MSC Cruises’ LNG newbuilds mark construction milestones

The cruise division of MSC Group, MSC Cruises, has marked two important milestones for the first two liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels both under construction in Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.

MSC World Europa, the first LNG vessel to join the cruise line’s fleet and set to become the biggest LNG-powered cruise ship in the world, completed its first set of sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean. The trials included testing the performance of the ship’s engines, manoeuvrability, fuel consumption, safety systems, speed and stopping distances. 

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The vessel, scheduled for delivery in October 2022, will incorporate numerous eco-friendly features, such as solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), a selective catalytic reduction system, and enhanced shore-to-ship power capability.

MSC World Europa will debut in the Arabian Sea in winter 2022/23 with MSC Cruises set to deploy its largest ever capacity in the Middle East. In March 2023, the ship will then head to the Mediterranean Sea visiting several Italian ports.

Meanwhile, MSC Euribia was floated out and has now been moved to a wet dock for work to continue on the ship before it also joins MSC Cruises’ fleet in June 2023. The construction of the ship started in June last year.

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MSC Euribia, which also has similar eco-friendly credentials, will spend its inaugural season in Northern Europe from the German port of Kiel starting from June 2023.

Both MSC World Europa and MSC Euribia will be powered by LNG fuel, which is expected to eliminate local air pollutant emissions like sulphur oxides and reduces nitrogen oxides by up to 85 per cent.

“LNG is the cleanest marine fuel currently currently available at scale that reduces emissions significantly and also offers compatibility with future alternative fuel solutions for which we are actively investing in research and development, including a pilot LNG-powered solid oxide fuel cell onboard MSC World Europa,” Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, Cruise Division of MSC Group, said.

Vago added that if bio or synthetic LNG was available at scale today, “both our newbuilds could operate with net zero emissions from the very first day”.

The company also noted that LNG plays a key role in climate change mitigation as it reduces CO2 emissions by 25 per cent and is paving the way for the uptake of sustainable non-fossil fuels including green hydrogen.

MSC Cruises has so far invested €3 billion ($3.1 billion) in three LNG-powered cruise ships and the construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique yard in Saint-Nazaire of the third ship is due to start early next year. 

The firm made a pledge last year to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Its recently published Sustainability Action Plan emphasizes six focus areas for achieving net-zero operations. These include: transitioning to net-zero emissions, scrutinising resource use and waste, supporting people, investing in sustainable tourism, building greener terminals and procuring sustainability.

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