Norway-based shipbuilding group Vard Holdings (Vard) has been contracted to build four luxury expedition cruise vessels for French cruise company Ponant.

The hulls of the newly ordered vessels will be built at Vard Tulcea in Romania, with delivery scheduled from Vard Søviknes shipyard in Norway between 2018 and 2019.

Featuring around 131m in length and 18m in width, the ice-class expedition cruise vessels will be around 10,000 gross tonnes.

"The ice-class expedition cruise vessels will be around 10,000 gross tonnes."

With a cruise speed of to 15k, the vessels will be equipped with a high class of luxury facilities on-board, fulfilling relevant environmental compliances and safe operations.

A subsidiary of Artemis Group, Ponant currently operates a fleet of five vessels.

Vard, which builds and designs offshore and specialised vessels, has nine shipbuilding facilities, including five in Norway, two in Romania, one in Brazil and one in Vietnam.

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Through its specialised subsidiaries, Vard also develops power and automation systems, deck handling equipment, vessel accommodation solutions as well as provide design and engineering services to the global maritime industry.

Last month, the company won a contract worth around $70m to design and construct three vessels for an undisclosed client.

Early last month, Vard Electro, a subsidiary of the company, secured a contract to provide an engineering and electrical installation package for the UK’s new polar research vessel under construction for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).