Hurtigruten’s first hybrid powered expedition ship will not be ready on time. The reason? Technical issues. Sad news for some 3,000 guests, who were booked on cruises from Chile to Antarctica.
Hurtigruten is the shipping company best known as the Norwegian Coastal Express. The company has two expedition ships under construction at the Kleven Shipyard in Ulsteinvik, Norway. The Roald Amundsen and the Fridtjof Nansen are named after the famous Norwegian explorers. The ships are so highly innovative, that more time was needed to finish the prototype.
The revolution will be the use of battery packs for the propulsion. Norway is focusing on environmental-friendly transport. It is the first country to have a fully electric car ferry in operation.
So far it is not possible to have a cruise ship running on electricity only. Especially in Antarctica, where it will hard to find a charging station … however, the engineers did find a clever solution.
A set of generators powers the electric engines, and charges the batteries. Once the ship enters a sensitive area, the ship can run on batteries only, for a limited amount of time. This means no exhaust gasses, and especially a total absence of soot, which is good news for the ice, because black particles on the ice surface increase the melting process when the sun shines.
Nevertheless, an important stage in the building process was the launch of the Roald Amundsen. She touched water for the first time during a ceremony in Ulsteinvik on February 17, 2018. The moment when a ship slides down from the slipway is always a fascinating sight. From the bay outside the yard, guests and crew on Lofoten, Hurtigruten’s oldest vessel, greeted the newest addition to the fleet.
Roald Amundsen is one of the larger expedition cruise ships, with a guest capacity of around 500. That puts her into Category 2, with the main difference being the number of sites available for landing. Category 1 vessels with less than 200 guests have a broader range of possible landing sites.
The advantage is that you will still be able to go ashore, with cruises that should be priced lower than those on smaller ships. Larger ships, with more than 500 guests, are not allowed to put guests ashore at all.
The members of the IATOO, the International Association for Antarctica Tour Operators, have all accepted these regulations, in order to protect the environment.