MS Roald Amundsen
After a series of construction delays, MS Roald Amundsen, the newest ship from Oslo-based Hurtigruten — known mostly for its sturdy fleet of purpose-built vessels that ply the waters of coastal Norway — has added some high gloss and polish to expedition cruising. With plans to navigate into a range of adventurous territories in 2020 (namely, Antarctica, South America, Alaska ,and the Northwest Passage), this 530-passenger vessel offers all the comforts and amenities of a luxury-class small ship, including three beautifully designed restaurants and an inviting deck with an infinity pool with two hot tubs. Yet these amenities come with the added benefit of expedition-class construction and ice-class rating that enables it to cruise into places other small ships can’t access. Better still, thanks to its first-of-its-kind hybrid electric-powered engine system, the ship's fuel consumption and carbon emissions have been reduced by 20%. As with most expedition cruising, fares aren’t exactly cheap (a seven-night Alaska sailing costs more than $4,600 per person ), but most passengers consider one of these journeys an investment in education about some of the world’s most fascinating natural wonders.
What We Love
It’s an Expedition Ship with Style: With its sleek, neutral-hued Scandinavian interior design — think contemporary furnishings in birch, oak, wool, and granite — and striking art collection (there’s even a series of three paintings by Norway’s Queen Sonja in the Lindstrom specialty restaurant), this ship named for the Norwegian explorer who was the first man to reach the South Pole has taken expedition cruising to remote destinations up a notch. Guests can relax in the welcoming Explorer Lounge & Bar and dine in three restaurants featuring modern decor: Aune, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Fredheim offering more casual “street food” menus; and specialty restaurant Lindstrom, which is complimentary for suite guests and an extra charge for all other passengers. Starting in April 2020, soft drinks and wine and beer will be included at mealtime. To relax, passengers can head for the dry warmth of the spacious co-ed sauna, which features a picture window view of the passing scenery outside.
The Green Initiatives: In addition to being the world’s first hybrid electric-powered expedition ship (incorporating battery packs to support the engines and using clean diesel rather than heavy crude for fuel), MS Roald Amundsen also operates without any single-use plastics onboard — a policy Hurtigruten put in place fleet-wide in July 2018 to celebrate its 125th anniversary. The ship also carries battery-operated snowmobiles for emission-free land exploration.
The Aft Corner Expedition Suites: If you have the big bucks to cruise the Northwest Passage in one these 212-to-323-square-foot suites, you’ll be able to enjoy views of the Northern Lights from the privacy of a spacious outdoor deck with a hot tub. But even the 161-to-205-square-foot Outside Cabins feel posh — and all feature a cozy wool blanket inspired by the one Amundsen used on his polar expedition.
The Helly Hansen for Hurtigruten Jackets: Every guest on an expedition cruise gets one of these bright red waterproof jackets with a yellow hood, which were specially designed for explorers.
Best Known For
Focus on Education: Want to learn about the biology of Antarctica? Curious about sea ice and glaciers? MS Roald Amundsen’s onboard Amundsen Science Center, which is loaded with touch screens, microscopes, and high-tech gadgets and staffed by a team of scientists and expedition leaders is a hive of information, lectures, and even onboard research and experiments.
Antarctica, Alaska, Central America and Northwest Passage Itineraries: From November to March, MS Roald Amundsen will explore Antarctica, the Chilean Fjords, and the Falklands. In the spring, destinations include South America, Central America, and Mexico. And, beginning in May, 2020, the ship will spend the summer months sailing from Vancouver to Alaska on itineraries ranging from 7 to 17 nights in length (calling on spots that most other cruise lines don’t, such as the Aleutian Islands). In September, after a 29-day Northwest Passage Crossing, the ship will cruise Canada, New England, and the Caribbean, the vessel will cross the Panama Canal and cruise through the West Coast of South America before arriving in Antarctica.
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Who It's Best For
Active Couples or Friends: The posh surroundings can be deceiving. To get the most from a Hurtigruten expedition cruise, one should be fairly agile and in good shape. Seas can be rough and shore activities require the ability to get around in cold and sometimes wet conditions, load onto and off of inflatable zodiacs, and walk distances (sometimes wearing snowshoes or crampons) to observe wildlife.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
There’s No Nightly Entertainment: Yes, you can sip a lovely Argentine malbec or a crisp martini in the Explorer Lounge before or after dinner, but don’t expect any live musical entertainment as an accompaniment. Instead, Hurtigruten encourages passengers to attend evening lectures and engage in meaningful conversation about their experiences ashore.
Expedition Cruising Can Be Filled with Unexpected Adventure: Whether it’s adverse weather conditions or dealing with inevitable kinks in a new type of propulsion system, expedition cruising is at best unpredictable — so guests should keep expectations realistic. Some ports may be missed, and it won’t always be smooth sailing.
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.
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MS Roald Amundsen at a Glance
- Line: Hurtigruten
- Number of Passengers: 530
- Ship Size: Medium
- Launch Date: 2019