With the christening of MSC Virtuosa in Saint Nazaire on the 1st of February 2021 and the wide range of new technologies displayed onboard, MSC Cruises has shown its commitment to a greener future for its newbuilds.

According to Linden Coppell, Director of Sustainability, “her role is to ensure that MSC Cruises grows in a sustainable way”.

At the launch of MSC Virtuosa, a couple of new technologies have been presented by MSC Cruises:

  • The Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems – EGCS – this ensures the removal of 98% of sulphur from the exhaust gases before being released into the atmosphere. The wash water from the EGCS will be collected in sensitive areas and offloaded instead of discharging directly at sea.
  • The Catalytic reduction system - (SCR) - removes 90% of nitrogen oxides from the exhaust gases. This is achieved by passing the gas through a metallic catalyst. The nitrogen molecules react with the metal and convert into water and nitrogen, which are both harmless.
  • Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems – these have been designed in line with the International Maritime Organization’s MEPC 227(64) Resolution.

There are two main components here. The first one is that the purification standards onboard for wastewater treatment, are higher than most ashore facilities.

The second one, that any ballast water that is discharged is free from invasive species.

Coppell mentioned as well “The Environmental Compliance Officer on every ship is responsible for ensuring waste management protocols are followed.” She also mentioned that all MSC Cruises ships are “equipped with comprehensive solid waste management and recycling facilities.”

All the recyclable disposable items are separated or incinerated and the residual waste is kept on board to be offloaded in dedicated port facilities.

One of the big commitments of MSC Cruises since 2018 was the single - use plastic pledge. With the sign “Straw available only on request”, MSC Cruises has managed to reduce the straws from 19 million plastic straws to nine million compostable straws.

The onboard laundry facilities were also part of this plastic reduction pledge, as per Coppell, “we worked with the supplier to reduce plastic significantly, now delivered in solid block form with a minimal plastic cover compared to solid plastic buckets of liquid detergents previously used.”

Unfortunately, with the adoption of COVID-19 protocols onboard all cruise ships, some single use plastic packaging has been re-introduced. MSC has pledged to “remove such items or seek alternatives when conditions allow.”

As stated during the MSC Grandiosa launch, both MSC Virtuosa and MSC Grandiosa are equipped with underwater noise management systems that reduce the acoustic sound and vibration of the ship. This reduces the impact of noise on the marine mammals, as well as ensures a high level of comfort for crew and passengers.

In the world of cruising, the big new trend in terms of fuel is liquified natural gas (LNG).

MSC Cruises will not be the exception - the MSC World Europa, that is being delivered in 2022, will be the first of five ships powered by LNG and will be the first LNG cruise ship built in France (build by les Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint Nazaire).