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MS "Roald Amundsen": Sustainable Cruise – is that Possible?

A 17.5 meter high LED screen welcomes visitors to the MS "Roald Amundsen", then mountains, fjords and Norway's coast. The star on board of the Hurtigruten new building is nature, this impression arises.

This impression should also arise. Because: With the 140-meter-long "Roald Amundsen", the Norwegian shipping company has sent a cruise ship on its way, which is said to be among the most environmentally friendly in the world. It has both an electric and an internal combustion engine – making it the first hybrid-powered cruise ship.

It feels good to stand on the bridge, says Captain Kai Albrigtsen, 55. He has been working for Hurtigruten for 39 years, he has been sailing in the Arctic for 16 years, he has a lot of experience with old ships that have been converted. But now he presents this new building at the Cruise Center in Hamburg-Altona, where "everything is designed" to make the "cruise cleaner". Or at least "as sustainable as never before", as Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam puts it. Restrictive words are also appropriate, because the dream of the organic cruise are limited.

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Hurtigruten house:
This is what the "Roald Amundsen" looks like

Without pollution, unfortunately, it does not go, admits Captain Albrigtsen. "But this ship combines the latest technology that money can buy." What makes this ship so special? It was the black smoke from which the MS "Roald Amundsen" blew only a little when the machines are launched. And of which later, on their journey across the oceans, not much is to be seen.

According to Hurtigruten, the "Roald Amundsen" can glide across the sea, at least over short distances. For this, the four propellers must first generate electricity, which is stored in 120 lithium-ion batteries below deck. As soon as enough energy is available, the computer returns the power of the diesel engines – then it gets quiet in the engine room.

"When the batteries start, decide neither the machinists nor me," says Captain Albrigtsen. For that worry the so-called Power Management SystemIt controls how much energy is generated and consumed again.

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Hurtigruten is making headway in an industry that is extremely in demand, but also highly controversial. Millions of people want to discover the world every year in the floating hotel. This type of travel is extremely harmful to the environment. The use of heavy fuel oil – which is standard on many cruise liners – results in harmful emissions of sulfur, soot particles, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide. In addition, a cruise due to the fine dust pollution on board harbors risks to health.

So it is understandable that we are desperately looking for a solution to the problem: How is the cruise ecologically sustainable?

20 percent fewer pollutants

Just a good half hour could drive the "Roald Amundsen" battery powered, says chief engineer Jan Andreas Grønås. Then she needs marine diesel again. All in all, Hurtigruten wants to use the hybrid drive to reduce fuel consumption and emissions: the target is 20 percent less pollutants.

The water treatment plant should also ensure that only "absolutely pure water" is discharged into the sea, says Grønås during a guided tour of the catacombs in the hull. He holds up a glass of filtered transparent water and grins in the cameras of the journalists.

Otherwise, the expedition ship shines ecologically especially with things that are missing: There are, for example, no plastic cups on board. And not those soot clouds that are smoking from the chimneys of other cruise liners.

The ship recently completed its maiden voyage from Tromsø to Hamburg one year late. It is designed to attract customers who are not alone because of the entertainment on board: water slides, climbing parks or a casino will search here in vain.

Hurtigruten / Aspens Mills

Cabin 537 of the MS "Roald Amundsen": bed head part in wave optics

The 265 cabins are tastefully designed with wood-effect details, wavy wall panels and armchairs and earth-tone carpets. The corridors are decorated with large-scale works of art depicting stylized marine plants and fish. In the restaurant Aune on deck 6, Husky woodcuts are on display behind glass.

"A floating research station"

"Our clients include retired teachers, librarians, but also people who are simply very interested in nature," says Wayne Brown. The California man – 66 years old, checkered flannel shirt, gray mustache – works in the "Roald Amundsen" expedition team. He lectures on plankton and seaweed, gets seaweed out of the water and looks at it with passengers under the microscope.

"The ship is a floating research station," says Brown. In the future, the team will study the ocean for microplastics or measure water temperatures in specific areas.

Expeditions for everyone; the feeling of spending a relevant holiday at sea – it is the focus that makes Hurtigruten successful. "We offer cruises for people who do not normally go on a cruise," says press officer Arne Karstens. The "Roald Amundsen" will be mainly in Arctic waters, but also in the Antarctic on the way. Depending on the route, botanists, geologists and biologists should travel to convey knowledge to the public.

Microscopes in the Science Lab: Cruise for amateur researchers

Julia Stanek / Spiegel Online

Microscopes in the Science Lab: Cruise for amateur researchers

Such an experience has its price. A two-week trip from Canadian Vancouver to Anchorage in Alaska costs from 4790 euros. For the 29-day "Northwest Passage Adventure", the customer must pay at least 18,990 euros, for luxury such as an outside cabin or a suite even more.

"The stench lies like a carpet over the city"

"We look forward to this brand new ship," says Grete Skjold Borge. The Norwegian is standing with trolleys, husband Tor and her two sons, 30 and 27, in front of a fish sandwich stand in the Port of Hamburg. The family flew in from Bergen to board the Roald Amundsen.

Your itinerary: up the North Sea, along the Norwegian coast to Kirkenes and back to Tromsø. From there they will fly back to Bergen. The ecological footprint of the family of four will be considerable – hybrid propulsion or not.

Family Borge in Hamburg

Julia Stanek / Spiegel Online

Family Borge in Hamburg

"We gave this trip for our 40th wedding anniversary," says Borge. To travel once more with the adult sons. Treat yourself to something. Take a dip in the pool, eat well, enjoy sauna, gym and spa services.

Whether you want to visit the readings on natural topics? The on-board Rock Science Center, where wildlife enthusiast Wayne Brown wants to make passengers ambassadors for the environment? Grete Skjold Borge hesitates a bit. "In the eleven days on board, we will certainly look at everything," she finally says.

The environmental theme praised by Hurtigruten is not the main reason for the Borges to travel with the "Roald Amunsen". However, they are aware of the dark side of sea voyages. "In Bergen, there are sometimes up to eight cruise ships in the harbor at the same time," says Tor van Pelt Borge. "They pollute the air, often the stench lies like a carpet over the city."

On the "Roald Amundsen" he can now experience that holidays on the water can also be sustainable. At least a little bit.


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