Majestic Princess: First Princess cruise ship built specifically for Chinese market arrives in Shanghai

To tap into the Chinese cruise market and its estimated 83 million passengers, the world's largest cruise company has launched a new ship built specifically for Chinese tourists.

Princess Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival, the world's biggest cruise operator, on Monday christened the Majestic Princess in Shanghai, a 330-metre-long ship that was set to begin sailing Tuesday around China. It represents a larger effort by US-based cruise companies to serve the massive Chinese market.

The ship will also be heading to Australia - Princess Cruises announced the Majestic Princess will be based in Sydney for the 2018-19 summer season, sailing on 16 cruises to destinations such as Fiji, New Zealand and Tasmania as well as voyages between Shanghai and Sydney, and Sydney and Hong Kong.

Last month, a Carnival competitor, Norwegian Cruise Line, launched the Norwegian Joy, another cruise ship designed for the growing Chinese market. The ship includes an open-air laser tag course, a go-cart racetrack, virtual reality games and two multi-storey watersides.

Other cruise companies have announced plans to reassign some of the biggest and most modern ships away from US ports to instead serve Chinese customers.

The US remains the world's leading source of cruise passengers, with about 11 million a year. But the Hong Kong Tourism Board estimates that China - with a population of 1.4 billion - has the potential to generate as many as 83 million cruise passengers a year.

Australia's own cruising market continues to grow rapidly, with 1,281,159 Australians taking a cruise in 2016 according to the Cruise Lines International Association. The number represented growth of 222,378 passengers, or 21 per cent, the biggest increase on record.

The Majestic Princess features 1780 cabins, 19 decks, an atrium and nearly 1100 square metres of luxury boutiques, representing the largest shopping space at sea, according to Princess Cruises, which will operate the Majestic Princess.

The ship also includes a private karaoke lounge, a water fountain and multimedia light show and a giant LED screen to show movies at night under the stars.

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"We believe all Chinese families will appreciate the value of cruising as a new vacation option and create lifelong memories from their experiences aboard Majestic Princess," Carnival chief executive Arnold Donald said in a statement.

The Los Angeles Times

See also: The 10 best new cruise ships for 2017

See also: 20 amazing new ships set to change the world

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