The maiden voyage of the MS Roald Amundsen will be a trailblazing one. When it sets off from Chile in October 2018, the polar cruise ship owned by Norway’s Hurtigruten will have several cabinets of lithium ion batteries on board to support its diesel engines and reduce overall emissions by 20 percent. The hybrid ship will be able to run on only electricity for 30 minutes at a time, the first time time a passenger vessel achieves such a feat.
The ship and its 530 passengers will be able to glide through majestic Antarctic icebergs in complete silence, with no noise to startle the whales and no soot to leave a gray pall on the white ice. The shipping industry is performing a U-turn, following the lead of the aviation sector and automotive industry: It is moving away from oil toward battery power. “The future of shipping will no doubt be quiet and emission-free,” said Daniel Skjeldam, head of Hurtigruten.