Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise operator, plans to develop a dedicated Chinese brand with Chinese partners, a first for the industry.
The Miami-based company formed a joint venture with China State Shipbuilding Corp., the largest shipbuilder in China, and China Investment Corp., a sovereign wealth fund with $740 billion in assets. Carnival Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald formalized the accord Wednesday in a meeting in London with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is on a state visit to the U.K., according to a statement from the company.
Donald is positioning Carnival to take advantage of the industry’s biggest emerging growth area and has said he expects China to become the world’s largest cruise market in the world. The company didn’t identify a name for the brand or an estimated date when it would being sailing. The joint venture intends to purchase and operate ships for the Chinese market.
Carnival said last week it would double the number of brands it operates in China to four by 2017. That doesn’t include the venture announced Wednesday.
Six of Miami-based Carnival’s ships will carry passengers in the region next year, up from four in 2014, Donald said. Carnival expects to welcome more than 500,000 passengers in China this year, a 43 percent increase from 2014, according to the company.
“We are at the very beginning of an industry, of building this market,” Donald said. “In the long term, this will probably be the world’s largest cruise market.”