The arctic eco-cruiser Brim Explorer set out on it maiden voyage only in October and has already made The Telegraph newspaper’s list of ‘Top 50 Travel Adventures in the World‘. The team who created Brim is now building a second battery-electric/hybrid boat to meet the demand for non-invasive whale watching and other environmentally benign arctic excursions.
When we wrote about the Brim Explorer last April the first catamaran was in the yard being built and the concept had been nominated for the Next Generation Ship Award at the industry’s Nor-Shipping Conference in Oslo in June.
In October, with a debut that could not have been scripted any more perfectly, she sailed from the shipyard to her home port of Tromsø with the Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights – guiding her way.
From there the first passengers went out on trips that have been celebrated on tripadvisor and the Brim facebook page (great photos there!) A sampling of comments:
- It was absolutely fantastic.??
- It was such a stunning experience, a lifetime memory❤️
- Every whalewatching boat should be electric ??? Keep it up and inspire other companies to do the same with electric vessels ??
- We had such a great “orca show” for an hour. Absolutely beautiful view. Very dedicated team with great knowledge about the local animals and sea.
Arctic eco-cruiser also gets rave reviews from industry
The idea for Brim Explorer grew out of the dream of co-founders Agnes Árnadóttir and Espen Larsen-Hakkebo to create “a ship that is both sustainable and the ultimate platform for experiencing nature.” They put together the financing of NOK 46M (USD 5.2M) and a team of designers, naval architects and suppliers to source everything from the recycled aluminum for the hull to the propulsion and ESS (energy storage system).
Noted Norwegian industrial designer Hareide Design Mill was in charge of the overall look and feel, working with Wave Propulsion for the hull specifications. The hull is made of recycled and recyclable aluminum from Hydro, with shipyard Maritime Partner in charge of construction. The elements of the propulsion system were integrated by Brunvoll Mar-El using a drivetrain from Servogear and the Dolphin battery/energy storage system by the Canadian company Corvus Energy.
When presenting Agnes and Espen with the Nor-Shipping Award the judges said “Brim represents an opportunity for the maritime industry to take part in sustainable growth in tourism, where pushing the limits of the technology available plays well with the overall aim to create green maritime industries. Sustainable tourism from Brim Explorer will be an inspiration for the tourism industry worldwide.”
Silent eco-cruiser gets passengers up close with nature
The Brim (which means ‘breaking wave’ in ancient Norse) is indeed an inspiring model of how to serve the growing market of tourists who want to be close to nature while leaving as little impact on the environment as possible. The electric propulsion achieves both goals, of course, with the passengers delighting in the silence of the trip and the orca whales of the arctic fjords more willing to come close to a boat that doesn’t have the vibration, sound and fumes of a fossil fuel tour boat.
The whales are so comfortable that they can be captured by the cameras of Brim’s underwater drones (made by Blueye robotics). Guests enjoy live video from below the surface streamed on monitors aboard the boat.
While the whales understandably are the most talked about event on the Explorer’s schedule, there are other cruises that let passengers immerse themselves in Norway’s environment and culture.
Northern Lights, white-tailed eagles and cuisine cruises
At 69.65° North, Brim Explorer’s home base of Tromsø is 350km (200mi) north of the Arctic Circle, and hence an ideal place to witness the indescribable Aurora Borealis. While they are not visible every night, when they do appear the sky is awash with a shimmering, undulating curtain of psychedelically coloured lights. What better place to view them than the wide deck of a silent catamaran gliding through the fjord waters.
There are also dozens of other northern species that live in these lands, one of the most impressive being the white-tailed eagle, the largest bird of prey in Norway. With a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters (8ft) and weighing up to 7kg (15lb), the Danish call it ‘the flying barn door’: Den flyvende stalddør.
Cultural excursions by Brim explore the remote island communities along the arctic coast, traveling past the mountains of the Lofoten islands. A favourite is a tasting cruise to the fishing hamlet of Henningsvær with fresh Arctic Tapas savoured enroute.
The Brim Explorer was designed from the outset to provide unique and unforgettable experiences. Both decks are almost completely wrapped in glass to get visitors as close as possible to nature and at 24 meter long, 11 meters wide and 9 meters high the catamaran can hold 140 passengers with lots of room.
An important part of making it viable as a tour cruise was making sure recharging was rapid and easily available. The 744kWh lithium ion batteries can charged overnight through a standard 400V 124 amp industrial power outlet, and the ship can then run (silently) the next day for 10 hours at 10 knots.
Riding the wave (‘brim’) of enthusiasm for the arctic eco-cruiser from both industry and consumers, Agnes Árnadóttir and Espen Larsen-Hakkebo have announced that a second boat, ‘Bard’ (Norwegian for whales’ balleens) will be ready this summer. They have teamed up with Hurtigruten, one of Norway’s largest tour operators and a leader in clean ferries to offer daily excursions along the pristine waters of Isfjorden, the second longest fjord in the Svalbard region.
You can find out more about all of the Brim Explorer cruises and book one of these adventures on »» their website.