Fincantieri has signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA), worth about €300 mill, for the design and construction of two luxury expedition cruise vessels for PONANT, a subsidiary of Artemis Group (holding company of the Pinault family).
The MoA also contains an option for a third sistership.
The contract’s finalisation is still subject to technical and financial conditions.
In the past, Fincantieri Ancona had built for four ships, ‘Le Boréal’, ‘L’Austral’, ‘Le Soléal’, and ‘Le Lyrial’, delivered respectively in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015.
VARD, Fincantieri’s Norwegian subsidiary, active in the design and building of expedition cruise vessels, has delivered two vessels in the ‘PONANT EXPLORERS’ class and will deliver the last two in the four-ship 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 ships, both due for delivery in 2022, will represent an upgrade of the ‘PONANT EXPLORERS’ class vessels. They will be operated in the South Pacific for the Paul Gauguin Cruises brand, as well as the original ship 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 gt with the capacity to accommodate about 230 pax on board.
Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, PONANT CEO, commented: “We are delighted to continue our historic collaboration with Fincantieri. This agreement for two additional ships allows us to develop Paul Gauguin 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 10 hours per day. Small-capacity ships at the cutting edge of technology and environmental preservation: this project fully matches our philosophy of sustainable tourism,” he said.
Fincantieri CEO, Giuseppe Bono, added: “We cannot but welcome with great pleasure the acknowledgement of the partnership with a shipowner like PONANT for this new-generation project, strongly inspired by environmental protection, which takes us to 13 units for them.
“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,” he said.