China is the second largest source of passengers for the cruise market after the US. Until now, however, the country did not have its own giant ship, it was built in domestic shipyards and set out on the ocean only now.
Adora Magic City is 323.6 meters long, weighs a staggering 135,500 tonnes and can accommodate up to 5,246 passengers in its 2,125 rooms. It has a total of 16 floors and offers 40,000 square meters of living and recreational space.
The keel of the first giant cruise ship, built at home in China and also to be operated by a state-owned enterprise, was laid four years ago and the vessel was launched into the harbor waters of Shanghai this weekend. The inaugural voyage with passengers awaits her at the very beginning of the year, i.e. on January 1.
An infinite amount of components
Gigantic vessels of this kind cost more than one billion dollars and consist of approximately 20 million components from hundreds of suppliers, according to the China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) itself. That’s about ten times more parts than it takes to build airplanes and fifty times more than high-speed trains.
Although China has traditionally tried to involve domestic companies as much as possible in the production of everything, it has not been very successful in shipbuilding. For Adora Magic City, it bought a number of components from abroad, but CSSC intends to strive for independence in the future. He also plans to build an entire fleet, because he wants to strengthen Chinese tourism, from which foreign operators benefited mainly in maritime transport.
China at the forefront of fun ocean tours
In 2019, before the three-year shutdown of cruises due to the covid-19 pandemic, there were 2.4 million passengers in the tourism industry in China. There were more of them this year only in the United States of America, where there were 11.9 million tourists.
“It’s no longer just a free sandbox for international incumbents,” Kun Cao of Finnish consulting firm Reddal told Business Insider. “Cruises in China are being renewed, but this time with a different setting. The Chinese also want their piece of the cake,” he added.
The Chinese spend more than the American
Chinese tourists on ships are also good customers, the head of one of the major international cruise operators, Royal Caribbean International, admitted during the announcement of financial results in May. According to him, their expenses are the same or even slightly higher than those of US citizens.
Foreign cruise operators thus agree that the Chinese market is something that is definitely worth fighting for. The next question remains here as well, whether to compete directly, or to decide on a partnership now with China in the game.
In some cases, cooperation was still necessary even before the Chinese ship and line itself. In fact, international carriers are prohibited on purely domestic shipping routes near the coast, so the only option was to contact the smaller vessels there and their owners.
And the first cruise ship made in China will eventually also be operated by cooperation. Operator Adora Cruises will also offer voyages to foreign waters as a joint venture between China’s state-owned CSSC and Carnival Corporation of Miami, Florida.