In 2015 Carnival Corporation announced it would be launching a new cruise line under operator CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping that would be operating multiple ships specifically for the Chinese and Asian market. The first cruise ship is now taking shape as it’s roughly halfway to her proposed delivery schedule.
Many see China as the most significant potential growth market worldwide, and several cruise lines have already committed ships to China, including Costa Cruises, Princess Cruises, MSC Cruises, and Royal Caribbean.
Carnival Corporation has long built on its strategy to have a separate geographic identity for most of its brands. For example, AIDA is focused on the German market, Costa is focused on Italy, and Carnival Cruise Line on the USA. The decision to open up a cruise company to the world’s largest emerging cruise market, China, is no surprise.
Their first effort is so far only known by its project name, Hull H1508 at the Waigaoqiao Shipyard in Shanghai. The first of two 133,500 gross tons cruise ships are based on the plans for the Vista-class ships sailing for Carnival Cruise Line, which will be launched by 2023 and will have space for 4,200 passengers.
There are plans for a total of four additional Carnival China ships to be built at a later stage. It does seem that at least the first vessel will feature AIDA Cruises branding. This is also the first Carnival Corp cruise ship being constructed in China.
China’s cruise economy, which first opened in 2006, has seen no less than 45 percent annual growth in the past decade. Before the pandemic started, estimates said 4.5 million Chinese people would go on cruises by 2020.
Zheng Xuewu, chairman of China Tourism Group Co Ltd:
“The China cruise market is growing rapidly. In 2017, more than 3.6 million trips were made, and that figure is expected to reach at least 10 million trips by 2030.”
Operating a new cruise line in China only makes sense seeing the tremendous growth that is possible here. In comparison, in the United States, which is currently the largest cruise market worldwide, 13.79 million passengers embarked on a cruise ship in 2019.
Carnival Corporation signed the agreement with Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding and China Investment Corporation in 2015 to establish the Hong Kong-based China joint venture, CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Ltd. The goal is to start up the cruise ship construction industry and introduce a new cruise line to the country focused exclusively on Chinese and Asian cruise passengers.
Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said the following:
“This represents another important milestone in building a sustainable and prosperous cruise industry, and demonstrates our commitment to contributing to China becoming a leading cruise market as part of its five-year economic development plan,”
CSSC, or Carnival China, already purchased two cruise ships in the build-up for launching the Carnival China Brand; Costa Atlantica and Costa Mediterranea. Both of which are currently awaiting re-deployment in Dubai.
In recent weeks announcements have been made about more cruise ships that will be built in China, including a 6,500 passenger, 140,000 gross tons vessel that RINA will classify, the Italian ship’s classification agency, which has worked with Carnival Corporation extensively in the past, although no buyer for this vessel has been disclosed so far.