Plans Revealed for World’s Most Energy-Efficient Cruise Ship

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Ahead of its 130th anniversary, Hurtigruten has revealed plans for its first zero-emission ship, marking a significant milestone in the cruise industry’s sustainability endeavors.

Designed in collaboration with a consortium of 12 maritime partners and the research institute SINTEF, this groundbreaking project, initially announced under the name ‘Sea Zero,’ introduces the concept of the world’s most energy-efficient cruise ship.

The Vision Behind the Project

Hurtigruten Norway has released plans for its inaugural zero-emission ship. The initiative was first announced under the project name ‘Sea Zero’ in March 2022 and presents early concept designs for what could potentially be the world’s most energy-efficient cruise vessel.

The CEO of Hurtigruten Norway, Hedda Felin, reflected on the ambitious vision of the ‘Sea Zero’ project.

“When we initially announced the ‘Sea Zero’ project over a year ago, we were faced with the challenge of not knowing which technologies would be available to us in 2030. Our task was to pave the way for new innovations and enhance existing ones to align with our sustainability objectives,” according to Felin.

Zero-Emission Cruise Ship
Zero-Emission Cruise Ship (Render Courtesy: Hurtigruten)

“While some of these technologies have reached a relatively advanced stage, they still necessitate dedicated research and development to ensure successful implementation within the maritime context. On the other hand, certain technologies are still in early development and require fundamental research and thorough testing,” Felin added.

Felin’s statement also mentioned the challenges faced by the consortium, with technologies at different levels of development and various hurdles to overcome before they can be implemented.

Hurtigruten aims to transform its entire fleet into zero-emission vessels by 2030, a monumental step in a world where only 0.1% of ships use zero-emission technology.

As companies strive for sustainability, the ‘Sea Zero’ initiative might serve as a blueprint for future eco-friendly cruise ship design advancements. While it is unlikely that cruise ships will ever be fully electric, further designing the technologies could lead engineers to find better, more sustainable options than what is available today.

Revolutionizing Cruise Ship Design

Hurtigruten Norway’s forthcoming ships plan to combine 60-megawatt battery packs with wind technology. They will showcase numerous innovative features, such as retractable sails with solar panels, artificial intelligence maneuvering, and contra-rotating propellers. Other unique additions include advanced hull coating, air lubrication, and proactive hull cleaning.

Zero-Emission Cruise Ship
Zero-Emission Cruise Ship (Render Courtesy: Hurtigruten)

The futuristic vessels, equipped with batteries that charge in port, will harness A.I. to collect data for efficient docking and undocking methods for each port of call, optimizing operations under challenging weather conditions. The ships will also feature autonomous wing rigs comprised of solar panels and wind surface, helping further reduce their carbon footprint.

The Research and Innovation Manager at VARD, Henrik Burvang, responsible for the concept visuals, spoke about the innovative design. 

“The streamlined shape, with its innovative hull and propulsion solutions, not only reduces energy demand but also increases passenger comfort. In the process, we are developing new design tools and exploring new technologies for energy efficiency,” he said.

The Guest Experience

Beyond technological advancements, the ships will focus on providing an unmatched experience for their guests. The first zero-emission ship is designed with a streamlined shape for less air resistance, reducing energy use and enhancing comfort. 

The design features ample outdoor spaces and large window areas, allowing guests to enjoy stunning views of what is often described as ‘the world’s most beautiful coastline.’

Zero-Emission Cruise Ship
Zero-Emission Cruise Ship (Render Courtesy: Hurtigruten)

The prototype ship, modeled at 135 meters (443 feet) long, is designed to accommodate 500 guests and 99 crew members in 270 cabins. 

The Sea Zero project has entered a two-year phase of testing and developing the proposed technologies. It’s focused on achieving a 50% energy reduction compared to Hurtigruten Norway’s current ships. This involves optimizing energy use for onboard hotel operations, which consume up to half of a ship’s total energy.

The company is also engaging in one of the most comprehensive environmental upgrades with its existing fleet. It has already upgraded two out of seven ships to battery-hybrid power, with a third one scheduled for an upgrade later this year. The remaining vessels have technologies to reduce CO² emissions by 25% and NOx (nitrogen oxides) by 80%.

The unveiling of the first zero-emissions cruise ship comes on the heels of the first-ever zero-emission voyage by MSC Euribia, culminating in Copenhagen today, June 7. 

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