A ground breaking new passenger vessel is set to offer tourists the chance to experience Western Norway’s spectacular fjords as never before.
Launching in April 2018, The Future of the Fjords is a strikingly beautiful, silent running, all-electric and emission free ship. It promises to transport passengers not just through a pristine, UNESCO World Heritage listed habitat, but into an experience where they share it – being at one with the landscape, without ever impacting upon it.
“Close your eyes,” says Rolf Sandvik, CEO of The Fjords DA, which owns and operates a fleet of seven tourist ships in West Norway.
“Now, imagine you’re silently passing by green mountains cascading into crystal clear waters, with clean air filling your lungs, nature’s soundtrack filling your ears, and the sensation that you are witnessing unforgettable beauty filling your heart. You are not damaging the environment that attracted you; you’re connecting with it, being a part of it.
“This is responsible, sustainable tourism. This is unique. This is The Future of the Fjords.”
The 400 passenger capacity vessel, currently being built by specialist shipbuilder Brødrene Aa, is designed to mimic the zigzagging mountain paths it sails beside. This allows customers, including those of limited mobility/in wheelchairs, to literally climb over it and truly engage with the sensations of the fjords. Inside it’s as spectacular as outside, with panoramic windows and comfortable lounges providing a front row view of 1800m high mountains, waterfalls, wildlife and sleepy settlements.
Built from carbon fibre, with a special hull that minimises wake and reduces shoreline impact erosion, the Future of the Fjords marks an important step forward -for environmentally friendly operation, international tourists, and The Fjords itself.
“We showed our ambition in 2016 with the launch of sister ship Vision of the Fjords,” he explains, “which utilises diesel-electric propulsion to take it between Flåm and Gudvangen, using electric motors on the UNESCO-lasted Nærøyfjord. This set a new environmental benchmark, but was simply the start of our journey rather than the conclusion.
“With an all electric solution, the Future of the Fjords delivers a truly immersive passenger experience that helps preserve, rather than exploit, our treasured natural landscape. There’s too many other operators that see such beauty simply as an opportunity, employing aging vessels that damage nature and diminish passenger experience.
“We’re determined to demonstrate that there is another way. A way of serving our customers, our landscapes and the local communities that inhabit them, so that everyone benefits. The Future of the Fjords embodies that ambition, providing a paradigm that we hope inspires other responsible tourist operators and shipowners to follow suit. That way we can enjoy the fjords, and other areas of outstanding natural beauty around the world, far into the future.”
Future of the Fjords will, like its sister ship, make around 700 round-trip voyages a year, offering easy connections with road, rail and other vessel links. Its year-round operating schedule will open up the area to visitors in off-peak periods, exposing them to the breath-taking beauty of Winter, Spring and Autumn months. Each one-way voyage will take approximately one and half hours.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure those 90 minutes will be as memorable as possible,” Sandvik concludes. “Inside we’ve refined the comfort levels and restaurant offer, while outside we can guarantee every passenger at least one metre of railing to provide the best views possible. What’s more, by introducing more premium capacity onto the fjord we can hold ticket prices to deliver maximum value.
“We, and our progressive owners Fjord1 and Flåm AS, are determined to make this as accessible as possible. We want everyone to have the opportunity to experience the Future of the Fjords.”