With the entry into service on December 18th of the 3950-passenger MSC Fantasia, MSC Cruises has raised the Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE) bar for all cruise operators. MSC has entrusted Bureau Veritas, the world leader for QHSE assessment, with the auditing of six of the highest possible QHSE standards for the design of the new ship and also its operation in service. BV has granted MSC Fantasia the "Six Golden Pearls" designation for the best ship for environmental care.

Didier Chaleat, Senior Vice-President, Bureau Veritas, says, "MSC really cares for its passengers, its crew, the ports visited, the sea and the environment. By working with Bureau Veritas during the design and build of this cutting edge vessel, they have ensured that it is built and equipped to exceed all current environmental standards. But they have gone further, and have set up company-wide schemes to ensure that there is a constant environmental performance improvement, that safety is constantly improved, and that the food management chain is covered by a food safety management system audited to the very highest standards. No cruise company has yet gone this far in protecting the environment and its people."

MSC Fantasia has been designed and built so that it can be awarded Bureau Veritas' highest voluntary notation for environmental protection, CLEANSHIP-AWT. Key benefits provided include advanced waste water treatment and the capability to retain all grey and black water for two days full operation. Additional bilge water capacity is also built in to provide full two day retention for treated bilge water, over and above the latest Oily Water Separators. Hull antifouling conforms to the IAFS Convention on the control of harmful anti-fouling systems and ballast water management complies with the new International Convention and Management of ship's Ballast Water and Sediments.

Air quality is protected by ensuring that low sulphur fuel is used worldwide, and the main and auxiliary engines have been certified for NOx emission in accordance with latest IMO-MARPOL Annex VI requirements.

Flue gas from shipboard incinerators is controlled and ozone depleting substances prohibited.

Solid wastes do not need to be discharged at sea due to the high incineration capacity, and additional storage facilities for more than two days full operation for the remaining ashes, glass, tins, cold and wet garbage are built in.

While many of these design features break new ground, what makes MSC Fantasia unique is the systematic control of QHSE issues in service. In order to maintain the notation CLEANSHIP-AWT specific and regular duties must be carried out by the crew and management during operation of the vessel, re-enforced by onboard surveys, with periodical tests, measurements and reporting, controlled by MSC's operation and technical management and audited by BV's experts.

MSC is implementing an Environmental Management System under ISO 14001.

It requires a complete management system for the environmental impacts from the company's operations, and continuous improvements. BV has already carried out certification audits on the head office of MSC CTD in Piano di Sorrento and on a large part of MSC Cruises' existing fleet.

The system will be extended to cover MSC Fantasia as soon as it enters service, and all newbuildings for MSC will also enter the system.

In addition MSC has put in place OHSAS 18001, the highest standard for certification of a company's safety management system. It requires a complete management system of safety and security of workers both on board and at the head office. Four vessels have been audited on board during the certification audit, three more will be audited under the annual surveillance audit and three more in the second annual surveillance audit. MSC Fantasia will enter the system from day one.

Food safety cannot have too high a priority for cruise ship passengers, so MSC has opted for ISO 22000, the highest standard for certification of a company's food safety management system. The project was developed especially for onboard food preparation and the supply chain. Audits were carried out on board the entire cruise fleet and certification was granted in June 2008. As newbuildings are delivered ISO 22000 will be implemented on board.

"With MSC Fantasia MSC Cruises has obtained the six best QHSE standards, for the special attention paid during design and building to air, water and waste domains, and during operation, to environmental, safety and food care," says Chaleat. "This is the highest standard set by any cruise vessel built to BV class."

Bureau Veritas currently classes 459 passenger ships and ferries worldwide. Its newbuilding order book includes 9 cruise ships and 13 other large passenger vessels, building for 12 owners in 7 different countries. As the world leader in QHSE across all industries, Bureau Veritas is uniquely placed to set and maintain the highest standards of safety and environmental management for the leisure industry.