MSC Inks Berth Rights Deal in Dubai

MSC Bellissima in Dubai

MSC Cruises announced that it has signed a long-term agreement with DP World for preferential berthing rights at Mina Rashid Port in Dubai. 

The contract was formally signed by the line’s CEO Gianni Onorato and Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al Mannaei, CEO, P&O Marinas & Executive Director, Mina Rashid on board the MSC Bellissima during her maiden call ceremony at Mina Rashid in Dubai.

Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises, said: “This new agreement with DP World is a continuation of what has been a successful partnership and establishes a longer-term framework for our operations out of Dubai that provides our cruise ships with preferential berthing rights at the Mina Rashid cruise terminal.

“Our existing commitment to Dubai and the region is clearly demonstrated by MSC Bellissima’s presence this season, the most modern, as well as one of most environmentally-advanced, cruise ships to sail in the Gulf. We will strengthen that bond further in winter 2020-21 when we deploy the highly-innovative MSC Seaview, a ship specially designed to operate in warmer weathers, to serve the region.

“I’m also extremely pleased to add that our extended partnership with DP World, a visionary organisation that has the same environmental outlook as we have at MSC Cruises, will see us both work actively together to further reduce the carbon footprint of ship operations.”

Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al Mannaei, CEO – P&O Marinas & Executive Director, Mina Rashid, said: “We warmly welcome MSC Cruises’ strategic decision to scale up their regional operations with Dubai as their base. It marks a new high in our long and mutually beneficial relationship. We’re particularly happy that a brand new vessel like MSC Bellissima, with its high green credentials, will be homeporting at Mina Rashid and spearheading MSC Cruises’ 2019-2020 winter cruise season. At Mina Rashid, we constantly invest in enhancing the services and support systems for today’s fleet of ultra-modern cruise vessels.

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“The agreement with MSC Cruises for preferential berthing comes at a time when Mina Rashid has been experiencing a double-digit increase in tourist traffic. Key to this sterling performance is our flagship Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal, the world’s single largest covered cruise facility capable of handling 14,000 passengers a day. DP World UAE Region supports the Dubai Tourism Strategy goal of achieving 20 million tourists by 2020. MSC Cruises’ ambitions for the coming year is ideally placed to support this drive.”

Hamad Bin Mejren, Senior Vice President, Dubai Tourism, added: “We are delighted to further strengthen our partnership with MSC Cruises and solidify Dubai’s position as the leading cruise hub of the region. Dubai continues to provide its international visitors a superior customer service throughout their travels reflecting the city’s diverse offerings.

“We are committed to protecting Dubai’s natural environment and will fully support partner efforts to carry out conservation and sustainable practices through their business. Our longstanding synergy with our valued partners allows us to cement Dubai’s position as a responsible, year-round-destination of choice.”

The long-term agreement comes on the back of MSC Cruises’ expecting to carry in excess of 180,000 passengers in Dubai this season, a figure that will progressively grow through the length of the new agreement, according to a press release. 

MSC Cruises said last month that it will be the world’s first fully carbon neutral major cruise line in the world from 1 January 2020 with an ambitious programme where all direct carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its fleet’s marine operations will be offset through a blend of projects developed according to the highest standards by leading international entities that take immediate action on greenhouse gas emissions. All costs for the offsets, as well as any other associated items, will be covered directly and in full by MSC Cruises.

MSC Bellissima, which was launched in February of this year, will make 17 calls and spend 35 days in Dubai during the winter season until March 2020 and sail a range of 7-night itineraries in the Gulf.

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MSC Cruises will also deploy MSC Lirica in the Gulf for this winter season with 11-night cruises as well as 14-night cruises that call also to India.

The over 600-year old maritime tradition of exchanging crests took place today on board MSC Bellissima in Dubai at a maiden call ceremony between the ship’s Master, Captain Giuseppe Maresca, and senior officials from DP World, Dubai Tourism, Dubai Immigration, Dubai Customs and the Sharaf Shipping Agency, MSC Cruises’ agents in Dubai.

