Fincantieri subsidiary Vard Holdings Ltd. — a global designer and shipbuilder of specialized vessels — has signed a contract worth approximately 270 million euros (US$319 million) with the French cruise company Ponant for the design and construction of a luxury polar expedition cruise vessel, with delivery in the second quarter of 2021.

Vard currently has four other small-sized luxury expedition cruise vessels for Ponant in its orderbook. The acquisition of these ships marked the entrance of the Norwegian company in the cruise sector. Between 2010 and 2015 Fincantieri delivered four small-sized extra-luxury cruise vessels to Ponant — Le Boreal, L’Austral, Le Soleal and Le Lyrial, all built at the shipyard in Ancona.

The unique and state-of-the-art electric hybrid expedition vessel with LNG has been developed by Ponant, Stirling Design International, Aker Arctic and Vard. The vessel is specially designed to take passengers to polar destinations such as the geographic North Pole (90° North Latitude), the Weddell Sea, the Ross Sea and Peter I Island. The unit, classified as Polar Class 2, will fulfill the highest standards for environmentally friendly and safe operations. It is the first electric hybrid cruise vessel with icebreaker characteristics and dual fuel propulsion, featuring high-capacity batteries and LNG storage on board. It will also be equipped with two helicopters in in-house hangars.

The expedition vessel will be about 30,000 gross tons and will have a cruise speed of 15 knots. The boat will accommodate 270 passengers in 135 staterooms, in addition to a crew of 180.

Vard is about 80% controlled by Fincantieri, which fully consolidates its financial results.