The cruise industry is determined to conquer the North Pole. Over the next four years, 28 new cruise ships with the capability of sailing through icy Arctic waters will be launched. These range from ultra-luxurious expedition yachts to mainstream ships packed with modern comforts. Here are five that show off the best trends in Arctic cruising.
Eco-Consciousness: Hurtigruten MS Roald Amundsen
Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten will roll out the expedition ship MS Roald Amundsen in May 2019. Highlighting the industry’s awareness of its environmental impact, the new ship will feature hybrid electric power that will cut its fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20 percent. Designed by Rolls-Royce, the 535-passenger ship will be able to run purely on electricity for up to 30 minutes, creating a completely silent sailing experience. Among the lifestyle amenities are two outdoor hot tubs, a swimming pool, and a sauna. The ship’s first Arctic itinerary is a 15-day trip from Hamburg along the Norwegian coast up to Kirkenes—one of the greatest spots for viewing the Northern Lights, 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle. A sister ship, MS Fridtjof Nansen, is in the works, set to launch sometime in 2020.
Norwegian Coast itinerary starts at $6,827 per person, 866.552.0371, hurtigruten.com
Greater Vistas: Hapag-Lloyd Hanseatic Inspiration
One of three new expedition ships being added to Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd’s fleet, the Hanseatic Inspiration will launch in October 2019 featuring more open deck space than any other ship. Featuring 120 cabins for a polar passenger load of 199 people, the Hanseatic Inspiration will also have extendable glass balconies, three restaurants—including one with Japanese-Peruvian cuisine—and two lounges. Though the ship will sail across all environments, it will be certified to sail during summer/autumn in medium first-year ice. Its first itinerary to the Arctic will be in Summer 2020. The voyage of note: Its 17-day journey from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland through Baffin Bay and the North Canadian Arctic.
Kangerlussuaq itinerary starts at $12,996 per person, 49.40.3070.30.555, hl-cruises.com
Soundless Sailing: Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Endurance
Of the new crop of ships, National Geographic Endurance wins the award for most innovative design. Its patented X-Bow is a type of inverted bow that not only ensures smoother sailing, but also greater fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and unobstructed sight lines for viewing the Arctic scenery. The interior of the ship will exhibit sophisticated Norwegian design throughout its 69 cabins and will include 13 balcony suites. The 126-passenger ship will set sail in Summer 2020, though it has already is made waves by announcing incredible itineraries. The masterpiece? A 26-day journey tracing the Northeast Passage, from Tromsø, Norway, through the Russian Arctic to Nome, Alaska.
Northeast Passage itinerary starts at $34,750 per person, 800.397.3348, expeditions.com
Luxury Icebreaker: Ponant Le Commandant Charcot
Set to launch in Spring 2021, Le Commandant Charcot by French operator Ponant will be the first true luxury icebreaker, capable of navigating through dense arctic sheets and reaching rarely seen regions of the Arctic. Going a step further than other ships in reducing its carbon footprint, Ponant’s new vessel will employ a hybrid electric propulsion system powered by liquified natural gas that claims a reduction of 95 percent in fine particle emissions. More like a large yacht than a cruise ship, Le Commandant Charcot will have 135 cabins, including 68 sumptuously outfitted suites with balconies, as well as two restaurants, two swimming pools, and a spa. No itinerary has been set, but possible initial destinations include Nunavut and Greenland.
Ticket sales for Spring/Summer 2021 voyages begin April 11, 2019. Pre-booking is available and strongly recommended. 888.400.1082, us.ponant.com/ponant-icebreaker
Extreme Adventures: Crystal Cruises Endeavor
The immensely successful Crystal Yacht Expedition cruise portfolio is set to increase with this new polar megayacht that will launch in October 2020. Designed for pure comfort, the cabins are among the largest available, ranging from a modest 304 square feet in size to 1,290 square feet. But the biggest attractions on the Endeavor are its extreme toys. Two helicopters and two seven-person submersibles aboard the ship will give guests the option of exploring their surroundings up in the air or below the water. Though Endeavor’s initial season will take it throughout the tropics down to Antarctica, we’re hoping future itineraries include the Polar North.