Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Viking Ocean Cruises to build two more cruise ships with an option for an additional two.

The new vessels will measure approximately 48,000 gross register tonnage (GRT) in size and will be similar to the two cruise vessels ordered from Fincantieri by Viking in July 2012.

The companies are planning to turn the Memorandum of Agreement into actual contracts following the customary closing conditions.

The recent deal also comprises a series of joint initiatives for the study of liquefied natural gas (LNG) propulsion.

Each of the vessels ordered in July will have 472 cabins and will be able to accommodate 944 passengers.

Scheduled to be delivered in early 2015 and 2016, the two cruise liners from the initial order will serve the smaller market of super-luxury ships.

Fincantieri’s bid to build the original cruise ships was supported 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.

The programme allowed the Italian shipbuilder to offer Viking an enticing technical, commercial and financial package.

The first of the two original vessels, which will weigh about 45,000t and have capacity for 998 passengers, is scheduled for delivery in late 2014, while the second should be delivered in late 2015.