Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co is to build the nation’s first cruise liner following an agreement between parent company China State Shipbuilding Corp, US-based Carnival Corp and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.
Cruise tourism is one of the most popular ways to go traveling. Shanghai has been actively pushing forward the cruise industry, extending the industry chain and promoting the international cruise service trade. (Photo: Shine.cn)
The contract is for two ships to be made for CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Ltd, a joint venture established to place orders.
The agreement also gives the joint venture the option to order four additional China-built ships.
The first liner will be 323.6 meters long and 37.2 meters wide. With a height of 72.2 meters, the 16-story cruise ship will have a variety of entertainment and recreational facilities. Apart from a dining room, and performance and amusement centers, it will be equipped with a shopping plaza.
The 135,550-ton ship will have more than 2,000 cabins. Among them will be 34 suites, 287 seaview rooms and 969 with balconies. It will be able to accommodate up 5,260 passengers and will sail at a maximum speed of 41.85 kilometers per hour after an official launch in September 2023.
The second ship will be delivered in December 2024. The two will operate for the new Chinese cruise brand under CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Ltd, according to a memorandum of understanding signed by Fincantieri, CSSC and Carnival Corp in February 2017.
Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding is aiming to produce three to four cruise ships a year, according to its chief technical officer Tao Ying. The shipbuilder, based in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, will start construction of the country’s first cruise ship next year after a year long overhaul of a shipyard.
“All-around preparatory work will kick off next year. As cruise shipbuilding is so much different from the cargo ships or container ships that we’ve built before, we have to transform our factory and convert the production flow,” said Tao.
The ship will be a floating “paradise” on the sea, which is even more difficult than developing an aircraft carrier, said He Qixing, manager of Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding’s cruise department.
Shanghai is expected to handle 25.7 million cruise ship passengers by 2022, according to a report by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
“Shanghai has made great progress in the past decade in developing the cruise economy, bucking the global trend when this relatively new type of tourism was hit by the economic downturn,” said Li Xiaonian, director of the academy’s Maritime Silk Road Research Center.
The biggest cruise port in Asia and the fourth largest in the world, Shanghai saw 512 cruise ships depart or dock at its three ports last year, receiving 2.97 million visitors, 43.3 percent of China’s total.
Global cruise giants including Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises have made Shanghai a port of call.
“The Chinese cruise market saw soaring growth of similar products by almost all global cruise operators trying to expand their business here,” said Cheng Juehao, deputy professor at Shanghai Maritime University and deputy head of the Shanghai International Shipping Institute’s Cruise Economy Research Center.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd, the world’s second-largest cruise line, is to operate its Spectrum of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas liners in China. Spectrum of the Seas will be the biggest and most expensive cruise ship in Asia.
Costa Cruises, an arm of US-based Carnival Corp, plans to bring two tailor-made ships in 2019 and 2020 to China, according to Mario Zanetti, president of Costa Group Asia. The company introduced cruising to China in 2006 and currently holds 26 percent of China’s cruise market.
MSC Cruise, the industry leader in the Mediterranean, South Africa and Brazil, is to operate its MSC Bellissima cruise ship in China, and Genting Group will deploy two 204,000-ton cruise ships that can accommodate 9,500 passengers at the Shanghai port in 2021.