Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has signed a contract with Viking Ocean Cruises to build two super-luxury cruise ships.

Each vessel will weigh about 47,000t, will have 472 cabins and can accommodate 944 passengers. Scheduled to be delivered in early 2015 and 2016, the cruise liners will serve the smaller market of super-luxury ships.

The cruise ships were funded by the Italian Government-sponsored programme Export Banca, a scheme set up by SACE, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and Simest to support Italy’s exports.

Fincantieri and Viking are also considering a project in the river cruise segment sector, leveraging the expertise of Viking River Cruises.

The two companies signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of the two luxury cruise ships in April 2012, with an option to build a third vessel. The first vessel is scheduled for delivery in late 2014, the second vessel in late 2015.

Both companies had applied for the support of the Italian export credit programme involving SACE and Simest and, if eligible, the funding from Cassa Depositi e Prestiti.

In May 2012, the Italian shipbuilder delivered a $653m cruise ship, Costa Fascinosa, to cruise ship operator Costa Crociere. The 290m, 114,500t cruise ship has 17 decks and can accommodate 3,500 passengers.

The vessel features a 3,280ft² relaxation and entertainment area, raised whirlpool tubs, 13 bars, a casino, a piano bar and five restaurants. It also has a 19,680ft² wellness centre, cabins and suites, six veranda suites and a gym.

The ship is equipped with a cold ironing facility, allowing the ship to plug into shore side electric power, and all solid waste is collected for recycling rather than being dumped overboard.

Costa Crociere’s parent company Carnival has ordered five new ships with Fincantieri, and Costa Crociere is planning to receive a bigger vessel with 5,000 berths by 2014.