Norwegian Cruise Line downsized its F3-class ship order from two to one in an agreement reached with STX Europa on the disputed newbuild project.

STX's French shipyard STX France, formerly Aker Yards France, agreed to move forward with construction of the 150,000-ton, 4,200-passenger ship, the largest ever contracted by NCL.

STX said the ship's hull was in the early phases of construction and on track for its originally scheduled delivery date of May 2010. The planned second vessel, which had been in the preparatory stages, will not be built.

"With this agreement, we can all focus on completing the new vessel successfully," Kevin Sheehan, NCL's president and CEO, said in a statement. "We are looking forward to the arrival of our much-anticipated F3 ship, as it represents a major step forward for NCL in terms of ship size, design and innovation."

Further terms of the agreement, including the final price for the new vessel, were not being disclosed, said STX spokesman Torbjorn Andersen. According to the original contract, the ships were to cost about $1 billion each.

After much industry speculation, STX revealed in September that it was involved in a dispute with NCL over the construction costs of the F3 ships.

The yard said it was continuing work on the project until a settlement could be reached, but in early October, it suspended  purchasing supplies from its subcontractors for the second vessel.

NCL had not commented on the dispute until last week.

Jacques Hardelay, president of STX France, said the yard and its subcontractors would make the necessary adjustments to their plans for the F3 project.


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