After years of planning, SunStone Ships has announced a deal to build four expedition vessels with an option for six more in China, in a deal with China Merchant Industry Holdings (CMIH).
CMIH has a number of on-going cruise projects in China, including port development and rumored expansion into operating cruise brands.
SunStone plans on chartering the ships out and said it is the “largest tonnage provider of expedition vessels,” in a press release sent out after hours on Friday evening.
Chinese shipyards have yet to build a cruise ship; nor an expedition vessel. The adventure/expedition market has been nothing short of hot in the last year, with 12 other vessels ordered.
Carnival Corporation and China State Shipbuilding Corporation, along with Fincantieri, plan to launch the first Chinese-built vessel in 2023, on the existing Vista-class platform.
CMIH has entered into an agreement with Ulstein Design and Solutions, who will supply the design and equipment package for the new SunStone expedition ships, as well as the supervision for the building of the vessels, said a press release.
The ships will have between 80 and 95 staterooms, and be classed by Bureau Veritas.
CMIH has also entered into an agreement with Mäkinen, which will establish a cabin assembly plant and interior workshop at the shipyard’s facilities, and will be responsible for all interior spaces on the new builds.
Delivery dates and pricing are unknown.
The project was brought together by Tillberg & Reyes Group Co. Ltd., who acted as broker. Carlos Reyes and Andrew Zhang developed the commercial and financial models.
SunStone was spun-off from ISP in 2012.