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China's first homegrown luxury cruise ship to set sail in 2021

By Yuan Can (People's Daily Online)    16:42, July 05, 2016

Chinese tourists wait for boarding a cruise liner after their shopping at Fukuoka, Japan. [Lou Dinghe/For China Daily]

China is about to build five luxury cruise liners, according to a report from Caixin.com.

Fincantieri, an Italian shipbuilding company, has signed an agreement with the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), one of China’s largest shipbuilding conglomerates. The agreement, which was signed on July 4, outlines plans for a joint venture in Hong Kong to design and build luxury cruise liners.

According to the report, 60 percent of the China-controlled joint venture will belong to CSSC and the other 40 percent will belong to Fincantieri. Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co. (SWS), a subsidiary company of CSSC, will undertake the construction work, the report added.

According to earlier information, CSSC, along with China Investment Corporation (CIC), signed an agreement to establish a China-controlled joint venture with the world's largest cruise liner company, Carnival U.K., in Hong Kong on Oct. 21, 2015, during President Xi Jinping's state visit to the U.K.

The agreement stated that the joint venture would use £2.6 billion to build five luxury cruise liners. A source close to the issue said to Caixin.com that each ship is 133,500 tons in full-load displacement and over 300 meters in length. The ships can carry around 5,000 passengers, and each ship will cost around 5 billion yuan.

The source said that the capital for the ships will come from Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Industrial Bank, China Everbright Bank and China Construction Bank.

An insider from SWS told Caixin.com that the design work will begin later this year, and construction will start in 2017. China's first homegrown luxury cruise liner is expected to be delivered in 2021. The insider said that the luxury liners will be decorated with Chinese characteristics.

Chinese cruise lovers reached 1.11 million last year, up 50 percent year-on-year. Last year was the first time the number has surpassed the 1 million mark, according to the 2015 China Cruise Industry Development Report.

As many as 4.5 million Chinese will go on cruises by 2020, meaning 40 cruise ships will homeport in China, says Wu Zhenglian, a cruise design expert with a research institute under CSSC Holdings.

An employee from CSSC told Caixin.com that there will be over 100 ships in China's cruise ship fleet within the next 20 years. China has only 18 luxury cruise ships at present. Around four to five ships are slated to be delivered every year. "This will be a great opportunity for China's cruise industry," the insider said.

However, there are still some voices that oppose the expansion of China's cruise ship fleet. Some worry that the market will become oversaturated as international cruise companies expand their fleets into China.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yuan Can,Bianji)

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