Carnival Corporation plans to create a multi-ship domestic cruise brand in China.
A joint venture has been formed with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and China Investment Corporation aimed at accelerating the development and growth of the overall cruise industry in the country - expected to eventually become the largest cruise market in the world.
Carnival Corporation its partners formalised the deal at a signing ceremony held today at the Mansion House in London attended by prime minister David Cameron and Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Carnival Corporation and CSSC, the largest shipbuilder in China, plan to purchase and operate cruise ships as part of what is expected to be the first multi-ship fleet sailing for a domestic Chinese cruise brand.
Specific fleet details will be announced at a later date, but potential plans could include the purchase of both new and existing cruise ships to homeport in China.
CIC, one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds with over $740 billion in assets under management, will serve as a significant investor in the new joint venture.
CIC's involvement as a strategic partner reinforces China's commitment to developing a strong domestic cruise presence and growing demand for cruising as a key driver of the expanding Chinese tourism market, which is a top priority for longer term economic development in China.
Carnival global chief operating officer, Alan Buckelew, said: "This cruising joint venture is a significant step forward for the cruise industry in China and a tremendous opportunity for us to work together with CSSC and CIC to grow awareness, interest and demand for cruise vacations amongst domestic Chinese travellers.
“Cruising is a relatively new vacation experience in China, and we believe this collaborative approach with our partners is critical to not only developing the country's domestic cruise business, but also supporting China's goal to become one of the world's leading cruise markets in coming years.
“We are excited about using our scale and decades of experience as the world's largest cruise company to help launch a multi-ship domestic cruise brand that will help spread the enjoyment of cruising to millions more Chinese vacationers."
The company announced in July that its existing brands already sailing in China – Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises – will continue to expand in 2016 with each brand adding a ship to its local fleet.
This will mean six Carnival Corporation ships based in China, representing a 58% increase in capacity in China next year, including three year-round ships and three seasonal ships in the market.
The Costa and Princess brands will potentially offer about four million passenger cruise days in 2016.
Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises will join Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises in the Chinese market in 2017.
Princess Cruises announced earlier this month that new ship Majestic Princess, built specifically for Chinese passengers, will be based in Shanghai from summer 2017.
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