Why Qatar’s floating hotel MSC Cruise is world’s most ‘green’ ship

MSC Cruises’ newest ship, World Europa, is here to fix the image of an industry tarnished by environmental issues.

The MSC World Europa will function as a floating hotel offering football fans a distinctive hospitality experience during the World Cup.

It has 33 dining establishments, bars, and lounges, each with a unique ambiance and style. These include six specialty restaurants and seven brand-new bar and café concepts, as well as next-level entertainment options spread across new high-tech venues. 

Not only is the vessel the largest cruise ship in the company’s fleet, but it is also the most cutting-edge and environmentally friendly.

In an industry often criticised by environmental activists, it is a heavy title for a cruise to be labelled the most ‘green’ in the world, so what made MSC Cruise’s Europa earn it?

Doha News spoke to the Vice President of Sustainability and Environmental Social Governance within MSC Cruises, Linden Coppell, to break down the steps the company has taken to transform their ship to be environmentally conscious.

LNG-fuelled

Last year, the company pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which exceeds the current IMO (International Maritime Organization) goal of a 50% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.

“This ship, for example, is the largest cruise vessel to run on LNG liquified natural gas,” Coppell told Doha News. While it’s still a fossil fuel, LNG, Qatar’s biggest export, still burns a lot cleaner than traditional marine fuels.

Additionally, it’s the only marine fuel that’s available to the company at the scale that they need today. “For our industry, it it’s around up to 25% less carbon emissions and significantly reduced local pollutants.”

However, they will not be using LNG forever. The LNG-powered ship paves the way for the adoption of synthetic and other alternative fuels as soon as they become widely accessible and carbon neutral.

“Once bio or synthetic LNG becomes available, which is basically not made from fossil fuel, then we’ve got the infrastructure in place on the ships where we can very easily start using that fuel when it becomes available,” Coppell stated.

Fuel cell technology

An advantage of using LNG is that it enables them to test what they call ‘fuel cell technology’.

“We have a fuel cell demonstrator on board, and the fuel cell is basically a different way of creating heat and energy,” explained Coppell to Doha News.

Currently, MSC Cruises utilises the ship’s engines as they not only move them through the water, but also provide all the lighting, heatings, cooling systems that they need for the hotel part of the ship.

MSC World Europa is an ultramodern urban metropolis at sea that offers a veritable world of experiences while raising the bar for the cruise industry.

It has 22 decks, 215,863 gross tonnes, is 154 feet wide, has more than 430,000 square feet of public space, and has 2,626 cabins.

Water salination

“Our ship has got the capability of creating all of its own fresh water needs using sea water,” said Coppell.

The company uses two different types of desalination. “We can use the waste heat from the engine as a condensation method to actually generate fresh water from the sea water. And we also use a technology called reverse osmosis.”

Using a combination of both types of desalination, the vessel creates all the water it needs “whether it’s for the swimming pools, cooking, cleaning, or sanitary facilities.”

There are six swimming pools spread throughout the ship.

Before the water then goes back out to sea, Coppell explained that they need to make sure that it’s clean to a very high standard, so they used their advanced wastewater treatment systems on board.

The comprehensive system of treatment goes through various steps. “That takes that waste water, cleans it up to a very high standard before it gets discharged back to sea.” The system meets the global regulatory requirements for discharge of waste water.

Protecting marine life

MSC World Europa was designed in a way especially to minimise the noise and vibrations, which is meant to lessen the impact of the cruise on marine life.

“When we’ve looked at designing the propellers and also where the engine sits, and how the engine is, its insulated to actually minimise that noise and vibration,” Coppell explained.

There is also an underwater radiated noise management system made to minimise potential noise and vibration impact on marine mammals

Anti fouling paint

All of MSC Cruises’ ships have their hulls painted with specialised, environmentally friendly paints called ‘anti fouling paints’ that prevent the growth of barnacles, algae, and other marine organisms, significantly reducing drag.

“When we go back to the drawing board, we’re looking at exact shape of the hole to make sure that there is little resistance when it goes through the water. The easier we can get our ship through the water, the less energy we need. But we get a lot of microorganisms or growing on the outside of the ship,” Coppell told Doha News.

“What the paint does is it helps prevent the growth of those organisms on the hole. So it basically improves the efficiency of the ship as it’s moving,” she added.

MSC World Europa

The MSC World Europa will spend her first season in the Middle East, sailing on seven-day cruises to Dammam, Saudi Arabia; Doha, Qatar; Sir Bani Yas Island, United Arab Emirates; and Dubai.

On December 20, she will embark on a special 4-night voyage from Doha, Qatar, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to kick off her season.

The MSC World Europa will sail from Dubai to the Mediterranean Sea for the summer of 2023 on March 25, 2023.

For those who don’t get a chance to try it this season, the cruise ship will offer seven-night voyages that stop in Valletta in Malta, Barcelona in Spain, and Marseille in France in addition to the Italian ports of Genoa, Naples, and Messina.

Since the start of cruise tourism in Qatar, more than 560,000 cruise passengers and 182 port calls have been received, stated Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker in a press briefing

He pointed out that, for the 2021–2022 cruise season, Italians made up the majority of the 29 calls that two MSC vessels made to Doha Port.

Naming Ceremony

Just in time for Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup from November 20 to December 18, MSC Cruises celebrated the Naming Ceremony of its newest flagship, the MSC World Europa, at the renovated Doha Port on Sunday evening.

A long-standing maritime custom, the ship’s official naming ceremony was held in front of the vessel’s master, Captain Marco Massa, and esteemed visitors from all over the world.

High-profile individuals from the country, including Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al-Thani, vice-chairperson and CEO of the Qatar Foundation, Akbar Al-Baker, CEO of the Qatar Airways Group, and Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, attended the event, which included a traditional maritime ceremony at the Doha Port.

A state-of-the-art video mapping projection onto the ship’s hull, a unique light drone show featuring 600 drones, and a grand fireworks display were all featured at the event.

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