Qiang Wu

"In China, we believe the next decade will witness explosive growth, going from 2 million to 10 million  cruise passengers by 2026. Some argue that this is conservative," said Qiang Wu, chairman of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), speaking on Monday morning at China Cruise Shipping in Sanya.

"For now, two million passengers from China sail mainly to Korea and Japan. Looking forward, we have strong beliefs in the potential of the South China Sea," Wu continued.

CSSC is involved in a joint venture with both Fincantieri and Carnival Corporation to build a pair of Vista-class ships for a Chinese domestic brand.

He said calling cruise-ship building an engineering nightmare would not be an overstatement, with complex design, hotel and technical needs.

Wu said China, which is the world's largest shipbuilder, sees the ability to build cruise ships as the jewel on its shipbuilding crown.

"In China, we have major over-supply in the shipbuilding industry, but the capacity of cruise building is zero. We need to work harder to fill the gap," Wu noted.

"We will focus on the domestic need for new ships," he said. "We are focusing on the Asia-Pacific market. We pose no threat to our counterparts in Europe."

While the existing joint venture has ship deliveries projected in 2023 and 2024, respectively, it also includes four options.

There is the potential for the first ship to be delivered earlier, in 2022, to coincide with 20th National Congress of the Communist Party, Wu said.

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