China Prepares to Float Out First Large Domestically Built Cruise Ship

Chinese cruise ship prepares for float out
Adora Magic City is afloat readying for its June 6 exit from the building dock (CGTN photos)

Published Jun 4, 2023 8:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

China has begun a countdown until the country’s first large, domestically-built cruise ship leaves the building dock for the first time and prepares for sea trials. Chinese state TV is live-streaming reports from the ship as it was floated in the dry dock and completes a series of final tests before moving out of the building dock for the first time on June 6.

Known as Adora Magic City, the cruise ship is being hailed as a key step in China’s efforts to develop advanced manufacturing techniques and expand its shipbuilding capabilities to more complex vessels. Unlike the bulkers, tankers, and containerships built by the Chinese shipyards, the reports are emphasizing the complexity of the cruise ship, saying it has over 25 million parts. Cabling alone they are emphasizing stretches more than 2,600 miles around the ship.

The cruise ship is being built by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co., a division of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) for a joint venture established in 2018 by Carnival Corporation and CSSC. Carnival has sold shares becoming a minority investor with Chinese reports saying that the Shanghai Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau is an investor in the company known as Adora Cruises. Construction of the cruise ship began in 2019 with China following a methodical approach developing each step of the construction process.


The cruise ship was floated on June 1 in preparation to leave the building dock (CGTN)


The Adora Magic City was refloated on June 1 in preparation for its departure from the dry dock. According to shipyard officials, the process was going to take six to eight hours and they outfitted the ship with special sensors to measure the progress during the operation. They had previously floated the hull in December 2021 as an interim step in construction. The engineers noted the complex operation to float the ship and the dangers as the Chinese coastal areas are vulnerable to typhoons at this time of the year, noting that high winds would have prevented the floating operation or later the vessel from leaving the dry dock.

Before they move the cruise ship from the dry dock, a series of tests have been underway the past few days, including an incline test to locate the ship's exact center of gravity and to ensure the safety and stability of the cruise ship. They were also testing the lifeboat mechanisms and the watertight elements such as the side ports. 


Tests are being carried out in the building dock before the ship undocks for the first time (CGTN)


At 135,500 gross tons, the Adora Magic City is a mid-sized cruise ship built from a design developed for Carnival Corporation by Fincantieri, which is acting as a technical adviser to CSSC during the construction. The cruise ship is 1,061 feet in length and has 2,125 passenger cabins as well as an additional 701 crew rooms. It will accommodate 5,246 passengers. 

The Adora Magic City is due to be delivered at the end of 2023 and to enter service sailing from Shanghai to neighboring countries including Japan, Southeast Asian, and ports along the “Maritime Silk Road.”

Construction began in August 2022 on a larger, second cruise ship. It will be 17.4 meters (57 feet) longer and is due for delivery in 2025.