For sophisticated travelers, an Alaska cruise presents a classic travel conundrum. On the other hand, setting sail with several thousand other passengers in a large cruise ship with multiple restaurants, onboard theaters, a casino and an array of shore excursions in overcrowded ports makes any interaction with the sights and sounds of the 49th state difficult.
The good news is that if you’re someone who thinks that the midnight sun is more important than the midnight buffet, there’s a new ship coming on line that may well be the answer to your prayers. Hurtigruten, a company best known for operating small ships along Norway’s western and northern coasts, is entering Alaskan waters in 2020. This is a game changer for anyone who’s wanted to visit Alaska by ship but shied away from the mega-ships carrying 1,200 to 3,000 plus passengers that routinely ply these waters and stop only at larger ports.
“Alaska is a perfect fit for Hurtigruten and our expedition cruise concept, “Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam says. “We will go where the big ships can’t, taking you far beyond the ordinary while exploring the true beauty of Alaska.”
The company currently operates expedition cruises in Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland, Spitsbergen, and the Northwest Passage. But in 2020, Hurtigruten is offering a series of Alaskan expedition cruises from eight to 18 days in length, sailing the legendary Inside Passage and beyond. The ship will call at some well-known towns such as Sitka and Haines but also lesser known ports along the way, including Wrangell and Petersburg, nicknamed “Little Norway.”
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Visiting these smaller ports of call is possible because of the smaller size of the MS Roald Amundsen, the brand new ship that will be launched in 2019 and undertake these voyages. The ship’s capacity is just 500 passengers and it will sail with Hurtigruten’s signature Expedition Team, consisting of geologists, biologists, geographers, historians and activity guides. The ship is named after Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who in 1911 was the first man to cross Antarctica and reach the South Pole.
But it gets better, as the MS Roald Amundsen promises to be one of the greenest ships afloat. It’s a state-of-the-art vessel that will feature new and environmentally sustainable hybrid technology that will reduce fuel consumption. The MS Roald Amundsen is the first of two hybrid ships Hurtigruten will add to its fleet over the next few years, cutting emissions by sailing with electrical propulsion. Hybrid technology, combined with the advanced construction of the hull and effective use of electricity on board, is anticipated to reduce fuel consumption and CO2-emissions on the ships by 20 percent.
The new ship will feature a two-level indoor/outdoor Observation Deck wrapped around the top of the ship’s raked bow. Adjacent to it will be the enclosed Amundsen Science Center that will offer state-of-the-art technology, touch screens and science equipment, an immersive “edutainment area” that will function as the place for guests, staff and crew to mingle. It will feature lecture spaces, a small library, and specialty areas for workshops in photography, biology, and the onboard HQ for Hurtigruten’s Expedition Team.
This exploration-style ship will follow the coast of America´s northern frontier, a place of orcas, horned puffins, moose, brown bears, and bald eagles. There will be kayaking and hiking excursions. On board, there are three restaurants and a range of accommodations. All cabins are outside cabins and half of them will have private balconies. The aft Expedition Suites will have balconies and private outdoor hot tubs.
MS Roald Amundsen will conclude her 2020 Alaska season by conducting an epic North West Passage transit, sailing from Nome, Alaska via Greenland to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Bookings for 2020 and more information can be found at Hurtigruten Alaska expeditions.