Sustainability | MSC Cruises


MSC Cruises is borne out of a long line of captains and ship owners who have been playing their part in the history of navigation and seamanship. Our family started their journey at sea in 1675 and ever since, we haven’t stopped exploring. 

Oceans and seas have always been the basis of MSC Cruises and we feel a deep responsibility in preserving and protecting them. More than anything else, we take care for the environment in which we operate, the guests who cruise with us, the people who work with us, the cities we call, and the communities we visit.

The Company has a long-term vision to achieve zero emissions and is constantly exploring and supporting the development of new marine technologies. Starting January 2020, MSC Cruises has taken a major step forward and offsets 100% of its ships' carbon emissions at no extra cost for Guests. Discover more
Learn more about 
MSC Grandiosa: one of the most environmentally-advanced ships at sea.

Improving air quality from ship emissions

Our long-term goal is to achieve zero emissions in all operations, at sea and on land. MSC Cruises is making significant investments to improve air quality. As part of a broader approach to limiting sulfur and other emissions in ports and specific operating areas, we are taking various measures to improve our performance.
As today's most advanced technologies are still not able to achieve our goal, MSC Cruises is investing in numerous carbon offsetting projects which to date make us the first major global cruise line with carbon neutral marine operations.


All of our newly-built ships either have hybrid Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) installed or will be fuelled by LNG. For the longer-serving ships in our fleet, we have a robust retrofitting programme focused on equipping our older ships with hybrid EGCS technology. Our hybrid EGCS systems can operate in a in an open or closed loop, and achieve a higher level of emission reductions than using marine ultra-low sulphur fuel to comply with the regulations.

If we’re not using an EGCS, we are using ultra low-sulphur fuels in all ports in Europe and while underway in sensitive locations.


Today, 11 of 17 MSC Cruises ships will be equipped EGCS to reduce sulphur from ship emissions by 97 per cent through a system which can be operated in closed-loop, representing 74% of our total berths.
By the end of 2023: 100 per cent of the MSC Cruises fleet ships will be equipped with EGCS.

MSC Grandiosa is also our first to have a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system, which helps reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) from the ship exhaust and transforms it into harmless nitrogen (N2) and water, through advanced active emissions control technology. SCR will be on all future ships. And will be retrofitted where possible on our longer-serving ships.

Moreover, in order to reduce emissions while in port, all MSC Cruises ships which have come into service since 2017 are fitted with shore-to-ship power so they can ‘plug in’ to the local power grid.

Improving Air Quality | MSC Cruises

  • What is an Exhaust Gas Cleaning System?
    An EGCS quite literally ‘cleans’ the exhaust gas, actively removing particles and certain emissions from the engine exhaust. The system consists of several components, the most important acting as a network of showers that ‘washes’ the exhaust gas, removing up to 97% of the sulphur dioxide and greatly reducing particulate matter. Our newest ships MSC Grandiosa, MSC Bellissima, MSC Seaview, MSC Seaside and MSC Meraviglia, have all been delivered with such systems installed.
  • What is a Selective Catalytic Reduction System?
    Nitrogen oxide from the engine operations is conducted through a catalyst – a high-density device made from noble metals. As the gas enters inside the catalyst, the nitrogen oxide molecules react with the metal and are broken down into nitrogen and water, both harmless compounds. Those water and nitrogen molecules leave the exhaust. So, what comes out at the other end is a much cleaner exhaust with 80% less nitrogen oxide.
  • Shore-to-ship power
    To help reduce in-port emissions, our latest classes of ships are designed for shore-to-ship power supply. Port authorities around the world are increasingly studying this option and we consider this to be another technology that can potentially help reduce air emissions in port areas. All our cruise ships coming into service from 2017 onwards are already equipped to receive shore side power. In addition, we are prepared to retrofit our existing ships as necessary should shore-to-ship power systems become more widely available.


From the first line we draw on paper when we design a new ship, to the final light bulb we install,  energy efficiency is always the first element we take into consideration. 

