Two more expedition ships for rapidly expanding Ponant

Ponant has now ordered six Explorer-class ships. The first two arrive this year.FORT LAUDERDALE — Ponant plans to build two more Explorer-class ships for delivery in 2020.

The two ships will be called Le Bellot and Le Surville. They will be the fifth and sixth in a class that starts with two ships arriving in 2018 (Le Laperouse in June and Le Champlain in September), followed by two (Le Bougainville and Le Kerguelen) in 2019.

Like the other Explorer ships, Le Bellot and Le Surville are named for French navigators (Joseph Rene Bellot and Jean-François-Marie de Surville).

Together with Ponant’s current five-ship fleet and an icebreaker due in 2021, the French luxury expedition line expects to have 12 ships in service by 2021.

The seven new ships represent a $2 billion investment, said Herve Bellaiche, Ponant’s chief sales and marketing officer. “No other company has invested that kind of amount in small ships,” he said.

Ponant announced the new ships at a press conference at the Seatrade Cruise Global conference. The event was attended by founder Jean Emmanuel Sauvee, who created the company 30 years ago to revive the French cruising tradition embodied by the steamships Normandie and France.

However, the idea was adapted to modern times, with Ponant becoming a small-ship line while still holding to the French ocean heritage of luxury interiors and fine cuisine. “Small is best. Destination is key,” Sauvee said in summarizing the line’s philosophy.

Sauvee said Ponant expects to have 460 departures in 2021. Edie Rodriguez, hired last fall as Ponant’s Americas brand chair and corporate special advisor, said the growth makes marketing in North America imperative. “As we grow from five ships to 12, clearly, we need to conquer the U.S. market,” Rodriguez said.

MSC Cruises Plans to Build World’s Largest LNG-Powered Cruise Ships for $4.5 Billion

Laurent Castaing (R), President of French shipyard STX France, shakes hands with Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Chairman Gianluigi Aponte (L) as French President Francois Hollande (C) looks on after signing a letter of intention for the order of four more ships from STX France in a 3.6 billion euro ($4.1 billion) investment, during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Laurent Castaing (R), President of French shipyard STX France, shakes hands with Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Chairman Gianluigi Aponte (L) as French President Francois Hollande (C) looks on after signing a letter of intention for the order of four more ships from STX France, April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Swiss-based MSC Cruises has revealed major plans to build up to four new LNG-powered cruise ships exceeding more than 200,000 gross tons.

The announcement was made as the company, the largest privately-owned cruise line in the world, signed a letter of intent (LOI) for the construction of the ships with STX France at the company’s shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.

The four ships provided under the LOI include two firm orders and two options with delivery planned in 2022, 2024, 2025 and 2026. MSC Cruises confirmed that the new order would represent a nearly $4.5 billion investment, which would bring the company’s 10-year investment plan to an “unprecedented” $10.2 billion and eleven next-generation newbuilds by 2026.

The vessel’s, to be known as the “World Class”, will be based on a new next-generation LNG-powered prototype featuring a GRT in excess of 200,000 tonnes, more than 2,700 staterooms and approximately 5,400 lower berths occupancy, making them the biggest LNG-powered cruise ships planned to date and the most environmentally friendly.

A ceremony for the signing of the letter of intent was held at the Élysée Palace in France and attended by French President Francois Hollande François Hollande, as well as MSC Group’s Founder and Executive Chairman, Gianluigi Aponte, and STX France’s CEO Laurent Castaing.

“Today’s announcement is further proof, if needed, of our view that this industry presents significant opportunities for additional growth going forward for both our brand and product, as well as of our firm commitment to be best-positioned to capture them to the fullest,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman. “For this reason, our ten-plus year investment plan now encompasses up to eleven new MSC Cruises ships, coming into service between 2017 and 2026. It is also a reflection of our constant commitment to innovation, as we will partner with STX France to design yet again a completely new prototype – already the sixth in our history.”

Including the four ships announced Wednesday, a total of 20 ships will have been designed and built by STX France in Saint-Nazaire for MSC Cruises.

MSC Splendida (Fantasia Class)

“We have just signed an unprecedented agreement with MSC Cruises which will give us a vision of our industrial capacity for the next ten years! We have had a good relationship with MSC Cruises for many years now, and this new agreement strengthens this further,” commented Laurent Castaing, STX Frances Chief Executive Officer. “We have already designed four different classes for MSC Cruises – Lirica, Musica, Fantasia and Meraviglia – each with four ships, and now we are working together on this new generation of “World Class” ships.”

MSC Cruises informs that in addition to the four ships just ordered, its current investment plan includes orders with STX France for two Meraviglia and two further Meraviglia-Plus Class ships as well as orders with Fincantieri in Italy for up to three next-generation Seaside Class ships. The plan also includes the $227 million Renaissance Program, in which four ships out of 12 of the company’s fleet were enhanced and enlarged at the Fincantieri shipyards.

MSC Cruises’ announcement follows some big cruise industry news over the weekend as Carnival Corp. finalized its contracts with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to build five new cruise ships costing more than $3.4 billion. Delivery of those ships are scheduled for 2019 and 2020.

In June 2015, Carnival became the first to order ocean-going cruise ships powered by liquefied natural gas, the world’s cleanest fossil fuel, with its order for four ships. Those ships will be built by Meyer Werft and split between their yards in Papenburg, Germany and Turku, Finland. Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, currently has a total of 16 new ships scheduled to be delivered across several of its portfolio of brands between 2016 and 2020.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises orders fifth ship

Regent Seven Seas New Builds


Regent Seven Seas Cruises said it has ordered a version of its 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer, which will add a fifth ship to its fleet.  

The line said it reached an agreement with the Italian shipyard Fincantieri to deliver the ship in 2020 at a price of about $480 million.

The Seven Seas Explorer, due in July, has had record-breaking pre-delivery sales.

“We expect that the positive impact on earnings and impressive return on investment from Seven Seas Explorer will be significant. and that her sister vessel will make a similar contribution,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Regent’s parent company.

Regent’s three other ships are Seven Seas Voyager, Navigator and Mariner.

Several luxury cruise lines have new ships on order, including Seabourn (launching the Seabourn Encore at the end of the year), Silversea Cruises (gaining the Silver Muse next year), and Crystal Cruises (building a trio of ships for delivery starting in 2018).