Princess Cruises of Santa Clarita is entering the Japanese market in response to what its parent company said was a growing interest in cruising in Japan.

Carnival Corporation & plc said Princess’s entry into Japan represents the largest deployment by a global cruise line in the Japanese market. The Sun Princess ship will head to Japan for the spring and summer cruising season starting in April 2013. The company expects 18,000 passengers in the first season of Japanese cruising.

Princess is launching an 87-day program featuring a total of nine cruises on seven different itineraries operating April through July of next year from both Yokohama and Kobe. The cruises will be from nine to 12 days in length.

Carnival formed a new subsidiary, Carnival Japan Inc., to sell the Princess Cruises brand and certain other Carnival brands in Japan. The new company will be based in Tokyo and will be overseen by Eiko Kijima, who will join the board of directors of Carnival Japan.

“Our new Japan deployment is three times larger than that of any competitive international cruise program, with superior itineraries specifically designed for the Japanese market,” Alan Buckelew, Princess Cruises president and chief executive officer said in a prepared statement. “It’s the very first time a global cruise line is offering a full season of cruises from April to July designed specifically for passengers from Japan.”

The cruise experience will be substantially the same as the Princess Cruises product offered around the world, with some changes. Key passenger-facing positions will be filled by Japanese-speaking crew members. Dining room menus will include items that cater to Japanese tastes, and will include a sushi bar. Amenities such as the shopping selection and spa treatments will be tailored to Japanese preferences, and onboard collateral items and stateroom information will be translated into Japanese.

Judy Temes