China’s Domestically-Built Cruise Ship Starts First Sea Trials

Adora Magic City sea trials
Adora Magic City heading out to sea for the first time (CSSC SWS)

Published Jul 17, 2023 4:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

China’s first large domestically-built cruise ship marked another milestone in its construction and China’s efforts to enter one of the most complex segments of shipbuilding. The Adora Magic City, commonly referred to by its colloquial name Ada Modu, which is also the nickname for Shanghai, started sea trials as it enters the last months of fitting out.

For the first time heading to sea under its own power, the 135,500 gross ton cruise ship is going out to sea from Shanghai for nine days of trials. Her builders, Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipyard, a division of CSSC, reports that these are the first of two trials with a second voyage planned for next month. During the July sea trials, they are focusing on verifying key systems. SWS said they will be testing technical indicators related to standard certification such as navigation system, propulsion system, fuel delivery, ballast water treatment, maneuverability, and navigation performance.

The sea trials are the next step in a methodical process the Chinese are following to build the ship and develop their expertise in the sector. They are already highlighting that China has become the fifth country in the world, alongside Italy, France, Germany, and Finland to be actively building large cruise ships. Japan’s Mitsubishi Shipyard has undertaken several large cruise ship projects, each time suffering significant financial losses, and vowing not to re-enter the segment.

Before the float out of Ada Modu in June, SWS conducted stability and other tests in the dry dock after the cruise ship was floated. They also tested the seals on the shell doors and on June 6, the cruise ship left the dry dock for the first time. According to the shipyard, the current nine-day trials will lay a good foundation for the second trial voyage scheduled for August. Handover of the ship is scheduled before the end of 2023.


Just six weeks ago, Adora Magic City was floated out of the dry dock (CSSC)


While at the outfitting dock during the past six weeks, the ship has also undergone a further series of tests. CSSC reports it completed tests of the 31 watertight doors including the six independent control stations. They also certified fire safety systems including the alarms, carbon dioxide system, and water ingress alarms. During the dead ship test, the main engines had to be restored to power within 30 minutes from a state of no energy on the main generator. In the power loss test, electrical power had to be restored within 45 seconds. They are also reporting that the power systems have been successfully debugged.

Construction of the ship has been a strong learning curve for the Chinese shipyard working with Fincantieri as their technical consultant. Work began in 2019 with the hull floated for the first time in December 2021. While the first cruise ship has been built at a methodical pace, work has already begun on the second large, domestically-built cruise ship, which will be an enlarged version of Ada Modu. Construction on the second ship began in August 2022 and it is due for delivery in 2025.

Adora Cruises announced it will start service late this year operating the former Costa Mediterraneana, which was acquired as part of the 2018 agreement with Carnival Corporation to launch the Chinese cruise company. The older cruise ship will start sailing from Northern China in the fourth quarter of 2023. Ada Modu will enter service by the start of 2024 from Shanghai.