MSC Group Announces Plans for Two More Ships for Explora Journeys

Explora Journeys, the new luxury brand of the cruise division of MSC Group, has signed an agreement with Italian shipyard Fincantieri to build two more hydrogen-powered ships.

Explora, which plans to operate its first cruise with its first ship, 922-guest Explora I, May 31, 2023, now eventually could have a total fleet number of six vessels. Three more sister ships are expected to enter service, each named Explora followed by a Roman numeral.


The two additional newbuilds – Explora V and VI – will come into service in 2027 and 2028. They will feature a new generation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) engines that will be equipped with environmental technologies and solutions. 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 the engines turned off.

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Explora Journeys also said the previously announced vessels Explora III and IV will now be powered by LNG. The two ships will be enlarged by 19 meters to allow the installation of a new generation system based on LNG and hydrogen.

Doing so has provided an opportunity to enhance the mix of suites with an increased number of spacious Ocean Residences and larger public spaces.

“Explora Journeys is building ships for tomorrow, utilizing today’s latest technologies and being ready to adapt to alternative energy solutions as they become available,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of the Cruise Division of MSC Group. “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.”

LNG is currently the cleanest marine fuel currently available at scale and it virtually eliminates local air pollutant emissions like sulfur oxides (99 percent), nitrogen oxides (85 percent) and particles (98 percent), the company said.

In terms of emissions with a global impact, LNG plays a significant role in climate change mitigation with the engines having the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25 percent compared to standard marine fuels.

The two additional ships covered under the July 6 agreement will bring Explora Journeys’ investment in its fleet to €3.5 billion. This includes an additional €120 million each for fitting Explora III and 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.

“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,” said Michael Ungerer, CEO of Explora Journeys. “This also demonstrates unequivocally our absolute commitment to operate ships that will appeal and attract the next and future generations of luxury travelers. Sustainability is the new craftmanship, and we’re honored to take a pioneering position within the industry and the wider travel sector.”

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