Tourism & Cruises

Carnival announces the first Chinese cruise ships built in China

Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess, which started sailing in China in 2014. Carnival Corp. signed an agreement Wednesday to build two more China ships for a new Chinese cruise brand.
Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess, which started sailing in China in 2014. Carnival Corp. signed an agreement Wednesday to build two more China ships for a new Chinese cruise brand. Princess Cruises

The blossoming Chinese cruising market got a first-of-its-kind investment from Doral-based Carnival Corp. Wednesday: The cruise giant is set to introduce the first ships built for the Chinese traveler in China.

Typically, cruise ships — wherever in the world they are destined to sail — are built at European shipyards in Italy, France and Germany. But Carnival’s $1.5 billion joint venture calls for ships built by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, China’s flagship shipbuilder, in partnership with Italian shipyard Fincantieri.

The agreement calls for two new cruise ships, built at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.'s shipyard, for a new, unnamed Carnival brand that is custom-designed for the Chinese traveler. The joint venture includes an option for four additional China-built ships. The first ship will start sailing in 2023.

The Chinese market has been growing exponentially in recent years, so much so that China is expected to be the world’s second-largest cruise market by 2030 after the U.S, according to the Chinese Ministry of Transport.

The new cruise brand plans to use ships purchased from Carnival Corp.’s existing 102-ship fleet and then add the new China-built ships in 2023, to “further accelerate growth in the Chinese cruise market and serve increasing demand for cruising from Chinese and Asian travelers,” Carnival said in a press release. The cruise company currently owns 10 cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line.

The Chinese market has been growing exponentially in recent years, so much so that China is expected to be the world’s second-largest cruise market by 2030 after the U.S, according to the Chinese Ministry of Transport. The market is expected to triple to 4.5 million passengers by 2020 from 1 million in 2015.

Carnival Corp.’s Costa Cruises started basing ships in China in 2006. Since, other lines have added ships there, including Carnival Corp.’s Princess Cruises, which based its Sapphire Princess in Shanghai in 2014 as well as its new Majestic Princess.

Carnival competitors Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line, both based in Miami, have custom-built for China. Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas started sailing in China in the summer of 2016 and NCL’s Norwegian Joy will begin its Chinese voyages when the ship debuts this summer.

Chabeli Herrera: 305-376-3730, @ChabeliH

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