After shipbuilding challenges and lengthy delays that forced cancellation of 10 cruises in the Antarctic, Norway’s coastal voyage line Hurtigruten offered a peek this week at its new hybrid cruiseships, the first of their kind in the world. If all goes well now, the MS Roald Amundsen will start sailing this spring.
“With this ship we’re bursting the limits of what’s been possible,” Hurtigruten’s chief executive Daniel Skjeldam, told newspaper Aftenposten and other reporters invited to the yard where it’s been built, Kleven verft in Ulsteinvik. Hurtigruten and hotel investor Petter Stordalen saved the yard from threatened bankruptcy in 2017 that delayed Hurtigruten’s hybrid vessel project that includes the Roald Amundsen and a sistership, MS Fridtjof Nansen, due for completion in 2020. A third vessel is also on order.
“The delays had consequences, but we’ve overcome them now,” claimed Skjeldam, who declined to specify losses. He’s more intent on promoting the new vessels as more climate friendly and pioneering within the cruise industry, which lately has come under fire for posing threats to the environment and bringing tourism to sensitive areas. They’ll run on electricity for around a half-hour at a time, and cut conventional fuel consumption and carbon emissions by 20 percent.
Billed as “expedition vessels,” the Roald Amundsen is due to sail through the Northwest Passage and to Antarctica next year.