First Chinese-Built Carnival Corporation Cruise Ship Floats Out

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The first-ever large cruise ship built entirely in China achieved a significant milestone this week as it floated for the first time. The vessel, known only under the name “Project No. 1” for now, is set to be completed by September of 2023.

The floating out ceremony was attended by various stakeholders, while Arnold Donald, the President and CEO of Carnival Corporation, which owns a minority stake in the new vessel, spoke through video broadcast.

Project Achieves a Significant Milestone

The first large cruise ship to ever be constructed entirely inside mainland China floated out this week on December 17, 2021 at the shipyard owned by the Shanghai-based Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. The vessel is built under a venture from CSSC and Fincantieri and is based on the Vista-class ships built for Carnival Cruise Line.

The ceremony was attended by various stakeholders from Fincantieri, CSSC, Lloyd’s Register, and the Italian Classification Society RINA. Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald spoke through video link on Carnival Corporation’s commitment towards the company’s China strategy, building CSSC Carnival into a successful and fully functioning Chinese-flagged cruise company.

Carnival China Cruise Ship

The 133,500 gross ton, Vista-class cruise ship will now enter the final construction phase, which includes the interior outfitting and completing of onboard systems, and is now well underway to final completion and delivery in September 2023.

Lei Fanpei, secretary of the party and chairman of the board of directors of China Shipbuilding Group, and general director of the large-scale cruise ship project spoke during the ceremony and said:

“We will make every effort to ensure the successful completion of the historical task and ambitious goal of delivering the first production vessel on time and with high quality, and make greater contribution to the speeding up of China’s shipbuilding industry to the world class.”

Hull H1508 at the Waigaoqiao Shipyard in Shanghai is the first of two 133,500-gross ton cruise ships based on 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 further four ships to be built in the same shipyard upon completion.

Why China?

Carnival Corporation has been trying to break into the Chinese market for several years now, the efforts being set back by the coronavirus outbreak in 2019. Nonetheless, it is the largest single economy in the world that, as of yet, does not have a fully operational cruise industry. For now, only a small number of ships operate in China, where only Star Cruises and Dream Cruises are the notable local cruise lines that cater to the Asian market.

Zheng Xuewu, chairman of China Tourism Group Co Ltd said: “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.”

In the United States, 13.79 million passengers sailed on a cruise onboard one of the 100+ cruise ships operating in the U.S. With 10 million passengers expected through 2030, the growth potential for Carnival Corporation in China is enormous.

Already CSSC (Carnival Cruise Shipping) has two former Carnival Corporation ships in its fleet, which will enter service soon. These are Costa Atlantica and Costa Mediterranea. If all options for the new Vista-class ships are taken, a new ship will be delivered each year through 2028.

A 6,500-passenger ship is to be developed and built inside China for delivery in 2025,  although no buyer for this ship has been disclosed so far.

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