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.