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China’s Adora Magic City Runs First Preview Cruises Ahead of Maiden Voyage

Adora Magic City Chinese cruise ship
Adora Magic City sailed from Shanghai on her first trials before the maiden voyage on January 1, 2024 (Adora Cruises)

Published Dec 26, 2023 7:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

China's first large domestically-built cruise ship embarked its first passengers and arrived in its first international port as the final countdown is underway for the Adora Magic City to enter revenue service. The cruise ship is undertaking its shakedown cruises and final preparations for the international crew before commercial service launches next week.

Known by the colloquial name of Ada Modu, the 135,500 gross ton cruise ship departed Shanghai on Sunday for its first cruise with passengers. It was a shakedown trip with invited guests but still marked a key milestone in the more than five years spent developing the cruise line. Carnival Corporation and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) launched Adora Cruises as a partnership both to develop China’s domestic cruise ship construction capabilities and to create a Chinese brand. Carnival has moved to a minority investor position as the project evolved from the first announcements in 2018.

After the initial cruise from the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal on December 24, the cruise ship embarked on a second trial trip with guests on December 25. Early on December 27, she arrived in Kagoshima, Japan for her first international port call with passengers and she will also be stopping in South Korea. The 1,292 crew coming from 30 countries is testing and honing their skills before the paying passengers embark on the first revenue cruise on January 1, 2024, from Shanghai.

The ship transferred from CSSC’s Shanghai shipyard on December 14 with a sail away ceremony from the yard to say thank you for all the hard work in building the ship which is approximately 1,060 feet (323 meters) in length based on an adaptation of a Carnival platform used for Carnival Cruise Line and Costa Cruises. She has 2,125 passenger cabins and accommodates 5,246 passengers. CSSC highlighted that it was the most complex project ever undertaken by the company but with Fincantieri consulting the Chinese yard developed skills and the workshops needed to build cruise ships.

The cruise company, Adora Cruises, highlights that the ship is a unique blend of Eastern and Western aesthetics and culture. However, it was specifically designed to serve the Chinese market as the first large newbuild passenger ship operated by a Chinese cruise company. Western companies including Royal Caribbean International based their newest cruise ships in China before the pandemic but previously Chinese companies acquired older, secondhand tonnage. The Chinese government began letting the domestic companies resume operations in the summer of 2023 while the international companies are not being permitted to return to ports on the Chinese mainland until 2024.

Among the alterations to the design for Ada Modu was the creation of what the cruise company says is the world’s largest shopping arcade and an extensive use of high-tech gear. Passengers will find a selection of specialty restaurants, a large theater, and a variety of bars and entertainment, common on Western cruise ships.

Adora launched its operations earlier this year with a secondhand cruise ship acquired from Costa when the joint venture was formed between CSSC and Carnival. The ship had been out of service since the pandemic but was used to launch the operation sailing from Northern China. A sister ship was sold without entering service in China. Adora has big plans for the market with the construction of an enlarged version of the Ada Modu already under construction and due to enter service in 2025.