Vision of The Fjords, a futuristic carbon fiber tourist vessel operated by The Fjords DA, has won the coveted Ship of the Year 2016 accolade at SMM in Hamburg.
The 40-meter (130-foot) long, 399-passenger capacity hybrid craft, which was completed by Brødrene Aa this summer, scooped the award for its unique approach to sustainable, sensitive and high quality operations in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Nærøyfjord.
Vision of The Fjords looks like nothing else on the water. Designed with lines that resemble the zigzagging mountain paths of the Western Norwegian fjords it traverses, it allows passengers to climb over the vessel as they watch local mountains rise from the water. Those who prefer to view the outside from inside can enjoy breath-taking views in lounges wrapped by sweeping panoramic windows.
The passenger experience is accentuated by technology that, as The Fjords CEO Rolf A. Sandvik explains, was painstakingly selected to set new environmental standards for the pristine habitat it operates within.
“We, and our owners Fjord1 and Flåm AS, are absolutely committed to a long-term strategy that safeguards the spellbinding nature of Nærøyfjord and its surrounding waterways,” he says.
“With that in mind we opted for a dual fuel solution whereby we run diesel engines up to the entrance of the protected Nærøyfjord, before switching to silent running, emission free electric power. We also challenged the yard to create a special hull designed to minimize wake and thus reduce impact erosion on the vulnerable shoreline here.
“We believe the choices made here have set a new course for the future operations of our entire fleet … and hopefully all operators that sail here.”
The judges for Ship of the Year, which is run by respected Norwegian maritime publication Skipsrevyen, were won over by Brødrene Aa’s bold design, but also by the vessel’s high-tech features, such as its innovative propulsion system. This is based on a combination of two 749kW MAN main engines and two 150kW Oswald electric motors, with ABB’s On-board DC Grid system managing and controlling the power between the diesel engines, propeller and charging station.
It’s a configuration capable of delivering a speed of 19.5 knots, slowing down to a leisurely eight knots to allow passengers to enjoy the beauty of the UNESCO-listed region.
The whole project was defined by collaboration, with an extensive list of suppliers, including Mancraft, Simrad, ABB and Naviguiding, amongst others, uniting to tailor the best available solutions.
Sandvik says: “Currently, most tourist boats in the fjords, including some of our own, are old and environmentally unfriendly, poisoning the very environment that attracts them. We have a vision, and dedicated owners with the desire and finances, to do things differently – putting nature first and pioneering tourist operations that delight customers while preserving habitats.
“Vision of the Fjords is a step forward, but it’s only the start of the journey. We’ll now look to expand and renew our fleet of seven tourist vessels, always choosing the best technological solutions in the market, ensuring we stay at the vanguard of responsible tourism long into the future.”
Vision of the Fjords began operating in July and is scheduled to complete around 700 voyages a year, running in all seasons.
Skipsrevyen runs its annual awards by asking readers for nominations, before an expert panel assesses vessels for the year’s standout craft. The initiative launched in 1997 with recent winners including DOF Subsea’s Skandi Africa (2015), Norled’s electric ferry Ampere (2014) and Subsea 7’s Seven Viking (2013).