MSC Cruises last weekend celebrated the float out of MSC Virtuosa at Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, France, the third major new ship building milestone the cruise line has celebrated in the past month at the shipyard.
The float out follows the successful delivery of MSC Grandiosa on October 31st (later christened in Hamburg the following week on November 9th) as well as the steel cutting ceremony on the same day for MSC Europa, the first of four liquified natural gas (LNG)-powered 200,000-gross ton mega ships for the line.
MSC Cruises also unveiled on the same day a ground-breaking R&D project in conjunction with Chantiers de l’Atlantique named PACBOAT that will focus on the integration of a new fuel cell technology, especially relevant for cruising, on board the LNG-powered MSC Europa.
The line said it was committed to contributing to the development of next-generation advanced environmental technology for the benefit of its own environmental stewardship journey and that of the entire cruise industry.
MSC has announced that from January 1st, 2020 it intends to become the world’s first fully carbon neutral major cruise line. It will offset all direct carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its fleet marine operations through a blend of regular and blue carbon offset projects developed according to the highest standards by leading international entities that take immediate action on greenhouse gas emissions.
MSC Virtuosa will be the second Meraviglia-Plus ship after MSC Grandiosa and will now move to a wet dock for further construction and fitting out ahead of her delivered in October, 2020.
MSC Virtuosa will be MSC’s sixth new ship to enter service since 2017, and the second ship in the fleet to have a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system and next-generation advanced wastewater treatment system (AWTS) to minimise her environmental footprint and ensure ever cleaner air emissions.
MSC Virtuosa’s SCR will help reduce nitrogen oxide by 80 per cent with the technology converting it into harmless nitrogen and water.
She will also be equipped with a next-generation AWTS to treat wastewater to a very high quality and the end product is a better standard than most land-based municipal waste standards around the world, according to the line.
MSC Virtuosa will also be fitted with shore-to-ship power which connects a docked cruise ship to a port’s local power grid to further reduce air emissions. This feature is broadly available across MSC Cruises’ entire fleet and has been standard across all the line’s new ships since 2017.
MSC Virtuosa’s maiden voyage will be a 7-night six-port Western Mediterranean cruise in November, 2020 from Genoa, Italy.
After a winter season in the Med, MSC Virtuosa will be deployed in summer 2021 to Northern Europe with itineraries to the Norwegian fjords and Baltic capital cities.
MSC Cruises has said details about the features on board MSC Virtuosa will be released next year, but like MSC Grandiosa, the ship will have a Mediterranean promenade lined with restaurants and a mall-style shopping area beneath a 93 metre-long LED Sky Screen, as well as two original new shows from Cirque du Soleil at Sea and the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant, ZOE, in every cabin.
The third of three Meraviglia-Plus ships, yet to be named, will enter service in 2023 and will be powered by LNG.
MSC Cruises is investing €5 billion in the construction of five LNG-powered ships with the other four set to propel the line’s futuristic World Class prototype with the first – MSC Europa – entering service in May, 2022.
The World Class ships, like the Meraviglia-Plus prototype, will be built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France as part of an industry-unprecedented €11.6 billion plan that will see MSC Cruises’ contemporary fleet increase to 25 ships by 2027.