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Frank talk on environmental step change from MSC’s Vago, CLIA Europe’s Laurent and Chantiers’ Doyer

PHOTO: IVAN SARFATTI cruise_vago_euribia.jpg
Pierfrancesco Vago at the naming of MSC Euribia in Copenhagen on June 8. Earlier that day, he explained the challenges of reducing cruise ships’ energy consumption.
When it comes to sustainable development, MSC Cruises is pushing R&D to the max, including scouring the globe for innovative solutions to real environmental issues. But just under a third of the heavy lifting when it comes to making its ships more sustainable will come from fuel, according to MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago.

He told Seatrade Cruise that ‘there is no magic wand, a magical solution or a machine that will find a solution’ to building an optimum sustainable cruise ship. Instead, he explained, it is ‘a combination of many little details - and I can tell you that we improve the panels, we improve the valves, we improve every little technological piece of the ship that saves on energy.’ 

In MSC’s mission to be even better – this week it operated the world’s first net zero greenhouse gas emissions cruise – its brightest minds look several years beyond the ship delivery date to future enhancements, ‘All the time, we go around the world and we push suppliers and technical suppliers to improve,’ and that, said Vago, includes for R&D into technology. 

However, despite its best efforts – throwing everything into research and development and anticipating changes over time – the results culminate in 70% energy reduction. ‘The last 30%, no matter what we do, is the fuels,’ asserted the executive chairman. 

Wind propulsion 

Chantiers de l’Atlantique Program Director Henri Doyer believes ‘there is no limit to the power of engineering.’ To further reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of cruise ships, the shipyard is today delving into research in wind technology. ‘The best fuel ever is… wind propulsion,’ Doyer told Seatrade Cruise. ‘We believe wind propulsion has a future – not for every cruise ship – for smaller scale vessels, indeed.’ 

Speaking on Thursday from on board MSC Euribia, like Vago, hours before the ship’s naming in Copenhagen, he revealed, ‘We have an ongoing development [project] to put on the market by 2026 some small scale [wind-powered] cruise vessels, approximately eight times smaller than this one. It's for a special and specific market, but I think that good old wind propulsion can be part of the equation for certain market segments of shipping.’ 

Fleet renewal, shore power

Asked what immediate steps can be taken to make the industry more sustainable, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Director General in Europe, Marie-Caroline Laurent, has a powerful response outlining two major steps that can be taken today: fleet renewal and widespread shore power implementation.

She told Seatrade Cruise, ‘The best solution today is to renew your fleet. Each new ship that comes out of the shipyard is on average 20-25% more efficient than the one it replaced. Give me other sectors that can achieve that efficiency today, with the technologies that are existingly deployed on board a ship. You will not find many. For me, it's a source of pride.’ 

As for the ‘second significant solution,’ she remarked, ‘If we were – and that's my wish – to connect to shoreside electricity, at least at the majority of the ports where we operate, we could right now significantly reduce our emissions. That's an important message that we need to continue carrying...’