China’s first domestically-made large cruise ship makes commercial maiden voyage

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China’s first domestically-built large cruise ship, the Adora Magic City, bathed in the morning sunlight on the first day of 2024, was docked at the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal, awaiting its commercial maiden voyage.

Thanks to optimized customs and border inspection procedures, it would take less than 10 seconds for each passenger on average for clearance. On the cruise ship, nearly 1,300 crew members and staff were in position to welcome over 3,000 tourists who were about to embrace the seven-day journey on the route to Jeju in South Korea as well as Fukuoka and Nagasaki in Japan.

When stepping into the cruise terminal, Feng Yanxin and her family beamed with excitement.

“In 2014, I took a luxury cruise in Europe and learned that China didn’t have its self-developed large cruise ships,” said Feng.

“When I heard in 2019 that a domestically-built large cruise ship was being developed, I had a wish at that time that my family would take its maiden voyage,” she added.

Ever since, she has been following the updates on the cruise ship, and she booked tickets as soon as they became available.

“Today, the first day of 2024, we feel so fortunate and thrilled to witness and be part of the maiden voyage of this large cruise ship built by our Chinese people,” Feng said.

The captain of the Adora Magic City Niklas Peterstam, who comes from a Swedish seafaring family, boasts rich experience in cruise sailing. According to him, he barely hesitated before accepting the offer to captain the ship.

After multiple test voyages, Peterstam has been fully confident in the capabilities of the Adora Magic City. The ship is very stable with powerful engines, he noted.

Third mate Ding Wenxuan previously worked on another cruise ship Piano Land. “The Adora Magic City is more intelligent and modernized with flexible performance and smooth sailing,” he told People’s Daily.

“As a helmsman, I feel proud of Chinese shipbuilders,” the young man noted.

Large cruise ships are known as the “pearls” atop the crown of the shipbuilding industry, reflecting a nation’s comprehensive technological and manufacturing capabilities.

The Adora Magic City stretches 323.6 meters long and 37.2 meters wide, with 25 million parts – five times those of the C919 jet and 13 times the Fuxing bullet train. The cables on the ship extend a total of 4,200 kilometers, equivalent to the distance between Shanghai and Lhasa, capital of southwest China’s Xizang autonomous region.

According to Zhou Qi, chief builder of large cruise ship projects at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), from the official contract signing in November 2018 to the Adora Magic City’s naming and delivery in November 2023, the group overcame countless difficulties and dedicated tremendous efforts.

“It’s like a city floating at sea,” said tourist Chen Yahua, who put down luggage and excitedly wandered around on the ship.

The Adora Magic City has 2,125 guest rooms that can accommodate 5,246 passengers. Its 16-story living and entertainment area spans a total of over 40,000 square meters, featuring theaters, themed restaurants, shopping plazas, art galleries and water parks.

The Adora Magic City is operated by Adora Cruises, a subsidiary of CSSC Cruise Technology Development Co., Ltd. “The Chinese crew are excellent and diligent. I hope China will train its own cruise captains soon,” Peterstam said.

As the Adora Magic City started its commercial maiden voyage, the second domestically-developed large cruise ship was being built by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.

“The second ship will cut construction time by 4 million hours than the Adora Magic City with lower costs and higher efficiency,” said Zhou.

According to statistics, China’s cruise economic prosperity index reached 101.55 in 2023, a significant increase over 2022. By 2035, China’s cruise economy will total 500 billion yuan ($70.4 billion).

Qiu Ling, deputy director of the Shanghai International Cruise Business Institute, believes the manufacturing techniques and management experience accumulated from China’s first domestically-built cruise ship will further accelerate the construction of the second one, realizing the development of the whole cruise industry chain in China.

The delivery and operation of China’s first large cruise ship has effectively expanded the supply of domestic cruise capacity, enabling a more comprehensive and differentiated fleet structure. This enriches consumers’ choices of cruise ships, promotes differentiated operations among local cruise companies, and elevates the industry’s overall competitiveness.

At around 3:00 p.m., all passengers boarded the ship. At 4:45 p.m., the Adora Magic City departed the port after several whistles, sailing towards the blue ocean.



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