Norwegian Startup to Build a Sustainable, Clean-Energy Cruise Ship in Portugal

The “responsible cruise” concept is taking shape slowly, but surely. On one hand, giant players in the industry are starting to consider alternatives to conventional maritime engines and fuels. On the other hand, young companies with fresh perspectives want to implement even bolder changes, like the introduction of smaller, eco-friendly cruise ships that are also self-sustainable.
Northern XPlorer and West Sea are building an innovative cruise ship in Portugal 6 photos
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Northern Xplorer, a Norwegian cruise venture, had revealed its first concept ship back in December 2021. Initially known as the MM130, this innovative vessel would be equipped with fully-electric propulsion, as well as hydrogen fuel cell technology. ABB, an expert in marine propulsion systems, is one of Northern Xplorer’s partners.

The future ship would also be capable of making its own clean fuel, and the batteries could be charged while the ship is at sea, thanks to onboard systems using both solar and wind power. This would make it not just environmentally-friendly, but also self-sustainable.

Another important aspect is the size. Northern Xplorer’s ship could carry a maximum of 300 passengers and 100 crew members. Unlike today’s typical mammoth cruise ships that not only require a lot of fuel, but can only reach certain destinations, this new kind of boat could make its way to areas that are more difficult to reach and therefore, less known.

By doing so, the innovative cruise ship could help support local communities, having a positive impact not just environmentally, but also economically. These locations include Norway’s World Heritage fjords, where visiting ships will be subject to harsher environmental regulations, starting 2026.

Luckily, the Northern Xplorer isn’t just a concept, but is on its way to becoming reality. The company has announced an agreement with West Sea, a Portugal-based shipbuilder. The 250-passenger ship will be built at West Sea’s facility in Viana do Costello, north of Porto, and is set to depart on its maiden voyage in 2025.


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