Recently established Norwegian cruise venture Northern Xplorer and Portuguese shipbuilder West Sea have signed a letter of intent (LoI) for the construction of the former’s maiden vessel, with expected delivery at the start of the 2025/2026 cruise season.
“This is a new milestone on our journey toward emission-free cruising,” said Northern Xplorer founder and CEO Rolf André Sandvik. “Having approached yards worldwide for tenders, we’re delighted to be embarking on this exciting project with West Sea. They are a modern, professional yard with a good track record. It’s great to be here at [maritime trade fair] SMM for the signing alongside our technology partner, ABB, whose expertise has been key to developing the concept of this pioneering vessel.”
“As a shipbuilder focused on advanced vessels and high quality, we very much look forward to working together with Northern Xplorer,” said West Sea manager Vitor Figueiredo. “We’re proud to be taking a lead in building such an innovative and technology-advanced vessel of a high standard that will have minimal impact on the environment.”
West Sea intends to build the 250-passenger vessel at its facility in Viana do Castelo, north of Porto in Portugal. Its cruise new-building portfolio to date includes the 200-passenger World Navigator (built in 2021), World Voyager (2020) and World Explorer (2019) – the first three in a series of seven high-end polar expedition vessels for a luxury cruise operator.
The vessel’s design features ABB’s fully electric propulsion system, including the battery and hydrogen fuel cell technology that will enable it to sail emissions-free in the Norwegian fjords and further afield as the green shift takes root.
“We are very happy on behalf of Northern Xplorer, and it has been an honor to contribute with our expertise to this pioneering project aiming to prove the viability of eco-friendly cruise operations using zero-carbon fuel,” said Jorulf Nergard, vice president of business development at ABB Marine & Ports.
Northern Xplorer and ABB are currently in discussions with multiple subsuppliers for vessel systems.
“We haven’t made any final decisions yet because we want to go with the newest technology as it becomes available. Where possible, we also aim to select the most sustainable materials available in the market,” said Sandvik.
Northern Xplorer has worked closely with Oslo-based Affinity Offshore, which “has done a tremendous job in sourcing the right shipyard for such an innovative project,” said Sandvik. “Our financial partner, Clarksons Securities, will assist us as lead manager on the project. I’d also like to thank our fantastic ship designer, Multi Maritime in Førde, which has worked persistently for three years with a design that is truly eye-catching. It is a vision for the future and will be a jewel to travel in.”