A new Norwegian cruise company plans to build a ship earmarked for use in Norwegian fjords. If all goes according to plan, the first ship will be built in Portugal next year. This will be the world’s first zero-emissions cruise ship designed For Norwegian fjords.
The new cruise company Northern Xplorer claims that it solves three major challenges with one solution: the environment, society and our cultural and natural heritage.
Northern Xplorer has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Portuguese shipbuilder West Sea for the construction of the company’s maiden vessel that will sail emissions free, being the world’s first cruise ship on hydrogen.
Marine transport is the most environmentally friendly form of transportation, but it still produces 940 million tons of CO2 every year.
Northern Xplorer’s founder and CEO Rolf André Sandvik is no stranger to zero-emissions vessels. He was previously founder and CEO of tourism company The Fjords, whose fleet includes two all-electric tour boats — the Legacy of the Fjords and Future of the Fjords — built by Norway’s Brodrene Aa shipyard. Those vessels are 42.3 meter-long day boats.
The Northern Xplorer ship is expected to be delivered at the start of the 2025/2026 cruise season. But there is one condition: The Norwegian Parliament decided in 2018 that only emission-free ships will be allowed to enter the two world heritage fjords in Western Norway from 2026. This means that the vast majority of today’s cruise ships will not be able to sail into Geiranger and Flåm. This is where Northern Xplorer sees the opportunity to position itself in the market.
The new vessel has the potential to create a new paradigm for the entire maritime industry, not only in Norway but right across the world. The cruise ship will be a full-size 130 meter ship, designed by Multi Maritime and accommodating 250 passengers in 125 cabins.
“This is a new milestone on our journey towards emission-free cruising. Having approached yards worldwide for tenders, we’re delighted to be embarking on this exciting project with West Sea,” says Rolf André Sandvik, Northern Xplorer (NX) founder and CEO.
“An innovative and technologically advanced vessel, which will have minimal impact on the environment.” This is how director Vitor Figureido at the West Sea shipyard describes the ship.
“What if this vessel could visit beautiful areas otherwise overlooked by the tourism industry? What if it could provide local jobs, lift entire communities economically, and showcase that there’s no need to focus exclusively on existing tourist hubs, thus opening the door to new locations with zero impact on local environments?” An important and interesting question asked on the company’s website.
NX and ABB are currently in dialogue with multiple sub-suppliers for vessel systems.
“We haven’t made any final decisions yet because we want to go with the newest technology as it becomes available. Where possible we also aim to select the most sustainable materials available in the market,” says Sandvik.
A number of external investors, both Norwegian and foreign, have expressed their interest. The final construction contract will not be signed until the money is in place. However, Sandvik is optimistic.
World’s First Zero-Emissions Cruise Ship Designed For Norwegian Fjords, written by Tor Kjolberg