MSC Group Cruises Division confirmed the order of two hydrogen ships for its luxury brand Explora Journeys with Fincantieri, confirming its commitment to achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050, thanks to research into new and advanced environmental technologies for luxury ships. The agreement completes a total investment of 3.5 billion euros in six Explora Journeys vessels. The contracts are conditional on obtaining financing for the shipowner as per market practice.
EXPLORA V and EXPLORA VI will be able to have new energy efficiency solutions and will be able to use alternative fuels such as bio synthetic gas and methanol. The Cruise Division will work with Fincantieri to evaluate the possibility of equipping both ships with the latest battery technology, as well as a range of potential technologies, including carbon capture and more advanced waste management systems. The two confirmed acquisitions of the Explora Journeys fleet will be delivered in 2027 and 2028.
“As a global shipowner, it is with great pride that we place orders for ships that are innovative from the point of view of environmental impact. Every time we order a new ship , we must look to the future, so that it can use new generation fuels or new environmental technologies as soon as they are available. Together with Fincantieri, with Explora V and VI we will try to develop and implement new solutions, including the adoption of large fuel cells powered hydrogen and carbon dioxide capture, pyrolysis for waste management and other new energy efficiency technologies, which could represent a major step forward in our commitment to zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman – Cruise Division, MSC Group
The two new ships will pursue the use of liquid hydrogen fuel cells for hotel operations while in port, to eliminate carbon emissions with engines turned off. The ships will also be equipped with a new generation of liquefied natural gas engines that will further address the issue of methane slippage with the use of containment systems.
“This new contract with MSC is a sign of the growing vitality of the cruise sector, in line with what we had expected. In strategic terms, our future will depend on the ability to guide the evolution of the sector towards all the technologies of the energy and digital transition with the entrepreneurship necessary to validate, industrialise and commercialize new solutions. The relevance of the partnership with MSC in this sense constitutes a great strategic stimulus towards the future in line with the technological development objectives set in our new industrial plan. We are therefore particularly proud that the Explora project is marking the acceleration of this new phase, which with the fifth and sixth ships will reach the maximum level of advancement, making Fincantieri’s vision of the ship of the future ever more concrete”.Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO of Fincantieri
LNG is one of the cleanest marine fuels in the world, currently available at scale, and is set to play a key role in the transition to decarbonisation of international shipping. It substantially reduces emissions of local air pollutants, with a reduction of sulfur oxides by up to 99% and nitrogen oxides by up to 85%. LNG also plays a key role in climate change mitigation, as it offers a reduction of up to 20% in greenhouse gas emissions. Further environmental benefits are expected when synthetic LNG becomes available on a large scale.
Explora Journeys’ first vessel, EXPLORA I, was delivered by Fincantieri in July 2023 and currently operates in Northern Europe. The ship will spend the fall in North America and the winter in the Caribbean Sea. In spring 2024 it will sail off the west coast of the United States and Hawaii, before returning to Europe in summer 2024 for a series of voyages in the Mediterranean Sea.
EXPLORA II will enter service in the summer of 2024 and will operate until April 2025 in the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East, the Indian Ocean and Africa visiting 82 ports in 26 countries. EXPLORA II “touched water” for the first time on September 6, 2023, with a “floating” ceremony near Genoa.
EXPLORA III will enter service in the summer of 2026 and construction of the LNG-powered vessel began on 6 September 2023 with a sheet metal cutting ceremony. Construction of the LNG-powered EXPLORA IV will begin in January 2024 and be completed in early 2027.
All six ships in the Explora Journeys fleet will be equipped with the latest environmental and marine technologies, as well as the latest selective catalytic reduction technology which will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 90%, they will be equipped with plug-in connectivity to land to reduce emissions in port and will be equipped with underwater noise management systems to help protect marine life.
All six ships will also be equipped with a full range of energy-efficient on-board equipment to optimize engine use and further reduce emissions.