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China’s First Domestically Built Cruise Ship Delivered

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

December 20, 2023

Adora Magic City, China’s first domestically built cruise ship (Photo: CSSC SWS)

Adora Magic City, China’s first domestically built cruise ship (Photo: CSSC SWS)

The first large cruise ship ever to be built in China has been delivered, potentially leading the way for a new market player to rise within the global cruise shipbuilding industry.

The 5,246-passenger Adora Magic City, built by China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s (CSSC) Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding (SWS) based on Fincantieri' Vista-class design, will commence its maiden voyage from Shanghai in January 2024, operated by Asian cruise line Adora Cruises.

The Chinese-built ship will service the domestic market with four-to-five day sailings, significantly shorter than cruise breaks elsewhere in line with holidays that are typically much shorter in China.

When the cruise concept was first discussed in 2015, it was known as AIDA Asia. As part of a joint venture, Carnival Group and CSSC commissioned the construction of the vessel to SWS, and once built, the ship would be operated by AIDA’s Asian setup. The design and development of the project was led by JVPC (a joint venture between CSSC and Fincantieri) based in Shanghai. Today, the project carries the name of the ship itself and is a subsidiary of China’s state shipbuilding company.  

Among notable differences compared to cruise ships commonly built elsewhere, the Lloyd's Register-classed vessel features significantly higher outfit standards, larger cabins and more space generally.

Awakening a 'sleeping market'
Marco Scopaz, Lloyd's Register on-site Project Manager and Marine Surveyor, describes China's cruise sector as a "sleeping market", be he believes Adora Magic City and its sister ship scheduled for delivery in 2024 hold the potential to change all that.  

The small number of global cruise shipbuilders, located in Italy, France, Germany and Finland, are watching developments in Chinese cruise construction very closely, and major cruise lines will be eyeing up both sides of the market in terms of demand and supply, Scopaz said.

Scopaz believes the project marks the beginning of China’s inevitable and rapid development in cruise design and construction.

The Adora Magic City build involved many international suppliers, notably in Europe, who provided parts and components and support for the fitting-out process. The diesel-electric setup is based on five ABB diesel generators, for example, arranged in two engine rooms driving two Azipod XO 2100 units, also from ABB. Each pod drives directly a speed-controlled fixed-pitch propeller that can be rotated through 360° around its vertical axis. Power is supplied by the ship’s network through transformers.  

Wärtsilä ANCS, part of technology group Wärtsilä, has delivered a suite of solutions including the NACOS Platinum Valmatic automation and control system, valve control system, low location lighting, navigation system, engine and bridge control room console, and smart motor control unit. Additionally, Wärtsilä has contributed the ship's bow thruster system, as well as its dynamic trim system and cable and steel parts supply.

Other features such as the vessel's firefighting systems and life-saving appliances have also been provided by international suppliers. Its 20 lifeboats, with capacity for 314 persons, have been supplied by Fassmer; its two marine evacuation systems each with two 153-person inflatable life rafts, by Viking.

Going forward, Scopaz said, China has the opportunity to build its own cruise ship supply chain, with engineering firms, equipment providers and service companies including designers and interior decoration specialists located close to construction facilities. Not only will the goods and services command lower prices, but they will also be available just around the corner, saving time and money, he added.

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