First Cruise Ship Made in China to Set Sail From Shanghai

View of Shanghai's Pudong skyline at night
Updated Published

January 1st sees China’s first ever domestically made cruise ship begin its maiden voyage. The ship offers travelers from the mainland the opportunity to go overseas, while maintaining home comforts. 

The ship, named Adora Magic City, departs from its home port of Shanghai on Monday for a 6-day trip. The trip voyages to South Korea’s Jeju island, as well as the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Fukuoka. 

Its operator, the CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Ltd., is a joint venture between the US’ Carnival Corp and China’s largest shipbuilding company, China State Shipbuilding Corp. 

Adora Magic City, built by CSSC Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co., is 323.6 meters long and has 2,125 guest rooms with the capacity to accommodate 5,246 passengers. The 16-deck liner possesses 22 restaurants and bars - including a mahjong lounge, duty-free shops, hotpot outlet, beer brewery, and theatres showcasing musicals with a Chinese bent, such as Marco Polo: an Untold Love Story.

The ship has been touted by the state media as a significant milestone and evidence that the country’s shipbuilders are able to handle the most challenging projects, alongside large liquified natural gas carriers and aircraft carriers. 

The ship also comes as an opportunity for the Chinese to ease into venturing abroad again, whilst still appreciating experiences, food, and an atmosphere which is familiar, and close to home. 

Although authorities have stepped in to encourage citizens to fly overseas, such as by resuming group tours, the desire to travel internationally is still limited. China’s international air travel won’t fully recover until 2025, according to Morgan Stanley. 

On the other hand, domestic travel has made a huge return, with locals venturing across the vast nation to attend favored tourist spots, such as the Great Wall and the Karst mountains of Guilin. 

Adora was built and designed by the Chinese as a way to bridge the gap, but for now remains as a way to establish short hops around Northeast Asia. 

Liu Liu, a sales representative for local travel agency Chang Tu Travel, said: “Most of our clients are families with the elderly and kids”. The agency has been booking customers on Adora’s inaugural voyage. 

“Cruise ships offer them a way to travel to different places and still enjoy recreational activities without worrying about traffic jams and lodging,” Liu Liu says, adding that many people had wanted to book to show their support for the first China-made cruise liner. 

September saw the bookings for Adora’s first sailing open. A premium cabin for 2 costs about 8,500 yuan ($1,200) for a trip in early February when many Chinese will be heading off for the important Lunar New Year holidays, according to the ship’s official online store on Tmall. Tickets for January and most of February are already sold out.

“Tickets are pretty hard to book,” Liu said, noting that sailings on February 9th and February 14th were particularly popular. Although Valentine’s Day isn’t typically a holiday celebrated by the Chinese, this year it falls over the Lunar New Year, meaning that it will be a double celebration for many young Chinese couples.

In the future, Adora Magic City plans to add Southeast Asia routes, as well as possibly a longer-haul ‘Maritime Belt & Road’ route.