Cruise ships have long been criticized for their detrimental environmental impact, with a single vessel emitting emissions equivalent to thousands of cars. Recognizing the urgent need for change, Norwegian cruise liner company Hurtigruten is taking a proactive approach to address the ecological emergencies facing the planet. Today, the company revealed the initial designs for a zero-emission cruise ship set to launch by the end of the decade, marking a significant step forward in sustainable maritime travel.

First introduced as “Sea Zero” in March 2022, the concept ship presented by Hurtigruten Norway showcases a revolutionary design. The vessel features three autonomous, retractable sail wing rigs reaching a height of 50 meters, housing approximately 1,500 square meters of solar panels. In addition to the sail wings, the ship will be powered by multiple 60-megawatt batteries, which recharge while in port, along with wind technology. The vessel’s advanced features include AI maneuvering capabilities, retractable thrusters, contra-rotating propellers, advanced hull coatings, and proactive hull cleaning technology.

Hurtigruten Norway CEO Hedda Felin emphasized the result of an extensive feasibility study, which identified the most promising technologies for their groundbreaking future cruise ships. Henrik Burvang, Research and Innovation Manager at VARD, the company responsible for the ship’s concept designs, highlighted the vessel’s streamlined shape, advanced hull, and propulsion systems, which significantly reduce energy demand. VARD is also actively exploring new design tools and technologies to enhance energy efficiency.

The integration of enhanced AI capabilities will transform the crew bridge, resembling airplane cockpits and enabling more efficient operations. However, Hurtigruten’s visionary and eco-conscious designs extend beyond the ship and crew. Guests on the 135-meter-long concept ship, estimated at around 500 individuals, will have access to a mobile app that can control their cabin’s ventilation system and monitor personal water and energy consumption throughout their voyage.

Hurtigruten’s Sea Zero project will now enter a two-year testing and development phase, focusing on the proposed technologies such as battery production, propulsion systems, hull design, and sustainable practices. The company will also explore operational improvements for onboard hotels, which account for a significant portion of a ship’s energy consumption.

Acknowledging the urgency of the climate crisis, Hurtigruten has already taken steps to reduce its environmental impact. Two of its seven vessels have been upgraded to run on a battery-hybrid-power system, with plans to retrofit a third ship this fall. Furthermore, the company is equipping its additional vessels with various technologies aimed at reducing CO2 emissions by 20% and nitrogen oxides by up to 80%.

Hurtigruten’s commitment to zero-emission ships exemplifies its dedication to sustainable practices and environmental stewardship in the cruise industry. As the world seeks viable solutions to combat climate change, the innovative designs and proactive initiatives by companies like Hurtigruten pave the way for a greener future in maritime travel.

By Impact Lab