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Introducing the new Asian aspirant, EWE Cruise

Eric Kwok, chief development officer for EWE Cruise, with a rendering of the company's new expedition ship concept
EWE Cruise — which stands for ecology, wellness and education — is a Chinese fund focused on the development of cruise ship construction and operation in Asia.

The company recently received approval in principle from classification society DNV for a new expedition ship design for the Asian market developed together with Deltamarin and Tillberg Design of Sweden, with input from the Chinese Polar Guide Association.

Tendering package in January

Eric Kwok, chief development officer for EWE Cruise, told Seatrade Cruise News his group has equity in place to build the ship and is in discussions to arrange a senior loan.

The tendering package is planned to be ready in early January, and talks have already begun with three Chinese and one European shipyard. The hope is to nail a contract before third quarter 2024 and for the ship to enter service in 2027.

Great potential for a tailored product

'We believe the Chinese market holds great potential,' Kwok said. '... 'We need our own ship to serve our own.'

While many new expedition vessels have arrived in recent years and Chinese travelers have been the fastest growing market for Antarctica, with some full-ship charters there and elsewhere, a customized product for them doesn't exist.

EWE Cruise plans to tailor the on-board experience, water activities and even scientific research activities to Asian travelers.

Cruises would operate in the Arctic, Japan, South China Sea, Southeast Asia and Antarctica.

Advanced environmental features

The 17,000gt, 200-passenger ship is designed for worldwide service, with efficiency, safety and the environment as three pillars.

Advanced environmental features are a key design criterion. These include an optimized hull to reduce friction, excellent maneuvering characteristics allowing efficient and low power DP, waste heat recovery, zero discharge in sensitive areas, advanced waste treatment, biodiesel capability and reduced light pollution with the ability to dim outside lights at night.


Advanced environmental features are a key design criterion for EWE Cruise's expedition ship design

Kwok noted Chinese shipyards have successfully delivered a series of expedition vessels, demonstrating their growing technical expertise and supply chain maturity.

The Chinese Polar Guide Association is an important partner for EWE Cruise, advising on the expedition design, training and recruiting expedition team members for the ship's future operation and providing updates on polar tourism information and regulations.

EWE's background

The EWE Cruise team's background is as a tonnage provider in the offshore business. The latest project they placed were two offshore platforms at a Chinese shipyard in 2017 that were resold to a wind power end user before their delivery.

In 2018, the group began to eye passenger shipping but lacked the knowledge to get involved until connecting with a Japanese cruise operator. Out of this, Ruihang Cruise was established as a special-purpose venture that worked with Deltamarin to develop the design for a mid-sized, 80,000gt cruise ship.

The pandemic presented an opportunity to acquire a vessel of that size, which the group bareboat charters to the Japanese operator.

Kwok declined to identify the ship and operator, however Seatrade Cruise News understands it is the 1995-built former Sun Princess, now sailing as Peace Boat's Pacific World.

R&D for an 80,000gt newbuild

Research and development for an 80,000gt newbuld continues, however Kwok stressed EWE Cruise and Ruihang are separate and independent entities and, going forward, EWE is the intended parent company that will hold assets and invest in cruise operating companies.

Several key stakeholders are involved, including an Asian ship management company and a travel agency.

As for Kwok himself, after graduating from maritime school and working at sea for several years, he earned a master's degree in investment economics, parlaying his experience into a job in the business department of a shipyard. Eventually, Kwok landed a position with a shipowning company, honing his skills in project management. At EWE, he hopes to make a positive impact in the areas of technology and innovation.

Core values

For all cruise products, EWE aspires to infuse its core values of ecology, wellness and education. With this, Kwok expressed the hope that EWE Cruise develops into a recognized brand in the industry.