Adora Cruises will be the number one cruise line in China in 2024 with ships sailing from a variety of homeports as the new, built-for-China, built-in-China Adora Magic City debuts into revenue service on January 1 from Shanghai, according to Ranfeng Chen, managing director.
The cruise line is a joint venture dating back to 2018 between China State Shipbuilding Corporation and Carnival Corporation.
“What we have achieved in the last five years is ‘the first step in the Long March’ as the late Chinese leader Chairman Mao Tze-tung said,” Chen told Cruise Industry News.
The Mediterranea marked the company’s official launch at the end of September, debuting in Tianjin. The former Costa ship was refurbished for the Chinese market.
“The Adora fleet will be deployed to multiple homeports in East China, South China and North China year-round, with mid- and long-haul routes to countries such as Japan and South Korea, and some ports in Southeast Asia,” Chen told Cruise Industry News.
Also key has been the green light from the Chinese government for travel agents to once again sell outbound group tours to Japan and South Korea.
“It is a huge boost to the cruise market in China,” Chen added. “We are already seeing a jump in bookings out of Tianjin for Japanese and Korean destinations.”
Resuming service, Chen said the company would carry out a diversified sales strategy.
“Travel agencies, who know the Chinese market and customers, will continue to play their role as an important sales channel for us. We should never underestimate their importance for the Chinese cruise business. But we do see some changes. For example, there will be fewer charters, but block bookings will continue and still serve the market well,” Chen explained.
No Casino Operation
Adora’s first newbuild will go up against competing new hardware from Royal Caribbean and MSC in Shanghai next spring.
Chen, however, is confident the company has the right product for the Chinese consumer.
“It will combine the best of the East and West, an international vision with local tastes, and make the cruise ship itself an enchanting destination for both leisure and cultural tourism. Our ambition is to bring our guests a combination of traditional elegance and modern flair, and an immersive and fun-filled experience at sea,” Chen said.
Local partners like Shanghai Telecom are onboard too, as the Adora Magic City will be the world’s first 5G-enabled cruise ship.
It will be a refined cruise product for Chinese guests, with no casino operation.
“Any kind of casino operation is not allowed here,” he said. “So instead, we have greatly increased the space for shopping, and the ship will feature a trendy and state-of-the-art shopping area, covering approximately 2,000 square meters.”