Italian cruise ship builder Fincantieri has signed an exclusive agreement with the Chinese repair yard Huarun Dadong Dockyard, or HRDD, for service and conversion of cruise ships – a new reflection of the growing prominence of the Chinese cruise market.
Under the agreement, Fincantieri will provide its cruise ship technical expertise to HRDD, which operates five large drydocks in Shanghai, not far from the city's new cruise terminal. Fincantieri operates a branch office in Shanghai, and the agreement will effectively give the firm a regional service center.
Specialized shipyard capacity for meeting the high demand from the Asian market is a growing focus for many cruise ship operators. Genting Hong Kong announced today the purchase of three German shipyard facilities for use in building its own cruise ships, substantially for use in Asia service; none of the three yards previously specialized in cruise vessels. Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean have been adding existing ships to their China operations and even building vessels specifically designed for the market. and – not far from HRDD – China State Shipbuilding Company's Shanghai Waigaoqiao yard is preparing to build the first ever cruise ship made in China, one of four planned in a $4 billion joint venture with Carnival and China Investment Corporation.
The Chinese Ministry of Transport (MOT) projects double digit growth in cruise tourism for the forseeable future, potentially making China the second largest global cruise market after the U.S. within several years' time. The nation could have as many as 4.5 million cruise passengers annually by 2020, and potentially 10 million by 2035. The ministry counted over 50 cruise ships operating in China in 2015, with over 1,000 trips on offer.