Hurtigruten Battery-Hybrid Cruise Ships Meet in Historic Northwest Passage

Hurtigruten Battery-Hybrid Cruise Ships Meet in Historic Northwest Passage (Image at - August 2023)A momentous event unfolded yesterday (August 28, 2023) in the Northwest Passage as Hurtigruten Expeditions’ MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen crossed paths for the first time in their respective histories.

The bow-to-bow meeting of the battery-hybrid vessels – including MS Roald Amundsen, the world’s first hybrid battery-powered cruise ship, also named after the first explorer to traverse the Northwest Passage – took place in Cambridge Bay, Canada. Guests and crew were invited to celebrate with flags, banners and warm beverages on the top decks.

“This gathering serves as a moment to celebrate our legacy,” said Hurtigruten Expeditions’ Group CEO, Daniel Skjeldam. “As the founders of expedition cruising in 1896, we are born explorers, taking generations of travellers into the unknown.”

The two ships crossed during MS Fridtjof Nansen’s 27-day westbound Northwest Passage sailing to Nome, Alaska and MS Roald Amundsen’s 26-day eastbound Northwest Passage sailing to Halifax, Canada. Guiding the vessels are Captain Terje Willassen and Captain Raymond Martinsen, united in their pursuit of navigating the historic route. “Passing Zenith Point, I’m struck by the remarkable achievements of past explorers in these cold, remote places more than one hundred years ago. However, it’s the enduring presence of today’s inhabitants, surviving here since the Thule era, that commands my utmost respect,” said Captain Raymond Martinsen.

In the Wake of Great Explorers: Roald Amundsen

An ice-covered maritime route that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic, the Northwest Passage has long captivated the imaginations of travelers. In 1906, Roald Amundsen (best known for being the first person to reach the South Pole) pioneered the first successful Northwest passage crossing, a three-year journey culminating in Nome, Alaska. His achievement was the result of diligent study, learning from both former explorers and native Inuit societies who provided indispensable insights into surviving in the Arctic.

Captain Terje’s unique connection to Roald Amundsen’s legacy—growing up and residing in the same Norwegian town as the prolific explorer—adds a layer of significance to this occasion. “Growing up, listening to the tales of Roald Amundsen, and sailing aboard the ship named in his honour through the Northwest Passage fills me with pride. The expedition that consumed three years of his life, we strive to conquer in a mere 24 days. This experience both uplifts my pride and instils humility within me as I trace the path of this remarkable explorer,” said Terje.

More than a Passerby: ties to the Passage

Like Roald Amundsen, Hurtigruten Expeditions is guided by the invaluable insights gained from local scientific study and communities. During their passage, both ships will offer guests opportunities to conduct research on behalf of third-party entities with the expedition cruise line’s Citizen Science program. Projects available to guests during this journey include eBird, iNaturalist, Cloud observations, Secchi Disk, and Happywhale. Additionally, travellers onboard MS Roald Amundsen will journey alongside guest scientist Frances Crable, a PhD student collecting oceanographic and hydrographic data along the route.

Furthermore, this year, the Hurtigruten Foundation granted funds to Red Fish Arts Studio, aiding disadvantaged youth in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Another beneficiary – Oxen Expedition Engagement Network, founded by Alex McNeil, Senior Vice President of Expeditions Product at Hurtigruten Expeditions – seeks to integrate local perspectives in the Arctic travel experience and support local business growth in Arctic communities.

(Hurtigruten Battery-Hybrid Cruise Ships Meet in Historic Northwest Passage – Hurtigruten)