First Guests Arrive at MSC's New Ocean Cay

MSC Ocean Cay Opens (AP Images for MSC Cruises)

MSC Cruises today welcomed the very first guests to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, its new private island destination in The Bahamas, according to a press release. 

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, said: “Ocean Cay is founded on a deep commitment to ecological principles – beliefs that shape everything from how venues are built, to how the island is run, to the kinds of activities featured on the island. Having the first guests arrive on the island is a moment of great pride for all of us at MSC Cruises. We wanted to create for our guests something sustainable, with a higher purpose. Ocean Cay is not just a vacation island, it is a unique marine reserve where people and nature thrive in harmony.”

MSC Ocean Cay Opens (AP Images for MSC Cruises)

The island’s opening is a major milestone for MSC as it builds its North American operation, which has four ships sailing from Miami this winter. 

MSC has turned the island from what was once an industrial sand excavation site into a stunning tropical destination, while working with environmental engineers and other experts to revitalize the surrounding ocean beds, marine life and endangered coral, according to a company press release.

MSC Ocean Cay Opens (AP Images for MSC Cruises)

The project took nearly three years to complete. 7,500 tons of scrap metal was removed and, throughout the clean-up process, a team of expert divers and marine biologists carefully removed individual hard coral colonies from debris on the ocean bed and relocated them to an approved location outside the construction area. More than 75,000 plants and shrubs planted across the island to create a biodiverse and sustainable environment.

In the coming months, MSC Cruises will also introduce a Conservation Center on the island, which will serve as an active base for coral education and research. 

MSC Marine Ops Goes Carbon Neutral in Industry First

MSC Armonia

MSC Cruises today announced its commitment to become the world’s first fully carbon neutral major global cruise line, according to a press release.

MSC said it will offset all direct carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its fleet marine operations through a blend of carbon offset projects developed according to the highest standards by leading international entities that take immediate action on greenhouse gas emissions. All costs for the offsets as well as any other associated items will be covered directly and in full by MSC, the company said, in a prepared statement. 

Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman said: “Our focus on innovation since we built our first cruise ships only in 2003, ensures that we have one of the most modern fleets at sea as well as one of the highest environmentally performing. And, thanks to our long-term planning, this will allow us to already achieve a fleet-wide 29 per cent reduction in carbon intensity (rate) by 2024 vs. 2008, on our way to meet the 40 per cent reduction target set for 2030.

“Additionally, last week we announced that the LNG-powered fuel cells PACBOAT project will be hosted onboard MSC Europa – the first of five LNG-powered cruise ships that are due to join our fleet. This is not only a world-first for a technology that promises to be most efficient for high-power maritime operations but also yet another concrete example of our firm commitment to partner and support the accelerated development of the next-generation technologies that will lead us and this industry to zero-emissions ship operations.”

“As we recognize that today’s even most advanced maritime environmental technology alone is insufficient to immediately reach carbon neutrality, the further commitment we make today ensures that our fleet makes no negative contribution to climate change, starting January 1, 2020.”

Vago added: “We will work with leading providers in carbon credits able to offset CO2 emissions with the highest level of integrity. Our vision is to also invest in projects that provide quantifiable community benefits, protect the environment and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

In particular, MSC said it aims to develop a carbon offset portfolio that incorporates projects which protect and restore ocean and coastal habitats while also absorbing more CO2 than currently occurs. 

Vago concluded: “Blue carbon offsets will be a specific area of focus of our commitment to ensure carbon neutrality with immediate effect. We will put our people and our resources to work to also support the development of the specific type of projects, and the enabling certification processes, that can generate this innovative form of offsets which directly benefit the oceans and communities that live by the sea. As more of these become available, we will steadily increase our reliance on them as an additional area of focus within our overall long-term commitment to achieving zero-emissions operations.”