Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen will be the world’s first hybrid electric-powered cruise ship
This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
William Harber, president of the Americas at Hurtigruten, sees one deciding factor driving the growth of the expedition cruising market: cruisers. “Travellers are seeking authentic and immersive experiences rather than excessive luxury and high-traffic destinations,” he says.
Hurtigruten’s course is set firmly to meet those expectations. “The expedition cruising that Hurtigruten offers provides our guests with once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” says Harber. “These range from on-ship learning activities with expedition teams to encountering wildlife in some of the world’s most remote and pristine destinations like Antarctica, Iceland, Greenland and Svalbard.”
Sustainability is at the heart of Hurtigruten’s operations. “The greatest challenge facing expedition cruise operators is ensuring that this market’s growth does not have a negative impact on the environment,” says Harber. “Hurtigruten operates in some of the most delicate areas in the world, which means we carry a responsibility to protect these areas for future generations of explorers. We have made a significant investment in building the world’s first hybrid electric-powered cruise ships, along with retrofitting our existing ships to LNG propulsion. Hurtigruten was also the first cruise line in the world to ban all unnecessary single-use plastics across its global fleet of expedition ships, an effort intended to address one of the biggest threats to our oceans today – plastic pollution.”
The company also prides itself on offering something different to your average cruise experience. “For most cruise companies, the ship is the destination,” says Harber. “The truth is that many of these larger vessels are pretty much the same. With Hurtigruten, the destination is the destination. For us, what’s going on outside of the ship in the natural world is much more interesting than any attraction onboard. For example, we don’t have rock climbing walls, but we do have an expedition team member who can take you rock climbing.”
Harber says the company doesn’t sell cruises as much as it offers adventures. “Hurtigruten doesn’t board passengers; it hosts explorers,” he explains. “It doesn’t have cruise vessels as much as it provides base camps for exploration travel. Rather than a cruise director, Hurtigruten has an entire expedition team to take guests on landings and provide them with lectures and learning at sea. Our expedition teams come from a range of backgrounds including biologists, geologists, historians and photographers – all eager to share their knowledge and experiences.”
Delivering the experiences that matter to its guests is the key to the brand’s success in a developing market. “With close to 30 new expedition cruise ships on the horizon, we will see a range of offerings available for a growing and more diverse group of travellers,” says Harber. “In line with the expedition cruising sector, we wish to attract explorers who prefer to travel with meaning. We’ll continue to design our journeys for adventurers who value learning and personal growth over excessive luxury, who want immersive interactions with nature and wildlife, and who care about the environment and leaving a smaller footprint from their travels.”
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