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Hurtigruten's hybrid ships go bow to bow in the Northwest Passage

PHOTO: HURTIGRUTEN/TED GATLIN CRUISE_Roald_Amundsen_Fridtjof Nansen_NW_Passage_Photo_Ted_Gatlin.jpg
Passengers and crew lined the top decks of Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen for the ships' first meeting
Hurtigruten Expeditions' Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen met for the first time on Monday at Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, in the Northwest Passage.

Both vessels are equipped with battery power for short stints and peak shaving. Roald Amundsen is named after the first explorer to traverse the Northwest Passage.

Passengers and crew gathered on the top decks of both ships for the meeting.

Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam called it a 'moment to celebrate our legacy,' with his company's ships having operated expedition cruises since 1896.

The vessels met during Fridtjof Nansen's 27-day westbound sailing to Nome, Alaska, and Roald Amundsen's 26-day eastbound saiilng to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Guiding the vessels are Capt. Terje Willassen and Capt. Raymond Martinsen.

Captains' perspectives

'Passing Zenith Point, I'm struck by the remarkable achievements of past explorers in these cold, remote places more than one hundred years ago. However, it's the enduring presence of today's inhabitants, surviving here since the Thule era, that commands my utmost respect,' Martinsen said.

Willassen shares the same hometown as Amundsen.

'Growing up, listening to the tales of Roald Amundsen, and sailing aboard the ship named in his honor through the Northwest Passage fills me with pride. The expedition that consumed three years of his life, we strive to conquer in a mere 24 days. This experience both uplifts my pride and instils humility within me as I trace the path of this remarkable explorer.'

Citizen science

Both ships offer passengers opportunities to conduct research on behalf of third-party entities with the expedition cruise line’s Citizen Science Program. Projects available during this journey include eBird, iNaturalist, cloud observations, Secchi Disk and Happywhale. Additionally, traveling on Roald Amundsen is guest scientist Frances Crable, a PhD student collecting oceanographic and hydrographic data along the route.

This year Hurtigruten Foundation granted funds to Red Fish Arts Studio, aiding disadvantaged youth in Cambridge Bay. Another beneficiary, Oxen Expedition Engagement Network, founded by Alex McNeil, SVP expeditions product at Hurtigruten Expeditions, seeks to integrate local perspectives in the Arctic travel experience and support local business growth in Arctic communities.