Explora Journeys and Fincantieri last week [6 July 2022] signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of an additional two hydrogen-powered luxury cruise ships to take the total fleet number from four to six vessels.
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 will also be equipped with industry-first environmental technologies and solutions, including a containment system for liquid hydrogen that will enable them to use this promising low-carbon fuel.
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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 their engines turned off.
The two newbuilds will come into service in 2027 and 2028, respectively.
The new ultra-luxury cruise line also said that the previously announced vessels EXPLORA III and EXPLORA IV will now be powered by LNG.
The two ships will be enlarged by 19 metres to enable the installation of a new generation system based on LNG and hydrogen, enabling Explora Journeys to enhance the mix of suites with an increased number of Ocean Residences and larger public spaces.
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of the Cruise Division of MSC Group (which encompasses MSC Cruises), said, “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.
“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.
“This transition to zero-emissions operations for the maritime industry is the biggest challenge that we will ever face, and this will only be achieved by everyone playing their part – by investing in research and development and through significant investment both by companies but also governments,” Vago said.
The two additional ships covered under the new MOA will bring Explora Journeys’ investment in its fleet to €3.5 billion. This includes an additional €120 million each for fitting EXPLORA III and EXPLORA IV with LNG engines – a change that required a temporary halt of work due to the significant redesign of the ships – which will now be delivered in 2026 and 2027.
Michael Ungerer, Chief Executive Officer, Explora Journeys, added, “These bold moves to amend our construction plans, make significant additional investment in current orders and confirm orders for two more vessels with new technology despite the economic environment are something only a family company can do.
“This also demonstrates unequivocally our absolute commitment to operate ships that will appeal and attract the next and future generations of luxury travellers. Sustainability is the new craftmanship and we’re honoured to take a pioneering position within the industry and the wider travel sector”.
Pierroberto Folgiero, Chief Executive Officer of Fincantieri, commented: “This is the very first major agreement for new construction after the pandemic emergency and testifies not only to the further growth of our long-standing partnership with MSC, which we thank, but also the confidence of both groups in the future of the cruise industry.
“These ships will allow us to implement cutting-edge technologies aimed at significantly improving environmental performance, laying the foundations for further developments”.
All six ships in Explora Journeys’ fleet will be equipped with the latest environmental and marine technologies and will also feature the latest selective catalytic reduction technology to enable a reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions by 90%, be equipped with shore power plug-in connectivity to reduce emissions in port and fitted with underwater noise management systems to help protect marine life.