Singapore - Vard Holdings Limited, one of the major global designers and shipbuilders of offshore and specialized vessels, announces that contracts for four luxury expedition cruise vessels with French cruise company Ponant have been confirmed. A Letter of Intent with respect to the contracts had been announced on 16 March 2016, subject to several conditions being met, including satisfactory financing. At the end of June, Vard and Ponant had entered into shipbuilding contracts. All conditions have now been fulfilled and the contracts have become effective. The ice-class expedition cruise vessels will be approximately 10,000 gross tons, about 131 metres long, 18 metres wide and will have a cruise speed of 15 knots. Each vessel can accommodate 180 passengers (92 cabins) and a crew of 110. The vessels will be arranged with high class of luxury facilities on board, fulfilling the highest demands for environmentally friendly and safe operations. The hulls will be built at Vard Tulcea in Romania. Delivery is scheduled from Vard Søviknes in Norway in the period summer 2018 to summer 2019. Ponant, a subsidiary of Artemis Group and headquartered in Marseille, France, was founded in 1988 by Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée and a dozen Merchant Navy officers.
Today the company is a reference for a new style of high-end cruises, a unique concept for sea travel that combines exceptional itineraries with five-star amenities on small capacity luxury ships. Currently they operate a fleet of five vessels. Ponant is the only French-flag cruise line, and world number one for polar cruises.