Norwegian-based Northern Xplorer (NX) has unveiled a zero-emission, luxury cruise ship concept.
The design aims to open the door to unique communities, natural attractions and experiences in the Nordic countries using advanced eco-friendly vessels, the company said.
NX mantra ‘experience tourism’ was developed under the slogan ‘Destination Discovery’ – a new type of cruising providing immersive, enriching experiences for those interested in responsible travel with a minimal footprint.
As well as enjoying the scenery, experiences will include interacting with local communities through cultural (arts and craft, architecture, music and lifestyle) activities and social dining in small groups.
“Northern Xplorer will provide opportunities to travel ‘off the beaten track’, connecting passengers with unique locations in the Nordic countries in a personal way,” claimed company founder and CEO, Rolf André Sandvik.
“NX sets a new course for sustainable cruising for thinking travellers, with future expansion providing a gateway to other European destinations both coastal and on navigable waterways inland,” Sandvik added.
In Norway specifically, new Government regulations coming into force from 2026 will make zero emissions mandatory in the World Heritage sites of Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, among others.
“This will mean the end of polluting cruise ships sailing in what will be the world’s first zero-emission marine zones. Northern Xplorer provides the perfect zero-emission solution with a strong focus on local value creation and empowerment,” Sandvik further explained.
The current plan is to develop a series of 14 ships accommodating up to 300 passengers in 150 cabins supported by around 100 crew. The first ships are intended to be operational from 2024/2025, well in advance of the 2026 zero-emission regulations that will affect Norway’s World Heritage fjords.
Each ship will feature clean technologies, including fully electric propulsion, battery energy storage, hydrogen fuel cells and auxiliary renewable energy supply (wind and solar power). Sophisticated HVAC systems will also safeguard against pathogen spread while extensive use of recyclable materials will promote circularity.
They will also feature advanced LADAR technology to detect marine plastic debris and raise awareness of maritime pollution. Built to the highest class notations, all of the vessels will be performance-optimised for superior energy efficiency and reduced fuel consumption.
“Low-impact discovery travel in smaller vessels is infinitely preferable to over crowded ships and marquee destinations teeming with tourists. Somewhere between ocean and river cruising, it’s for those who want a more intimate on-board experience, to get insights into a new culture up close, and leave with the feeling their holidays have contributed positively to local communities and the planet,” Sandvik added.
NX vessels will be able to call at harbours that large ships cannot access. “As a company we will be part of the local fabric offering compelling activities that support local employment and innovation. We will perform strict due diligence of sub-suppliers to ensure our green philosophy spans the value chain, while also facilitating scientific research and marine conservation,” Sandvik explained.
Sandvik is a Master Mariner with extensive experience with cruise lines NCL and Crystal Cruises. Latterly he founded travel company The Fjords, based in Flåm in western Norway, where as CEO, he developed a new era of environmentally friendly sightseeing, commissioning the hybrid electric vessels ’Vision of the Fjords’ (built 2016) and ’Future of the Fjords’ (built 2018).
Each vessel can accommodate up to 400 passengers on noiseless, pollution-free journeys in the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord. They were constructed by specialist Norwegian shipbuilder Brødrene Aa.
“NX represents the next step of my own journey to green the waterborne tourist industry. We want to ‘walk the talk’ on green maritime innovation. Scaling up what we seeded at The Fjords to sustainable cruising on brand new vessels compliant with the strictest global regulations is, I believe, the best way to show discerning visitors the amazing nature and breadth of culture we have up here in Northern Europe,” Sandvik concluded.