Tianjin Targeting 800,000 Passengers in 2017

The Ovation of the Seas in Tianjin

With four berths, Tianjin expects around 800,000 passengers this year, and through the first six months of 2017, traffic was up some 102.4 percent.

Customs and border protection has been further refined, reducing clearance times to 10 seconds in some instances with automated terminals.

Earlier this year, the port signed a MOU with Costa to build a supply and distribution center, with Costa committing to year-round voyages from Tianjin through 2019.

Also of note, the MSC Lirica sailed from Tianjin in February, offering a new “Around China” itinerary with interporting in Zhoushan, Hong Kong and Xiamen, as well as calls to South Korea and Japan, according to Da Wu, vice general manager of Tianjin International Cruise Terminal.

Wu hopes his port will offer more diversified products, including cruises to nowhere, to attract new passengers

Zhengdong Zhang, general manager, added: “Similar to MSC’s model, we are exploring opening domestic routes to Dalian, Yantai, Qingdao, Rongcheng and Weihai, creating a product in which passengers only need their national identification card to travel.”

Carnival building two Vista-class ships in China

Buhdy Bok (left), president of Costa Group Asia, and Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald at the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association conference, after Donald announced an agreement to build ships in China. Photo Credit: Arnie Weissmann

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.

MSC Cruises ups its game in China with MSC Splendida

MSC Splendida in Tunis, Photo Credit Dave Jones

In a substantial boost to its China capacity, MSC Cruises is going to deploy one of its biggest ships there in May 2018. MSC Splendida joins the smaller MSC Lirica, adding the MSC Yacht Club concept and butler service to its China offerings.

The 2009-built MSC Splendida, at 137,936gt, will become one of the largest ships operating in the region. The vessel can carry up to 4,363 passengers in 1,637 staterooms. Some 76% of accommodations have balconies.

MSC Splendida will join MSC Lirica, which has been serving—to great success, MSC Cruises said—the Chinese market since May. The ship recently moved to Tianjin to capture the North China market during the winter season.

Announcing the news in Beijing on Wednesday, MSC Cruises ceo Gianni Onorato said the ship has been one of the most popular in the fleet with Chinese and other Asian passengers cruising the Mediterranean with MSC.

MSC Splendida will undergo significant drydock enhancement in late 2017, ahead of the China deployment, to further improve and customize it for the market.

MSC Splendida also introduces the MSC Yacht Club to the Chinese market. This exclusive ‘ship-within-a-ship’ concept offers privacy, 24-hour butler service, a dedicated concierge reception and priority boarding and disembarkation.

The move would appear to be a direct competitive response to Dream Cruises’ new Genting Dream, which also offers a luxury ship-within-a ship concept, Dream Mansion, served by butlers. That vessel is scheduled to be delivered next month. It will operate from Guangzhou (Nansha) in southern China.

MSC Splendida’s itinerary details are to come, but MSC Cruises said the ship will visit destinations in China, Japan and Korea.

The news closely follows the opening of MSC Cruises’ Shanghai office with its new management and operations team.