Huge £600million cruise ship set to bring Chinese to the high seas

The Shanghai Seas! Step aboard the £600m cruise liner that’s longer than the QE2 and packed with Mahjong tables and karaoke bars to tempt Chinese tourists to hit the high seas

  • Owners Costa Cruises believe Chinese tourism will hit 20m a year by 2030 
  • Costa Venezia set sail on a 52-night trip from Trieste, Italy, to Japan yesterday
  • It is Venice themed and has a Juventus museum and virtual reality tour of Venice 

A cruise ship worth £600million has been launched to try to crack the Chinese tourism market – but it has no sunbeds.

The Costa Venezia set sail yesterday on a 52-night trip from Trieste, Italy, to Japan.

It will be moored in Shanghai as its owners Costa Cruises believe the Chinese tourism trade will grow to 20million a year by 2030.

The Costa Venezia is a £600million vessel that set sail yesterday on a 52-night trip from Trieste, Italy, to Japan

Mario Zanetti, director general of Costa’s Asian operation, told The Times: ‘There are fewer sunbeds, because Chinese passengers prefer to chat, snack and watch a show.

‘If nine out of ten Europeans want to sunbathe on cruises, eight out of ten Chinese don’t.

‘The Chinese have gone from group holidays focused on shopping to wanting to explore, know local cultures and enrich themselves.’ 

The owners Costa Cruises are tapping into the Chinese tourism trade but have built the ship with a Venice theme. The hall pictured is inspired by San Marco square

A Chinese waitress is dressed as a Venitian Gondoliero onboard the Costa Venezia

He added: ‘It’s not like in the US, where you go to a bar and show off to strangers.’

‘Here, you will rent the room with family and friends.’ 

The 324-metre ship – which is around 30 metres longer than the QE2 – will carry up to 5,260 passengers and has a crew of 1,278.

Unlike the QE2, its deck will be filled with shaded areas and armchairs, rather than sunbeds.     

But the ship still has 11 karaoke rooms, six bars, 15 restaurants and tables laid for the popular Chinese game mahjong for the ship’s mainly middle class passengers to enjoy.  

The ship will have an adapted menu featuring a hot pot, for families to dine communally. But there is also Italian offerings, as the salesman shows above

The Costa Venezia will also feature a hot pot restaurant for people to cook their own food in a communal pot of stock.  

Despite it only sailing around Asia, the interior of the cruise has a Venice theme, including a theatre based on Fenice opera house, the main atrium made to look like St Mark’s Square, a virtual reality tour of Venice and a museum for Juventus FC.     

Carnival, the American owners of Costa Cruises, was the first to step into the Chinese market 13 years ago – and they have seen the market grow from zero in 2006 to 2.5million last year.

After a falter last year, when China refused cruises the right to dock in South Korea, there were still more than 140million Chinese tourists holidaying abroad.

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