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China shipbuilder to deliver first homegrown cruise ship in 2023

CSSC will work with U.S. and Italian partners to build up to six vessels

A Royal Caribbean cruise ship at port in China's Liaoning Province. The number of Chinese people taking cruises rose 8% in 2017.   © Reuters

GUANGZHOU -- China State Shipbuilding Corp. will deliver the first Chinese-made cruise ship in 2023 under a tie-up with Italian and American partners as demand for maritime pleasure travel grows in the East Asian country.

The ship, along with a second due the following year, will be designed and built by CSSC, U.S. cruise giant Carnival and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri under a recently signed deal. A joint venture launching this week between CSSC and Carnival will operate the ship, with the possibility of building an additional four vessels.

The $770 million, 135,000-ton vessels will have a passenger capacity of 5,246 across 2,125 cabins. That dwarfs one of Japan's largest cruise ships, the Asuka II, with a gross tonnage of around 50,000 and a capacity of 872 passengers.

China's leisure travel demand is growing as its middle class expands. In 2017, around 4.95 million Chinese went on a cruise, up 8% on the year, according to an industry group survey. The count is expected to break 5 million for 2018, and further growth is expected in the future.

CSSC and Fincantieri first teamed up in 2016, with the Italian company seeking inroads into the growing market and the shipbuilder hungry for expertise in cruise-ship construction.

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