The Cruise Division of MSC Group confirmed firm orders for two hydrogen-powered vessels for its luxury travel brand Explora Journeys with the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri and pledged to continue its push towards a net zero-carbon emissions target by 2050 by investigating additional new and advanced environmental technologies for the luxury ships. The deal completes a total investment of €3.5 billion in six luxury ships for Explora Journeys. The contracts are subject to access to financing as per industry practice.
EXPLORA V and EXPLORA VI will have new state-of-the-art energy efficiency measures and will also be capable of using alternative fuels such as bio and synthetic gas and methanol and the Cruise Division will work in the future with Fincantieri to equip the ships with future technologies including carbon capture, and more advanced waste management systems. The two confirmed additions to Explora Journeys’ fleet will be delivered in 2027 and 2028.
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman – Cruise Division, MSC Group, said, “With Explora Journeys we have created a luxury brand that has been successful at redefining luxury at sea. We are seeing continued growth in the luxury segment and the investment in these two new ships shows our commitment to continue to grow within this sector as well as to invest in ships of the future. Together with Fincantieri we will study the newest technology that the world has to offer and continue with our commitment to introduce these technologies to drive efficiencies across the whole spectrum of ship performance. And of course we will continue to deliver the very best luxury travel experience, immersing our guests in the ocean state of mind with an sustainable soul.”
Pierroberto Folgiero, Chief Executive Officer, Fincantieri, said “This new contract with MSC is a sign of the growing vitality of the cruise sector, in line with what we had predicted. In strategic terms, our future will depend on our ability to lead the evolution of the sector towards all energy and digital transition technologies with the entrepreneurship required to validate, industrialise and commercialise new solutions.
The relevance of the partnership with MSC in this sense is a great strategic stimulus towards the future in line with the technological development goals set out in our new business plan. We are therefore particularly proud that the Explora project will mark the acceleration of this new phase, which with the fifth and sixth ships, will reach the highest level of advancement, making Fincantieri’s vision of the ship of the future ever more concrete.”
The two new ships will pursue the use of liquid hydrogen with fuel cells for their hotel operations while docked in ports to eliminate carbon emissions with the vessels’ engines switched off. The ships will also feature a new generation of LNG engines that will further tackle the issue of methane slip with the use of containment systems.
LNG is one of the world’s cleanest marine fuels currently available at scale and is set to play a key role in the transition to the decarbonisation of international shipping. It substantially reduces local air pollutant emissions with sulphur oxides falling by up to 99 per cent and nitrogen oxides decreasing by up to 85 per cent. LNG also plays a key role in climate change mitigation as it offers up to a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Further environmental benefits are expected following the availability at scale of synthetic LNG.
Explora Journeys’ first ship, EXPLORA I was delivered by Fincantieri in July 2023 and is currently operating in Northern Europe. The ship will spend the autumn in North America, and the winter in the Caribbean Sea. She will sail during the spring 2024 off the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii before returning to Europe in summer 2024 for a series of journeys in the Mediterranean Sea.
EXPLORA II will enter service in summer 2024 and operate until April 2025 in the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East, the Indian Ocean and Africa visiting 82 ports in 26 countries. EXPLORA II first ‘touched water’ on 6 September 2023 at a ‘float out’ ceremony near Genoa in Italy.
EXPLORA III will enter service in summer 2026 and construction of the LNG-powered vessel started on 6 September 2023 with a steel-cutting ceremony. Construction of LNG-powered EXPLORA IV will begin in January 2024 and will be completed in early 2027.
All six ships in Explora Journeys’ fleet will be equipped with the latest environmental and marine technologies and will also feature the latest selective catalytic reduction technology to enable a reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 per cent, be equipped with shore power plug-in connectivity to reduce emissions in port and fitted with underwater noise management systems to help protect marine life.
All six vessels will also have a comprehensive range of onboard energy efficient equipment to optimise engine use to further reduce emissions.
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