Carnival expands in China with two major deals

Carnival Corporation has signed a major deal in China that could significantly expand its operations in the country’s fast-growing cruise sector.

The cruise company has penned a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the China Merchants Group (CMG) to explore the possibility of launching two joint ventures – one for ship management and the other for port development.

Costa Victoria is one of four ships Carnival is basing in China this year
Costa Victoria is one of four ships Carnival is basing in China this year

“The MoU we signed today signifies a great opportunity to take the next step in the future of Chinese cruising, while addressing some key needs for both the cruise industry and its passengers in China,” said Alan Buckelew, Carnival’s chief operating officer.

“With CMG’s amazing track record, reach and influence in the market, we are working with a strategic partner that can help us explore immediate ways to impact cruise growth in China, including the possibility of a new Chinese cruise brand and new destinations.”

The ship-owning joint venture will see Carnival and CMG own and operate vessels as part of a new Chinese cruise line specifically targeted to the domestic market. The scope of the deal includes the possibility of sourcing new cruise ships that are designed and built in China, along with acquiring existing vessels.

The port development joint venture meanwhile, would see the two companies collaborate to develop turnaround and transit ports within and around China, starting with a new flagship port currently being developed by CMG in Shenzhen.

The partners will work to attract cruise ships to sail from this port, while also developing other cruise destinations across China and North Asia.

Carnival Corporation and CMG formalised their partnership during an event held this week at the Hilton Shenzhen Shekou.

The MoU marks the latest in a recent series of major Chinese cruise partnerships. In November 2014, Royal Caribbean and Ctrip agreed to create SkySea Cruises, a new cruise line catering specifically for the Chinese market, while Carnival also recently penned an MoU with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri and the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) to develop new vessels tailored to Chinese cruise sector.

Carnival will become the first global cruise company to base four ships in China this year.

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