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Fincantieri's Norwegian subsidiary Vard to build 4 ships for Ponant

Ponant executives visit Fincantieri's booth at Seatrade Cruise Global. From left, Fincantieri's Loris Di Giorgio, head of cruise ship marketing and sales; D. Nedzela, senior adviser; Fincantieri ceo Giuseppe Bono; Ponant's Herve Bellaiche, evp sales and marketing; Sarina Bratton, chairman, Asia-Pacific; Arnaut Casalis, managing partner, BRS; Navin Sawhney, ceo, Ponant Cultural Cruises & Expeditions (Photo: Fincantieri)
Fincantieri's Norwegian subsidiary, Vard Holdings Ltd., inked a letter of intent to build four 180-passenger exploration cruise vessels for Ponant. The agreement, subject to conditions including shipowner financing, marks the entrance of Vard into the cruise shipbuilding sector.

Each approximately 10,000gt ship is 128 meters long and 18 meters at the beam. The deliveries are scheduled from summer 2018 to summer 2019. The parties aim to enter into contracts in the second quarter this year.

The news was announced by Fincantieri at Seatrade Cruise Global on Tuesday.

Fincantieri built Ponant's Le Boréal, L'Austal, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial, delivered from 2010 to 2015.

'The agreement announced today is of the utmost importance for the entire Fincantieri group,' ceo Giuseppe Bono said. 'Our shipyards dedicated to the construction of cruise ships, in fact, would not have been able to accept these new vessels for several years, given the current workload. Thanks to the synergies developed with Vard we have been, instead, able to meet the needs of Ponant, with which we have a longstanding partnership.'

The dramatic capacity growth for Ponant comes under its new ownership by Artemis, the holding company of the billionaire Pinault family.