Carnival adds fifth ship to fast growing Chinese leisure market

HONG KONG – Carnival Corp., the world’s No. 1 cruise company, said Wednesday it’s planning to base a fifth passenger liner in Shanghai in 2017, adding to a foothold in China’s fast-growing leisure cruise market.

The Miami-based company said that the new Princess Cruises ship will be the first under the Princess brand to be based in China year round. It will also be the first full-time luxury international liner designed and built with Chinese travellers in mind.

Princess based its first ship in China last year when it deployed its Sapphire Princess to Shanghai from June to October.

The 3,600 passenger-vessel, under construction by Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard, will have features aimed at Chinese tastes such as “ocean-view hot pot” dining, the company said.

Carnival also has three Costa-brand ships stationed in China, including the Costa Serena, which made its maiden voyage last month from Shanghai, its new year-round home port. Another ship, the Costa Atlantica, which was deployed to China in 2006, is in the middle of an 86-day round-the-world voyage carrying only Chinese passengers.

Rival Royal Caribbean will have three China-based ships when its Quantum of the Seas relocates there this summer.

Cruise companies are racing to expand in China, where growth is expected to outpace developed markets even as the country’s economic expansion slows.

The number of Chinese cruise passengers jumped 79 per cent to 697,000 from 2012 to 2014, making it nearly as big as all other Asian markets combined, the industry group Cruise Lines International Association said in a report in March.

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