Vard will now build six Explorer-class ships for Ponant (Image: Stirling Design International)
Viking Ocean Cruises, Ponant and Cruise & Maritime Voyages have all revealed orders for new cruise ships at Seatrade Cruise Global, which is being held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from 5-8 March.
Viking has expanded its partnership with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, which could see the delivery of six additional ocean cruise ships by 2027. Marking the largest building contract a shipyard has ever received from a single owner, the new agreement will bring Viking’s ocean fleet up to 16 ships and make it the biggest small-ship ocean cruise line.
To be delivered in 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027, the six new ships will join the 930-guest, all-veranda vessels Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, which have already launched. Viking will also welcome Viking Sun in Shanghai, China on 8 March 2018, Viking Orion in June 2018, Viking Jupiter in 2019, and three more from 2021 onwards.
“When we launched our first ocean ship in 2015, we set out to reinvent ocean cruising,” said Torstein Hagen, Viking chairman. “In our first two years of operation, we have been named the Number 1 Ocean Cruise Line, and this new order speaks to the positive response we have received from our guests and the industry. As we continue to expand our brand, we look forward to bringing guests to more destinations around the world and introducing them to the Viking way of exploration.”
French operator Ponant has ordered two Explorers-class luxury expedition cruise vessels, which will be designed and built by Fincantieri’s Norwegian subsidiary Vard and delivered in the first and second quarters of 2020. The order will bring Ponant’s fleet to 12 ships.
Identical to the four 10,000gt sister ships that Vard is already building for Ponant (due for delivery in 2018 and 2019), Le Bellot and Le Surville will be designed for voyages to tropical destinations and remote ports only accessible to small ships. They will be able to accommodate 180 guests in 92 all-balcony staterooms, offer luxury onboard amenities and comply with Bureau Veritas’s international CLEANSHIP label. All six ships will also feature ‘Blue Eye’, the world’s first multi-sensorial underwater lounge that will feature Body Listening sofas and two portholes in the form of cetaceous eyes that will allow guests to see the underwater world. Hydrophones integrated into the ships’ keels will also retransmit the natural symphony of the deep water.
Meanwhile, UK-based operator Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) revealed that it would welcome a sixth ship to its fleet by acquiring P&O Cruises’ Australia’s Pacific Eden.
Originally launched as Holland America Line’s Statendam in 1994, the 1,150-guest Pacific Eden will be delivered to CMV in Singapore in early April 2019. She will undergo a short dry dock to change her livery and branding. The ship’s new name will be revealed on 20 March and will be chosen from a shortlist of renowned historical explorers, including Portugal’s Vasco da Gama, England’s Henry Hudson, Italian Amerigo Vespucci and Greek geographer Pytheas.
Once operational, the new ship will be dedicated to both the German and Australasian cruise markets. During the northern summer (May-October) the ship will operate under CMV’s German brand, TransOcean Kreuzfahrten, and will homeport from both Bremerhaven and Kiel. During the Australian summer season (December-March), the vessel will be based in Fremantle, Perth and Adelaide.
“We are very pleased to have concluded this deal and firmly believe that Pacific Eden will be a very popular addition to our fleet,” said Christian Verhounig, CEO and chairman of CMV. “This stylish traditional vessel is ideally suited to our business model and is in very good shape following a multi-million dollar refurbishment in 2016. As part of our mid-term growth plans the ship will provide the requirement level of extra capacity needed in Australia and Germany as we continue to grow our international business.”
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