Carnival partnering with China to build country’s first luxury cruise ship

Carnival is partnering with China to expand the country's cruising industry.

Carnival is partnering with China to expand the country's cruising industry.  (Carnival Cruise Lines)

China may be the world’s largest shipbuilder but it doesn’t have any luxury cruise liners.  Now, Carnival is looking to change that and is exploring the possibility of a ship building joint venture with a state-owned Chinese company and Italy's Fincantieri.

Carnival will be signing a “memorandum of understanding” with China State Shipbuilding Corp, a state owned company, that aims to promote the building and development of China’s cruise industry, reports Bloomberg. The possible joint venture would aim to turn China into the world’s second largest cruising market behind the U.S. A statement from Carnival said it could result in the first world-class cruise ship to be built in China.

Under the proposed agreement, Carnival will provide ship-design and building expertise to China State Shipbuilding. 

“Cruise liners are the part of the shipbuilding business with the highest commercial value,” Lawrence Li, a shipping analyst at Shanghai's UOB Kay Hian Investment Co., told Bloomberg. 

“But China and CSSC will be starting from scratch, and growing the capacity to build cruise ships will take some time.”

According to China’s ministry of transport, the new industry could see up to 4.5 million passengers by 2020. Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are looking to capitalize on the spending power of the growing middle-class in China by offering more expeditions throughout Asia.

The agreement also stipulates conditions to further tourism opportunities like growing the domestic cruise industry.

If a final agreement for the venture is reached, Carnival Corporation would use its experience in ship design and shipbuilding to create the overall specifications for a China-built cruise ship.

Carnival became the first global cruise operator to have four ships based in China when it deployed its Costa Serena to Shanghai in April.

The Asian Cruise Association estimated last year that the overall Asian cruise market, which totaled 1.3 million passengers in 2012, could nearly triple to 3.8 million in 2020, including 1.6 million from China.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.