MSC Cruises and Chantiers de l’Atlantique have celebrated two milestones for the construction of the cruise line’s next generation of vessels.
MSC World Europa was floated out for the first time at the shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Meanwhile, a traditional coin ceremony took place as the keel was laid for MSC Euribia, with Anne Claire Juventin, who is responsible for quality control at Chantiers de l’Atlantique, and Valentina Mancini, brand manager from MSC Cruises, performing the role of godmothers.
MSC World Europa and MSC Euribia will become the first LNG-powered vessels to join the MSC Cruises fleet next year, with the construction on MSC World Europa II due to commence in early 2023. The three newbuilds represent an investment of €3 billion ($3.39 billion) by the cruise line.
“Today is another important milestone in our journey towards net zero emissions by 2050 for our marine operations,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises. “We have a lot more to do but I am pleased that despite all that we have faced from the pandemic over the last two years, we have still been able to achieve with our partners at Chantiers de L’Atlantique the launch of these new LNG vessels – the first ever made in France.”
Chantiers de l’Atlantique and MSC Cruises also confirmed that a fuel cell pilot plant known as Blue Horizon will also be installed onboard MSC World Europa. The plant will produce electricity from ship’s LNG fuel through electrochemical reactions at its electrodes, unlike currently installed engine generators which produce electricity through fuel combustion.
The fuel cell technology selected by Chantiers de l’Atlantique and MSC Cruises is the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) developed by Bloom Energy. The SOFC uses ceramic materials, allowing operation at temperatures of up to 800C at the core of the fuel cell. This allows for electrical efficiency of around 60 per cent and provides the opportunity to recover significant heat from the exhausts, which will bring overall efficiency of the system close to 90 per cent. The Blue Horizon pilot plant installed onboard MSC World Europa will consist of two 75-kilowatt modules.
The technology will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent compared to conventional dual-fuel engines, without producing nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide or particulate matter emissions. SOFC is also compatible with a range of fuels, including bio or synthetic LNG, methanol, ammonia and hydrogen. The operational data and technical feedback from the ship will be provided to Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Bloom Energy to enable improvements of the technology in the future.
“With MSC World Europa, we have designed and built a cruise ship with an outstanding level of performance and efficiency,” said Laurent Castaing, general manager of Chantiers de l’Atlantique. “The integration of this fuel cell demonstrator allows us to take a major step forward and imagine what the cruise ship of the future will be like.”
MSC World Europa has now been moved to a wet dock for work to continue ahead of her scheduled delivery in November 2022. The ship will spend her inaugural season in the Gulf region offering seven-night cruises from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Construction will continue on MSC Euribia, with a global design contest for artists to create artwork for the ship’s hull inspired by the sea and the marine ecosystem.