Carnival Corp. has announced plans to up its China fleet to an industry-leading six ships with new vessels from its Princess Cruises and Costa Cruises brands in 2016.
The move will increase Carnival Corp.'s total capacity in China by an additional 58 percent that year. Across the Costa and Princess brands, Carnival Corp. will have three year-round ships and three seasonal ships in the market, representing the largest cruise presence in China in 2016.
Together, the Costa and Princess brands will potentially offer about four million passenger cruise days in 2016, giving Chinese guests more choice and flexibility in both the contemporary and luxury segments, Carnival Corp. said in a statement announcing the decision. Based on the accelerating consumer demand for cruises in China, Carnival Corp.'s added capacity is expected to significantly increase the company's total number of cruise passengers in China in 2016.
Golden Princess will sail out of Tianjin in northern China in 2016 on a seasonal basis, with itineraries visiting a variety of destinations in northern Asia. Golden Princess will join the brand's first China-based ship, Sapphire Princess, which has been homeported in Shanghai since 2014 and will start sailing year-round in China in 2016. The brand's two-ship deployment in 2016 will more than double its total available guest capacity in China compared to 2015, with its Princess Class experience designed specifically for the Chinese market.
Costa Cruises recently announced it will debut Costa Fortuna in April 2016 as its fourth ship based in China. Costa Fortuna joins Costa Serena, Costa Atlantica and Costa Victoria already based in China, increasing the brand's total available capacity in China by 43 percent in 2016.
"Our Costa and Princess brands are performing extremely well in China, and these new ship deployments will strengthen our growth position and enable us to carry nearly one million passengers in 2016, as we continue executing our plan to meet surging consumer demand for cruising in China," said Alan Buckelew, chief operations officer for Carnival Corporation. "As momentum accelerates in the market, we have a significant opportunity to increase cruising demand amongst China's growing middle class and a new generation of Chinese travelers who are hungry for new vacation experiences."
Carnival Corp. also recently announced that the latest ship under construction for its Princess brand will be based in China year-round when introduced in summer 2017. Based in Shanghai, the ship will be the first year-round international luxury vessel designed and built specifically for Chinese guests, Carnival Corp. said.
Carnival Corporation said it is also exploring potential joint ventures in China with China Merchants Group (CMG) and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) designed to accelerate the growth of the overall cruise industry in China, including the possibility of launching a world-class Chinese domestic cruise brand, building new ships in China, and supporting port and infrastructure development.