get the best seats with the best view we highly recommend arriving slightly earlier.
Immerse yourself into history in the Columbus room
On the first floor of the ship you can find a special wide room dedicated to Christopher Columbus and the Age of Discovery. There are countless artifacts on display here pertaining to seafaring and Columbus himself, such as old maps, navigation equipment, historical documents and more. The life sized statue of Columbus himself as well as the replica of a cannon make you feel as if you were really on board the original Santa Maria, heading off to explore the unknown. With the abundance of information regarding seafaring in one place it is easy to lose track of time, so fans of sailboats and ships be sure to keep an eye on time lest you spend the whole cruise here. We highly recommend enjoying the cruise outside, however if you are more "indoorsy" type then the Columbus room might be the best choice for you. Considering the fact that Columbus embarked on a journey for the new world on a vessel half the size of this sailboat will definitely leave you a lot to ponder.
Aim for 11 o’clock?
The day cruise departs every full hour, however the departures tend to be crowded in the afternoon with all the tourists that decided to visit the Kaiyukan aquarium in the morning. Doing the exact opposite is a smart idea if you wish to avoid the crowds, so be sure to board the ship in the morning and visit the aquarium after the cruise.
During the summer holidays the ship operates until 18:00 and it is precisely this last departure that is extremely popular due to the stunning sunset view. It is quite a sight as you sail around the iconic spots of Osaka including the Tempozan Ferris Wheel and Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium, both of which we highly recommend as there are special discount tickets combining these three attractions at a decently reasonable price.
In the vicinity
There is no shortage of interesting sites in the vicinity of the Hatoba dock from which the Santa Maria cruise ship sets sail.
To name a few there is the Tempozan Harbor Village with the Tempozan Market, Tempozan Ferris Wheel, Tempozan Animal Park and Lego Discovery Center on its premises, Mt Tempo, Osaka Museum of Culture and many more within walkable distance.
Tempozan Harbor Village is a multifunctional facility featuring various shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities for young and old. At the Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium you have a chance to see rare marine wildlife including whale sharks and various species of jellyfish. There are special zones like the Maldives or Falklands zones featuring rare species native to the respective regions. Occasionally there are even special nightly features or feeding events. With so much to see it is easy to spend a whole day here!
From the top of the 100m tall Tempozan Ferris Wheel you have an excellent view of the Osaka Bay Area spreading far and wide. At night the Ferris wheel is converted into an art piece with illuminations and projection mapping.
At the Lego Discovery Center you can see a diorama of Osaka made with over a million individual Lego pieces, a 3D virtual Lego movie, make your own special race car and much more, making the Lego Discovery Center a prime location for families.
The Tempozan Market offers a wide selection of shops as well as restaurants and even workshop and entertainment facilities like the Osaka Craft Town where you can try your hands at various projects like LED candles and more. Osaka Culturarium Tempozan, a contemporary arts museum with constantly changing exhibits is within comfortable walking distance as well, offering a great alternative for culture and art lovers to explore.
Venue Name: Santa Maria Twilight Cruise
Business Hours: Varies per season, please confirm in advance
Regular Closing Days: Dec. 31 - early February, On days when the aquarium is closed
*Special New Year Countdown cruise on Dec. 31. available
Phone Number: 0570-04-5551
Address: 〒552-0022 Osaka, Minato Ward, Kaigandori 1-1-10 Aquarium 2nd floor
Access: 10 minutes from the Osakako Station on the Chuo Line, City bus headed for Tempozan Harbor Village
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