We have one of the most modern fleets at sea and have designed and developed six different ship classes. Every class always pushes the level of excellence of the earlier ship. 

When we build new ships, we don’t build copies of existing models. For every new class of ship we completely revise the design of our ships to achieve optimal efficiency. We rethink the ship’s overall structure, deck space, weight distribution including the ship’s hull, rudder and bulbous bow to reach optimal hydrodynamics, aerodynamics, and maximise energy and fuel efficiency.

MSC Meraviglia carries 20% more guests than our Fantasia Class but requires the same amount of energy
Advanced ship design | MSC Cruises


  • Voyage planning software
    An optimised itinerary means a reduced consumption of energy. We plan our itineraries efficiently and use specialised software to optimise sailing routes and berthing times.
  • Trim optimisation
    Optimising trim requires constant readjustment. Our ships are equipped with a software application to monitor and optimise trim in real-time. This technology supports ship officers to keep the vessel’s trim optimised to reduce fuel consumption and improve performance.
  • Anti-fouling paint
    Ships are naturally prone to barnacles algae and marine organisms. These can increase drag and make vessels less efficient. By using anti-fouling paint on the hulls of all the ships, we keep them as streamlined as they can be. It’s TBT-free: we strive to keep toxic substances as far from the ocean as possible.
  • High efficiency appliances
    Reducing our carbon footprint is not just about grand gestures; everyday electricity use is equally important. Energy-efficient appliances including refrigerators, water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers across our fleet help us keep our carbon footprint lower.
  • Energy saving LED lighting
    Our ships only use energy-efficient LED and fluorescent lighting, saving energy by producing the same amount of light per bulb at a lower wattage.
  • Smart heating, ventilation & air conditioning sytem (HVCA)
    The HVAC systems on board our ships are designed to reduce energy consumption. They distribute heat and cold intelligently, and are set up to recover heat from warmer areas of a ship in order to heat those which need it more.

Water Preservation

Fresh water is a finite resource. Our philosophy is to use it sparingly and efficiently. To this end, we take as many steps as possible to reduce our water consumption. From technologies to reduce water usage, to awareness campaigns on board our ships to encourage water responsibility, MSC Cruises leads the way with water preservation.

As a general rule, we do not take away water from ports and coastal communities: virtually all water we use on board is self-produced.

Fresh Water Production Plants are present across our entire fleet. While our most recent ships have high performance water production technologies as standard, our oldest class of ships have been recently upgraded with modern high efficiency systems with increased water production capacity.

On a cabin level, we equip all our ship with vacuum lavatories, which require very little flushing water.


We produce thousands of litres of fresh tap water per day from seawater. On our largest ships, we have the capacity to produce over 2 million litres of tap water per day. Doing this sustainably is an essential part of our philosophy on water and the sea.

Water preservation | MSC Cruises

From wastewater to high-quality water discharges

No black wastewater from our shipboard operations leaves our ships without proper treatment and any discharges from our fleet undergo a comprehensive purification process.

In 2008, when launching our Fantasia Class of ships, we started to equip our ships with Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems. An Advanced Waste Water Treatment System treats waste water to a very high quality by mixing different waste streams together and filtering out the larger components. What comes out on the other end then gets processed even further through very fine filtration and treatment processes, to produce water discharges of a higher standard than most municipal wastewater requirements around the world.

Through our AWTS systems, hazardous substances and pollutants are filtered out and digested by bacteria. To avoid risking harm to marine life, the remaining purified wastewater is disinfected by UV processing and never chlorine. We monitor key indicators to ensure any remaining bacteria levels are favourable before discharge.

As a result of this process, the wastewater that we discharge reaches near tap water quality.

The separated solid residue is removed from the cycle. It is then dried, compacted and compressed into high-grade pellets. These pellets can act a source of fuel for specific onboard energy needs. Depending on the cruise itinerary, we may also offload this dried biomass ashore, where it can be repurposed for energy production. 

