China sets out on cruise
China has made no secret of its ambition to enter the cruise ship building sector but has so far been limited to production of ro-pax ships for European operators. A project by Australian entrepreneur Clive palmer to build a replica of the Titanic to modern standards appears to have sunk without trace although it last surfaced in Media reports in February this year with a 2018 completion date. Much more confidence can be placed in the latest development after Fincantieri and state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC signed an agreement on Monday to establish a joint venture aimed at developing and supporting the growth of the Chinese cruise industry. The declared aim of the joint venture is to design and construct cruise ships intended for the Asian market although few would doubt that in time this will lead to Chinese yards bidding for contracts in the last bastion of shipbuilding to be dominated by Europeans. The first customer is almost certain to be Carnival Corporation’s Asian operating arm with the ships being built at the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding facility. While little detail was forthcoming in the announcements from Finacantieri, Chinese press reports suggest that the developments are linked with an agreement signed in London last October with Carnival UK during President Xi Jinping's state visit. Apparently that agreement covers five 300m loa vessels of 133,500gt and with a capacity of 5,000 passengers. The growing Chinese cruise market (more than 1.1 million passengers in 2015) is estimated to require as many as 40 ships operating in the region in the short to medium term.