Carnival Corporation will launch a new cruise line as part of a joint venture with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) this week.

The venture will launch under the name CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited and aims to serve Chinese cruise passengers by the end of next year.

Carnival Corporation holds a minority interest in the venture, a statement said in 2015.

CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited has bought two existing ships from Carnival Corporation’s Costa Group.

The first of these ships, the 2,210 passenger Costa Atlantica, is scheduled to be transferred to the new cruise line by the end of 2019.

Costa Atlantica’s sister ship, the 2,114-passenger Costa Mediterranea, will be transferred at a date still to be announced.

In addition, CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited has signed a contract to order two new cruise ships that will be built in China and serve the Chinese cruise market.

The two new ships will be constructed by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co. Ltd, a leading Chinese-owned shipyard in Shanghai and be built with a design tailored for the new joint venture and the specific tastes of Chinese passengers.

The first ship is expected to be delivered in 2023.

The agreement also gives CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited the option to order four additional China-built cruise ships to serve the demand from Chinese passengers.

Arnold Donald, Carnival Corporation’s chief executive, said: “The official launch of our cruise joint venture in China is a significant milestone in the strategic development of a strong and sustainable cruise industry in China.

“Together with our partners, we are excited about our ability to launch a new cruise line in China based on existing ships and new China-built cruise ships tailored for Chinese travellers.”

Michael Thamm, chief executive of Costa Group and Carnival Asia, said the venture would strengthen the corporation’s presence in the region.

CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited also supports China’s larger efforts to prioritise cruise industry growth in its five-year economic development plan.

As previously announced in June 2018, Costa Group will also introduce two new cruise vessels specifically designed for the Chinese market – Costa Venezia in spring 2019 and its sister ship in late 2020.