Following a memorandum of understanding signed in April 2019, the two companies will now set up a joint venture focusing on the Chinese source market, including operating a fleet of China-flagged ships offering coastal cruises.
Viking Sun to fly China flag
Viking Sun will be the first vessel to join the new jv, hoisting the China flag and launching domestic itineraries in 2021. Under cabotage rules only China-flagged ships can sail between mainland ports.
‘To jointly invest in and establish a five-starred red flag cruise fleet is in line with China’s cruise industry development plans, especially high-end cruise products, which has a bright prospect,’ said Xu Yongju, chairman of China Merchants Shekou, the city development and asset resources management platform of China Merchants Group.
New travel experience
'The China coastal cruising products that we are developing will bring a new travel experience to the China market,' said Torstein Hagen, chairman, Viking Cruises.
At the MoU signing last year Hagen said, ‘Our partnership with China Merchants Group will allow us to bring this Viking travel lifestyle to more Chinese travellers more quickly, satisfying the Chinese market's unmet demand for a greater choice of sophisticated travel.’
Viking in China
China has been a part of Viking's destination portfolio since 2003, and since setting up local operations in China in 2016, the company has seen strong momentum in its European river cruise product tailored for Chinese-speaking guests.
China Merchants Group has experience of expedition and river cruise ship construction and is also building 37,000gt ships for Style Cruises.
MSC Cruises MoU
China Merchants Shekou signed an MoU with MSC Cruises to jointly develop the cruise business in China in late 2019, cooperating on developing the cruise market in Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, with plans to extend the cooperation to the whole cruise industry chain in the future.