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From the International Herald Tribune -

Aker Yards wins contract to build two ships for Miami-based Norwegian Cruise lines

OSLO, Norway Norway's Aker Yards ASA won a €2.17 billion (US$2.8 billion) contract to build up to three cruise ships for Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Lines Ltd., the companies announced Thursday.

The 325-meter (1,066-foot) ships, each with 4,200 passenger berths, will be built at the Norwegian company's Saint Nazaire shipyard in France, an Aker Yards news release said.

The companies, in separate statements, said the contract covers two cruise ships with an option for a third to be delivered between 2009 and 2010.

Norwegian Cruise Lines, or NCL, said the ships will incorporate new features, such as balconies on all outward facing cabins, that make them the third generation of the company's Freestyle Cruising ship.

In a statement issued in Miami, Tan Sri K. T. Lim, chairman of NCL and Star Cruises, said, "This order, placed in NCL's 40th anniversary year, marks the culmination of our plans to transform this great company."

He said company's goal is to renew its fleet by 2010 to make it "the youngest, most innovative and exciting fleet in the industry."

Oslo-based Aker Yards is Europe's largest shipbuilder, with about 20,000 employees at 17 shipyards in Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Romania and Ukraine.

Norwegian Cruise Lines has currently a fleet of 15 ships in operation or under construction.

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