AT FIRST glance the balcony-lined silhouette of the Norwegian Joy, a new cruise ship, looks like any other Western liner moored in Shanghai. But a 333-metre-long Chinese artwork of a phoenix on its topsides signals its distinctive status as the first ship designed especially for China’s expanding cruise market. A pop star, Wang Leehom, christened it on June 27th.

Norwegian Joy was built by Meyer Werft in Germany, in response to a booming Chinese market for cruises. Over the past year the number of Chinese holidaying at sea has more than doubled, to 2.1m, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, a trade group. These numbers are likely to encourage other lines to build ships just for China, instead of using cast-offs from America and Europe. The Norwegian Joy has a much bigger casino than usual, to cater for the Chinese love of gambling. The shops are also twice as large as on Norwegian...Continue reading