Traditional cruise ships pose all kinds of air quality problems for the cities that they frequent, especially in hotspots like Barcelona and Venice where locals regularly protest against the toxic particles they pump out at berth and when passing by. But Norwegian operator Hurtigruten is eyeing a greener future for its fleet, and recently achieved a maritime first by powering its hybrid MS Roald Amundsen ship through the water on battery power alone.
Hurtigruten has been operating since 1893 and today carries out expeditions all over the world. Over the next couple of years it is welcoming a couple of hybrid vessels into its fleet, with the MS Roald Amundsen the first cab off the rank.
Named after the Norwegian explorer who was first to cross Antarctica and reach the South Pole in 1911, the MS Roald Amundsen is designed specifically for the frigid polar waters and boasts the kinds of luxurious amenities you’d expect on a modern day cruise ship.
These include panoramic saunas, restaurants, bars, spacious observation decks, an infinity pool, private outdoor hot tubs and private balconies in more than half of the cabins. There is enough space onboard for 530 guests, and even a dedicated science center for education and entertainment.
A key point of difference, however, is that the MS Roald Amundsen cruise ship won’t be powered entirely by traditional fuels such as diesel or gas. Its hybrid drivetrain enables it to lean on electricity instead for at least parts of the journey, which it’s hoped will cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent. Earlier in the week the company got to put this propulsion technology through its paces for the first time.
The shiny new ship was cruising off the west coast of Norway on her maiden voyage when captain Kai Albrigtsen made the call to shut down the diesel engines and switch to electricity. At that point, the MS Roald Amundsen became the first cruise ship in the world to sail on only battery power.
“To captain a new ship and bring her from the shipyard is always an honor,” said Albrigtsen. “With MS Roald Amundsen being a green pioneer, makes this moment truly special to me and the rest of the crew. I am extremely impressed of the ship, the technology and how she handles. Now, we are all really looking forward to welcoming the first guests on board and create life-long memories together.”
Following a successful first outing, the MS Roald Amundsen will begin carrying out expeditions along the coast of Norway, the Svalbard archipelago and Greenland this local summer. Voyages to the Americas will follow, with Hurtigruten then planning to offer cruises to the Antarctic aboard the MS Roald Amundsen next year.