Chinese shipbuilders are becoming more interested in the cruise liner market, as cruise shipbuilding accounted for 43 percent of global new shipbuilding orders last year, sources said.
Fu Chunhong, vice-chairman of the Chinese organizing committee of Marintec China, said: "In addition to China State Shipbuilding Corp, quite a few other Chinese shipbuilders such as China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation and China Merchants Heavy Industry, are proactive in cruise liner building."
China's first domestically manufactured cruise liner will be delivered in 2023, followed by a delivery rate of one vessel per year between 2024 and 2028. The cruise liners will be constructed at Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co Ltd, a company controlled by CSSC.
At a time when international shipbuilding, offshore equipment and related markets continue to weaken, major shipyards are wrestling with difficulties in securing new orders and delivering vessels. In contrast, the cruise sector remains sound.
"Last year, new cruise liners accounted for 43 percent of total global new shipbuilding orders, and nearly 40 percent of new ship orders are cruise vessels so far this year," said Fu.
Michael Duck, executive vice-president of UBM Asia, said from 2017 to 2026, the world's cruise shipbuilding industry was expected to produce 97 new cruise ships with investment totaling billion, more than twice the figure a decade ago, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) data.
This prospect will provide unprecedented opportunities for Chinese shipbuilders that are ready to shift their focus to cruise vessel manufacturing, considering the limited capacity of European shipyards.
Last year, as many as two million Chinese passengers travelled by cruise liners, representing 9 percent of global total cruise passengers, said Fu.
Developing the cruise industry has been included into the new economic planning of several coastal cities in China, as the sector is able to drive the growth of many related industries, including shipbuilding, port services, logistics, transport, sightseeing, catering, shopping and insurance.
"What should be kept in mind is that Chinese shipyards are short of experience in building cruise liners. They need to learn a lot from their European leaders like Italy-based Fincantieri SpA and Germany's Meyer Werft," said Fu.
Both Fu and Duck made their comments at the first news conference of the biennial Marintec China 2017 to be held from Dec 5 to 8 in Shanghai, which is regarded as this year's world's most influential and largest maritime exhibition.