The first purpose-built cruise ship for China could be delivered by 2020, according to Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co Ltd (SWS). Chen Jun, vice-president of SWS (controlled by China State Shipbuilding Corp CSSC), said:
“We are already in negotiation with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri SpA, which will provide technical support, and if everything goes smoothly, design work on the ship will start soon, building will kick off in 2017, and it will be delivered by 2020.”
A $3.88 billion agreement was signed in October between CSSC, China Investment Corp and Carnival Corporation & plc, under which the three parties will set up a Hong Kong-based joint venture that will place orders with SWS.
China is seeing unprecedented growth in its cruise industry and is forecast eventually to become the world’s largest market. According to Chen,
“as many as 4.5 million Chinese passengers will go on cruise trips by 2020, and that figure will soar to 17.5 million by 2030.”
This could produce a demand for five new cruise ships every year for the next fifteen to twenty years for China alone. Last year 1.4 million Asians took a cruise, of which about half were from the Chinese mainland.
At 140,000 tons and 984 feet in length, the first Chinese cruise ship will reportedly carry between 3,000 and 4,000 passengers and cost $1 billion. It will be a combination of Chinese style and Western tastes in order to meet the different needs of Chinese passengers.
Seriously declining cargo ship orders and heavy competition have put huge pressure on Chinese shipbuilders, so the growing cruise ship market could provide a welcome boost for the industry.
SWS has been chosen as the technical standards required to build cruise ships are substantially higher than for cheap bulk carriers and tankers. SWS is also building the world’s largest container ships, with a series of six 1,312-foot 21,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) ships under way for China Shipping Container Lines.