The Polar Expedition ship Roald Amundsen

As may have been noted here in my absents the hybrid Polar Expedition Cruise ship Roald Amundsen has finally been delivered:

The naming ceremony will be held when she reach Antarctica for the first time later this year:

Kleven shipyard had a bit of problems with this one, being very complex and with a lot of new and innovative technology, so she got nearly a year late from the yard, but they are very proud of the ship they have delivered.
The second one, the Fridjof Nansen, is expected to be an easier task. She is due to be delivered later this year. A third ship of this class is likely to be built in 2021.

Have a look around the ship, with a very enthusiastic American crew member as a guide:

Unfortunately this does not include anything particularly nautical. I’ll see if I can find more on the hybrid machinery and the bridge.

Funky looking boat. What’s up with the straight stem? My (rather uninformed) impression is that this sacrifices heavy weather survivability for speed and seakeeping, not exactly a priority I would expect in an expedition vessel. Maybe performance at low propulsive power levels have something to do with it…

Also, what exactly qualifies as an “expedition ship” these days? I see that term bandied about so much that it’s becoming utterly meaningless. Hell, even this beautifully capable craft was billed by its designers as an “European-style, luxury, long-range, oceangoing expedition yacht”:

This suggests to me an utter disconnect between wording and reality. The Fram was an expedition vessel, as is the Seabed Constructor, both by virtue of their roles as much as their design. What expeditions does the Roald Amundsen plan to undertake, other than selling eye wateringly expensive cruises to old Americans?

/Pet peeve (no derail intended)

Ding, ding, ding. You hit the nail right out of the gate. Besides, how else are they going to pay for those $30k microscopes?


That prodded me to actually watch the video. So this is supposed to be the TV dinner of let’s do science? For fuck’s sake, if you want to join a polar science expedition, make the appropriate life choices! Don’t go thinking it’s something you can charge to your credit card…

As for the high end SLR optics in tastefully lit display cases :roll_eyes: I haven’t seen someone try so hard in a long time.


Personally I’m in favor of “expedition” cruises over “party” cruises. Not only are people willing to pay premium, in addition they go on such trips because they have at least some level of interest in the destination. Can’t say that for a typical Carnival passenger. I recall being in Longyearbyen when two large cruise ships vomited about 6000 people to walk around the town. I still cant shake that image of a Chinese guy in canary yellow down overalls and golden thigh-high moon boots…

However, my main concern is the growing number of low ice class “polar expedition cruise ships”. Sooner or later one of those will bite a bit more than it can chew, and Ponant has to reroute Le Commandant Charcot to assist…


One of the truest explanation of the job description of mariner aboard a government funded research vessel was told to me by an old oiler of mine. He said, “We are nothing but glorified camp councillors of the sea. We take political professors who know how to ask the right questions of politicians to get funded & privileged interns/undergrads of wealthy parents out to sea for a month or two so they can publish some articles & have the best vacation of their lives. Then we bring them back to port, wait around for a few weeks to a month then another group of privileged “scientists” come aboard & go out & pretty much do the same “research” that every bunch of scientists before them did already.” Now that oiler hit the nail out of the ballpark because that is exactly who we picked up & what we did. If these new “Polar Expedition Cruise Ships” have 5% real scientists & 95% dead weight paying passengers then they will be on par with many government funded exploration ships. Only difference would be is the passenger is paying & not the tax payers or wealthy parents for their kids to get college credits. I wish all the luck in the world to the mariners on these polar expedition cruise ships, they will have their hands full babysitting their passengers/scientists.

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Pretty sure Woods Hole is a lot more serious than that. I don’t know how they’re funded, though.

Sorry to tell you but if a person makes a large enough donation to WHOI & has the time to volunteer they can be in the thick of it with all the other yuppies & rich hippies saving the ocean with Woods Hole. I’m not saying anything is wrong with it, it’s just the way it is. Look at the WHOI website, it’s begging for rich people to come to their grown up summer camp programs. I think these Polar Expedition Cruise Ships are great because hopefully they will lower the price of getting to play sea scientists. Maybe now rich people from all over the world can play scientists & not just political appointees & the old money, trust fund types from the New England states.

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The Hurtigruten, Ponant and Lindblad/NG Polar Expedition Cruise vessels presently under construction by Norwegian yards are NOT research vessels in the true sense.
They are purely commercial vessels, owned and operated by commercial companies for profit. They may carry out some “research” on their “expeditions”, but mainly to entertain their paying guests with some “science” carried out on collected specimens of marine life and organisms. It is unlikely that there will be any new and revolutionary discoveries made on their cruises.
There will also be interesting and educational lectures on board by enthusiastic Scientists, somewhat like the guide in the video tour above.

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There is another vessel under construction by Vard, which is a true Research Expedition Vessel (REV). The hull is due to be launched at Vard Tulcea in Roumania 20. Aug. 2019, whereupon it will be towed to VARD Brattvaag Shipyard in Norway for outfitting. Delivery is scheduled for 2020. She will be owned and operated by a non-profit set up by Kjell Inge Rokke:

The Roald Amundsen has just arrived in Aalesund for her maiden visit in active service:

Met by the old fire boat as is customary for first visits:

She has been given an inside berth at the Cruise Terminal, even though no other cruise ships in town at the moment:

Maybe to let people get a better look, since ISPS prohibit access to the pier.

Some own pictures of RA:




I talked to some German passengers and a few of the Pinoy crews who had been on Midnatsol previously. They all said this was a magnificent ship.

Did you see where they kept the RHIB’s? Were there davits in addition to the LB’s? Or crane launched from some cradles?

This is where they keep the RHIBs:
Launched and retrieved by an overhead crane that extend outboard and run on tracks inboards to store the boats. (You can see it in the above pix.)
I watched them retrieve 3 in a matter of minutes.

The RHIBs they use are of the Polarsirkel type, as seen here:

Tried and tested in Arctic and Antarctic conditions on other Hurtigruten ships for years.
They were also used to transport fuel from a trawler that run aground in Svalbard last winter:

PS> They also carries kayaks, as can be seen here:

Pretty slick. Got to love a purpose built ship.

Seeing this really makes me excited!It reminds me of the Amundsen’s polar conquest. l am dying to share the amazing story to your guys.

I found a review of the RA in Maritimt Magasin. It is in Norwegian but translate quite well in Google Translate:

I also found an article by Kleven:

It links to some pictures of the battery rooms and bridge:

Your first sentence caused me to get coffee up my nose I laughed so hard!

Ice class is an excellent point.

The Roald Amundsen and her future sisters have ice class PC 6, so hardly among the low ice class so called “Polar expedition cruise ships” mentioned by Tupsis.

I do agree that not all the ships that is called Polar anything is actually capable of operating in polar waters. When we will have a major incident because of overconfidence and lack of polar experience is an open question.

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