There’s no noise but nature. You’re standing on top of a masterpiece of contemporary design, slicing silently through crystal waters while snow-capped mountains crowd around – seemingly as interested in you as you are in them. You are in a unique UNECSO World Heritage listed habitat, in an environmentally friendly vessel that looks, sails and delivers experiences like nothing else on the water. It’s an awe-inspiring voyage, not only powerful enough to forge lifelong memories, but also to win 2016’s coveted Ship of the Year award. This is Vision of The Fjords.
Owned and operated by The Fjords DA, this stunning 399-passenger capacity tourist vessel has today scooped the coveted Ship of the Year 2016 accolade at global shipping exhibition SMM in Hamburg. Built to carry visitors through the heart of spectacular Nærøyfjord, the vessel mimics and protects the dramatic nature surrounding it. Its design pays homage to the zigzagging mountain paths of the Western Norwegian fjords, while utilising an environmentally friendly hybrid propulsion system to bring passengers closer to nature and minimise its own operational footprint.
Electric motors allow silent, emission free running in Nærøyfjord, with a specially designed hull minimising wake to reduce impact erosion on the vulnerable shoreline. At the same time the vessel’s unique form allows visitors to literally climb over it to get as close as possible to the stunning scenery. Sweeping windows, and comfortable lounges, mean those that want to stay inside can still enjoy outside through an inspiring glass panorama.
It’s this blend of environmental responsibility and passenger experience that, according to The Fjords CEO Rolf Sandvik, made Vision of The Fjords this year’s standout craft.
“The judges understood that we, and our owners Fjord1 and Flåm AS, are absolutely committed to a long-term strategy that safeguards the spellbinding nature of Nærøyfjord and its surrounding waterways,” he says. “At the same time they appreciated our desire for passengers to feel as connected to that habitat as possible – experiencing something on Vision of The Fjords that is not possible on my other vessel here.
“We’re incredibly proud of the accolade, but prouder still of what this vessel means for the environment, the tourism experience in this awe-inspiring area and, of course, for the individual memories it gives everyone that travels upon it.”
The vessel has multiple daily departures, ensuring easy connections with road, rail and other vessel links, making around 700 voyages a year, all year round. It is the only tourist ship on Nærøyfjord to do this, thus opening up the area to visitors in off-peak periods and exposing them to the singular beauty of Winter, Spring and Autumn months. A one-way trip between Flåm and Gudvangen – passing amongst 1800m high mountains, cascading waterfalls and quiet settlements – takes around one and half hours.
“It is a voyage like no other,” states Sandvik, “on a vessel that is totally unique.
“That said,” he continues, “we see this, and our award, as just the start of a journey. There are too many tourist boats in the fjords, including some of our own, that are old and environmentally unfriendly, poisoning the very environment that attracts them. We have a vision, and dedicated
owners with the desire and finances, to do things differently – putting nature first and pioneering tourist operations that delight customers while preserving habitats.
“In the future we’ll be looking to expand and renew our current fleet of seven tourist vessels, always choosing the best solutions in the market to ensure we stay at the vanguard of responsible tourism.
“This is an incredible area,” Sandvik concludes, “and it deserve incredible vessels to serve, safeguard and promote it.”