American leisure travel company Carnival and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) have formed a cruise joint venture (JV) in China.

The JV will operate as CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited and serve the Chinese leisure market by the end of next year.

Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said: “The official launch of our cruise joint venture in China is a significant milestone in the strategic development of a strong and sustainable cruise industry in China.

“Together with our partners, we are excited about our ability to launch a new cruise line in China based on existing ships and new China-built cruise ships tailored for Chinese travellers.”

The newly established cruise company will acquire two existing ships from Carnival’s Costa Group.

The first ship, the 85,861t Costa Atlantica, is expected to be transferred to the new Chinese cruise line by the end of next year to start serving guests as part of the JV fleet. The ship can carry 2,210 passengers.

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Costa Atlantica’s sister ship, Costa Mediterranea, will be transferred at a later date and can accommodate 2,114 passengers.

“Through the partnership with leading international enterprises, we will build a whole industrial chain.”

The JV has signed a contract to finalise its previously announced agreement to order two new cruise ships with an option to order four additional cruise ships to be constructed in China.

Under the terms of the contract, the two new cruise ships will be built by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co (SWS) in Shanghai. The first ship is slated to be delivered in 2023.

CSSC and Fincantieri have established a JV to provide a technology licence of the ship model platform. The JV will also offer technical and project service support to SWS throughout the shipbuilding process.

CSSC chairman Lei Fanpei said: “It is a strategic decision for CSSC to enter into the cruise industry in partnership with Carnival Corporation and Fincantieri.

“Through the partnership with leading international enterprises, we will build a whole industrial chain, including the cruise ship design and building, operations and supply chain, jointly promote industrial environment improvements, and create an ecosystem that will nurture the sustainable growth of the cruise industry.”