Battery-powered ships, an expanded small-vessel fleet and adventurous destinations are on the cards for Hurtigruten line in the near future, according to company's chief executive, as the line sets out to change reputation as a Norwegian specialist.

Daniel Skjeldam, Hurtigruten chief, has told Travel Weekly that being the biggest operator to the Arctic and, from 2017 winter, the biggest in the Antarctic, gave Hurtigruten an ‘obligation’ to invest in new technology in order to reduce their environmental impact. He said: 

“We want to be at the forefront of developing an environmentally friendly way to travel. Our guests are very conscious of the environment, and as our ships are sailing to areas of the world where climate change is happening – because global warming has the most impact around the polar regions, we can see this is affecting animal life in the areas where we work – we feel an obligation to do something.

“It won’t be many years down the road before Hurtigruten will have battery packs on board the vessels. Just by introducing shore power, which we are already doing, we are reducing emissions while we are in port. Just in Bergen, that is 1,600 tons of nitrogen oxide per year, and the CO2 reduction is even greater.”

The rollout, according to Skjeldam, would depend on the speed of technological development, but the company is already working with engineers to create ships that could sail on battery power for between 2 and 4 hours, then switch to algae-based fuels until reaching a port recharging point.

Hurtigruten has invested $100M in its fleet, with new ship ms Spitsbergen to set sail in May, and 4 of its 90s-class vessels having undergone extensive refurbishment.

ms Spitsbergen

Skjeldam stressed that he wished to expand the fleet with 300 to 600-berth new ships, able to attract clients who might not normally consider a voyage, in line with the more adventurous focus of the firm. He said: 

“We will see quite a significant growth in small ships. I think small ships are able to attract both customers from larger ships and also customers who are new to the cruise industry.

“In five years, I think we will have Hurtigruten vessels all over the globe, not in the packed waters of the Mediterranean, but in areas where we have a competitive advantage.

“We still have a lot of room for growth in the Norwegian coast, but Explorer cruises are our niche and that’s the segment that we will drive significantly over the years to come.”

Hurtigruten already announced itineraries in eastern Canada and the Amazon starting 2017, and is eyeing Alaska together with other warm-water destinations.