Princess Cruises said its 3,600-passenger ship under construction for delivery in 2017 will be deployed to China full time, with special modifications for the Chinese market.
The announcement makes Princess the second line, and the first owned by Carnival Corp., to commit an as-yet unfinished ship to China.
Royal Caribbean International broke the mold by announcing last year that the Quantum of the Seas would be stationed year-round in Shanghai after a six-month season in New York. More recently, it said a third ship in the Quantum class, the Ovation of the Seas, would also be devoted to China and Australia.
With the news, Princess Cruises dramatically increases its involvement in China. To date, Costa Cruises has been the main Carnival Corp. vehicle for China-sourced business, with the Sapphire Princess stationed in China only last year for a four-month summer season.
"Deploying our next new ship in China underscores our strong commitment to growing the China cruise market," said Princess President Jan Swartz.
The new ship, as yet unnamed, is based on the same platform as the Royal and Regal Princess. However, it will also include distinctive features created for the Sapphire Princess, such as the World Leaders Dinner, traditional English afternoon tea, a Lobster Grill, Ultimate Balcony Dining, an ocean-view hot pot dinner option, ballroom dancing and an unparalleled duty-free shopping experience.
"And as this ship is still in the design phase we are looking forward to creating other new and exciting venues and experiences catering to the Chinese vacationer, which we will reveal in the coming months," Swartz added.