Norwegian shipbuilding group VARD has signed a Letter of Intent for the design and construction of two expedition cruise ships, its second such deal in as many months as the company looks beyond the offshore oil and gas market to stay afloat.
The LOI was signed with an undisclosed international cruise company with delivery scheduled from Vard Langsten in Norway in Q1 2019 and Q1 2020. The vessels will be designed in close cooperation with the customer by Vard Design in Ålesund, Norway, and the hulls will be built by VARD’s shipyard in Tulcea, Romania.
VARD says the vessels will be specially designed for a high standard of facilities, ice-class and the highest demands for environmentally friendly and safe operations. The ships will be approximately 14,500 gross tons, about 137 meters long by 22 meters wide, with accommodations for 240 passengers in 120 cabins.
“Our objective is to develop unique and tailor-made vessels to meet the needs of our customer to further develop their role in the expedition cruise market, and we are honored to sign a Letter of Intent for this exciting project,” commented CEO and Executive Director, Roy Reite. “We look forward to continue our diversification strategy together with our new customers.”
A finalized contract is expected to be signed in Q3 2016.
The LOI announced Friday follows an LOI signed in March to build four expedition cruise ships for French cruise company Ponant.
With the downturn in the offshore industry, VARD has focussed its efforts on expanding to other markets in order to land new contracts. So far this year, this has included the expedition cruise market and aquaculture. On Thursday, the company announced that it has secured $300 million order with Topaz Energy and Marine to design and build 15 module carriers to serve oil fields in Kazakhstan, again not exactly the typical offshore vessels that it is accustomed to building.