China’s First Purpose-Built Cruise Ship – Other Cruise News: Viking Star To Offer Transatlantic Voyage – Peace Boat’s Ecoship Project

by Kevin Griffin

After several years of discussion and development, China is finally close to ordering its first purpose-built cruise ship, which could be delivered in 2010 under the auspices of the recent Carnival-inspired round of negotiations with China State Shipbuilding and shipyard group Fincantieri of Italy. Still in the Far East, Japan’s Peace Boat organisation, which has for several years been chartering cruise ships for round-the-world itineraries, has announced that it intends to build a ship of its own, known as the Ecoship project. Finally, like Royal Viking in the 1970s, Viking Ocean Cruises is expanding its itineraries to North America and the Caribbean, starting with a Transatlantic voyage to Montreal in 2016.


China’s First Purpose-Built Cruise Ship

China’s first purpose-built cruise ship could be delivered by 2020, according to a spokesman for the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co Ltd (SWS). According to Chen Jun, vice-president of SWS, which is controlled by China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC): “We are already in negotiation with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri SpA, which will provide technical support, and if everything goes smoothly, design work on the ship will start soon, building will kick off in 2017, and it will be delivered by 2020.”

A $3.88 billion agreement was signed in October between CSSC, China Investment Corp and Carnival Corporation & plc, under which the three parties will set up a Hong Kong-based joint venture that will place orders with SWS.
China is seeing unprecedented growth in its cruise industry and is forecast eventually to become the world’s largest market. According to Chen, “as many as 4.5 million Chinese passengers will go on cruise trips by 2020, and that figure will soar to 17.5 million by 2030.”

The SWS (Courtesy Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co Ltd)

The SWS (Courtesy Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co Ltd)

This could produce a demand for five new cruise ships every year for the next fifteen to twenty years for China alone. Last year 1.4 million Asians took a cruise, of which about half were from the Chinese mainland.

At 140,000 tons and 984 feet in length, the first Chinese cruise ship will reportedly carry between 3,000 and 4,000 passengers and cost $1 billion. It will be a combination of Chinese style and Western tastes in order to meet the different needs of Chinese passengers.

Seriously declining cargo ship orders and heavy competition have put huge pressure on Chinese shipbuilders, so the growing cruise ship market could provide a welcome boost for the industry.

SWS has been chosen as the technical standards required to build cruise ships are substantially higher than for cheap bulk carriers and tankers. SWS is also building the world’s largest container ships, with a series of six 1,312-foot 21,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) ships under way for China Shipping Container Lines.


Viking Star To Offer Transatlantic Voyage

Viking Ocean Cruises has announced that it will be extending its itineraries to North America and the Caribbean in 2016-17, as well as offering the line’s first Transatlantic voyage with its 930-berth Viking Star.

The 15-night Transatlantic crossing will leave Bergen on September 18, 2016, and visit ports in the Shetlands, the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland before finishing in Montreal.

Viking Star (Photo Neven Jerkovic at

Viking Star (Photo Neven Jerkovic at

From Montreal, the Viking Star will offer a 13-night voyage along the St Lawrence River, through the Canadian Maritimes and New England to New York.
A 15-night Eastern Seaboard itinerary will then depart New York for San Juan on October 18.

The line’s main winter itinerary in 2016-17 will be 11 nights from San Juan, operating between October 2016 and February 2017 and calling at Tortola, Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados, St Kitts, Guadeloupe, St Maarten and St Thomas.

The return Transatlantic trip will then leave San Juan on February 25, 2017, for Barcelona. Viking Ocean will take delivery of sister ships Viking Sea in 2016 and Viking Sky in 2017.

Peace Boat’s Ecoship Project

Peace Boat, the Japanese-based non-governmental organisation that has been running educational voyages for peace and sustainability since 1983, has announced its new 1,700-berth Ecoship. The proposed new vessel is designed to replace the various vessels Peace Boat has been chartering in years since 1990 for world circumnavigations.

Designed as the world’s greenest cruise ship by Oliver Design of Vizcaya, Spain, a donor or investor is being sought that could see her make her maiden voyage in 2020.

The Peace Boat's Ecoship Project

The Peace Boat’s Ecoship Project

The plans for the 55,000-ton eco-friendly cruise ship have been developed by a team of over thirty engineers, scientists and thinkers from the fields of ship-building and eco-technology that include renewable energy, architecture, biophilia and waste management.

With the proposed ship’s hull form inspired by a whale, the vessel’s ecologically-friendly features will include ten retractable solar-panelled sails and retractable wind generators, as well as a future-ready hybrid diesel/liquid natural gas-fuelled engine.

With projected cuts in CO2 emissions and impressive energy efficiency, Peace Boat’s Ecoship would become a flagship for green technology in passenger shipping, serving as a model for cruise operators worldwide.

The Pacific Star, ex Costa Tropicale, ex Carnival Tropicale, currently sailing as Peace Boat's Ocean Dream

The Pacific Star, ex Costa Tropicale, ex Carnival Tropicale, currently sailing as Peace Boat’s Ocean Dream

The Ecoship will sail for Peace Boat’s around the world educational voyages, carrying 5,000 passengers a year, as well as hosting exhibitions of green technology in up to eighty ports a year and serving as a floating laboratory to contribute to research on the oceans, climate and green marine technology.

Peace Boat’s present vessel is the 1,400-berth Ocean Dream, built in 1982 as Carnival Cruise Lines’ Tropicale.

Peace Boat’s 90th Global Voyage leaves Yokohama this Thursday bound for China, Vietnam, Singapore, the Maldives, Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Easter Island, Tahiti and the Marshall islands, returning to Yokohama on March 20, 2016.

(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

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