Adora Cruises Carnival China

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Adora Cruises Carnival China cruise line logo

Adora Cruises Carnival China fleet

Review of Adora Cruises Carnival China

Adora Cruises Ltd (renamed in June 2023 from "CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Ltd") is a joint venture (October 2015-founded) and a cruise shipowner company that operates the fully-owned subsidiary and new travel brand "Adora Cruises" (2022-established/2023-inaugurated).  CSSC-Carnival China was initially scheduled to start operations in 2020, but due to the COVID crisis, the brand's debut was postponed to 2023 September.

CSSC-Carnival Cruise Shipping was established as a joint venture between Carnival Corporation (1972-founded, the world's largest cruise shipowner and passenger shipping company) and China Merchants Group (1872-founded, Hong Kong-headquartered Chinese state-owned corporation). Most of CSSC Carnival China is owned by Chinese shareholders (60%), and the remainder by Carnival (40%). The Chinese stockholders include CIC (China Investment Corporation) and CSSC (China State Shipbuilding Corporation).

China Investment Corporation (2007-founded) is a sovereign wealth fund (China's largest) that manages part of the country's foreign exchange reserves. In 2019, CIC reported total equity ~USD 947 billion and as of 2021 managed ~USD 1,2 trillion of assets. CIC's largest subsidiary is Central Huijin Investment Co Ltd (2003-founded) which as of 2020 held shares in China's biggest financial institutions, including majority stakes in the country's four largest banks (Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank, Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank).

CSSC/China State Shipbuilding Corporation (1982-founded) is a shipbuilding conglomerate and one of China's top-10 defense groups. CSSC owns shipbuilding companies (constructing both merchant/passenger and cargo, and military vessels), as well as numerous shipyards, equipment manufacturing companies and research facilities. Fully-owned subsidiaries of CSSC are China's biggest shipbuilders - Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co (1898-founded), Jiangnan Shipyard Co Ltd (1865-founded), Hudong–Zhonghua Shipbuilding (2001-founded), Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co Ltd (1999-founded), Guangzhou's Huangpu Shipbuilding (1982-founded) and Wenchong Shipyard (1992). As of 2022, CSSC builds ~41% of China's marine vessels.

Company History

In February 2015, Carnival Corporation signed an MoU with China Merchants Group for 2 joint ventures. The MoU outlined an eventual partnership that could result in a new cruise brand (joint shipowner company), as well as joint development plans for Chinese seaports and destinations.

CSSC Carnival China Cruise Shipping logo (CruiseMapper)

MoU's joint venture port plans included the development of transit and turnaround/homeports within China. Currently, Carnival Corporation serves the Chinese market through the brands Princess and Costa. China Merchants Group (1872-founded) is a state-owned company focusing on infrastructure and transportation, also real estate development and financial services. The Chinese corporation is a major shareholder in China Merchants Holdings (55,4%) and China Merchants Bank (18%).

In October 2015, Carnival Corporation signed an agreement with the Chinese companies SWS (Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co Ltd/CSSC's subsidiary) and China Investment Corporation. The USD 3,88 billion deal established the Hong Kong-based Carnival China joint venture "CSSC-Carnival Cruise Shipping Ltd" to place ship orders with SWS. CSSC-Carnival initially planned to build up to 5 vessels per year for the next 15-20 years, with all the newbuilds being China-made and China-homeported, with technical support and design plans provided by the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. SWS builds some of the world's largest boxships (capacity up to 21000 TEUs) for CSCL (China Shipping Container Lines).

On November 18, 2022, was announced that CSSC-Carnival's Chinese cruise brand will be named "Adora Cruises" and inaugurated in 2023-Q4. The announcement was made by the company's Chairman (Yang Guobing) and its Managing Director and CEO (Chen Ranfeng).

The company's name was officially changed (from "CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Ltd" to "Adora Cruises Ltd") on June 15, 2023.

Adora Cruises plans to become Asia's largest cruise line (by both fleet and capacity) offering year-round voyages from multiple Chinese homeports.

Adora Cruises logo (CruiseMapper)

In January 2023, the company's leadership team joined Chen Yinglan (Sales Director for East China), Lin Binbin (Sales Director for South China) and Sun Wen (Sales Director for North China).

Company changes 2023

On January 12, 2023, Adora Cruises signed a partnership with the government-owned China Telecom (China Telecom Corporation Ltd) to provide 5G Internet connectivity to Adora's first newbuild (Adora Magic City) scheduled to debut in 2024 January. The deal made Adora the world's first cruise company to offer 5G connectivity at sea.

