February 19, 2018
(Noon EDT) -- Hurtigruten's new cruise ship Roald Amundsen -- which features pioneering environmentally-friendly technology -- has been launched at the Kleven shipyard in Ulsteinvik in Norway.
The 20,899-ton, 530-passenger ship touched water for the first time on February 17, ahead of the final stage of construction work. The first of two new passenger expedition ships in Hurtigruten's Explorer Class of ships, Roald Amundsen has been purpose-built to sail in Antarctic and polar waters.
It features electric hybrid engines set to reduce fuel consumption by approximately 20 percent and enable the ship to sail with solely electric propulsion for up to 30 minutes, the first time a cruise line has used such technology.
Marking the old and the new, Hurigruten's Lofoten sailed to the shipyard to attend the ceremony. Launched in 1964, it is the oldest ship operated by the line, which specializes in Norwegian coastal and Antarctic cruises.
Scheduled to launch this July, Roald Amundsen will sail on 18- to 20-day voyages to Antarctica and the Chilean fjords in its maiden season. The ship has been named after the famous Norwegian explorer who in 1911 became the first man to reach the South Pole.
The ship has 265 cabins -- all with outside views (50 percent with balconies) -- and three restaurants. With immersive itineraries based on nature and landscapes, public areas include a two-deck forward-facing Explorer Deck wrapped around the bow. There is also a science center, providing passengers with an in-depth understanding of destinations visited. There also will be a 10-strong expedition team on every cruise.
The Nordic-inspired interior design showcases natural materials, such as granite, oak, birch and wool.
Roald Amundsen's sister vessel Fridtjof Nansen is currently being built the Kleven shipyard and will launch in 2019.
--By Jeannine Williamson, Cruise Critic contributor