Explora Journeys is adding two new hydrogen-powered ships to its fleet, bringing its total number of vessels to six. The cruise line signed a memorandum of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to construct Explora V and Explora VI, which are due to come into service in 2027 and 2028, respectively. Explora Journeys also announced that Explora III and Explora IV, which are both currently under construction, will now be fitted with liquefied natural gas (LNG) engines. The revised delivery dates for these LNG-powered ships are 2026 and 2027, respectively.  

According to a press statement, the newly announced Explora V and Explora VI ships will feature a new type of LNG-powered engine that “can deal with the methane slip issue effectively and be equipped with industry first environmental technologies and solutions, including a containment system for liquid hydrogen that will enable the line to use this promising low-carbon fuel.”  A six-megawatt fuel cell will be powered by hydrogen fuel “to produce emissions-free power for the hotel operation and allow the vessels to run on ‘zero emissions’ in port, with the engines turned off.” LNG engines can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25 percent compared to standard marine fuels. 

Fitting Explora III and Explora IV with LNG engines will add an extra 120 million to each ship’s overall construction price tag. The vessels also need to be enlarged by 19 meters, which means they can offer larger public areas and a greater number of Ocean Residences, which feature separate sleeping, living and dining areas as well as a private terrace.  

The announcement is another step forward in the company’s mission to reach net zero emissions by 2050, said Pierfrancesco Vago, the executive chairman of the cruise division of Explora’s parent company MSC Group, in a press statement. “This transition to zero emissions operations for the maritime industry is the biggest challenge that we will ever face, and this will only be achieved by everyone playing their part—by investing in research and development and through significant investment both by companies but also governments.” 

Michael Ungerer, CEO of Explora Journeys, added: “This also demonstrates unequivocally our absolute commitment to operate ships that will appeal and attract the next and future generations of luxury travelers. Sustainability is the new craftsmanship and we’re honored to take a pioneering position within the industry and the wider travel sector”.

According to Fincantieri CEO Pierroberto Folgiero, Explora Journeys’ entire fleet “will feature the latest selective catalytic reduction technology to enable a reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 percent, be equipped with shore power plug-in connectivity to reduce emissions in port and be fitted with underwater noise management systems to help protect marine life.”

Explora Journeys’ first cruise ships, Explora I, is due to set sail in May 2023. 

For more information, visit explorajourneys.com.