A Bubble-shaped glass building is nearing completion on the Huangpu River in downtown Shanghai, which is scheduled to open for business later this year. Three mid-sized cruise ships will be able to berth at the same time and the annual capacity of the terminal is one million passengers. The new terminal could help fulfill the city's dream to become one of the premier cruise ports in Asia.

As one of the biggest economic centres in China, Shanghai enjoys preferential geographic advantages, rapid economic development and plenty of tourist attractions - it's also a city where east meets west. All of these elements make Shanghai an ideal cruise destination in China. The Shanghai government's port development blueprint for the next five years calls for the development of cruise business and for Shanghai to be developed into a homeport. In recent years cruising has developed rapidly in Shanghai with the volume of both calls and passenger numbers increasing dramatically. Meanwhile, the strong economic growth and prosperous tourism market provides scope for the healthy development of the cruise industry in the region. The potential cruise market is huge due to the global interest of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2010 World Expo, hosted by Shanghai, estimated passenger numbers will be around 500,000 each year for the next several years.

Construction of the cruise terminal, on a 165,000 square metre site, began in 2004. It occupies an ideal position opposite the Lujiazui financial centre and is a few hundred meters from the Bund, enjoying a golden location, convenient transport links and an excellent connection to the surrounding tourist attractions. Shanghai has a backup facility for larger cruise vessels at the Waigaoqiao terminal, 30km away from the city centre. Meanwhile, the Customs, Border and Immigration Office are working hard on simplifying the process for ships and passengers traveling to the region.

International cruise ships started visiting Shanghai in 2000. In 2006, Costa Crociere SpA launched a Shanghai-Japan-South Korea itinerary using its 1,000 passenger ship Costa Allegra, one of its fleet of 12 that serves Asia.

US-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd will start operating cruises from Shanghai this April, using its 2,400 passenger ship Rhapsody of the Seas.

In 2007, 47 ships and nearly 100,000 domestic and foreign cruise passengers passed through Shanghai.