Seventh Expedition Cruise Ship Ordered as SunStone Profiles New Design
A seventh and likely final expedition cruise ship in SunStone’s popular Infinity Class is going to proceed after earlier reports that China Merchants Heavy Industries in Haimen, China had decided not to built future ships in the class. Ulstein Design & Solutions reports that the contract for the vessel has been finalized as SunStone also works towards its next class of expedition ships, a slightly larger design known as the Boundless class.
“We are immensely pleased to announce that we have signed a new contract with the CMHI Haimen yard for the construction of a new X-BOW expedition cruise vessel of the Ulstein CX103 design,” said Lars Ståle Skoge, commercial director at Ulstein Design & Solutions.
All seven of the vessels in the class were designed by Ulstein as the first to introduce the patented X-Bow design to cruise ships. The first of the ships in the class, the Greg Mortimer (8,000 gross tons with a capacity for 160 passengers) was delivered late in 2019. She was followed by the Ocean Victory and Ocean Explorer and more recently the delivery of the Sylvia Earle and the Ocean Odyssey. The sixth ship of the class and the largest at 8,500 gross tons, the Ocean Albatros, is nearing delivery. The vessels each operate under long-term charters.
Bow lounge with large windows is one of the distinctive elements of the design aboard four of the ships (Ulstein)
Although all the SunStone vessels in this class are designed on the same platform, with a length of 342 feet, they are all customized to accommodate a varying number of passengers and crews, and the public spaces were also designed according to the client’s request. The new seventh vessel will share the feature of three other vessels in the Infinity class of having windows all around the bow lounge to give a lot of light and observation platform while sailing the unique cruise itineraries. According to Ulstein, the seventh ship will also have the largest capacity with accommodations for 199 passengers and a crew of 101. No timeline was announced for the start of construction or delivery.
SunStone recently presented the first concepts for its next class of ships, the Boundless Class, slightly larger in size and capacity than the Infinity Class. They are proposing building a class of up to 10 ships, each with a capacity of between 200 and 260 passengers. The ships would have a crew of approximately 137. The new design is for vessels that would be 410 feet long and approximately 13,000 gross tons. The design was developed with Danish naval architect OSK and features an inverted bow.
SunStone has designed a new, larger vessel in the Boundless class (OSK Group)
Like the earlier class, the new ships are designed specifically for expedition cruising featuring an efficient diesel-electric propulsion plant. They will have a high level of maneuverability using pod thrusters and have the capability for virtual anchoring (i.e. station keeping) as well as zero-speed stabilization. They will be built to Polar Class 6 standards.
SunStone reports it is in discussions with shipyards and possible charters for the new vessels. It currently says that delivery of the first Boundless vessel is expected to be in Q3 2025.