Piano Land to Debut from Xiamen This Fall

P&O Oriana

The P&O Oriana will become the Piano Land this fall and debut in her new China Travel Services and COSCO role from the port of Xiamen.

China Travel Group and COSCO have come together to form Well Star Travel Cruise, a joint venture that will operate and market the 1995-built ship.

P&O UK announced last June that the vessel would be leaving its fleet in August 2019, not naming a buyer. It was later revealed the 1,822-guest ship was heading for a new life in China.

The ship will conclude its P&O program with an 18-day sailing roundtrip from Southampton to Norway and Svalbard; ending on August 9. The first cruise from Xiamen could happen as soon as mid-October.

The transfer of the Oriana to a new Chinese brand marks the second phase of home-grown brands in China. Following the demise of SkySea, only two local one-ship brands remain in Bohai Ferry and Diamond Cruise, which each operate a single 838-guest vessel.

The Piano Land will thus be the largest local vessel in the market.

Later this year, China State Shipbuilding Corporation will take delivery of the Costa Atlantica for its joint venture domestic brand aligned with Carnival Corporation.

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Costa Atlantica and Mediterranea Sold to New Chinese Brand

CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping has announced an agreement to purchase two existing ships from Carnival Corporation’s Costa Group.

The first of these ships, the 85,861-ton, 2,210-passenger Costa Atlantica, is scheduled to be transferred to the new Chinese cruise line by the end of 2019. The new line is part of a joint venture between China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and Carnival Corporation.

Costa Atlantica’s sister ship, the 2,114-passenger Costa Mediterranea, will be transferred at a date still to be announced but is expected to be at the end of 2020, according to CSSC.

The new China-based cruise company plans to operate its own fleet to serve Chinese cruise guests by the end of 2019, according to a press release.

CSSC to Buy Two Cruise Ships Ahead of Major Newbuilding Plans

Jincheng Yang, general manager

China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) will buy two cruise ships ahead of building a series of new ships, said Jincheng Yang, general manager, speaking at China Cruise Shipping in Shenzhen, China.

“China represents a huge market with great potential,” Yang noted.

Believed to be for a yet-to-be-named domestic cruise brand in China, he said the two ships will serve as a base for the company’s operations.

The first ship is expected to join the CSSC fleet in late 2019, followed by a second vessel in 2020.

Meanwhile, the company’s joint venture with Carnival Corporation will see the first of two Vista-class ships launch in 2023; the ships will be built new in China.

CSSC is the majority partner in the venture while Carnival will take on a minor role and help operate the vessels.

“We are already engineering our made-in-China cruise vessel,” he said. “According to our plan, the vessel will be in operation in 2023.”

A second ship is set to follow in 2024, and options extend out for an additional four vessels.

Fincantieri is also closely involved, helping oversee the construction process in China.

Yang said CSSC is aiming to have a fleet of eight cruise ships; including the two they plan to acquire followed by six 5,000-guest Vista-class newbuilds.

The secondhand vessels were not named, but a company presentation made at China Cruise Shipping said the ships would be around 85,000 tons with capacity for roughly 2,800 guests each.

Yang said the cruise business represented a good opportunity to build relationships with neighbouring countries, playing into China’s belt and road initiative.

Building ships would also boost domestic economic activity while positively contributing to a massive supply chain.