Fincantieri subsidiary VARD has announced an agreement for the design and construction of two expedition cruise vessels for an undisclosed owner, adding momentum to its expansion from specialty and offshore vessels into the cruise sector.
The vessels will be ice-classed and designed to high standards for passenger comfort and environmentally friendly operations, VARD says. They will be approximately 14,500 gt, with room for 240 passengers in 120 cabins, slightly larger than the shipbuilder's design for a similar series for PONANT. Delivery is scheduled from Vard Langsten in Norway in early 2019 for the first in the series and early 2020 for the second. The hulls will be built by VARD’s shipyard in Tulcea, Romania.
CEO and executive director Roy Reite said that the yard and the owner intend to enter into contracts in the third quarter of 2016.
Earlier this year, VARD announced an agreement with French luxury cruise company PONANT for the construction of four luxury, ice-class expedition cruise vessels, for delivery in 2018 and 2019. The vessels will be based on a series of ships PONANT ordered from Fincantieri between 2010 and 2015; among other features, they will have an underwater observation lounge and a transparent-sided, stern-facing swimming pool. All passenger cabins will have ocean views and private balconies.
Fincantieri, the “reference builder” for cruise ships worldwide, owns a 55 percent stake in VARD, and VARD CEO and executive director Roy Reite said that the PONANT contract would allow his firm a chance to utilize the expertise of its majority shareholder.
VARD also released its first quarter numbers on Thursday, announcing a profit of $5 million, up from a loss of $28 million for the same period last year. It secured one contract and four letters of intent during the quarter, plus a large contract for a series of 15 module carriers at the beginning of the second quarter. The performance is enviable in a down market: by comparison, South Korea's Big Three yards secured only a handful of orders between them in the first months of the year.