Hurtigruten Celebrates 125 Years by Naming New, Green Ship with First Arctic Homeport

MS Fridtjof Nansen

Hurtigruten Expeditions is celebrating 125 years of explorations with the naming of its newest ship, the battery-hybrid powered MS Fridtjof Nansen, with a ceremony on 14SEP on the Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard.

“When looking for a location for the naming of MS Fridtjof Nansen, we couldn’t think of a better place than Svalbard. For expedition cruising, this is where it all began”, said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen.

Looking Back on 125 Years of Expedition Cruising

In the late 1800s, exploration of remote corners of the world was largely done by scientific expeditions, or was a luxury reserved for the few. As yachts and ocean liners made their way north, Hurtigruten Group founder Richard With saw a niche for combining local knowledge with smaller passenger ships. In 1896, what today is Hurtigruten Expeditions started a series of small-ship cruises from mainland Norway to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Aimed at international guests, the cruises included small-boat landings in places like North Cape and the remote Bear Island.

One of Hurtigruten's earliest ships, the SS Andenæs, and guests exploring Svalbard glacier in the early 1900s

“For us, Svalbard and Spitsbergen is much more than just a destination; it’s a part of our history. As history has told us, we need to work closely with local communities when we develop sustainable tourism for future generations of explorers. When we embark on our Svalbard expeditions, we combine our 125 years of experience with our year-round land-based presence, creating jobs and value for the local community that lasts way beyond our cruise calls”, said Lassesen.

To mark the occasion, and to commemorate the line’s long-standing relationship with the Svalbard community, Hurtigruten Expeditions has chosen Longyearbyen to be MS Fridtjof Nansen’s port of registry, making it the first cruise ship to call Svalbard its home.

MS Fridtjof Nansen

Hurtigruten’s latest ship is named after Norwegian-born explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930). Nansen led the first ski expedition across Greenland in 1888, and ventured further north than anyone else in history of exploration at the time during his Fram expedition in 1893-1896. Later in life, the explorer devoted his time to humanitarian work, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work for refugees following World War 1 and related conflicts.

“By naming this groundbreaking expedition ship after Fridtjof Nansen, on Svalbard, we wish to pay tribute to him by virtue of his achievements both as an explorer and a humanitarian. At the same time, we aim to honor the importance of Svalbard in Arctic exploration and tourism, not only in the past, but today”, said Lassesen.

“MS Fridtjof Nansen is the epitome of more than 125 years of exploration heritage. Her small size combined with strengthened hull and green technology, makes her able to explore waters where few other ships can go. Hosting scientists on every cruise, and featuring the on board Nansen Science Center as the beating heart of the ship, guests, scientists and crew will together create a deeper understanding of the areas we explore”, said Lassesen.

On 14SEP, Hurtigruten is set to live stream the naming ceremony of the MS Fridtjof Nansen. It will be named by breaking a chunk of ice rather than the traditional bottle of Champagne, similar to the line’s MS Roald Amundsen in 2019 as the first ship ever to be named in Antarctica.

For more information on Hurtigruten, visit its web site.

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