Add West Sea shipyard in Portugal to the list of yards welcoming their first cruise ship building projects as an expedition newbuilding program is well underway.
Quark Expeditions recently announced the addition of a new expedition cruise vessel for the 2018-2019 Antarctica season, the World Explorer, which will be the first in a series of 176-passenger ships built in Portugal.
Cruise Industry News has confirmed the ship is under construction at West Sea, which is located near Porto and part of the Martifer Group. Navalria shipyard, which is located nearby in Portugal, is also said to be involved and shares the same owners.
A source familiar with the plans said it is the first of a series of up to four Rolls-Royce-based expedition vessels that will be chartered out to relevant parties. The plans are known internally as Project Dolphin.
Portuguese businessman Mario Ferreria is behind the new concept which falls under the Mystic Cruises and Mystic Invest banner, according to a spokesperson.
Ferreria is also the CEO and owner of Douro Azul, a boutique Portuguese river cruise line that also builds vessels at WestSea.
In addition, Ferreira is also the owner of Nicko Cruises, a German river cruise company.
In 2014 Ferreira was the center of attention when he won the Atlantida car ferry at a bankruptcy auction for 8.7 million euro. After various plans fell through, it was reported the company was able to sell the ferry to Hurtigruten for 17 million euro just eight months later. Hurtigruten quickly turned it into the MS Spitsbergen, a dedicated expedition cruise ship.
The World Explorer is the 20th expedition vessel ordered in the last 16 months.