Hurtigruten has partnered with a Norwegian research institute to deliver on its plan to launch its first zero-emission cruise ship by 2030.
While Hurtigruten is in the process of retrofitting hybrid technology to its coastal fleet, the development of zero-emissions vessels will be another important step towards future competitiveness.
In the coming years, vessels that are not emissions-free will be prohibited from entering the UNESCO World Heritage listed Norwegian fjords, including the Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord.
The well-established Norwegian coastal voyage featuring 34 ports of call is an ideal place to test a zero-emissions shipping concept. Norway is a leader in green shipping development and several ports are already looking at expanding green shore power connectivity. The country also has growing expertise in battery development and experience gained during the rapid transition to electric-powered cars.
A research and development partnership
To achieve what Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam called its “most ambitious sustainability initiative to date,” the company has partnered with Trondheim-based research institute SINTEF.
Researchers will look at how the ship’s design and propulsion can help make the ships more environmentally friendly. They will also conduct a feasibility study to establish which technologies are available today and which will need further development.
Skjeldam believes the technology is sufficiently advanced to commit to the challenging deadline. “We have followed developments in technology and have seen that the infrastructure has come so far that now it was right to give full throttle,” he told e24.
A historic company with a new direction
For almost 130 years, Hurtigruten vessels have transported goods and people along the Norwegian coast. In recent decades the service has been extensively marketed as a cruise ship experience, yet the ships still provide an essential cargo delivery and local ferry service for tiny communities all along the coast between Bergen and Kirkenes.
But the company is under pressure in Norway. Following a series of blunders during the Covid-19 pandemic and the entrance of a new competitor on the coastal route, the company is in the middle of its biggest ever change.
Of the seven Hurtigruten vessels operating on the coastal route today, three have already been converted into hybrid vessels with the other four due for completion within 12-18 months. This follows the launch of new hybrid vessels MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen, used by the expeditions arm of the group.
Hurtigruten Expeditions has expanded its expedition cruise offering outside of Norway significantly in recent years. Its 2023-04 schedule includes what the company says is its “widest ever selection of Galápagos, Antarctica, Arctic and West Africa expeditions.”