The first of the initial two ships in the class is currently under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire and is due to enter service in 2022. With 205,000 GT, the vessel will become the largest to be operated by a European cruise line as well as the first LNG-powered cruise ship built in France. Compared to standard marine fuel, LNG decreases sulphur emissions and particulate matter by 99%, NOx emissions by 85%, and CO2 emissions by 20%.
These contracts represent a capital investment by MSC Cruises exceeding EUR 2bn and are expected to generate 14 million additional working hours, amounting to over 2,400 full-time equivalent jobs for the next three and a half years directly supported by those orders.
MSC Cruises and Chantiers de l’Atlantique previously signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the development of yet a new prototype class of LNG-powered cruise ships to operate under the MSC Cruises brand.
For this project, MSC Cruises, the shipyard and other partners will focus on developing emerging environmental technologies in line with IMO’s vision for 2030 and 2050. The four vessels in this new class would represent a capital investment exceeding EUR 4bn and an extra 30 million working hours for the yard, the suppliers and subcontractors involved in the project.
A second MoU sees MSC Cruises partnering with Chantiers de l’Atlantique in the development of another innovative prototype ship class concept with which they will explore opportunities that wind power and other advanced technologies could bring to passenger shipping.
The three agreements signed represent an investment in excess of EUR 6.5bnn in the French economy<!>.
Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, MSC Cruises said: "The three agreements signed today extend our investment plan up to 2030. They stem from an exceptional partnership, with Chantiers de l’Atlantique, that has already delivered 15 highly-innovative 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."
Laurent Castaing, general manager, Chantiers de l’Atlantique added: "We are really proud and happy to have built such an outstanding relationship with MSC Cruises, based on mutual trust and driven by the spirit of innovation. 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."
On 1 January 2020 MSC Cruises became the first major cruise line to achieve carbon-neutral fleet operations.
As today’s most advanced environmental technology alone is insufficient to reach that, although working to minimise and continuously reduce its environmental footprint, MSC Cruises is offsetting all CO2 emissions from its fleet that it is not possible to abate through such technology, through a blend of high standard carbon offset projects.