Hurtigruten Expeditions’ battery-hybrid powered MS Fridtjof Nansen has made history with the northernmost naming ceremony for a passenger ship – at the location where expedition cruising began in 1896.
In spectacular surroundings at latitude 78˚ North in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, the local community joined the celebrations of one of the world’s greenest and most advanced cruise ships.
“We are thrilled to celebrate more than 125 years of exploration and adventure travel where it all began. We couldn’t be prouder acknowledging this important milestone by naming this engineering marvel at the spot where our founder Richard With pioneered modern-day expedition cruising,” said Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam.
Since founding expedition cruising in 1896 with sailings to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, often dubbed “next to the North Pole”, Hurtigruten Expeditions has grown to become the largest and leading expedition cruise operator in the world.
Replacing the traditional bottle of champagne with a chunk of ice, godmothers and environmental advocates Hilde Fålun Strøm and Sunniva Sørby, named MS Fridtjof Nansen by continuing a Hurtigruten Expeditions ritual invented by polar hero Roald Amundsen himself.
As Sørby and Strøm crushed the ice against the hybrid powered ship’s raked bow, the explorers quoted Amundsen’s words from when he named polar ship Maud in 1917.
“It is not my intention to dishonor the glorious grape, but already now you shall get the taste of your real environment. For the ice you have been built, in the ice you shall stay most of your life, and in the ice, you shall solve your tasks.”
The traditional godmother gift was also replaced by a joint donation to local projects by Sørby and Strøm’s Hearts in the Ice project and Hurtigruten Foundation.
To honour the century-long Svalbard heritage, MS Fridtjof Nansen is also the first cruise ship ever to be registered in Longyearbyen.
“By naming this unprecedented ship after Fridtjof Nansen, on Svalbard, we pay tribute to him as an explorer and a scientist and to the rich arctic legacy of Hurtigruten Expeditions. We also salute our long-lasting relationship with the Svalbard community. This small-sized, battery-hybrid powered expedition ship will explore all waters – and she will do so proudly calling Svalbard home,” said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen.
Hurtigruten Expeditions offers a wide range of all-year expedition cruises and on-land experiences to Svalbard – and expeditions to more than 30 countries and 250 destinations across the world.
The company just added both the Galapagos Islands and pioneering expeditions to the unique West African archipelagos of the Bissagos Islands and Cape Verde to their range of offers.
“Exploration is who we are. We will always explore. Today is a very special day for me and all my colleagues onboard this magnificent ship. We are thrilled to welcome guests onboard MS Fridtjof Nansen to co-explore the remote corners of the globe with us – and wholeheartedly committed to explore in the most sustainable and respectful manner,” said MS Fridtjof Nansen Captain Bent Ivar Gangdal.