Carnival Corporation has launched a new cruise line in Asia, through a joint venture with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC).
The new cruise line, CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited (it’s unclear if a more catchy brand name will be used), plans to operate its own fleet to serve Chinese cruise guests by the end of 2019, Carnival said in a press release.
Under the terms of the joint venture agreement, CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping will purchase existing cruise ships for its fleet and order new China-built cruise ships for the Chinese cruise market.
Initially, the new cruise line will purchase Costa Cruises’ two Atlantica-class ships, the 85,861-ton, 2,210-passenger Costa Atlantica, and her 2,114-passenger sister ship Costa Mediterranea (which is homeporting in Dubai this coming cruise season).
Costa Atlantica will be transferred to the new Chinese cruise line by the end of 2019, while Costa Mediterranea will be transferred at a date still to be announced.
The two new cruise ships to be built in China will be constructed by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (SWS), a leading Chinese-owned shipyard in Shanghai, with the first ship expected to be delivered in 2023.
The agreement also gives CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited the option to order four additional China-built cruise ships to serve growing demand from Chinese consumers.
CSSC and Fincantieri have established a separate joint venture to grant a technology license of the ship model platform and to provide technical and project service support to SWS throughout the shipbuilding process.
According to Carnival Corporation, the two new ships will be built with a design tailored for the new joint venture and the specific tastes of Chinese travellers, although specific design elements have not been announced yet.
Costa Mediterranea and her sister ship Costa Atlantica will be transferred to the new cruise line.
“The official launch of our cruise joint venture in China is a significant milestone in the strategic development of a strong and sustainable cruise industry in China,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “Together with our partners, we are excited about our ability to launch a new cruise line in China based on existing ships and new China-built cruise ships tailored for Chinese travellers.”
As the largest cruise company in the world with over 100 ships in its fleet and 22 ships on order through 2025, Carnival Corporation will utilize its deep industry expertise to provide onsite supervision and support during ship construction.
“The new cruise joint venture complements our existing presence in the market and strengthens our commitment to help China build a holistic ecosystem and become a leading global cruise market,” added Michael Thamm, group CEO, Costa Group and Carnival Asia. “We look forward to working with CSSC to further increase demand for cruising by generating broad awareness of why going on a cruise is an extraordinary holiday and exceptional value.”
As previously announced in June 2018, Costa Cruises will also introduce two new cruise vessels specifically designed for the Chinese market – Costa Venezia in spring 2019 and its sister ship in fall 2020.
China is the world’s largest outbound tourism market. Chinese tourists spent an estimated US $258-billion on foreign holidays in 2017, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
By comparison, the Chinese cruise industry served only 2.5 million cruise passengers last year, representing less than two percent of China’s outbound global travellers.
For this reason, Carnival Corporation feels that China represents a significant opportunity for the cruise industry to raise awareness, consideration and demand for cruise vacations in coming years.
As the industry continues to grow and develop in the region, China is widely expected to eventually become the largest cruise market in the world.