Fincantieri subsidiary Vard has signed a letter of intent (LoI) for the design and construction of two cruise ships for Viking for around Nkr4.5bn ($574m) in total.

The LoI, which includes an option for two additional vessels, is expected to be finalised by mid-2018.

Vard Design, in collaboration with Viking, is set to design the vessels in Norway. The hulls of the vessels will be built by Vard in Romania.

Once completed, the ships will feature environmentally friendly solutions and will facilitate safe operations. They will join a series of advanced cruise vessels to be operated by Viking under the company’s most environmentally friendly fleet of ships.

The vessels are expected to be delivered in the second quarters of 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Vard CEO and executive director Roy Reite said: “It is our pleasure to work with Viking to develop a new series of cruise vessels.

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“They will join a series of advanced cruise vessels to be operated by Viking under the company’s most environmentally friendly fleet of ships.”

“The company is well known for its expansion in River Cruises and Ocean Cruises, and they are now looking to Norway for the design and construction of its new cruise fleet.”

Based in Switzerland, Viking currently operates a fleet of more than 60 vessels.

The company primarily caters to the small ship ocean cruising segment and offers destination-focused itineraries.

Since 2012, Fincantieri has received orders from Viking to develop ten ships, four of which have already been delivered, and the remaining ships are expected to be delivered by 2023.

Last month, the company entered an agreement with Viking for the development of six additional ships, expanding their partnership until 2027.