I grew up in a household where my mom kept a stash of paper in a drawer next to her typewriter. When she or my dad got ready to compose one of their stories—both were journalists, so I come by my travel writer job naturally—they'd pull out a sheet and type on the unused side.
The reuse mantra I learned back then left an impression, and I'm pretty conscious of all things recycling in my daily life. My wife shrugs her shoulders when I pick up a discarded plastic bottle during one of our walks around the neighborhood, and I've gotten eyerolls more than once from coworkers when I pull a can out of the trash or place a Post-It Note in the blue bin by my desk.
Yeh, I'm that guy.
So, during my 10-day February trip to Norway I took with Scandinavia Tours’ Monique van Dijk-Seppola, I was very pumped to take a ride on the Future of the Fjords. This state-of-the-art vessel, which debuted in 2019, is the world’s first all-electric sightseeing ship.
Built to carry up to 400 passengers, it plies the waters between the western Norwegian villages of Gudvangen and Flåm, which UNESCO has deemed worthy of inclusion on its list of World Heritage sites.
We boarded about a half-hour before sunset, and during the ride through the Aurlandfjord area, I got to see the spectacular sites, hear the history of the region, and learn more about the eco-friendly vessel.
Future of the Fjords travels along at 16 knots (18.6 mph/30 kph) and is powered by a pair of 585-horsepower electric engines. It can go just over 34 miles (55 km), which allows it to complete the journey between Gudvangen and Flåm in 90 minutes. After that, it pulls into an oversized docking station—there is one in both cities—where it powers back up in roughly 20 minutes.
It was very encouraging to see the myriad ways in which the designers had found ways to create an energy-efficient ship in order to preserve the area’s fragile ecosystem.
The vessel was constructed using lightweight carbon-fiber composite materials (some repurposed) to reduce energy consumption. It offers a completely emission-free ride, and makes virtually no noise, further lessening the impact on the ecosystem.
The exterior of the boat maximizes viewing areas, as it has spaces on all four sides where passengers can admire the soaring peaks, abundant wildlife, and breathtaking Nærøyfjord landscape. The unique design also reduces water resistance and creates fewer—and smaller—waves that could damage the shoreline of the fjords.
Although I spent most of my time gawking at the scenery, the inside of the vessel features a variety of seating arrangements and an on-board cafe, and screens featuring narration on the area and the boat.
As I reflected on the memorable journey, I came away very glad there is a group of Norwegian that guys, just a way smarter bunch, that could design such an environmentally responsible ship.
To read the full recap of the 10-day Norwegian adventure, click here.
Top photo: Passengers on the Future of the Fjords checking out the Norway's Nærøyfjord region.
Photo by visitflam.com