MARCH 15, 2015 — Norwegian headquartered Vard Holdings Limited has signed a Letter of Intent for the construction of four luxury expedition cruise vessels for French cruise company Ponant, a subsidiary of the Pinault family's holding company Artemis Group.
The new series of vessels will be developed by Vard, Ponant and Vard's parent Fincantieri, based on experience from a series of four luxury cruise vessels delivered from Fincantieri to Ponant between 2010 and 2015. The vessels are luxurious expedition cruise vessels, designed for voyages to exotic destinations and remote ports only accessible to small capacity ships.
The LOI marks Vard's entry into in the cruise shipbuilding sector.
"The agreement announced today is of the utmost importance for the entire Fincantieri Group," said Fincantieri Group CEO, Giuseppe Bono. "Our shipyards dedicated to the construction of cruise ships, in fact, would not have been able to accept these new vessels for several years, given the current workload. Thanks to the synergies developed with Vard we have been, instead, able to meet the needs of Ponant, with which we have a longstanding partnership".
"Thanks to this strategy we can moreover strengthen our leadership in the small and mid-size luxury vessels segment, as well as provide for the supply of fundamental ship parts built in Italy, like cabins and other areas aimed at the passengers," said Mr. Bono.
The ice-class expedition cruise vessels will be approximately 10,000 gross tons, about 128 m long, 18 m 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 will be arranged with high class luxury facilities on board and meet the highest demands for environmentally friendly and safe operations.
Delivery is scheduled from Vard in Norway in the period summer 2018 to summer 2019.
Vard says the partners have a common intention to enter into contracts in 2Q 2016, subject to several conditions being met, including satisfactory financing.
"This project is fully in line with our diversification strategy to enter the expedition cruise market, realizing synergies and increased cooperation with our majority owner Fincantieri. We look forward to become acquainted with Ponant and their team, and we are honored to have been chosen as the preferred partner in this project," said Vard CEO and Executive Director Roy Reite. "Through our long shipbuilding history we have built a broad range of specialized vessels, and we are delighted to be part of developing the new series of luxury expedition cruise vessels for Ponant."
A teaser image posted on Facebook and Twitter by Ponant indicates that the vessels will be designed by Stirling Design International of Nantes, France.