Other liquid waste that may be hazardous to the environment such as cooking oil, oily water, machinery lubricants and cleaning products are never discharged into the sea, but are offloaded ashore by authorised companies.

Our Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems process wastewater to near tap water quality.

From Wastewater to High-Quality Water Discharges | MSC Cruises

Protecting marine life with ballast water treatment systems

To protect the marine ecosystem in which the ship sails, our ships are fitted with a ballast water treatment system that complies with the standards set by the international governing body for Ballast Water Management, the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This system prevents against the involuntary introduction of invasive marine species.

State-of-the-art solid waste management

Throughout the years, we have taken voluntary steps to equip our ships with state-of-the-art solid waste management and recycling facilities on board. We manage our waste streams in accordance with CLIA’s sound environmental principles and comply with all regulatory MARPOL requirements to prevent marine pollution. 

All organic waste, as well as recyclable disposable items including plastics, metals, paper and glass, are collected and separated by specially trained waste handling crew members. Waste is compacted, separated or incinerated, and residual waste is carefully delivered to dedicated port facilities.

Training our crew, not only to handle waste, but to understand the importance of waste management, is central to what we do. Our crew members receive ongoing training to ensure they remain abreast of the highest standards.

As we welcome over 2 million guests on board our ships, solid waste or “garbage” management is a key area of focus and our practices aim at reducing, reusing, recycling the waste we generate. Our ships are equipped with a comprehensive and coherent system to manage all waste aspects on board and ashore and every ship has a waste management plan that details how each type of waste is managed on board. 

Every ship in our fleet has an Environmental Officer to make sure our Environmental Plan is correctly executed and is in charge of the onboard garbage management. The Officer has the duty to instruct and train the Crew about garbage management rules on board.

Eliminating single-use plastics

Under our Plastics Reduction Programme, MSC Cruises is in the final phase of effectively eliminating an extensive number of plastic items from all its ship operations and ashore, and will replace them with environmentally-friendly solutions. 

As a first step, the Company has already replaced all plastic straws with 100% compostable and biodegradable substitutes. Moreover, drinks are no longer automatically be served with a straw. Guests who may require a straw will still be able to choose from a variety of environmentally-friendly options. 

MSC Cruises is working with a range of international and local suppliers in areas where the ships are deployed and is providing eco-friendly alternatives made of 100% biodegradable resins, consisting of renewable resources including corn- or sugar-based polylactic acid, bamboo, paper or other organic materials. In addition, the Company is also actively working with suppliers at all levels in the supply chain to effectively remove single-use plastics in products and packaging wherever possible.

This is an ongoing journey and when technology doesn’t yet allow for sustainable non-plastic substitution, MSC Cruises wants to ensure all remaining disposable plastic waste items are recycled correctly.  

Eliminating single-use plastics | MSC Cruises

Exploring new technologies AND SOLUTIONS

Our environmental efforts are an ongoing journey. We will keep exploring and developing new solutions for our future – and existing – ships and will be fitting our fleet with even more innovative solutions for a lower environmental impact. 
We will be powering some of our future ships with Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Compared to standard marine diesel using conventional fuel, LNG reduces SOx emissions by more than 99% and NOx emissions by up to 85%. It also largely eliminates particulate matter in the exhaust and further reduces CO2 emissions by 20% versus existing maritime fuel.
Our first LNG-powered ship, MSC Europa, will enter into service in 2022. Others will follow in 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2027.
Despite its benefits, only a few ports globally can accommodate LNG bunkering operations currently. We will continue to show commitment to this innovative fuel and remain confident that the current supply chain challenges will be overcome. 
While we believe that LNG is one of the key elements that will allow us to continue reducing the cruise industry’s impact on the environment, it is by no means the only one. 
In addition, we will be equipping all of our future new builds with a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system. SCR technology helps reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) into harmless nitrogen (N2) and water through advanced active emissions control technology. 
MSC Grandiosa is our first ship equipped with SCR technology. All following ships will be fitted with this technology.