Carnival Corporation is pushing forward its growth plans in Asia through a joint venture with Italian shipyard Fincantieri to build cruise ships for the Chinese market.

The latest move follows Carnival agreeing to work on a potential joint venture focused in shipbuilding in China with the country’s largest shipyard, the China State Shipbuilding Corporation.

Both options include the possibility of creating a three-way arrangement involving Carnival, Fincantieri and CSSC.

This would be the first three-nation collaborative effort to build cruise ships in China.

Carnival would work closely with CSSC and Fincantieri to provide its ship design and shipbuilding expertise to create the “vision, definition and overall specifications” for a ship for the Chinese market.

Fincantieri and CSSC would work closely together in the proposed venture on shipbuilding production capacity in China.

Fincantieri, the largest shipbuilder in the world, would provide specialist services to help augment CSSC’s shipyards that have a strong track record of delivering industrial vessels.

Carnival Corporation chief executive Arnold Donald said: “Building on our groundbreaking memorandum of understanding signed with CSSC last month, this new agreement with Fincantieri gives us the opportunity to work with our longtime partner to further explore a formal joint venture that could forever change the landscape of shipbuilding in China.

“After working diligently to get a deep understanding of China’s aggressive cruise ambitions, we’re collaborating with two of the world’s top shipbuilders in Fincantieri and CSSC to establish a framework for a world-class Chinese shipbuilding venture designed to help accelerate growth and demand for cruising in China in the years to come.”

The Chinese Ministry of Transport projects China to be the second largest global cruise market after the US in the next several years based on economic growth, increased spending power of Chinese consumers and growing demand for cruises.

China could see 4.5 million cruise passengers by 2020 and is expected to eventually become the world’s largest cruise market.