Manufacturing News

China makes waves in cruise ship sector

China's first homegrown cruise ship saw the completion of its hull structure in Shanghai on Monday, marking the 135,500-gross-ton Vista-class vessel's entering the second-half production phase and a technological breakthrough for the country's cruise shipbuilding sector, experts said.

The first domestically built cruise ship of China, which saw the completion of its hull structure in Shanghai on Monday. [PHOTO BY GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY]

A ceremony to celebrate the cruise ship's hull structure completion was held on Monday morning at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co Ltd, where the ship is being built.

"After completing the ship's hull, we are fully entering into the phase of equipment installation, adjustment and interior decor. The cruise vessel production has entered into the second half," said Zhou Qi, vice-general manager of Waigaoqiao, a unit of the world's largest shipbuilder-China State Shipbuilding Corp.

To date, 45 percent of total construction on the vessel has been completed, and the craft is about to take a floating in the shipyard in December, another key step in the vessel's construction before its scheduled delivery in September 2023, Zhou said.

Since its steel sheet cutting ceremony two years ago, the cruise ship has been transformed from 60,000 drawings into 675 sections, with the final product to be 323.6 meters long and 37.2 meters wide.

"This is the biggest passenger vessel China has ever designed and constructed," said Zhou. He added that the vessel can host a maximum of 5,246 guests with its 2,125 guest rooms ranging from standard rooms to presidential suites. "They can enjoy colorful trips and a jumbo-size entertainment area."

Facilities within the cruise ship include a large performance and arts center, restaurants, bars, cafes, a shopping mall, an art gallery, children's center, water park and more.

Cruise ships are regarded as one of the most challenging vessels to build due to high requirements and standards in design, craftsmanship, operation and management. It is the only high value-added vessel type that China has yet to accomplish in construction.

Building the cruise vessel involves 25 million components and parts, which is five times that of the single-aisle C919 aircraft, and 13 times that of a Fuxing bullet train.

Some of the interior decoration work has already begun. Currently, over 500 doors and windows have been installed.

Industrial experts said interior decorations will be the most challenging part throughout the shipbuilding process.

By the end of this year, some 3,500 people will work simultaneously throughout the vessel, equipping the 40,000 square meters of public space with various functions as well as trying to make the guest rooms as cozy as advertised.

"Despite the impact of the COVID-19 on the global cruise industry, we are optimistic of the industry for the mid to long-term," said Chen Gang, general manager of Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, who is also chief designer of the large cruise ship project.

The development of the cruise industry cannot be successful without a complete and specialized supply chain, Chen said.

The first domestically made large cruise ship will be delivered to CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping, a joint venture company between China State Shipbuilding Corp and Carnival Corp, the world's largest travel leisure company.

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