Viking Signs with Vard for Four Cruise Ships

Expedition cruise ship hull departs Vard's Romanian yard for Norway, December 2017 (file image)

By The Maritime Executive 04-05-2018 04:15:00

Fincantieri subsidiary Vard announced Wednesday that it has signed a letter of intent for up to four new cruise ships for Viking. The price per hull for the first two vessels is approximately $290 million, and a final contract signing is planned for the middle of this year.

Vard released few details about the new vessels, but the shipbuilder said the design is informed by industry demand for "environmentally friendly and safe operations" and will make them "among the most environmentally friendly ships." The hulls will be laid down at Vard's Romanian yard, then towed to its Norwegian facilities for fitting-out and delivery. 

“It is our pleasure to work with Viking to develop a new series of cruise vessels. The company is well known for its expansion in river cruises and ocean cruises, and they are now looking to Norway for the design and construction of its new cruise fleet," said Vard CEO Roy Reite. 

Vard did not describe the vessel type. However, the unit cost is roughly equal to the price that French luxury cruise line Ponant will pay to Vard for the world's first icebreaking, LNG-fueled, hybrid-powered expedition cruise ship. Ponant's 30,000 gt vessel will be built to take up to 270 passengers to the geographic North Pole. Vard disclosed the Ponant contract in December, and delivery is expected in 2021. 

Vard's roots are in offshore and specialty vessel construction, but it has been building boutique-sized cruise ships since 2016. It has six conventional expedition ships on order for Ponant, one for Australia-based Coral Expeditions and two for TUI / Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Viking operates four ocean-going cruise ships, all built by Fincantieri. Two more will be delivered by 2019 and four more will follow, putting Viking on track to become the largest operator of small luxury cruise ships (by berth capacity). The Fincantieri-built series is a larger design with accommodations for up to 930 passengers.