Dutch shipbuilder Damen and Expedition Voyage Consultants have teamed up to develop a globally capable (read ice-class) expedition ship in response to the fast-growing expedition cruise market.
The new ship will be developed with a capacity for around 100 passengers and custom-designed based on the combined operational experience by Expedition Voyage Consultants and Damen’s shipbuilding expertise.
“This expedition ship will be a significant advance in the market, making it possible for expedition companies to deliver their customers the best expedition experience,” says Henk Grunstra, Damen Product Director. “This ship will be able to offer innovative and exciting itineraries with a higher level of safety, economy and comfort. Capable of visiting virtually any destination, the design will offer cruise lines the option of including activities such as helicopter operations and submersible diving alongside traditional small boat landings and watersports.”
The move is driven by the fast growing expedition cruise sector, which has seen unprecedented expansion into remote destinations. The partnership for Damen follows recent agreements by shipbuilders exploring the sector amid a slow down of offshore oil and gas projects. In March, Norwegian shipbuilder VARD, part of Fincantieri, signed a letter of intent to build four ice-class expedition-style cruise ships for high-end French cruise company Ponant. And last month, Kleven Marine agreed with tour company Hurtigruten Cruises to build up to four expedition-style ships for operation along Norway’s rugged west coast, Antarctica, Iceland, Greenland, and the Arctic.
Mr. Grunstra explains, “Expedition cruising requires small, comfortable and highly capable vessels that customers can be confident in, no matter if they are cruising Polynesia or the Northwest Passage. With the existing tonnage aging and environmental regulations tightening, it is important that operators have vessels they can rely on well into the future.”
The new partnership also follows a successful cooperation with Expedition Voyage Consultants’ sister company, EYOS Expeditions, which resulted in the developing the world’s first Polar Code compliant expedition megayacht, the SeaXplorer.
Ben Lyons, Chief Executive Officer of Expedition Voyage Consultants Ltd. and EYOS Expeditions says: “This vessel will be capable of taking expedition cruise passengers beyond the usual range in terms of both geography and experience. The vessel’s high ice capability and endurance make her globally capable, and she will be equally at home in the tropics or polar waters. She is designed to be a multi-functional platform equipped with all of the tools an operator might need.”
“An expedition vessel should be able to reach remote destinations safely and deliver a super experience in often challenging conditions. Because the ship’s design effects the experience of the guests, whether that be how quickly they can reach shore or how safely operations can be run in all types of weather, capability matters,” added Lyons.
“We’ll take our collective experience, gained from a wide variety of vessels, and apply the best features we’ve seen to this design,” he added.
The final design is to be unveiled this Fall.