Fincantieri signed a memorandum of agreement, worth around EUR 300 million, for the construction and design of a couple of new-design expedition cruise ships for the French cruise company PONANT, an Artemis Group (holding company of Pinault family) subsidiary. The MoA envisages an option for a further sistership.
In the past, Fincantieri built for PONANT four ships in Ancona, Le Boreal, L’Austral, Le Soleal, Le Lyrial, delivered respectively in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015.
Fincantieri’s Norwegian subsidiary, VARD, active in the shipbuilding and design of expedition cruise ships, built in 2018 and 2019 four units of “PONANT EXPLORERS” class. It will deliver the last 2 of the series next year. VARD will also deliver the first hybrid electric polar exploration ship powered with LNG, Le Commandant Charcot, to PONANT in 2021.
The newbuilds, scheduled for delivery both in 2022, are expected to represent an evolution of “PONANT EXPLORERS” class ships. They will be operated in the South Pacific for the “PAUL GAUGUIN CRUISES” brand and the eponymous vessel acquired recently by PONANT, this way bringing the number of cruise ships under the brand to three.
They will be constructed by the production network of VARD group and will be about 11.000 GT with the capacity to accommodate around 230 passengers onboard.
The vessels will be equipped with cutting-edge technology in terms of population and environment protection, featuring the market's most extensive battery-package application, allowing smokeless operation at anchor, in cruise ports, and environmentally sensitive areas.
The agreement paves the way to further cooperation between Fincantieri, VARD, and PONANT, for the development of environmentally friendly projects.