Asuka Cruise, a joint venture of NYK Line and Anchor Ship Partners, has ordered a luxury cruiseship at Meyer Werft in Germany.

The deal marks the first major cruiseship order since Covid-19 put the sector on a worldwide pause.

The 51,950-gt vessel will have 385 cabins with capacity for 740 passengers, as well as space for 470 crew members. The ship will be LNG-fuelled and designed to protect against the transmission of disease. It is scheduled for delivery in 2025.

The value of the newbuilding contract has not been declared, although it was earlier reported in Japan that Asuka Cruise was lining up a $540m cruiseship newbuilding deal.

The vessel will be aimed largely at the Japanese luxury cruise market and will be marketed as an eco cruiseship.

The ship will be owned and operated by Asuka Cruise. Anchor invested in Asuka Cruise in 2019 to seek opportunities for cruiseship investment.

The deal represents the first newbuilding order from Asuka Cruise in 22 years.

Anchor provides long-term finance for newbuilding deals in Japan. It has brought 30 Japanese banks together to fund the Asuka Cruise newbuilding deal. It is understood that Anchor has also put equity into the deal along with NYK.

The newbuilding market for cruiseships was booming before the coronavirus pandemic brought the industry to its knees and an end to newbuilding orders.

But in a statement, Anchor said that the order has been made with a long-term view of the market in mind and in its belief that the market will recover from the pandemic.