Cruise conglomerate Carnival Corporation & plc has formed a joint venture in China that intends to launch the first multi-ship domestic cruise brand in the Chinese market.
Namely, Carnival is partnering with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and China Investment Corporation (CIC) on the new venture aimed at accelerating the development and growth of the overall cruise industry in China, which is expected to eventually become the largest cruise market in the world.
The joint venture agreement was formalized at a signing ceremony held on Wednesday in London, with the attendance of British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Also in attendance were Dong Qiang, chairman of CSSC, and Ding Xuedong, chairman of CIC, along with Carnival Corporation & plc CEO Arnold Donald and Alan Buckelew, global COO for the company.
Under the structure of the new joint venture, Carnival Corporation & plc 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. Carnival said that 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.
The CIC, currently 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 cruising joint venture.
“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 travelers,” said Buckelew, global chief operations officer for Carnival Corporation & plc.
“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.”
Carnival 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 fleet in China in 2016, making Carnival the first global cruise company with six total ships based in China.
The expansion of Carnival Corporation & plc’s China fleet to six ships will represent a 58 percent increase in capacity in China in 2016, including three year-round ships and three seasonal ships in the market. Together, the Costa and Princess brands will potentially offer about four million passenger cruise days in 2016.
In addition to expanding its industry-leading presence in China in 2016, Carnival announced last week that it plans to operate two additional cruise brands in China in 2017. Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises will join Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises in the Chinese market in 2017, making Carnival the first company to operate four cruise brands in China.