MSC Group Invests in Green Luxury: Two Hydrogen-Powered Ships Join Explora Journeys Fleet

The Cruise Division of MSC Group, a leading player in the global cruise industry, has made a significant stride toward a sustainable future by confirming firm orders for two state-of-the-art hydrogen-powered vessels destined for its luxury travel brand, Explora Journeys. These groundbreaking orders, placed with renowned Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, reflect MSC Group's unwavering commitment to achieving a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050. The company is not only embracing hydrogen technology but is also exploring other advanced environmental solutions for its upscale fleet.

This momentous investment totals a substantial €3.5 billion, covering a fleet of six luxurious ships for Explora Journeys. It's important to note that the contracts are contingent on securing financing, adhering to industry norms.

Innovations in Hydrogen-Powered Luxury

The two forthcoming vessels, christened EXPLORA V and EXPLORA VI, are set to revolutionize luxury cruising with their cutting-edge energy efficiency measures. Beyond hydrogen power, they will have the versatility to utilize alternative fuels such as bio and synthetic gas, as well as methanol. Looking ahead, MSC Cruise Division and Fincantieri are committed to incorporating futuristic technologies like carbon capture and advanced waste management systems into these ships. The scheduled delivery for EXPLORA V and EXPLORA VI is in 2027 and 2028, respectively.

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of the Cruise Division at MSC Group, emphasized the significance of Explora Journeys' success and its commitment to redefining luxury at sea. He stated, "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." Vago also highlighted the company's dedication to introducing cutting-edge technologies to enhance ship performance while ensuring an unparalleled luxury travel experience with sustainability at its core.

Pierroberto Folgiero, Chief Executive Officer of Fincantieri, commented on the contract, stating, "This new contract with MSC is a sign of the growing vitality of the cruise sector, in line with what we had predicted." He acknowledged the importance of leading the industry toward energy and digital transition technologies and expressed pride in the partnership with MSC, emphasizing its role in advancing Fincantieri's vision of the ship of the future.

Green Hydrogen and LNG: The Future of Luxury Cruising

The two forthcoming vessels will feature the use of liquid hydrogen in conjunction with fuel cells during hotel operations while docked in ports, effectively eliminating carbon emissions with their engines switched off. These ships will also incorporate a new generation of LNG (liquefied natural gas) engines designed to address methane slip through the use of advanced containment systems.

LNG stands out as one of the cleanest marine fuels available at scale today, playing a pivotal role in the decarbonization of international shipping. It significantly reduces local air pollutant emissions, with sulfur oxides dropping by up to 99% and nitrogen oxides decreasing by up to 85%. Moreover, LNG contributes to climate change mitigation by offering up to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, with even greater environmental benefits expected with the availability of synthetic LNG at scale.

Explora Journeys' Eco-Friendly Fleet

EXPLORA I, the first ship in the Explora Journeys' fleet, was delivered by Fincantieri in July 2023 and is currently operating in Northern Europe. The vessel is set to explore North America in the autumn and the Caribbean Sea during the winter of 2023-2024, followed by journeys off the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii in spring 2024 before returning to Europe for Mediterranean cruises in summer 2024.

EXPLORA II is scheduled to enter service in summer 2024, embarking on journeys across the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East, the Indian Ocean, and Africa, visiting 82 ports in 26 countries. The ship recently marked a significant milestone with its "float out" ceremony near Genoa, Italy, on September 6, 2023.

Construction of the LNG-powered EXPLORA III commenced on September 6, 2023, with a steel-cutting ceremony, and the vessel will set sail in summer 2026. EXPLORA IV, another LNG-powered ship, is slated to begin construction in January 2024 and will be ready for service in early 2027.

All six ships in the Explora Journeys' fleet will feature the latest in environmental and marine technologies. They will be equipped with selective catalytic reduction technology, reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by an impressive 90%. Additionally, shore power plug-in connectivity will be available to minimize emissions in port, while underwater noise management systems will aid in protecting marine life. Onboard energy-efficient equipment will optimize engine usage, further reducing emissions and ensuring a sustainable and luxurious cruising experience.

Source: Hydrogen Central and other web sources

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