MSC Cruises’ industry leading sustainability programme has been recognised at the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) 2020 Marine Environment Protection Awards, being honoured with the Maritime Industry category award. This recognition praises MSC Cruises’ multifaceted environmental work and acknowledges three key sustainability milestones achieved in 2019: the start of construction of MSC World Europa, the first of up to nine latest-generation LNG-powered vessels to join the Company’s fleet in the next decade; the restoration of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in the Bahamas to its original, pristine state; and the meaningful steps taken to phase out single-use plastic items across the fleet.
In parallel, MSC Cruises recently published its 2019 Sustainability Report. Built on the Company’s long-term ambitions, the Report highlights MSC Cruises’ vision to become an environmental leader in the global maritime sector, draws a pathway for the Company to ever more fully embrace a sustainable future, and summarises key sustainability milestones achieved in the past year.
MSC Cruises’ sustainability programme is organised around four key pillars: Planet, People, Place and Procurement. This translates into a drive to continuously improve the fleet’s environmental performance; caring for all employees and promoting diversity and inclusion; working to ensure that the impact on the coastal communities that MSC Cruises reaches remains positive; and responsibly sourcing the products and services that the Company purchases.
Significant achievements in sustainability in 2019 for MSC Cruises include the following:
- Starting construction of MSC World Europa, the Company’s first LNG-powered ship. With significantly reduced emissions, which will incorporate a ground-breaking trial of solid oxide fuel cell technology to further assist the development of this advanced technology towards decarbonisation efforts.
- The opening of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in The Bahamas, converted from a former sand extraction site into a destination with sustainability at its core. MSC Cruises is now working to establish a coral nursery and a marine laboratory on the island to support the regeneration of coral and ocean wildlife around the island. When completed, these two projects will become a central feature of guests’ experience on the island.
- This year has also seen the efforts of the newly launched MSC Foundation become a key factor and an important vehicle to channel MSC Cruises’ charitable efforts and to further enhance relationships with the communities that its fleet serves. During Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas in August and September MSC was there providing humanitarian relief, delivering more than 250 containers of goods including water, rice, generators and building materials.
- As business grew in 2019, so did the number and diversity of employees at MSC Cruises. Over 8,000 men and women joined the MSC Cruises’ family in 2019, from 124 nationalities. Beyond protecting the environment, sustainability also means supporting the people who work with the business and choose to travel with it, as well as the communities and places that its vessels visit and do business with.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman said, “We are honoured to receive this award, which recognises our ongoing efforts to embrace a zero-impact future. As a company we are unequivocally committed to protecting the environment, the coastal communities that we reach and all our employees. Our long-term vision is to become an environmental leader within the overall maritime sector. We are doing this by constantly taking steps to decrease our fleet’s environmental impact and investing in the accelerated development of next-generation environmental technologies and solutions.”
Before entering service, all MSC Cruises’ newbuilds are equipped with some of the latest environmental technologies and solutions available to minimise their environmental footprint. These systems are regularly upgraded throughout the vessel’s life of service, and even replaced by newer solutions during drydocks.
In terms of air emissions, this includes the deployment of hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) and selective catalytic reduction systems (SCR) to minimise sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter at the point of exhaust. All ships delivered from 2017 onwards are also equipped with cold ironing capabilities to connect to local power grids while at berth, which results in a strong decrease of air emissions while the ship is in port.
Looking at wastewater management, MSC Cruises’ ships are equipped with advanced treatment systems that turn blackwater into nearly tap water quality, ballast water treatment systems, and freshwater production plants capable of producing enough drinking water to cover the ship’s needs.
MSC Cruises vessels also incorporate some of the latest energy efficiency solutions to decrease fuel consumption. This includes the widespread use of LED lighting, smart heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and heat recovery loops, to name a few. In this context, MSC Cruises has set an ambitious 2.5% fuel year-on-year fuel consumption reduction target that aims at improving performance and achieving substantial air emissions reduction.
MSC Cruises is getting ready to take delivery of MSC Virtuosa and MSC Seashore in the first half of 2021. Both vessels will feature the range of environmental technologies and solutions highlighted above and will be amongst the Company’s greenest and most efficient cruise ships yet.
In 2022, MSC Cruises will take delivery of MSC World Europa, the first of up to nine latest-generation LNG-powered cruise ships that are due to join the Company’s fleet in the next decade. LNG is the cleanest fuel that is currently available to the shipping sector. Compared to standard marine fuel, LNG achieves substantial air emissions reductions in terms of SOx, NOx, particulate matter and carbon dioxide (CO2).
MSC World Europa will equally feature a new 50-kilowatt demonstrator system that incorporates solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology that will use LNG to produce electricity and heat on board. This offers a potential to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by about 30% compared with conventional LNG engines, with no NOx, SOx or fine particle emissions. It also offers the advantage of being compatible with other upcoming low carbon fuels such as types of methanol, ammonia and hydrogen.
MSC Cruises also announced in July this year that it would be investing in the Palumbo Shipyard Malta to potentially furnish it with state-of-the art technology to allow the servicing of LNG powered vessels in the Mediterranean. Further proof of MSC Cruises’ intent to lead the sector in this respect.
In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the International Maritime Organization’s vision for the decarbonisation of the maritime sector, MSC Cruises’ goal is to reduce its fleet’s carbon intensity by 40% by 2030 against a 2008 baseline. Having already achieved a 28% improvement, our objective is to reach another 12% in the next ten years.
Linden Coppell, MSC Cruises’ Sustainability Director, commented: “Our 2019 Sustainability Report confirming our priorities and actions, not least in supporting the ambitious carbon reduction goals of the shipping industry, puts sustainability firmly at the beating heart of our business. We look forward to implementing the objectives contained within it and continuing MSC Cruises’ journey towards environmental leadership in the global maritime sector.”
While in that year, the global maritime industry also recognised MSC Cruises’ long-standing sustainability efforts with the 2019 ‘Greenest Shipowner of the Year’ Neptune Award at a ceremony held at the Global Sustainable Shipping and Ports Forum in Copenhagen. In 2020, in addition to the NAMEPA recognition, MSC Cruises also received the Porthole Reader’s Choice Award for Most Eco-Friendly Cruise Line.
Mr Vago concluded, “At MSC Cruises, our priority is the sea and the oceans. And as a family company we always prioritised the long term over short term considerations. Despite the challenges that our industry currently faces, our eyes remain fixed on our long-term environmental ambitions.”