Fincantieri has signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA), worth about €300m for the construction and design of a pair of new-generation luxury expedition cruise vessels for the French cruise company Ponant, a subsidiary of Artemis Group. The MoA also contains an option for one further sistership. The finalisation of the contract is subject to the fulfilment of technical and financial conditions.
In the past, Fincantieri has already built for four ships in Ancona for Ponant, Le Boréal, L'Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial, delivered respectively in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015. In addition, Vard, Fincantieri's Norwegian subsidiary which is active in the design and shipbuilding of expedition cruise vessels, has in 2018 and 2019 delivered four units of the "PONANT EXPLORERS" class 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 new units, due for delivery both in 2022, will represent an evolution of the "PONANT EXPLORERS" class vessels. They will be operated in the South Pacific areas for the Paul Gauguin Cruises brand as well as the eponymous ship – 1997-built Paul Gaugin – acquired recently by Ponant, thus bringing the number of ships under this brand to three. They will be built by VARD group's production network, and they will be about 11,000 gross tons with the capacity to accommodate about 230 passengers on board.
They will be equipped with cutting-edge technology in terms of environment and population protection, featuring the most extensive battery package application in the market, allowing smokeless operation at anchor, in ports and in environmentally sensitive areas. Furthermore, the agreement paves the way to further cooperation between Ponant, Fincantieri and Vard for the development of other environmentally friendly projects.
Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO of Ponant, commented, "We are delighted to continue our historic collaboration with Fincantieri. This agreement for two additional ships allows us to develop the Paul Gauguin Cruises brand acquired a few weeks ago and consolidates our position as the world leader of luxury expedition cruise. 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".
The CEO of Fincantieri, Giuseppe Bono, stated, "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". Bono concluded, "The strengthening of the commercial relations with our clients, as well as the consolidation of the production network of the Group and of the synergies we develop within it, are the best possible feedbacks highlighting the success of our strategies".