VARD completed on schedule delivery of luxury expedition cruise vessel

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VARD, one of the major global designers and shipbuilders of specialised vessels, has delivered its third expedition cruise vessel for PONANT. Le Bougainville, the latest PONANT EXPLORERS expedition cruise vessel, has set sail for its first cruise from Malaga in Spain.

The luxury 131m long, 184 PAX vessel, is the third in the series designed and built by VARD, following on from the delivery of Le Laperouse in June 2018 and Le Champlain in October. Vard Søviknes is now working on a fourth sister ship, Le Dumont-d’Urville, scheduled for delivery to French-owned PONANT in June this year.

The PONANT EXPLORERS series set new standards in PONANT’s fast growing fleet of luxury expedition cruise vessels. Created to be intimate in nature, with just 92 state rooms and suites, all of which boast balconies or private terraces, the ships balance environmental care with cutting edge design and passenger-centric innovation.

As with all the vessels from this series, it is fitted with a world first, the ‘Blue Eye’. This multi-sensorial underwater salon will allow guests to discover and experience the underwater world via two portholes in the form of a cetaceous eye looking out on to the sea bed, non-intrusive underwater lighting, and hydrophones integrated into the keel retransmitting the natural symphony of the deep water, as well as body listening sofas, offering a unique sensorial listening experience by corporal resonance.

VARD’s Executive Director Cruise, Mauro Leboffe, said: “These tailor-made vessels are specially developed for PONANT. They marry sleek design with technological innovations and a mission to both delight customers and care for the environments they sail through. From a design and build perspective they give VARD the opportunity to create high-end, creative and challenging projects that we are immensely proud of, just like the fact to once again deliver a vessel of this series on schedule.

“PONANT is an ambitious customer with a bold vision and we’re delighted to be such an integral part of their current fleet expansion program. We’re now looking forward to completing the next exciting vessel, supported by the FINCANTIERI network and empowered by our hugely skilled and dedicated staff here in VARD.”

Le Bougainville has started its first sailing from Malaga, Spain, from where she commenced her maiden voyage.

“A dream, firm beliefs, energy and boldness were what created PONANT. It is by drawing on those roots and our expertise that PONANT is preparing today to meet the challenges of tomorrow, to surprise and delight our guests. I wanted the ships in the PONANT EXPLORERS series to embody the very best in expedition cruise. Le Bougainville is the incarnation of that,” said Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO and co-founder of PONANT.

The vessel build project was defined by close cooperation throughout the VARD and FINCANTIERI network and with PONANT itself. Le Bougainville’s hull was built at Vard Tulcea in Romania, before being towed to Vard Søviknes in Norway for equipping and final outfitting. Vard Electro conducted equipment and electrical system installation work, while Vard Design in cooperation with Sterling Design have developed and designed the vessel. The vessel was delivered from Vard Søviknes on 5th April 2019.

VARD has a lengthy track record of expertise in the design and build of specialised vessels. The firm, which became part of FINCANITIERI in 2013, is headquartered in Norway, with 9,000 employees spread across nine strategically located shipbuilding facilities and several specialised subsidiaries.