Seattle, WA – May 14, 2019 – Hurtigruten, the world leader in exploration travel, has partnered with the Norwegian start-up company, Brim Explorer, to introduce battery-powered catamarans that are custom built for polar water exploration. Set to debut in spring 2020, the 78-foot vessels will operate sustainable and silent ocean excursions from the port of Longyearbyen on the Arctic island of Svalbard. These catamarans will operate under the Hurtigruten Svalbard brand.
“Brim and Hurtigruten found each other through our common passion for the oceans. Their vision to change the way people experience the Arctic is a perfect match for our bold sustainability ambitions. We firmly believe the future of travel is emission free,” Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam says.
The Future of the Travel Industry
The hybrid catamaran will feature large battery packs and will be able to recharge at virtually any port and operate on batteries for up to 10 hours with a cruising speed of 10 knots.
“A green footprint is the future of the travel industry, in the polar regions and elsewhere. With a great idea—and dedicated partners like Hurtigruten—we have set out to build a vessel unlike any the world has seen,” says Brim Explorer co-founder and CEO Agnes Árnadóttir.
Sailing to Lofoten and Northern Norway in 2019
Brim Explorer’s first watercraft—similar to her sister that will operate exclusively under Hurtigruten Svalbard—is currently under construction in Norway. Debuting in August 2019, she will offer Hurtigruten guests traveling along the Norwegian coast truly unique excursions year-round, including visits to the Lofoten Islands in the spring and summer.
With their clean and futuristic design, both vessels will feature large windows that will take all 140 guests on board closer to the elements, with as little impact as possible.
Challenging the Industry – Strict Sustainability Standards
“At Hurtigruten, we follow strict standards of sustainability, and we demand our partners to adopt the same specifications. Brim is challenging the expedition cruise industry to move in a greener direction, just like Hurtigruten, and together, we can offer an experience that is truly unique and sustainable—both for our guests and the communities we visit,” Skjeldam says.
“By combining green technology, clean Nordic design, and a focus on sustainable travel, we have created the first sightseeing vessel in the world that is able to operate a full day on electric power. We look forward to using our knowledge to help move the travel industry in a greener direction, together with Hurtigruten,” Árnadóttir adds.
To fully capture wildlife both above and below the surface, the explorer catamarans will also feature hydrophones and underwater drones from another Norwegian start-up already partnering with Hurtigruten—Blueye Robotics. Their drones will be introduced to several of Hurtigruten’s expedition cruise ships, as well as all Brim Explorer experiences.
The introduction of battery-powered catamarans is the latest in a number of Hurtigruten green initiatives: Hurtigruten celebrated its 125th anniversary by banning all single-use-plastics, and in 2019, Hurtigruten will introduce MS Roald Amundsen, the world’s first hybrid electric-powered cruise ship.
In another industry first, Hurtigruten is completely rebuilding existing ships to run on a combination of large battery packs, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and biogas (LBG), the latter of which is produced from organic waste such as dead fish.
Joint Technology Development Projects
Hurtigruten and Hurtigruten Svalbard will also work closely with Brim Explorer to continuously improve and develop the green technology, such as integrating solar panels with the electric driveline to exploit the 24-hour Arctic sun to charge the batteries while sailing. Developing renewable energy stations in smaller ports for charging is another project under development.
Hurtigruten Svalbard is a fully owned Hurtigruten subsidiary—and the Arctic archipelago’s biggest, oldest, and most experienced provider of year-round, land-based adventure tourism activities. Hurtigruten Svalbard owns and operates three hotels, a number of bars and restaurants, and a wide variety of all-season adventure experiences.
Brim Explorer Electric-powered Catamarans
- Areas of operation: Svalbard (May – Oct), Lofoten (spring/summer/fall), Tromsø (winter).
- Length: 78 ft
- Width: 36 ft
- Guests: 140
- Outdoor seating: 80
- Battery capacity: 800 kwh
- Exploration time battery power: 10 hours of 10 knots
- Flag: Norwegian
- Crew: Norwegian
- Open kitchen and bar
- Locally sourced food concept
- Screens and high-tech equipment
- Blueye underwater drone
- Underwater microphones