China's first cruise liner to be triple the size of Titanic

Updated: 2015-12-03 14:51


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China's first cruise liner to be triple the size of <EM>Titanic</EM>

The New York skyline is seen in a distance as Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas enters New York harbour Jan 29, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

A Chinese company is planning to build the country's first cruise ship, which will be triple the size of the Titanic, eyeing a breakthrough in ship-building capacity and tapping booming tourist demand.

Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. said it will build the ship with technical support from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, with construction starting in 2017 and hopefully completing by 2020.

Parent firm China State Shipbuilding Corporation along with the China Investment Corporation will set up a joint venture with 25.5 billion yuan ($4 billion) with America's Carnival Cruise Lines to buy the vessel.

Most cruise ship designs, manufacture and support are mainly provided by European companies. The three biggest shipyards - Fincantieri, German shipyard Meyer Werft and France-based Chantiers de l'Atlantique - get 90 percent of total orders around the world. Asian shipbuilders still cannot build cruise ships alone.

A cruise liner is the only high-tech ship that China doesn't have the ability to make. With its extreme difficulty in design and manufacture, cruise vessels are a touchstone of a country's comprehensive technological level and industrial capacity.

As China gets into building cruise liners, it will focus on making luxury ships weighing more than 100,000 tons, said Chen Jun, vice manager of Shanghai Waigaoqiao.

The design of the new vessel will incorporate traditional Chinese elements, with the total cost running to $1 billion, Chen said.

By the time the liner is delivered in 2020, it is expected that 4.5 million Chinese will be taking cruise vacations and that the number will grow four-fold over the following decade.

China will then become one of the world's largest markets for cruise travel and need five new cruise ships a year to meet demand.

The world currently needs 13 new cruise ships annually. Seven replace older ships while the other six are for meeting increased demand, according to Chen.

"The world needs more shipbuilders as existing ones cannot take orders for cruise liners beyond those slated for delivery in 2022," he added.