The Future of Cruises Features a Ship With Solar Sails

Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten just unveiled their zero-emissions electric ship

Hurtigruten Norway electric ship with solar panel sails
The new vessel is set to hit the water in 2030
VARD Design

Electric boats are a thing now, and some of them are even self-driving. And while many models in the recent news are used for personal recreation, ferries or trash collection, a Norwegian company is stepping the electric boat game way up. This week, cruise company Hurtigruten unveiled its zero-emissions electric cruise ship, which features futuristic-looking retractable sails that are covered in solar panels.

Developed by Gerry Larsson-Fedde, SVP of marine operations for Hurtigruten Norway, the ship will run off of 60-megawatt batteries that have a range of 300 to 350 nautical miles. Larsson-Fedde estimates that one liner would have to charge in port seven to eight times during an 11-day journey. But those retractable sails will help to top off the batteries when it’s windy enough. The sails — which can reach 50 meters in height but will adjust independently to pass under bridges — are covered in 1,500 square meters of solar panels so they can generate additional energy to power the ship. “In Norway, although it can be dark sometimes in winter, we still have sun in the south,” Larsson-Fedde told CNN. “And we have sun 24 hours a day in the summer. We will be super-powered by the midnight sun on top of everything else.”

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The ship will be designed with 270 cabins that can sleep 500 guests and 99 crew members. In line with Hurtigruten’s climate-friendly initiatives, an interactive mobile app will help guests monitor their climate impact. So yes, you might get shamed for taking a shower longer than 10 minutes or keeping the AC on full blast all day, but if you’re sailing on an electric cruise ship, you’re probably okay with that. 

Hurtigruten is no stranger to sustainable shipping. The company developed a hybrid ship back in 2019 and is presently converting its entire expedition fleet to hybrid battery power. The first zero-emissions vessel is set to enter the water in 2030. While this is a very cool initiative, it’ll take more than sleek Scandinavian design and the promise of a greener world to get me on a cruise.


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