In February 2023, Adora Cruises signed a partnership with the Chinese company Mahua FunAge (Kaixin Mahua Cultural Tourism Development Co Ltd) to create the onboard Metropol Theater's (975-seat main show lounge) comedy productions. By the deal, Mahua FunAge will develop 2x comedy dramas for Adora's ships - one presented at the main stage, and one in a bar lounge (tba). Mahua FunAge (2003-founded, translated from Chinese as "Happy Twist Entertainment Culture Media Co Ltd) is a Beijing-based comedy film and stage show production company owned by Zhang Chen and Liu Hongtao. The company produces comedy films, musicals, kids' plays, as well as online TV series and movies.

In April 2023, was announced the grand show production "Marco Polo: an Untold Love Story" developed for Adora's first ship.

In May 2023, was signed a strategic partnership with Bloks (China's most popular building block toys brand) for the first-at-sea “AI-STEAM Exploration Camp” (kids facility with a supervised program) onboard Adora Magic City.

CSSC Carnival China ships

In February 2017, Carnival Corp and CSSC announced an agreement to build 2 new liners for the joint venture "CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Ltd". The deal was officially signed on November 6, 2018. The deal was signed by Michael Thamm (Carnival Asia's and Costa Group's CEO) and Yang Jincheng (CSSC's President). The ceremony was attended by Arnold Donald (Carnival Corporation's CEO), Michele Geraci (Undersecretary of State for Italy's Ministry of Economic Development) and Lei Fanpei (CSSC chairman), among other VIP guests and industry representatives.

The shipbuilding project had total value around USD 1,5 billion (2 newbuilds by SWS, GT 133,500 tons each), not including the options for 4 more same-class liners. Additionally, CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping purchased 2 existing liners from Costa Group - the 2210-passenger Atlantica (scheduled transfer by 2019-Q3) and the 2114-passenger Mediterranea (2020).

The shipbuilder is SWS. Another joint venture - "CSSC Cruise Technology Development Co Ltd" (SWS plus Fincantieri) will grant shipbuilding technology licenses and provide technical services to SWS, including supply chain and project management, components, fundamental marine systems. The new liner's design was specifically developed/tailored for Chinese travelers. The first ship's delivery was scheduled for 2023, a second unit follows in 2024. The design is based on VISTA-Class, with passenger capacity ~4700.

China is currently ranked the world's largest outbound tourism market. For 2017, UNWTO (UN World Tourism Organization) reported that around 142 million outbound Chinese travelers spent around USD 258 billion on international vacations. China's cruising industry in 2017 served about 2,5 million passengers or less than 2% of all outbound travelers.

Itinerary of Adora Cruises Carnival China

In December 2018, CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) announced that China is expected to become the world's largest cruise market over the next 20 years (by 2040) due to moves designed to strengthen cruise travel tourism and optimize public travel in the country. According to CLIA, by 2025, the number of Chinese cruisers is expected to grow to 8-10 million, in comparison to ~2,5 million reported in 2017.

On a government level, China started taking measures to modernize seaports for China-built vessels, developing multi-modal transport networks, purchasing international ocean liners, approving longer visa-free stays to certain mainland areas near major cruise ports, introducing links between airlines, trains, buses, and cruises.

Shanghai City intends to build a huge cruise terminal complex integrated with duty-free shops - similar to the world's largest airport terminals. In 2018, China's southernmost island province (Hainan) introduced a 15-day visa-free policy for international tourists entering China by sea. And in November Carnival Corporation and CSSC established "CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping", with planned operations starting in 2019-Q4.

As of 2019, Carnival Corporation had a combined fleet of 100+ liners (operational) plus 22 on order (with scheduled deliveries through 2025).

In May 2023, CSSC-Carnival Cruise Shipping announced that Mediterranea ship will be year-round homeported in Tianjin-Beijing for short break itineraries.

The travel brand "Adora Cruises" officially debuted in September 2023 with the ship Mediterranea (in Tianjin).

Adora Magic City's Maiden Voyage is scheduled to depart from Shanghai on January 1st, 2024.

Adora's fleet will be deployed year-round in Asia, homeported in China and operating 7-day and longer itineraries grouping domestic routes with popular destinations in Japan and Korea, as well as some Southeast Asian countries.

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