MSC Cruises has exercised options to build two more LNG-fuelled ships from French shipbuilder Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

The two companies said in a joint release on Monday that the Swiss operator ordered the vessels, referred to as World Class 3 and World Class 4, at Chantiers de l’Atlantiques’ yard in Saint-Nazaire, France. They will be delivered in 2026 and 2027.

The two newbuildings will bring MSC Cruises’ total order of LNG-powered ships from Chantiers de l’Atlantique to four vessels. The MSC Group subsidiary has emerged from the deal with an option to order a fifth vessel from the builder.

The companies also said that the ships will be “an evolution” of the World Class prototype that will use heat recovery and other technologies to have smaller carbon footprints than their 5,400-berth predecessors MSC World Europa and MSC World America.

The ships will also be fitted with dual-fuel internal combustion engines that will reduce methane slip and will be able to run off of other alternative fuels such as bio and synthetic methane and green methanol, they said.

MSC Cruises and Chantiers de l’Atlantique did not say much else about the most recently ordered World Class vessels, including how much they would cost to build.

Calls to the companies were not immediately returned.

MSC Cruises launched the MSC World Europa, its first LNG-fuelled ship, in November 2022 after taking delivery of it from Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

The Swiss cruise ship owner and operator plans to take delivery of the MSC World America, which is designed for the North American cruise market, from Chantiers de l’Atlantique in spring 2025.

“MSC World Europa and MSC World America are already the most energy-efficient ships in the industry performing significantly better than the International Maritime Organization’s Energy Efficiency Design Index requirement,” both companies said.

All World Class vessels will feature shore power plug-in connectivity to lower carbon emissions in port, wastewater treatment systems designed to IMO standards, and onboard energy-efficient equipment.

“We are proud to continue our 20-year partnership with the Chantiers de l’Atlantique, with whom we have already built 18 ships with our 19th under construction,” MSC Cruises chief executive Pierfrancesco Vago said in a statement.

“The World Class is a truly innovative prototype and together we are building some of the most advanced ships in the world.

"We are committed to researching and investing in future environmental technologies as they become available, to ensure we continue progressing on our decarbonisation journey to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

The 4,884-berth MSC Euribia, a Meraviglia-class ship constructed by the French shipbuilder, is also fuelled by LNG and entered service in June 2023.