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Vago exclusive: Sustainability is a long-term vision not a quick fix

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Vago showed the results of a carbon footprint analysis comparing a 7 day cruise on MSC Grandiosa versus a 7 day stay in a resort in Sharm el-Sheikh
On the eve of MSC Grandiosa’s naming in Hamburg, Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago shared his views with Seatrade in a one-to-one interview on cruising’s environmental footprint and his company’s work towards a zero-emission ship.

MSC Cruises has ten more newbuilds firmed through to 2026, three of which are LNG-powered plus 2 option LNG-powered World class and 2 option luxury ships. In addition, Vago disclosed the company is looking at ordering ultra luxury class cruise ships, 'which will be the most environmentally advanced yet with zero impact from day one'.

11 Golden Pearls accreditation

But talking of the present, Vago enlightened that MSC Grandiosa has been accredited by Bureau Veritas for 11 Golden Pearls of environmental stewardship covering air emissions, waste water management, ballast water management etc.

‘It is the next evolution of our vision of promising great holidays which impact less and less on the environment, he said.

The 11th Golden Pearl and new for Grandiosa is an accreditation for its Underwater Radiated Noise (URN) system where the ship does not make any noise or vibration to impact acquatic mammals, he said.

‘Sustainability is a journey which started when we built our first ship in 2003 and it’s a long-term vision, not a quick fix.’

Top item on the agenda

Vago said, ‘It is the number one item on my agenda and he called the PACBOAT project for LNG-powered fuel cells to be hosted onboard MSC Europa as a technological breakthrough towards getting to a zero emissions cruise ship.’

He confirmed: ‘we are aiming for a zero-emission cruise ship and yes we will get there as technology advances.’

Cruise holidays environmentally-sound

He referenced a study MSC has conducted using official data which shows that a cruise holiday is an environmentally-sound option.

A family of four from Munich taking a 7 day cruise from Genoa on MSC Grandiosa would generate a carbon footprint of 1,450 kg of CO2 taking into account transportation to/from the ship and accommodation on the ship, he advised. ‘If you compare this with the same family booking independently a 7 day holiday in a hotel in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, the carbon footprint rises to 3,309 kg Co2 and does not include the footprint for any transport taken during the land based stay or at the hotel as you cannot quantify this.’

Carbon offsetting initiative

Referring to an earlier announcement regarding its plans to become the world’s first major cruise line with carbon neutral marine operations, Vago said: ‘sustainability is a big word and I have a huge advantage in being part of a family run company who can make both short, medium and long-term plans. I believe if you are transparent and tell the story and be honest then passengers will also be proud to sail on our ships.’