"Roald Amundsen" is one of Hurtigruten's new cruise vessels for voyages in Arctic waters. Illustration: Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten doesn’t fear overcapacity in Arctic cruise business

Ten new luxury purpose-built polar class vessels are under construction by various cruise-liners.
October 20, 2016

«Adventure tourism is one of the fastest growing trends in global travel. Our investments reflect the confidence we have that the remarkable and sustainable Hurtigruten-experience is competitive,» says Øystein Knoph, Global PR Manager with Hurtigruten. 

Hurtigruten now presents its two latest vessels to be built for delivery in 2018 and 2019. The vessels, purpose-designed for Arctic waters, will be named after the two most famous Norwegian Polar explorers, Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen.

The interior design of the vessels will reflect the atmosphere from the times of the great explorers, but with today’s standards for quality and comfort, Hurtigruten brags in a PR-package sent to media this week. 

The open deck with pool of “Roald Amundsen” - Hurtigruten’s new expedition cruise vessel to sail Arctic waters under the Northern Lights from 2019. Illustration: Hurtigruten

«We don’t offer cruise, we offer adventure,» Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam says.

In Norway, Skjeldam has become a public figure in promoting environmental friendly technologies, often quoted saying northern Norway don’t need new oil drilling, but sustainable growth in adventure tourism. 

Sails on batteries 

The two new Hurtigruten vessels will have hybrid propulsion with batteries, making it possible to sail for a shorter period without any noisy diesel engines. A nice move when sailing in between ice-flows with seals or a polar bear. Or, when approaching whales. On batteries, the vessels can sail for 15 to 30 minutes.

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«Hurtigruten will consolidate its position as the global leader in active and knowledge-based experiences in the Arctic, Antarctic and in new exciting destinations,» Øystein Knoph tells to the Barents Observer.

«Our competitive advantage is that the adventure is unique, real and authentic,» he says and underlines Hurtigruten’s focus on sustainability and green technologies for its future cruise operations.

From before, Hurtigruten operates the two explorer vessels «Fram» and «Spitsbergen» both aimed at voyages to Svalbard, Iceland, Greenland and Canada on the northern hemisphere, as well as the lucrative cruises to Antarctica. 

A cabin with view! This is how the corner suite onboard the new vessels will look. Illustration: Hurtigruten

The Norwegian cruise-liner is not afraid of overcapacity among companies sailing expeditions in Arctic waters.

Interviewed by the Barents Observer at Iceland recently, CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, Sven-Olof Lindblad said mass tourism will come to the Arctic. «Tourists are coming in a big wave. Companies follow each other,» he said pointing to the Arctic as the new «hot» destination.

Lindblad Expedition was the company that in 1969 got the first purpose-built vessel for cruising theaters of the Arctic and Antarctic.

10 new purpose-built epedition vessels for Arctic waters

In addition to Hurtigruten, the French cruise-liner Ponant last month announced details of its four new ships for luxury expeditions to Arctic waters. Sized for 184 passengers, less then half of the new Hurtigruten vessels that each can accommodate 530 guests, the new Ponant explorer ships possess Ice Class 1C certification. The two first ships will be delivered simultaneously as «Fridtjof Nansen» and «Roald Amundsen» in 2018 and 2019. 

Ponant will also name its vessels after explorers, French worth noting;  «Le Lape´rouse», «Le Champlain», «Le Bougainville» and «Le Kerguelen».

A third cruise-liner with big plans for the Arctic is Crystal Cruises, the company that last month completed the first-ever Pacific-to-Atlantic cruise with a 2,000 passenger vessel, the «Crystal Serenity» sailing from Anchorage, Alaska to New York via the Bering Strait, Arctic Canada and Greenland.

Crystal Cruises brands their two new ice-classed vessel to be the first purpose-built Polar megayatchts. With a capacity of 200 guests, the vessels will be launched in 2018. In marketing, the company brags that the first vessel, to be named «Crystal Endeavor» will cruise the Arctic; then follow the route of migrating whales along the coast of the Americas and Europe to Antarctica during the winter.

Other companies sailing expedition voyages to the Arctic is Quark Expeditions, Silversea Cruises and Noble Caledonia. 

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