Hurtigruten Explorer

(4 p.m. BST) -- Hurtigruten has announced that its two new 530-passenger expedition cruise ships will operate using environmentally-friendly hybrid technology -- set to reduce fuel consumption by approximately 20 percent.

The as-yet-unnamed Hurtigruten ships -- launching in July 2018 and July 2019 -- are specifically designed to traverse the waters of the Arctic and Antarctic, and will become the world's first expedition ships with hybrid propulsion. The new technology has been developed by Rolls Royce and Bellona, a non-profit organisation that works to address climate challenges.

Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam said: “The future of shipping is, without a doubt, silent and emission free. We will use our new expeditionary ships as groundbreakers for this new technology and show the world that hybrid propulsion on large ships is possible, today.

“To be able to sail using only electrical power is not only a great benefit for the environment, but it will also enhance the impact of experiencing nature for the guests. Picture sailing into a fjord silently without any form of emissions.”

This follows the news that Hurtigruten signed a letter of intent for up to four new expedition ships -- the largest single investment in Hurtigruten's 123-year history -- which means an additional two ships could be added to the fleet in the coming years.

P&O Cruises also announced yesterday that it is to build a brand-new 5,200-passenger cruise ship for the U.K. market, launching 2020.

--By Kerry Spencer, Editor, U.K.