The order is worth about €300m, and delivery from Fincantieri’s Vard group is planned in 2022. The option for a third vessel is envisaged.
At 11,000gt with capacity for 230 passengers each, the ships will be an evolution of Ponant’s Explorers class.
The new ships will join the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin for a fleet of three sailing year-round in the South Pacific.
Large battery package
They will be equipped with cutting-edge environmental technology, including what Fincantieri said would be the ‘most extensive battery package application in the market.’
This will allow smokeless operation at anchor, in ports and in environmentally sensitive areas. Furthermore, the agreement paves the way for more cooperation among Ponant, Fincantieri and Vard for the development of other environmentally friendly projects.
‘We are delighted to continue our historic collaboration with Fincantieri,’ Ponant CEO Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée said. ‘This agreement for two additional ships allows us to develop the Paul Gauguin brand acquired a few weeks ago and consolidates our position as the world leader in luxury expedition cruising.’
Nearly 10 hours a day emissions-free in ports
For the first time in cruising, Sauvée continued, these two new vessels will cut their engines during stops for nearly 10 hours per day to eliminate exhaust.
Fincantieri has built four Ponant ships — Le Boréal (2010), L’Austral (2011), Le Soléal (2013) and Le Lyrial (2015) — at its Ancona yard. In 2018 and 2019, Norwegian subsidiary Vard turned out four Explorers-class vessels and is scheduled to deliver the last two In the series during 2020.
Vard is also building Le Commandant Charcot for Ponant. This world-first hybrid electric polar expedition ship powered with LNG is due in 2021.
Finalization of the contract for the Paul Gauguin newbuilds is subject to technical and financial conditions.