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Thursday, December 19, 2019 

French cruise company Ponant and Fincantieri have finalised the agreement announced several weeks ago by signing a contract for two new-generation luxury expedition cruise vessels, to be built by Vard, the Italian groupís Norwegian subsidiary.

Fincantieri has previously built four cruise ships for Ponant in Ancona, Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial, delivered respectively in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015. Vard, meanwhile, has delivered two ships of the Ponant Explorers class in 2018 and 2019, and will deliver the final two of the series in 2020. Vard is also building Le Commandant Charcot, the first hybrid electric polar exploration vessel powered by LNG, which is scheduled for delivery to Ponant in 2021.

The latest two newbuilds, both due for delivery in 2022, will represent an evolution of the Ponant Explorers class vessels (pictured). They will be operated in the South Pacific areas for the Paul Gauguin Cruises brand as well as the eponymous ship acquired recently by Ponant, thus bringing the number of ships under this brand to three. The new ships will be about 11,000gt, with capacity for 230 passengers.

As well as a hybrid electric propulsion plant, they will be equipped with latest technology for environmental protection, featuring a large battery package to allow smokeless operation at anchor, in ports and in environmentally sensitive areas. For minimal environmental impact, the design will be guided by three objectives for minimal energy consumption: hydrodynamic optimisation of the hull; more energy-efficient equipment; and an innovative energy recovery system. Additional environmental considerations will include reduction of underwater noise, and improved waste treatment with the 'Cleanship Super' label from Bureau Veritas.

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