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This Cruise Line Is Taking Sustainability to the Next Level

For Hurtigruten, innovation, protecting the environment, and supporting the local communities are part of its mission.

This Cruise Line Is Taking Sustainability to the Next Level

You stand out on deck as your ship cruises through a narrow fjord. Its majestic walls climb around you. The water below and the skies above teem with wildlife. This trip is even more special because the ship you are on has minimized its impact on this gorgeous setting.

Hurtigruten was founded in 1893 and helped to sustain communities along the harshest parts of the Norwegian coast. Since then, it has grown to become the world’s largest expedition cruise line, traveling from pole to pole, across the entire Arctic, and to 28 UNESCO sites. But one thing hasn’t changed: Their deep care for and their commitment to the year-round prosperity and long-term sustainable development of every place along their routes.

Here are some of the innovative ways they’re helping to preserve the environment and effect positive change.


Sustainability Everywhere
In 2018, Hurtigruten was the first major travel company to remove single-use plastics from all of their ships. They’ve replaced plastic with paper, biodegradable materials, and other sustainable alternatives. They also have challenged their suppliers to reduce or halt their plastic usage.

That commitment to sustainability continues with the operation of the ships themselves. The newest of the fleet are the first two vessels in the world to be hybrid-electric powered, MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen. They’re industry-leading innovations within travel that have led to a reduction in fuel consumption; it’s a step toward the cruise line’s goal of being completely emission-free. Combined with the fact that they don’t use any environmentally dangerous heavy fuel oil, Hurtigruten has raised the bar for what eco-conscious cruising can look like.

What several Hurtigruten ships do produce is their own fresh water, by using onboard purification technologies to remove salts and minerals. And how does that water get hot? In the most efficient way possible: by reusing heat from the engine and exhaust systems—and saving enough power to run 6,700 households every single year.


Reducing Waste
When you’re gazing at massive icebergs floating off the spectacular coast of Greenland, waste may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But along with your safety and enjoyment, Hurtigruten is very focused on what their ships leave behind. That’s why they have created stringent policies, including a ban on discharging any kind of food waste or wastewater in vulnerable areas. Plus, anything that can be recycled is—and in facilities designed to maximize efficiency.

When you sit down to delicious dinners on board, know that Hurtigruten has committed to reducing up to 30 percent of food waste by 2021. It’s not just words. In fact, it’s a process that begins with data. All stages of food production are digitally registered and measured, in order to identify where waste may be occurring.

While that may sound ambitious enough, the cruise line has gone further—much further. Hurtigruten signed a three-year partnership with the EAT Foundation to explore initiatives that improve the sustainability efforts of their food system, even as they broaden the on-board offerings. And rest assured you won’t be dining on any unsustainable-listed seafood—they’ve banned it—and demand that all fish be third-party certified.

And local? There’s a reason the cruise line calls one of their culinary efforts, “Norway’s Coastal Kitchen”—the food is made from the freshest, most delicious produce found on the Norwegian coast. In fact, 80 percent of the food and drinks in the program come from Norwegian suppliers; nearly half of which is delivered directly from the source, with as few food miles added as possible. Sourcing local ingredients, minimizing transportation emissions, and educating guests: It’s a win-win-win.


Enhancing Local Communities and Environments
When you go for exciting excursions in ports—whether it’s South America cities, Alaskan towns, or anywhere—it will be with local suppliers, in order to support these small coastal villages and their people. It’s an important part of the cruise line’s mission, which values cultures and traditions, and maintains close cooperation with the communities that welcome guests.

That mission is enhanced by monitoring the environments they pass through, to help keep them clean. Several ships within the fleet are equipped to observe everything from the water’s molecular content to temperature changes—special sensors can even detect the smallest oil spill, both while sailing and in ports. It’s important information, which is why Hurtigruten shares it with scientists all over the world in real time.

That respect extends to picking up waste on the spectacular beaches; it’s a shared passion between the ships’ Expedition Teams and guests that result in the removal of tens of metric tons of waste every year. The respect for nature extends to wildlife as well: Viewing is done at a distance so as to not alter an animal’s natural behavior. It is something guests are briefed on and Hurtigruten Expedition Team members are trained and certified to do every year.



Espen Mills

One Eye on the Future
Of course, seeing the remote shores of the Faroe Islands and watching penguins in Antarctica should be a privilege that future generations should also enjoy, which is why Hurtigruten aims to create eco-ambassadors at every destination on every voyage. The cruise line hires highly skilled and experienced Expedition teams, with fields of expertise ranging from biology and polar survival to the northern lights. Every journey includes fascinating lectures and discussions about local cultures, wildlife, nature, and pollution implications.

The effort is ongoing and nonstop. Hurtigruten supports and cooperates with organizations like the Clean Arctic Alliance, European Climate Foundation, and the Norwegian Polar institute. And again, they’ve gone one step further, establishing the Hurtigruten Foundation to raise awareness, support local and global initiatives, and to preserve and protect all of the very special areas they visit.

Learn more about Hurtigruten’s innovative sustainability efforts on its gorgeous voyages and explore how to be a part of the Hurtigruten experience.

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