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Hurtigruten’s Damian Perry, MD & VP of Sales and Marketing, APAC, talks HX and sustainability goals

As Hurtigruten Group launches a new HX Hurtigruten Expeditions program in Hurtigruten Norway and amps up its Signature Voyages on the Norwegian coastline, Damian Perry talks about the Group’s green goals and the fight against greenwashing.

As Hurtigruten Group launches a new HX Hurtigruten Expeditions program in Hurtigruten Norway and amps up its Signature Voyages on the Norwegian coastline, Damian Perry talks about the Group’s green goals and the fight against greenwashing.

To say that Damian Perry is “passionate” about Hurtigruten’s environmental initiatives is something of an understatement. The company recently released its third environmental, social and governance (ESG) report and Perry says it is probably the most in-depth of its kind across the travel industry.

“It shows a great improvement from the 2022 report. Our CEO, Hedda Felin, said, ‘Look, we’re not perfect but we’re progressing and we’re on the right track. And we are committed and doing more than we need to do and more than the industry is doing.’

“If you look at the broad scope of our ESG, it covers so many different areas. It covers fuel management, community, supply chain, food and food waste. Our supply chain network is as strong as it’s ever been; more than 80 per cent of our goods and service supply on the coast of Norway is locally sourced.

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Cuisine on board MS Trollfjord. Credit: Christian Houge.

“And when we talk about emissions, I would say we’re probably one of the few travel companies – if not the only company – who talks about not only the emissions that you as an organisation create, but the emissions of someone travelling to and from a destination and the impact that has.”

The ESG report, which is entirely voluntary and assessed by third-party experts, is available for anyone to read. Perry believes the more transparency about environmental issues, across the entire cruise industry, the better for everyone – businesses, providers, travellers and, ultimately, the global environment.

“This is about us making a stand whereby we’re saying we’re going to be the most sustainable expedition adventure cruise company in the world.”

Heading for 2030

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MS Roald Amundsen in Antarctica. Credit: Dan Avila.

Hurtigruten’s track record on sustainability initiatives is impressive. As reported in Karryon, it won the 2023 NTIA Sustainability Champions award. The Hurtigruten Group also attained the highest ESG ranking among cruise companies globally for last year’s report, placing it among the top three in the international travel sector.

The company is undertaking environmental upgrades on its fleet of 10 Coastal Express ships so they will run on battery-hybrid power; work has already been completed on MS Kong Harald and MS Richard With to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent and nitrogen oxide by 80 per cent.

Of HX’s five expedition ships, MS Roald Amundsen was the world’s first hybrid ship when it set sail in 2019 and her nearly identical sister, MS Fridtjof Nansen, was the second. Meanwhile, in Hurtigruten work continues on the Sea Zero project for the Norwegian coast, a ship that’s set to be the world’s most energy-efficient cruise vessel when it launches in 2030.

Greenwashing

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The company’s science activities in Antarctica. Credit: Espen Mills.

Essentially, greenwashing means doing something to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is. Unfortunately, it is a widespread deceptive practice across virtually every industry you can think of, and cruise is no exception.

Perry points out that the European Parliament is working on legislation to ban greenwashing, to make sure that “all information on a product’s impact on the environment, longevity, reparability, composition, production and usage is backed up by verifiable sources”. The Australian Senate is also holding an enquiry into greenwashing and the best ways to prevent false “eco-friendly” claims.

“You might think the Senate enquiry is more focused on what big power companies and mining conglomerates are claiming, but consumers are driving the need for transparency across the board,” Perry said.

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MS Fridjof Nansen was the world’s second hybrid powered ship. Credit: Oscar Farrera.

“We’re now training our team members on awareness around greenwashing, making sure we’re not making statements that could be perceived as greenwashing. Which is really quite amazing, because you see incredible statements coming out of the market from numerous companies.

“Saying your ship is using liquefied natural gas (LNG) does not mean it is a low-emission ship. There is a massive debate about the pros and cons of LNG and because sustainability ‘sells’, it’s easy to push an argument in front of consumers that looks convincing.”

How can individual travellers navigate greenwashing? As Perry says, it’s challenging.

“You have to do your research. If a cruise line uses wishy-washy phrases such as ‘clean and green’ without explaining what that means in terms of emissions, or you want to learn more about the use of LNG and resulting methane leaks, or how fragile reefs and marine ecosystems are truly affected by marine traffic, you have to dig deep.”

At least until greenwashing at all levels is exposed for what it is and stamped out.

New Arctic Norway voyages

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MS Richard With takes in the Northern Lights.

Starting in January 2026, HX’s 220-guest, all-inclusive expedition vessel MS Spitsbergen will explore four regions of Northern Norway on eight-day voyages from Tromsø. There will be 10 departures until March 2026. Highlights include the Lyngen Alps, Lofoten Islands, Vesterålen and Senja.

It’s the best time to see the Northern Lights and winter activities include hiking, kayaking, community visits, fishing, showshoeing and whale-watching. Special events include an outdoor barbecue, the Nordic Sauna and Polar Plunge, and dinner at the Hurtigrutenmuseet (museum) in Stokmarknes, the birthplace of Hurtigruten.

Signature voyages

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Northern Lights, as seen in Svolvar, Norway.

Hurtigruten is also introducing its upgraded Signature Voyages Signature Voyages onboard the beautifully refurbished, 500-guest MS Trollfjord. The Svalbard Line (summer) and North Cape Line (winter) itineraries offer a premium alternative to the Original Coastal Express sailings, with longer port stays, fine dining at the award-winning onboard restaurant Røst and an array of exclusive activities onboard and onshore.

There will be more departures from Oslo and Hurtigruten has reaffirmed its Northern Lights Promise, which means if you miss the spectacle on one voyage, the company will provide a complimentary six- or seven-day voyage the following season.

For more information, visit hurtigruten.com.group