SINGAPORE - Mainboard-listed Vard Holdings has signed a letter of intent for the construction of four luxury expedition cruise vessels for French cruise company Ponant.
The new series of vessels will be developed by Vard, Ponant and Vard's majority-owner Fincantieri, based on experience from a series of four luxury cruise vessels delivered by Fincantieri to Ponant between 2010 and 2015.
Vard said the partners have a common intention to enter into contracts in the second quarter of this year, subject to several conditions being met, including satisfactory financing.
The vessels are designed for voyages to exotic destinations and remote ports only accessible to small capacity ships, said Vard in an announcement on Wednesday (March 16).
Delivery is scheduled from Vard in Norway between the summer of 2018 to the summer of 2019.
The ice-class expedition cruise vessels will be approximately 10,000 gross tons, about 128m long, 18m wide and will have a cruise speed of 15 knots. Each vessel can accommodate 180 passengers in 92 cabins and a crew of 110.
Said Vard CEO and executive director Roy Reite: "This project is fully in line with our diversification strategy to enter the expedition cruise market, realising synergies and increased cooperation with our majority owner Fincantieri."
"Through our long shipbuilding history we have built a broad range of specialised vessels, and we are delighted to be part of developing the new series of luxury expedition cruise vessels for Ponant," he added
Ponant, a subsidiary of the Artemis Group and headquartered in Marseille, France, was founded in 1988 by Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée and a dozen Merchant Navy officers. Currently it operates a fleet of five vessels and is the only French-flag cruise line, and world No. 1 for polar cruises, said Vard.