An illustration of the expedition cruise vessels VARD will likely be building for Ponant. Credit: Ponant
Norwegian shipbuilder VARD has confirmed the order for four expedition-style cruise ships for French luxury cruise company PONANT.
The shipbuilding contracts follow a Letter of Intent for the four vessels announced in March. At the end of June, VARD and PONANT had entered into shipbuilding contracts.
The ice-class expedition cruise ship will be approximately 10,000 gross tons, about 131 meters long, 18 meters wide and will have a cruise speed of 15 knots. Each vessel can accommodate 180 passengers (92 cabins) and a crew of 110. The vessels are said to be “arranged with high class of luxury facilities on board, fulfilling the highest demands for environmentally friendly and safe operations”.
The new vessels will be developed by Vard, Ponant, and Vard’s parent company, Fincantieri, based a previous series of four luxury vessels delivered by Fincantieri to Ponant between 2010 and 2015.
The hulls will be built at Vard Tulcea in Romania, with delivery scheduled from Vard Søviknes in Norway in the period summer 2018 to summer 2019.
In 2016, VARD, traditionally a builder of offshore vessels, has focussed its efforts on expanding into growing markets, such as the cruise sector, as the offshore struggles with the low price of oil. In May, VARD signed another Letter of Intent to design and construction two expedition cruise ships for an undisclosed international cruise company for delivery in 2019 and 2020.
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