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Rolf Sandvik launches Northern Xplorer – a zero-emission cruise ship concept

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Northern Xplorer founder and CEO Rolf André Sandvik
Northern Xplorer AS (NX), a company founded and headed up by Rolf André Sandvik, has launched a concept for a zero-emission luxury cruise ship.

Sandvik is the man behind The Fjords - a company based in Flåm in western Norway - which built hybrid electric sightseeing vessels Vision of the Fjords (in 2016) and Future of the Fjords (in 2018).

Sandvik’s latest plan is for a series of 300-passenger ships, accommodated in 150 cabins and supported by approximately 100 crew.

Hydrogen cells

The ships will feature clean technologies including fully electric propulsion, battery energy storage, hydrogen fuel cells and auxiliary renewable energy supply (wind and solar power).

The first are intended to be operational from 2024/2025, well in advance of the 2026 zero-emission regulations affecting Norway’s world-heritage fjords, he said.

Sophisticated HVAC systems will safeguard against pathogen spread while extensive use of recyclable materials will promote circularity.

The ships will also feature advanced technology to detect marine plastic debris and raise awareness of maritime pollution.

NX brings ‘experience tourism’ to the cruise forefront under the slogan ‘Destination Discovery’ – providing immersive, enriching experiences for those interested in responsible travel with a minimal footprint, he describes.

‘Off the beaten track’

Northern Xplorer will provide opportunities to travel ‘off the beaten track’, connecting passengers with unique locations in the Nordic countries in a personal way,’ says the CEO.

The concept is exclusive yet accessible, intimate yet open, and firmly focused on delivering value for all stakeholders, he claims.

‘NX sets a new course for sustainable cruising for thinking travellers, with future expansion providing a gateway to other European destinations both coastal and on navigable waterways inland,’ says Sandvik.

Mandatory zero emmissions

In Norway specifically, new government regulation coming into force from 2026 will make zero emissions mandatory in the World Heritage sites of Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord.

‘This will mean the end of polluting cruise ships sailing in what will be the world’s first zero-emission marine zones. Northern Xplorer provides the perfect zero-emission solution with a strong focus on local value creation and empowerment,’ says Sandvik.

‘Low-impact discovery travel in smaller vessels is infinitely preferable to overcrowded ships and marquee destinations teeming with tourists. Somewhere between ocean and river cruising, it’s for those who want a more intimate on-board experience, to get insights into a new culture up close, and leave with the feeling their holidays have contributed positively to local communities and the planet,’ says Sandvik.

Long industry experience

Sandvik is a master mariner with extensive experience with Norwegian Cruise Lines and Crystal Cruises. He founded travel company The Fjords, building two sight seeing vessels  constructed by Norwegian shipbuilder Brødrene Aa.

‘NX represents the next step of my own journey to green the waterborne tourist industry. We want to “walk the talk” on green maritime innovation. Scaling up what we seeded at The Fjords to sustainable cruising on brand-new vessels compliant with the strictest global regulations is, I believe, the best way to show discerning visitors the amazing nature and breadth of culture we have up here in Northern Europe,’ Sandvik says.