On the same day that MSC Cruises marked the float out of its Middle East-bound mega cruise ship MSC World Europa, it was also announced that she would be the first to feature fuel cell technology.
MSC Cruises has confirmed that MSC World Europa will have two 75 kW solid oxide fuel cells onboard running on the natural gas that powers her LNG power plant, as part of its long-term plan to achieve net-zero emissions.
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, said that once green LNG becomes available on scale, the ship will be able to operate at zero emissions.
Green LNG refers to suppliers and consumers of LNG offsetting their green house gas emissions from the LNG supply chain by investing in carbon neutral projects outside the sector.
The LNG power plant aboard MSC World Europa will eliminate the ship’s sulphur emissions and significantly reduce her carbon emissions, while solid oxide fuel cell technology is seen as a pathway to truly low-carbon operation.
The fuel cells aboard MSC World Europa will be the first large-scale test of the technology in the cruise industry in a real-world marine setting.
If the fuel cell technology is able to be deployed at scale in future, it is anticipated that it will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by a further 30 percent compared with a conventional LNG engine, without producing emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides or fine particles.
This is on top of a conventional LNG engines reduction in carbon emissions by around 20 percent, meaning solid oxide fuel cell technology could cut carbon emissions in half in future.
MSC is also studying other fuel technologies, such as hydrogen that could potentially be compatible with LNG engines.
The announcement was made at the float out ceremony for the new ship, which is the largest ever built for MSC Cruises. She is due for delivery in 2022 and will homeport in Dubai for the winter 2022/23 cruise season, sailing roundtrip in the Arabian Gulf.
She will sail her maiden cruise from Doha, Qatar after the FIFA World Cup. The 4-night cruise will bring her to Dubai, from which she will sail 7-night roundtrip voyages to Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island, Dammam and Doha, staying overnight in Dubai on the final night of each cruise.
In addition to her fuel cell and LNG technology, MSC World Europa will also represent a major step change for MSC Cruises in terms of its onboard offerings.
The Y-shaped aft opens onto the 104-metre-long Europa Promenade with ocean views. It will be half open to the sky and half-covered by an LED-sky screen, which will feature tailor-made displays throughout the day.
One of the key features of the promenade is The Spiral – a dry slide spanning 11 decks – the longest at sea.
The ship will also boast six pools and 14 whirlpools, a separate sun deck for families, an Aquapark with integrated virtual reality technology, a full-scale production theatre, 13 dining venues, including six speciality restaurants, and dozens of bars and cafes.
Her 2,630 cabins will come in 19 different categories, with 65% of cabins featuring balconies for her 6,774 passengers.