Vard Inks Order for Two Polar-Class Cruise Ships

The VARD 6 07 expedition cruise ships hapag-lloyd
The Luxury Expedition Cruise Vessel will have an overall length of 138 m and breadth of 22 m. Image: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has ordered two new expedition-style cruise ships at Vard as the Hamburg-based cruise company looks to expand in the segment.

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The two vessels will be built to the highest Polar Class designation for passengers ships for cruises to the Arctic and Antarctica. They will also be suited for warm-weather cruises to destinations including the Amazon.

The order follows a Letter of Intent announced Vard last May calling for the construction of the vessels with an undisclosed international cruise company. 

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is a subsidiary of Germany’s TUI Group, one of the world’s largest hotel and cruise tourism companies.

The two vessels will be built by Vard’s shipyard in Tulcea, Romania, with delivery scheduled from Vard Langsten in Norway in the spring and fall of 2019, respectively.

The luxury expedition cruise vessels will be approximately 16,100 gross tons, about 138 meters long and 22 meters wide. Each vessel has seven passenger decks, with accommodation for a total of 240 passengers in 120 cabins and suites. The vessels will also feature a water sports marina and modern spa and fitness areas.

“The cruise business is one of the key elements of TUI’s growth strategy,” commented Sebastian Ebel, member of the Executive Board of TUI Group in charge of Cruises. “Our ambitions are underpinned by our investment in the two new ships for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ luxury and expedition cruise segments serve as world-class benchmarks.”

TUI Group currently operates a 14-strong cruise fleet with its subsidiaries Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and UK-based Thomson Cruises and the joint venture TUI Cruises. The two new vessels will grow Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ fleet to five vessels, including the Europa, Europa 2, and the expedition vessel Bremen.

Vard is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Italian shipbuilding group Fincantieri. This year Vard has looked to the cruise segment for new orders amid the low level of activity in the offshore oil and gas market. Earlier this year, the company inked order to build four expedition cruise ships for French cruise company Ponant.

CEO and Executive Director Roy Reite said, “We are honored to have been chosen by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises for this project. A leading player like Hapag-Lloyd Cruises placing their trust in VARD’s capabilities to develop these unique, high-end vessels shows the recognition we have quickly earned in this segment of the specialty shipbuilding market.”