New luxury cruise line, Explora Journeys, is part of the MSC Group. Credit: Explora Journeys

Explora Journeys orders two hydrogen-powered ships

Author: Kaye Holland

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Explora Journeys, the luxury cruise brand of MSC Group, has agreed a deal with shipbuilding group Fincantieri, to build two more hydrogen-powered ships.

The two new ships, 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 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.

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.

The two new-builds will come into service in 2027 and 2028, respectively, taking Explora Journeys’ fleet from four to six.

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Explora Journeys has also confirmed previously announced that Explora III and IV will be powered by LNG. The two ships will be enlarged by 19 metres to enable the installation of the system.

The larger ships will have more spacious suites and public spaces owing to the extra space.

Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of the cruise division of MSC Group, 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.

“This announcement marks another significant step forward in our goal as a business to reach net zero emissions by 2050 across all our cruise operations 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.”

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Michael Ungerer, chief executive officer at 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 craftsmanship and we’re honoured to take a pioneering position within the industry and the wider travel sector."

The two additional ships covered under the memorandum of understanding (MOA) with Fincantieri 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.

About Kaye Holland

Kaye is a London-based wordsmith who has written for a range of publications including The Times, The Independent, The I, Culture Trip, The Sun, and ABTA among others. In June 2022, Kaye joined the Real Response Media where she looks – together with Lucy Abbott – after the World of Cruising website. Want to get in touch? Kaye can be reached at: [email protected]