Specialty and offshore shipbuilder Vard has signed a letter of intent for one expedition cruise ship, its seventh to date. The $120 million vessel will be about 145 meters by 20 meters with accommodation for 220 passengers. These dimensions differ slightly from the series of two recently ordered by TUI / Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, and are larger than the series of four that Vard is building for luxury cruise line Ponant. Vard did not disclose the buyer.
Vard expects to finalize a contract for the new order within the first quarter, subject to conditions being met. Like many of Vard's vessels, the hull will be built in Romania and the final outfitting will be completed in Norway.
Vard is one of the largest global shipbuilders of offshore and specialized vessels, with about 9,000 employees and nine shipyards in Norway, Romania, Brazil and Vietnam. Its diversification has helped it to offset the downturn in the offshore market, and in the first nine months of 2016 it took in $800 million in orders, including six cruise ships – enviable performance even by the standards of much larger shipbuilders. In addition, Vard recently secured a letter of intent for two LNG-powered ferries for Norwegian operator Torghatten Nord.
Leading cruise ship builder Fincantieri owns a majority stake in Vard, and it is working to acquire 100 percent ownership in order to delist it from the Singapore Exchange. Shareholders have until February 2 to accept Fincantieri's cash offer of $0.17 per share.