Hurtigruten, running large ships that use thousands of litres of gas every year, know this too well. They travel to the far reaches of the world where icecaps are rapidly deteriorating because of our footprints. Instead of operating business as usual and avoiding responsibility for their impact, Hurtigruten have committed themselves to ensuring that their guests of tomorrow have the opportunity to experience the natural wonders of today.
Hurtigruten are proud to be among the front runners in sustainable maritime travel. Through the work of their Foundation, investment in cutting-edge, environmentally friendly technology and the education programs they offer to their guests onboard, Hurtigruten work to ensure that their footprint is as gentle as possible.
Given the amount of ships in the Hurtigruten fleet, reducing fuel consumption has been one of the most pressing environmental considerations for Hurtigruten. All of their ships on the Norwegian Coastal Cruises use low sulphur SDM (Special Distillate Marine) fuel. The explorer ship, MS Fram, that travels further up into the Arctic Circle, uses the even more eco-friendly Marine Gas Oil as fuel.
With the exciting announcements of the particulars of Hurtigruten's two new ships, MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen, sailing from 2018, Hurtigruten has shown even more of a commitment towards transitioning towards an environmentally sound means of travel. Designed through a collaboration of Norwegian yacht designer Espen Øino and Rolls-Royce, the design will completely revolutionise sustainable travel, using hybrid electric propulsion technology. This will represent a significant reduction in fuel consumption (20% compared to traditional ships) and CO2 emissions. In fact, it will amount to eliminating 6, 400 metric tons worth, or the equivalent of the yearly emissions of over 5, 500 modern cars!
Hurtigruten have also managed to save energy by altering the types of propellers they use on their ships. Changing the propellers on the MS Richard With managed to reduce consumption by 10% annually, and as a result new propellers were fitted to the MS Nordnorge, MS Kong Harald and MS Nordkapp.
Hurtigruten's commitment to sustainable travel for future generations doesn't just encompass their own ships, but also their charitable work. Hurtigruten established the Hurtigruten Foundation to combat the effects of climate change so that future guests can enjoy the same wonderful polar regions. The Norwegian coastline, the high north and Antarctica support some of the most unique cultures, ecosystems and wildlife in the world. The nature and environment in these areas is vulnerable, and for the past 120 years, Hurtigruten have seen firsthand the impact that human intervention has had on these environments.
The Foundation raises funds and supports grassroots environmental movements such as 'Clean up Svalbard' as well as campaigns for the Association of Greenlandic Children. They also partly fund several research centres in Antarctica.
Funds are raised through onboard auctions and have gone towards global habitat restoration projects, such as an environmental protection project in South Georgia and a project for the protection of the albatross.
As well as funding research stations in Antarctica, with over 120 years of experience travelling up the coast of Norway, Hurtigruten is uniquely placed to notice changes in the environment. Sailing 365 days a year, together with Ocean Visuals, they contribute to real-time oil surveillance, with hyper spectral lasers installed aboard some of their fleet to detect even the smallest spill.
Hurtigruten also collaborate with scientists and research centres from all over the world, providing specialist knowledge and information about the Arctic and Antarctica. Hurtigruten's thermographic data collections have been invaluable to the Institute of Marine Research (IMR), who now possess one of the longest climate related time series in the world.
Similarly, Hurtigruten also has a strong partnership with the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIWR), who have a 'Ferry-box' system on the MS Trollfjord and MS Vesteralen. The Ferry-box system alerts to changes in the water environment, such as temperature increases, freshwater inflow and toxic algae blooms, and is also used to monitor the many fish farms facilities along the coastal stretch between Bergen and Kirkenes. This information forms an integral part of the EU Water Framework Directive as a part of the ocean acidification project.
On many of their ships, particularly the Explorer fleet, Hurtigruten runs lectures and shore activities that revolve around educating their guests about the threats the polar regions of the world face.
Aboard the MS Midnatsol, which is specifically equipped for travelling into Antarctic waters, there are state of the art science facilities where guests can examine samples and specimens collected on field work trips ashore. Hurtigruten has been heavily involved in promoting and supporting the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), whose aim it is to secure a sustainable and environmentally aware tourism industry in the fragile Antarctic region. All lectures aboard the MS Midnatsol, catering for the Young Explorers and right up to our more mature guests, are conducted according to the IAATO guidelines.