MSC World Europa: Cruising for the future

CFR’s Alex Smith reports back from a tour of MSC Cruises’ newest ship at Chantiers de l’Atlantique

MSC World Europa: Cruising for the future
MSC World Europa is currently in dry dock at Chantiers de l'Atlantique

By Alex Smith |

This week representatives from the media were invited onboard MSC Cruises’ newest ship, MSC World Europa, which is currently in dry dock at Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard following successful sea trials. Work is underway to complete the finishing touches on the upper decks and lower deck interiors, the culmination of over seven million working hours at the French shipyard.

Standing below the 6,762-passenger ship while in the dry dock, its scale is made even more apparent. World Europa will be the largest vessel in MSC’s fleet and the biggest LNG-powered ship in the world when it debuts in November, with only Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis-class outsizing it.

Scale is also apparent within one of the biggest new features to be introduced onboard the ship, the outdoor promenade. Situated at the aft of ship, the promenade is 104 metres long and will offer a range of dining venues and retail outlets once completed. Drawing the eye at the centre of the space is The Venom Drop @ The Spiral, an 11-deck-high stainless-steel slide which will be the longest dry slide at sea. Huge palm trees of LED lights are currently being constructed at either end of the walkway, which will be able to perform light shows and serve as a dramatic backdrop to pop-up shows on the promenade throughout a cruise.

Overlooking the promenade are 196 Promenade View cabins, which are among the seven new accommodation categories MSC will introduce onboard the ship. The cabins have access to a balcony to look out onto the promenade, allowing guests to view ongoing activities from their own rooms.

Also on display was an example of the new Infinite Ocean View cabin. Rather than including an ocean-facing balcony, which it found was not being fully utilised by many guests, MSC has expanded the available interior space by replacing them with a large automatic window. This can be lowered and raised as the passenger desires, while crew on the bridge can also close them remotely if required in rough conditions.

The Galleria indoor promenade has also undergone changes onboard World Europa. An LED and kinetic dome ceiling will display content produced specifically for the ship, and the space now curves and twists along its length, a choice which Trevor Young, MSC’s vice president of newbuilds, explains was intended to make it feel more “dynamic”.

“Our chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said that he wanted to create the feel of the film Blade Runner 2049,” said Young. “It’s a very organic space, spread over three decks, though the screen content will make it feel as if it expands far beyond that.”

Lining the Galleria will be a range of shops and restaurants, including British pub Masters of the Sea, where three signature beers will be produced in an onboard microbrewery, and the Gin Project, which will offer over 70 gins, 30 tonic waters and host classes where guests can blend their own drink. The Chef’s Garden Kitchen restaurant will grow and harvest its own hydroponic microgreens directly. Young explained that the venue is strategically located close to the Elixir Mixology Bar because its produce will be also used in handcrafted cocktails.

Despite its size, World Europa will be among the most efficient cruise ships sailing when it enters service. According to MSC, the vessel will have the lowest environmental footprint per passenger in the industry. This is partially down to the use of LNG propulsion, a first for both MSC and Chantiers de l’Atlantique, but also due to a range of efficiency measures that the cruise line has trialled onboard existing ship MSC Grandiosa over the past year.

Young pointed out the new system that will be deployed for the ship’s elevators, in which passengers will be directed to an available elevator via a screen for the most efficient movement around the ship. According to Young, the system has delivered efficiency improvements of over 33 per cent onboard Grandiosa during trials.

MSC is also looking to the future with a trial of a solid oxide fuel cell powered by LNG onboard the ship. The 150-kilowatt demonstrator will generate auxiliary power to deliver carbon dioxide emissions reductions.

“If we don’t do anything more than we are now, our emissions will grow along with the growth of our fleet,” said Linden Coppell, director of sustainability at MSC Cruises. “Our job is to decouple those two factors. We’re hoping to meet the International Maritime Organization’s 2030 targets ahead of schedule, and that the fuel cell technology will show promising results.”

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