Fincantieri has signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with French cruise company Ponant for the design and construction of two new-generation luxury expedition cruise vessels, valued at €300m (US$332m). Ponant also took an option for one further sister ship. The contract is subject to the fulfilment of technical and financial conditions.
Fincantieri has previously built four ships for Ponant in Ancona, Italy: Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial, which were delivered in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015 respectively.
Vard, Fincantieri’s Norwegian subsidiary, built four Ponant Explorer-class ships in 2018 and 2019 and will deliver the last two of the series in 2020. Vard will also deliver Le Commandant Charcot – the first hybrid-electric polar exploration vessel powered with LNG – to Ponant in 2021.
The two new ships covered by the MoA, which are both due for delivery in 2022, will be built by Vard group’s production network and operated in the South Pacific by the Paul Gauguin Cruises brand, bringing the number of ships under this brand to three.
They will represent an evolution of the Ponant Explorers-class vessels and will be around 11,000 gross tons with the capacity to accommodate about 230 passengers. They will be equipped with environmental protection technology, featuring battery power that allows smokeless operation at anchor in ports and in environmentally sensitive areas. The agreement also considers further collaboration between Ponant, Fincantieri and Vard for the development of other environmentally friendly projects.
“We are delighted to continue our historic collaboration with Fincantieri,” said Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO of Ponant. “This agreement for two additional ships allows us to develop the Paul Gauguin brand acquired a few weeks ago and consolidates our position as the world leader of luxury expedition cruises. For the first time in the world of cruising, these two new vessels will cut their engines and cease all emissions each day during each stop, for nearly ten hours per day. Small-capacity ships at the cutting-edge of technology and environmental preservation: this project fully matches our philosophy of sustainable tourism.”
“We cannot but welcome with great pleasure the acknowledgement of the partnership with a ship owner like Ponant for this new-generation project, strongly inspired by environmental protection, which takes us to 13 units for them,” said Giuseppe Bono, CEO at Fincantieri.