Switzerland-based cruise operator MSC Cruises, a part of MSC, continues to invest in LNG as fuel and its luxury travel brand Explora Journeys has signed a deal to build two more vessels with Italy’s Fincantieri.
In that regard, Explora Journeys and Fincantieri signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of two hydrogen and LNG-powered luxury cruise ships to take the total fleet number from four to six vessels.
According to a statement by Fincantieri, Explora V and VI would feature a new generation of LNG engines that would tackle the issue of methane slip.
Also, they would feature a containment system for liquid hydrogen that will enable them to use this “promising low-carbon” fuel, it said.
Hydrogen fuel will power a six-megawatt fuel cell to produce power for the hotel operation and allow the vessels to run on “zero emissions” in port, with the engines turned off.
Fincantieri expects these two newbuilds to come into service in 2027 and 2028, respectively.
Two more vessels to go on LNG
Besides these two newbuilds, Explora Journeys also said that the previously announced vessels Explora III and IV will now be powered by LNG.
Moreover, Fincantieri said it would enlarge these ships by 19 meters to enable the installation of a new generation system based on LNG and hydrogen.
“This has provided an opportunity to enhance the mix of suites with an increased number of spacious and luxurious Ocean Residences and larger public spaces, which offer a true sense of being at home at sea,” it said.
Investment of 3.5 billion euros
The two additional ships covered under this memorandum will bring Explora Journeys’ investment in its fleet to 3.5 billion euros ($3.58 billion).
This includes an additional 120 million euros each for fitting Expolra III and IV with LNG engines, a change that required a temporary halt of work due to the significant redesign of the ships.
Fincantieri now plans to deliver these vessels in 2026 and 2027.
The signing of the contract relating to the MoA remains subject to access to financing, as per industry practice, the statement said.
LNG-powered fleet in the making
MSC Cruises recently said that its first LNG-powered cruise vessel, MSC World Europa, had returned to Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s yard in France after the ship completed its first sea trials.
MSC World Europa will debut in the Arabian Sea in winter 2022/23.
In addition to MSC World Europa’s sea trials, Chantiers also floated out the second LNG-powered ship, MSC Euribia,
Chantiers will also build a third LNG-powered ship for MSC Cruises and work on this vessel is due to start in early 2023.
Besides these cruise vessels, parent MSC is working on a large fleet of LNG-powered containerships as well.