Intrepid Travel plans to build its first own small ship by 2022 – and to “disrupt” the expedition cruise sector by creating a fleet of 60.

The small vessels, which will carry about 50 passengers, will add to its current fleet of seven chartered ships, which operate in destinations including Vietnam, Thailand, Croatia, Iceland, Spain and Morocco.

Filippos Venetopoulos, Intrepid’s general marine manager, said he was in talks with shipyards around the world, but in advanced discussions with sites in Croatia.

Intrepid vowed to build at least one ship a year.

In the long term, the operator aims to account for 1% of the $40 billion cruise industry.

Venetopoulos said: “Our goal is to disrupt the industry, but we also want to be the most affordable and most sustainable line.

“By 2022, we will certainly be owning vessels. We are already talking to shipyards about launching vessels 
on a yearly basis.”

Venetopoulos said the operator’s first ships would be designed to target passengers “who have been on a big cruise ship but did not like the experience”, as well as new-to-cruise passengers.

Intrepid, which currently sells about half its chartered sailings through the trade, has been in negotiations with large cruise agencies and multiples about selling its growing cruise offering, but admitted it was seen as a “niche product”.

Venetopoulos said sailings on Intrepid’s new builds would follow similar ‘adventure cruising’ itineraries to those it currently offers on its chartered ships.