DAWN (AT MIDNIGHT) OF A NEW HYBRID FERRY ERA: Hurtigruten’s new battery-powered ship makes first stop in Longyearbyen overnight under sunny skies


Since the ship is designed for maximum energy efficiency in the Arctic in particular, it’s only fitting nature provided a matching setting as Hurtigruten’s first hybrid-powered ferry made its debut in Longyearbyen with a 12-hour stop beginning at 10 p.m. Friday where passengers were able to spend a long “day” exploring under clear skies lit by the midnight sun.


A live webcam on the Roald Amundsen hybrid ferry offers a 360-degree view of its debut stop in Longyearbyen on Friday and Saturday. Image courtesy of Hurtigruten.

The Roald Amundsen, promoted as the world’s most environmentally friendly cruise ship due largely to being able to operate exclusively from battery packs for periods of time. Its stop in Svalbard is part of a voyage that will take the ship to Greenland and Iceland before it heads south to Antarctica for voyages during the southern hemisphere’s summer season.

“I think it’s wonderful and I think the nature is wonderful,” said Renate Hillig, a Hamburg resident reboarding the ship after exploring Longyearbyen on Saturday morning. She said she specifically booked the trip on the Roald Amundsen because of its hybrid capabilities.

“It’s really very new and they try not to be so dirty,” she said. “When they’re in the Arctic they don’t drive with fuel. Also, the passengers have to go for the nature – don’t use so much water or as many towels.”

Passengers are urged not to leave any trash behind during port stops, and to bring any plastics or other waste material observed during shore excursions back on board.

The ship’s guides also emphasize the ship’s capabilities, and the threats such as climate change and pollution facing the Arctic, Hillig said, and there are facilities such as a science center so passengers wanting a more in-depth immersion into the experience.

The hybrid technology and other energy-saving measures, such as route planning that minimizes the load on engines, reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20 percent, according to Hurtigruten. The ship is also classified as an ice class PC6 vessel, meaning it has specific capabilities to help travel in polar regions.

It is the first of three such ships Hurtigruten is planning the deploy, with the Fridtjof Nansen currently under construction and scheduled for her maiden voyage next year.  A third hybrid-powered sister ship has a possible launch date of 2021. The company is also upgrading at least six of existing ships, replacing conventional diesel propulsion with what it calls a unique combination of batteries, liquefied natural gas and liquefied bio gas.