Hurtigruten christens MS Fridtjof Nansen in Svalbard

Godmothers baptise Hurtigruten Expeditions' second hybrid-battery powered ship

MS Fridtjof Nansen christening | Credit: Espen Mills

Hurtigruten Expeditions‘ Norwegian-built hybrid ship MS Fridtjof Nansen was christened with a lump of ice during a folk festival at Longyearbyen, Svalbard last week.

Godmothers to the hybrid-battery powered expedition vessel were two seasoned exploration and environmental pioneers: Canadian Sunniva Sørby and Norwegian Hilde Fålun Strøm.

The duo recently stated: “It is an honor to serve as godmothers to one of the world’s most advanced and environmentally friendly expedition cruise ships. Over decades of polar exploration, we have witnessed the significant changes and challenges our planet faces. Sponsoring MS Fridtjof Nansen gives us a strengthened platform from where we can increase global awareness and dialogue around climate change – and inspire active engagement and create more ambassadors for our natural world.”

CEO Daniel Skjeldam of Hurtigruten Group with godmothers Sunniva Sørby (left) and Hilde Fålun Strøm (right) | Credit: Espen Mills

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Locals from Longyearbyen and viewers from around the world were able to tune in and view the ceremony being broadcast live from the Svalbard port city – and the northernmost baptism for a ship at that.

The traditional crushing of a champagne bottle was replaced with a lump of ice. The Godmothers continued the Hurtigruten Expeditions’ tradition of using a baptismal ritual invented by Roald Amundsen. During the solemn baptism, they quoted Amundsen’s words from the baptism of the polar ship Maud in 1917 when they smashed the ice against the bow of the hybrid ship MS Fridtjof Nansen:

“It is not my intention to mock the noble grape. But already now you should feel a little of your right element. For the ice you are built, and in the ice you will spend your best time, and there you will solve your task.”

Ice crushing, naming ceremony of MS Fridtjof Nansen | Credit: Kim Rormark

CEO Daniel Skjeldam of Hurtigruten Group spoke warmly about the collaboration with the local community in Longyearbyen, and the importance of local value creation.

“With the corona, the world has in many ways had an involuntary pause. For tourism, this break has been extra hard. Many of you who are here today work in tourism, and have felt this on your body. That’s why I’m incredibly happy that we’re right here – right today. Where Richard With started everything in 1896. Where together we will build the tourism of the future for the whole of Svalbard. Where success is not measured in volume, but in local value creation,” Skjeldam remarked.

Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam with MS Fridjof Nansen's godmothers Hilde Fålun-Strom and Sunniva Sorby, and Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen | Credit: Kim Rormark

To honor Svalbard and the long history of Hurtigruten Expeditions and Hurtigruten Svalbard on the archipelago, Hurtigruten Expeditions has registered MS Fridtjof Nansen on Svalbard. The ship will thus be the first cruise ship ever with Longyearbyen as her home port.

“By naming the ship after Fridtjof Nansen, and naming the ship here on Svalbard, we pay tribute to his efforts as both polar explorer and scientist,” said CEO Asta Lassesen of Hurtigruten Expeditions. “We also want to show how important our long ties to Svalbard and the local community here are for us. This ship will sail from the Arctic in the north and to the Antarctic in the south, but Svalbard will always be at home.”

MS Fridtjof Nansen was built at Kleven shipyard in Ulsteinvik. With large battery packs and other green technology, she is considered one of the world’s greenest and most advanced cruise ships.

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