Sign Up for Our Monthly Cruise Newsletter
Expedition is the next renaissance in cruise travel, and Hurtigruten’s new Roald Amundsen is an ambitious leader in the segment’s innovation. My first-ever taste of the line was brief, but an overnight stay onboard the environmentally friendly vessel left a lasting impression.
Docked at Vancouver’s Canada Place cruise terminal during the city’s climate strike demonstrations, the 530-guest ship was dwarfed by a pier length usually dedicated to liners carrying thousands of passengers. However, what it lacks in size it makes up for in striking external design and next-gen internal workings.
Unlike the soft appearance of a Toyota Prius, of which the ship implements similar hybrid technology, its stylish black and crimson-clad architecture is unmistakably bold.
Hurtigruten emphasizes one of its philosophies more than any other: sustainability. The ship universally foregoes single-use plastics — save for when the United States Public Health dictates the occasional use of, say, protective cellophane — but, even more significantly, it can operate entirely emission-free.
Like a Prius, ship engines work in tandem with several floor-standing, server-sized battery arrays. When excess energy is produced, it is stored in said capacitors, and when those are fully charged, they can power the vessel without any pollution for around 30 minutes. That may not seem long, but it’s proof of concept, and can be expanded in the future with space set aside for many more batteries. Until then, the hybrid approach reduces fuel consumption and makes for a more efficient ship overall.
“Our plan is to sail 100-percent emission free in the future,” said Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten.
For now, the goal is to raise consumer and trade awareness of the brand. To that end, a new informative portal is coming, says John Downey, president of Hurtigruten for the Americas.
If there is any downside to sustainability, it’s that the ship runs a bit warmer throughout, likely in an effort to utilize less energy. Also, while reusable water bottles are admirable, the filtered water stations to fill them are slow to dispense.
Shortcomings notwithstanding, the vessel is committed to exploring remote destinations. To that end, the Science Center is a fascinating venue that brings together curious guests and the expedition team more closely and uniquely than ever before. Nestled in the bow, where most cruise ships would place a show lounge, Roald Amundsen features a multipurpose lecture hall (state-of-the-art imaging equipment included), a library, a chemistry lab (complete with specimens and microscopes) and a wraparound observation deck that, together, foster genuine discovery. In fact, the outdoor portion stretches all the way to the tip of the bow for taking in the wondrous likes of Antarctica behind sheltered panoramic glass.
Even more cozy is the fully enclosed Explorer Lounge & Bar observation venue perched high above. Faux fireplaces warmly welcome patrons to grab a cocktail and recline on daybeds overlooking the front of the ship. One imperfection is how far back those forward-facing windows sit from the edge of the navigation bridge below, which makes it difficult to see anything below the horizon. Better for sight lines are the side chairs and floor-to-ceiling windows that angle back into skylights above.
Still, the best view is reserved for those who venture entirely off the ship by way of Zodiac. The so-called mudroom for prepping excursions directly off the ship has been elevated by Hurtigruten into a stylishly industrial theater with jump seats to suit up while gazing upon a monster LED screen that previews what’s to come. To say this ship has an abundance of gear would be an understatement. I have never seen so many tents, sleeping bags, walking sticks, boots and even handy boot-washes onboard a ship before.
As adventurous as the ship is, it is just as elegant everywhere else, sporting modern and traditional Scandinavian decor. Another singular LED screen massively lines the entire height of the seven-deck atrium as glass elevators ascend and descend across the expanse. Not one but three restaurants fill the ship with culinary choice (the main one we previewed was delicious). And an infinity pool and pair of whirlpools punctuate a scenic sauna, a fitness center and a spa.
Private staterooms and suites are expertly configured for comfort and exploration. Natural woods shape abundant storage, desks and minibars, as well as undulate into stylish headboards above plush mattresses.
Suffice it to say, I now want to sail onboard and see how the ship rides, in order to verify if it is as stable as it is impressive in every other way.