Carnival Corp. has signed a memorandum of understanding to build two Vista-class cruise ships in China intended for use by a Chinese cruise brand.
The ships have been discussed in general terms as part of an earlier disclosure of a shipbuilding joint venture between Carnival, China State Shipbuilding Corp. and Italian firm Fincantieri.
The agreement was announced at the 11th annual China Cruise Shipping and International Cruise Expo in Tianjin, China.
The memorandum specifies that the first of the two ships would be delivered in 2022. There is also an option to build two more Vista-class ships. The first Vista-class ship, the Carnival Vista, entered service last May.
Carnival said that the agreement is “non-binding.” If the ships are built, it would be a groundbreaking development, marking the first time that sophisticated cruise ships are built in China for the Chinese domestic market.
A Carnival joint venture in China would operate the new ships as part of plans to launch the first multi-ship domestic cruise brand in China.
If the joint venture is finalized, in all likelihood older ships from Carnival Corp. brands would sail for the new brand in advance of the 2022 newbuild, said Roger Frizzell, chief communications officer for Carnival Corp.
Other partners in the operating joint venture include China State Shipbuilding Corp. and the China Investment Capital Corp.
“Being able to offer cruises on China-built cruise ships represents a new opportunity for us to generate excitement and demand for cruising amongst a broader segment of the Chinese vacation market,” said Alan Buckelew, Carnival Corp.’s global chief operations officer.
Separately, Carnival and its Chinese partners announced that the Chinese central government has granted approval for the cruise joint venture to incorporate in Hong Kong.