Fincantieri, which two weeks ago denied any involvement, today announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the construction of two new luxury ocean cruise ships, with an option for a third vessel for Viking Ocean Cruises.

The two ships will be small by today’s standards at about 45,000 tons and will host 998 passengers in 499 cabins .

The first ship is scheduled for delivery in late 2014, the second one in late 2015.

The parties have reached an agreement on the deal and expect to sign the contract shortly, once the final documents and conditions are finalised.

The parties succeeded in signing the agreement, highly important  especially as it comes in a period of economic crisis, and have applied for the support of the Italian export credit programme involving SACE and SIMEST and, if eligible, the funding from Cassa Depositi e Prestiti.

Torstein Hagen, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Viking, commented on the announcement: “We are very excited to be working with Fincantieri. We started Viking with the goal of bringing the destination back to cruising and we are excited to bring this same destination commitment back to ocean cruising. The ship designed by Ficantieri has a fresh and innovative design well suited to our commitment to destination cruising."

Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri Chief Executive Officer, said: "We are delighted and honored having been selected by Viking Ocean Cruises to build such an innovative project. Considering the economic crisis, this agreement between Fincantieri and the new customer represents a strong sign of renewed confidence in the sector growth, also because Viking, the world leader in river cruises, enters for the very first time the ocean cruises sector.

"This agreement demonstrates the success of Fincantieri’s strategy to regain its competiveness in the market. This new Project, which, is the beginning of a new phase, will further reinforce to our employees the confidence we have for the future," he added."