MSC Cruises passenger carryings almost doubled in 2023

MSC Cruises saw passenger numbers almost double year-on-year to more than four million across its fleet of 22 ships in 2023.

The level increased from 2.1 million the previous year when 21 ships were in operation, new data shows.

The line attributed the rise to a low base in 2022 as the industry was still recovering after Covid, the addition of new capacity and improved occupancy for the existing fleet.

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Ship operating days increased from 5,863 to 7,669 over the 12 months.

Luxury arm Explora Journeys carried 8,180 passengers on one ship from its launch in July 2023 until the end of the year.    

The group hired 18,866 new crew to bring the ship-based workforce up to 47,303, representing 138 different nationalities.

A new package of crew initiatives was introduced in 2023 with increased salaries, improved staff rotation and more training as the company sailed 385 itineraries to 102 countries and offered 2,150 shore excursions.

The details are outlined in the group’s 2023 sustainability report which shows a target of increasing shore power plug in from 44 at eight ports in Norway, Germany, UK and Malta to 220 connections by the end of the year as several new ports introduce the capability.

MSC Euribia entered service as the company’s second vessel powered by liquified natural gas (LNG).

“MSC Cruises remains committed to LNG as a critical pathway towards maritime decarbonisation,” the reports says. 

“Fossil LNG offers immediate GHG [greenhouse gas] emission reductions compared to conventional marine fuels and a direct pathway to renewable alternatives like bio-LNG and synthetic renewable LNG.”

A third LNG-powered ship, MSC World America, is to join the fleet next year followed by two others in 2026 and 2027. Meanwhile, four Explora ships powered by LNG are set to enter service by 2028.

Fleet carbon intensity improved by 6.5% compared to 2022, marking a 37.8% reduction since 2008. 

The progress puts the line on track to achieve the International Maritime Organisation’s target of a 40% carbon intensity reduction before its 2030 deadline.

Onboard freshwater management produced 87.2% of the fleet’s water needs – more than 6.4 million cubic metres – through desalination. 

Using water more efficiently resulted in a reduction of onboard water consumption from 226 litres per passenger day in 2022 to 187 litres in 2023, a reduction of 17.2%, according to the report.

Introducing the report, executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago says: “Achieving net zero emissions cannot be done alone. 

“We continue to work extensively with our close partners, including the shipyards, technology providers and many others, and I am pleased with the progress we as an industry are making.

“We continue to advocate to be regulated in a fair way, which does nt discriminate against our industry.”

He adds: “Shore power is an integral part of our strategy to reduce emissions and 2023 was the first year we achieved regular shore power operations for our fleet.”

However, he calls for an acceleration in the provision of shore power infrastructure in ports across Europe and other parts of the world –  echoing remarks by Josh Weinstein, chief executive of rival Carnival Corporation.

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