MSC Cruises will be expanding its fleet to include at least four World-class cruise ships following the signing of firm contracts for the construction of a third and fourth of the LNG-powered mega ships, to be delivered in 2025 and 2027.
The first of the initial two ships in the class (MSC Europa) is currently under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire and is due to enter service in 2022.
At 205,000-gross tons, she will be the largest vessel ever operated by a European cruise line, as well as the first LNG-powered cruise ship built in France.
In fact, the World-class cruise ships will be second only to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships in terms of sheer size within a particular class. And they’ll be more environmentally friendly than any other ship of their size as well.
Compared to standard marine fuel, LNG decreases sulphur emissions and particulate matter by 99%, NOx emissions by 85%, and CO2 emissions by 20%, according to MSC Cruises.
The new contract signing for an additional two ships brings MSC Cruises total investment in the World-class project to more than US $2.2-billion, and is a major boost for the French economy.
“We are really proud and happy to have built such an outstanding relationship with MSC Cruises,” said Laurent Castaing, General Manager, Chantiers de l’Atlantique. “We are both committed to shaping the cruise of tomorrow and to developing ship concepts which go far beyond current environmental standards.”
“Our companies have already been working together for twenty years and these new projects allow us to look enthusiastically to the future,” he added.
In addition to the two new World-class cruise ships, however, MSC Cruises also signed a separate memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the development of yet another new LNG-powered prototype design to operate under the MSC Cruises brand.
MSC Cruises has kept the details of this entirely new class of cruise ship close to its chest, it didn’t even reveal a class name, but did say that the focus would be on developing emerging environmental technologies in line with IMO’s vision for 2030 and 2050.
One of those new technologies is wind, MSC Cruises said. So, the four new cruise ships being built in this experimental class might be sail/motor hybrid cruise ships. MSC Cruises is investing a further US $4.4-billion in the project.
“The agreements signed today extend our investment plan up to 2030,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises.” They stem from an exceptional partnership, with Chantiers de l’Atlantique, that has already delivered 15 highly-innovative cruise ships over the past two decades and will see many more vessels come to life at Saint-Nazaire’s docks in the next ten years.”
“They also confirm this industry’s commitment to environmental sustainability, in this case helping the French national industry further position itself as a world leader in the development of next-generation technologies and other solutions,” he added.