MSC's Explora Journeys confirms 2 shipbuilding orders (hydrogen-powered vessels)

   September 21, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

MSC Group's new expedition cruise company Explora Journeys has officially placed orders for 2 hydrogen-powered ships in partnership with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, solidifying its commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This substantial investment of EUR 3.5 billion (US$ 3.7B) encompasses a total of 6 luxury ships for Explora Journeys (a division of MSC Cruises), pending access to financing, following industry practice.

Scheduled for delivery in 2027 and 2028, EXPLORA V and EXPLORA VI will incorporate cutting-edge energy efficiency technologies and have the capability to utilize alternative fuels like biogas, syngas, methanol, and more. MSC Cruises will collaborate with Fincantieri to equip these vessels with future technologies, including carbon capture and advanced waste management systems.

The newbuilds will employ liquid hydrogen with fuel cells to provide the electricity for the onboard operations while in-port docked, thereby eliminating CO emissions as the main engines are switched off. Additionally, they will feature next-generation LNG engines with advanced containment systems to address methane slip issues.

LNG is currently one of the cleanest marine fuels available at scale, playing a pivotal role in the shipping industry's decarbonization transition. It significantly reduces local air pollutant emissions, with up to a 99% reduction in sulfur oxides and up to 85% less nitrogen oxides. Moreover, LNG contributes to climate change mitigation by offering up to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, with further environmental benefits anticipated as synthetic LNG becomes more widely available.

EXPLORA I, Explora Journeys' first vessel, was delivered by Fincantieri in July 2023 and is currently operating in Northern Europe.

EXPLORA II commences service in the summer of 2024, followed by EXPLORA III in the summer of 2026.

The construction for the LNG-powered EXPLORA IV is scheduled to start in January 2024, with completion expected in 2027-Q1.

All six vessels will be equipped with state-of-the-art environmental and marine technologies, featuring selective catalytic reduction technology to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 90%, shore power plug-in connectivity to reduce port emissions, and underwater noise management systems for marine life protection. Additionally, onboard energy-efficient equipment will optimize engine use to further minimize emissions.