Vision of The Fjords, a futuristic carbon fibre tourist vessel operated by The Fjords DA, has won the coveted Ship of the Year 2016 accolade at SMM in Hamburg. The 40m long, 399-passenger capacity hybrid craft, which was completed by Brødrene Aa this summer, scooped the award for its unique approach to sustainable, sensitive and high quality operations in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Nærøyfjord.
Vision of The Fjords looks, and operates, like nothing else on the water. Designed with lines that resemble the zigzagging mountain paths of the Western Norwegian fjords it traverses, it allows passengers to climb over the vessel as they watch local mountains rise from the water. Those who prefer to view the outside from inside can enjoy breath-taking views in lounges wrapped by sweeping panoramic windows.
The passenger experience is accentuated by technology that, as The Fjords CEO Rolf A. Sandvik explains, was painstakingly selected to set new environmental standards for the pristine habitat it operates within.
“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 we want our 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.
“With that in mind we opted for a dual fuel solution whereby we run diesel engines up to the entrance of the protected Nærøyfjord, before switching to silent running, emission free electric power. We also challenged the yard to create a special hull designed to minimise wake and thus reduce impact erosion on the vulnerable shoreline here.
“We want to put our customers at the heart of a unique voyage experience,” he stresses, “but do so in an environmentally responsible manner. We believe the choices made here have set a new course for the future operations of our entire fleet … and hopefully all operators that sail here.”
The judges for Ship of the Year, which is run by respected Norwegian maritime publication Skipsrevyen, were won over by Brødrene Aa’s bold design, but also by the vessel’s high-tech features, such as its innovative propulsion system. This is based on a combination of two 749kW MAN main engines and two 150kW Oswald electric motors, with ABB’s On-board DC Grid system managing and controlling the power between the diesel engines, propeller and charging station.
It’s a configuration capable of delivering a speed of 19.5 knots, slowing down to a leisurely 8 knots to allow passengers to immerse themselves in the UNESCO-listed beauty that surrounds them.
Vision of the Fjords began operating in July and is scheduled to complete around 700 voyages a year, running in all seasons.
Skipsrevyen runs its annual awards by asking readers for nominations, before an expert panel assesses vessels for the year’s standout craft. The initiative launched in 1997 with recent winners including DOF Subsea’s Skandi Africa (2015), Norled’s electric ferry Ampere (2014) and Subsea 7’s Seven Viking (2013).
The Fjords is dedicated to moving its passengers. Operating a fleet of seven tourism and transport vessels on the Western Norwegian fjords of Nærøyfjord, Geirangerfjord and Lysefjord, the company aims to connect customers not just to their destinations, but also to the unique natural beauty that surrounds them. The Fjords is co-owned 50/50 by Fjord1, Norway’s largest ferry company, and Flåm AS, which works to promote Flåm’s world-class tourism opportunities.
The Fjord1 Group is one of the major transportation companies in Norway. The core operational area for the company is sea-based transport, by ferries- and passenger vessels. In addition the company has operations in relation to catering, travel agency and property management. Fjord1 AS is owned by Havila AS and the County council of Sogn and Fjordane.