MSC Group’s luxury travel brand Explora Journeys has announced the signing of a memorandum of agreement with Fincantieri shipyard for the construction of two more ships, taking the total from four to six vessels in the fleet.
Explora V and Explora VI will feature a new generation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) engines that will tackle the issue of methane slip and also be equipped with a containment system for liquid hydrogen that will enable the ships to use the low-carbon fuel. Hydrogen fuel will power a six-megawatt fuel cell to produce emissions-free power for the hotel operation, and allow the vessels to run on ‘zero emissions’ in port with the engines turned off.
The two new builds are scheduled to enter service in 2027 and 2028, respectively.
The cruise line has also announced that previously-revealed ships Explora III and Explora IV will now be powered by LNG. They’ll be 19 meters longer, enabling the installation of a new system based on LNG and hydrogen. With this comes the opportunity to add more spacious Ocean Residences and larger public areas.
“Explora Journeys is building ships for tomorrow, utilising today’s latest technologies and being ready to adapt to alternative energy solutions as they become available,” said Executive Chairman of MSC Group’s Cruise Division Pierfrancesco Vago.
“The announcement today marks another significant step forward in our goal as a business to reach net zero emissions by 2050 across all our cruise operation for the two brands and a further proof of our commitment to invest in the most advanced marine environmental technologies available to develop sustainable solutions for the future.”
LNG is currently the cleanest marine fuel available at scale, and virtually eliminates local air pollutant emissions like sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particles.
The two additional ships on order will bring Explora Journeys’ investment into its fleet to €3.5 billion.
Explora Journeys’ first ship, the 70,000 gross ton Explora I, is scheduled to launch in May 2023.