(From left) Min Hwan Kang, interior manager; Hag Soo Jang, basic manager; Young Ryeol Joo, vice president of the cruise and ferry team; Captain Ola Harsheim, senior vice president of newbuilding and ship operations for Utopia; Jaytee Jung, general manager of marketing and the ship sales team; and BW Cho, senior manager of Samsung’s Houston office.The letter of intent for the Utopia is expected to become a firm contract with Samsung Heavy Industries later this week, according to industry sources.

The 105,000-ton residence ship will become only the second such ship, after the smaller World, which entered service in 2002. Owned by Utopia Residences of Beverly Hills, CA, the ship will have 200 private residences and a boutique hotel with 200 (state) rooms.

Slated to be delivered in 2014, the building cost is said to be $1.1 billion. The residences range from 1,400 square feet and two bedrooms up to 6,500 square feet, and cost from $3.8 million to $24 million.

Samsung has not yet built a cruise ship, but has passenger-ship experience, building ro-pax ferries for Stena Line, and other high technology vessels. However, the Korean builder has had a dedicated cruise-ship building team for the past 10 years, working on new designs and prototypes.

The company has been in the running for cruise contracts several times. The general manager of marketing and sales for Samsung Jaytee Jung told Cruise Industry News previously that the Utopia will demonstrate the yard’s capabilities and allow it to move ahead step-by-step.

Asked about the pending order, the yard said it hoped to finalize a deal soon, and Utopia asked Cruise Industry News to call back later this week.

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