Designs Progress with Builder Selected for Zero-Emission Cruise Ship

zero emission cruise ship concept
Northern Xplorer would be powered by hydrogen fuel-cells and batteries (Multi Maritime)

Published Sep 8, 2022 12:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

Efforts are progressing to design and build the world’s first zero-emission cruise ship that will be outfitted with batteries and hydrogen fuel cells for its power. Norwegian start-up Northern Xplorer reports that it has selected a shipyard and is working with technology partners to choose the technologies for its first cruise ship. The company said it expects delivery of the ship at the start of the 2025/2026 cruise season.

Northern Xplorer and Portuguese shipyard West Sea signed a letter of intent for the construction of the cruise ship. West Sea said it intends to build the 250-passenger cruise ship at its yard in Viana do Costello north of Porto. The yard is currently involved in the construction of seven 10,000 gross ton exploration cruise ships being built by a Portuguese entrepreneur and marketed by Atlas Ocean Voyages.

“This is a new milestone on our journey towards emission-free cruising,” said Northern Xplorer (NX) founder and CEO Rolf André Sandvik. “Having approached yards worldwide for tenders, we’re delighted to be embarking on this exciting project with West Sea.”

The vessel’s design features ABB’s fully electric propulsion system, including the battery and hydrogen fuel cell technology that will enable it to sail emissions-free. Northern Xplorer reports that along with ABB they are currently in dialogue with multiple sub-suppliers for vessel systems. When the company initially announced its concept in December 2021, it reported that its current plan is for a series of 14 ships accommodating up to 300 passengers in 150 cabins supported by approximately 100 crew. 

“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,” said Sandvik.

Northern Xplorer called the LOI “an important step toward creating a new paradigm in the cruise industry.” Sandvik previously commissioned the hybrid-electric sightseeing vessels Vision of the Fjords (built 2016) and Future of the Fjords (built 2018) in his former role as founder and CEO of tourism company The Fjords.

The new company seeks to position itself to be one of the first able to meet Norway’s mandate that starting in 2026 bans fossil fuel-powered ships from its world-heritage fjords. As green technology and the required infrastructure expands, they expect to cruise other parts of the world.

In June of this year, Norwegian cruise company Havila Kystruten made history by becoming the first to operate emissions-free while cruising in Norway’s Geirangerfjord. The company’s 15,800 gross ton cruise ship Havila Castor sailed for three hours in the fjord using only its battery pack.