When voyaging is in the genes


Leiv Eiriksson set foot in North America around year 1000. Roald Amundsen was first to sail the North West Passage and first to the South Pole. These two voyagers are just examples; Why has the Nordic countries fostered so many world-famous explorers? And how does this affect you?

Exploration is the genes of many people born and raised in the Nordic countries, maybe because of the harsh nature. The climate can be rough, with long and cold winters, and the people living along the rugged coastline have always gained from the resources brought to them by the ocean. People used boats for the open seas long before the age of the Vikings. Rock carvings show boats with stems, and 2000-year-old boats have been excavated from burial mounds. The boats were designed and developed for hunting, fishing and transport.

And later, for expeditions.

An expedition cruise vessel from Ulstein pictured in the Unesco fjord of Geiranger.
An expedition cruise vessel from Ulstein is pictured in the Unesco world heritage fjord of Geiranger.

Ten decades of maritime expertise

The headquarters of Ulstein lies north of the North Sea and on the brink of the Barents Sea, on the northwest coast of Norway. We have developed vessels for a century. In the early days, the shipbuilders at Ulstein were also fishermen. During the winter months, when the fish came in abundance to the coast, the workers went fishing for several weeks, in their small, wooden boats. They were explorers, testing the elements against man.

Design philosophy

As Norwegians are used to being confronted with the elements, vessels are being developed for a purpose, to make life on board safe and comfortable in meeting with the harsh elements. Important aspects to focus on when developing ship designs are safety, environment, cost-efficiency, reliability and the total life-cycle cost of the vessel.

Be the first to explore wildlife

Today, Ulstein’s reference list counts over 300 vessels, and the company has brought forward numerous maritime innovations to ease life at sea. One of these is a backwards-sloping bow that reduces slamming and vibrations from the sea when moving forwards.

Implementing this design in an expedition cruise vessel, the passengers can stand at the bow and, looking down, watch the sea as it meets the hull. This is a favoured spot for the dolphins to play, and they might want to follow along the journey. The view around is remarkable. From the ship’s sides, large balconies open up to the surroundings to get closer to nature while sheltered from the weather. The spacious public spaces offer sized-up windows to get nature even closer.

The backward-sloping X-BOW is a favoured spot for the dolphins to play. Film/photo by Christian Remøy.

Far-away ventures in accordance with nature
The expedition cruise vessels developed by Ulstein can venture to faraway areas to explore the wilderness. Zodiacs, scuba equipment, kayaks, underwater cameras, submarines, cross-country skis – there are innumerable ways to get close to nature and to be there first. This must be done in accordance with nature. The vessels are developed to reduce the environmental footprint, this includes heat and waste recovery, fuel efficiency and alternative power sources to mention a few.

The modern-day explorer
Ulstein’s design heritage is invaluable when it comes to quality and endurance, but when the ancient traveller had to endure rough days and nights, that is not the way to choose for the modern explorer. The bow reduces slamming and vibrations from head seas, to secure a good night’s sleep for people on board. Reduced sea spray on deck will also reduce ice on deck when operating in polar areas. Our origins brought us here. Norwegian explorers led the way. Modern explorers demonstrate how.

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