Princess Cruises became the latest cruise line to make a big move in China on Tuesday, announcing plans to base its next new ship in Shanghai.
The California-based operator, part of Doral’s Carnival Corp., said the 3,600-passenger vessel is being designed and built specifically for Chinese passengers.
“Deploying our next new ship in China underscores our strong commitment to growing the China cruise market and providing discerning travelers with amazing vacation experiences at sea,” Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz said in a statement.
Scheduled for delivery in summer of 2017, the unnamed ship is under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. It is based on the design of Royal Princess and Regal Princess, which launched in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Features that will appear on the newest ship include the SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway that stretches 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; a fountain and music show; balconies on all outside staterooms and an outdoor movie screen.
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But the new addition will also include touches geared to Chinese passengers such as traditional English afternoon tea, an ocean-view hot pot dinner, ballroom dancing and upscale shopping.
The cruise line started sailing from China last year when it based Sapphire Princess in Shanghai for seasonal voyages; that 2,670-passenger vessel returns to China from June through October of this year.
The new Princess ship will have company in China. Miami-based Royal Caribbean International is sending its 4,180-passenger Quantum of the Seas, which launched in November, to Shanghai, where it will sail year-round itineraries starting in late June. Earlier this year, the company said it would base sister ship Ovation of the Seas in Tianjin after it debuts in April of 2016.
A study released in March by the Cruise Lines International Association showed that the number of Chinese cruise passengers grew 79 percent a year between 2012 and 2014. Last year, 697,000 cruise passengers were from mainland China — nearly half of the 1.4 million Asian travelers who took a cruise in 2014.