People-powered design is driving Hurtigruten's success

Hurtigruten’s new ships combine innovative design with environmentally sustainable hybrid technology – and an entire company’s expertise, says CEO Daniel Skjeldam

People-powered design is driving Hurtigruten's success

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

When Norway-based expedition travel operator Hurtigruten creates a new ship, the company interweaves expertise from every person in the company. “We have a unique, open-minded culture here,” says Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten. “Our people really love what we do and the way we do it – the history, the heritage and the way they can impact the business. That’s where our drive for sustainability comes from too. Our people told me we have to operate as sustainably as possible.”

That philosophy is being brought to life in the state-of-the-art hybrid vessel Roald Amundsen which launches this year, and sister ship, Fridtjof Nansen, which is set to launch in 2020. It’s a story that began even before construction started.

“When we started designing this ship, we wanted to build on all the experience we have from operating ships of a similar size on the Norwegian coast and in the Arctic,” says Skjeldam. “Logistics is extremely important on an experience ship, and the technology was vital. We wanted this to be the most environmentally friendly ship possible in the areas where we would sail. We looked at what fuel it should have, considered all aspects of its construction and simulated the entire sailing pattern before we began building.”

Every team that will work onboard the Roald Amundsen has been involved in creating its interior spaces through conversations with its designers, newbuild teams and company executives. “It’s been a continuous development involving people across the company,” says Skjeldam. “Our designers spend a lot of time talking to everyone from the expedition teams to the housekeeping staff, and they draw upon their experience for all aspects such as giving lectures in the science centre, or onboard logistics for landings to make sure we can get passengers to their experiences as fast and effectively as possible.

“For example, the ‘black box’ – an area for briefing passengers before a landing – was suggested by our expedition team. They know our guests will enjoy the landing much better if we can brief them using TV screens before they go into inflatable boats and for the landing itself.”

While Skjeldam takes a personal interest in all aspects of the ship’s design, he’s clear about where the true expertise lies. “Our people are so engaged in what they are doing,” he says. “I speak a lot with the teams, and I spend time watching their operations – but I don’t know anything. This is the people’s knowledge and I’m just listening to what they say.”

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Jacqui Griffiths
By Jacqui Griffiths
Friday, April 19, 2019