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Cruise the North Pole in style, by air or sea, emissions-free

A Swedish aviation company, OceanSky Cruises, announced that it will start cruises to the North Pole aboard luxury airships starting from 2024

OceanSky’s first flight will be to the North Pole, a 38-hour journey, and another 6-hour stay there Le Commandant Charcot became the first French vessel to reach the North Pole in recent weeks Norwegian export credit agency Eksfin is playing a major role in accelerating the ‘green shift’ at sea

The aviation industry made up 2.5% of the total CO2 emissions in 2018 alone, or double the amounts since the mid-1980s.

Now, a Swedish aviation company, OceanSky Cruises, announced it will start cruises to the North Pole aboard luxury airships starting from 2024. The company revealed that the airships will be powered by Lighter-than-Air technology, meaning that they’ll use gas to stay afloat.

Airships float similar to a boat in the water, requiring less energy compared to airplanes by as much as 80% that makes for an extremely efficient and sustainable design. 

While planes are five times faster, airships can fly the same distance at lower altitudes and with less resistance due to their slow pace. The compromise to flying faster is a slower greener option.  

When it comes to safety, airships have a number of smaller engines than planes, so engine problems are not an issue on airships, and since they are slow to take off and land, this reduces the chance of a collision, since most airplane accidents happen during takeoff or landing.   

North Pole trips 

OceanSky’s first flight will be to the North Pole, a 38-hour journey, and another 6-hour stay there. The company explains that its airship is similar to a luxury yacht. The spacious airship will feature 8 double cabins at 100 sq ft (10 m2) that are fully equipped with large panoramic windows, a private bathroom, and a wardrobe. 

With large windows at the bottom of the airship that flies at low altitudes, the passengers could enjoy the amazing sceneries during the whole trip. During the Fall Equinox, the sun falls below the horizon at the North Pole until spring. It’s when it’s best to fly. 

Meanwhile, PONANT’s hybrid-electric exploration cruise ship Le Commandant Charcot, which became the first French vessel of its kind to reach the geographic North Pole in recent weeks, was equipped with Azipod propulsion technology. The ship was completing its sea trials in preparation for welcoming guests for the maiden voyage later this year.

The Azipod technology produces minimal noise and vibrations to reduce disruption to wildlife and provide a comfortable passenger experience. Moreover, the ship’s energy storage system, supplied and integrated by ABB, is the largest ever delivered to a vessel of its kind at almost five-megawatt hours, allowing the engines to be switched off for silent, emission-free cruising.

In addition to providing cruises, the ship will also be available to the scientific community in the study and preservation of the Poles and oceans. The vessel is equipped with measurement instruments and features science labs designed to meet the requirements of academic research.

With the electric drive motor situated in a submerged pod outside the ship hull, the Azipod system can rotate 360 degrees, significantly increasing maneuverability and operating efficiency of a vessel and cutting fuel consumption by up to 20% compared to conventional systems.

A hybrid power supply, comprising the main power source, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and an energy storage system, will ensure optimal engine load with reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

The French line took six years to design and build this prototype of a ship that reached the geographic North Pole for the first time on September 6, 2021.

Norwegian export credit agency Eksfin is playing a major role in accelerating the ‘green shift’ at sea, providing loan guarantees approaching €1 billion ($1.16 bn) for the construction of 35 eco-friendly vessels over the last four years, including ‘Le Commandant Charcot’.

“We are now close to the milestone figure of NOK 10bn ($1.2 bn) and will continue to pursue projects with a strong environmental profile reflecting the industry trend towards more sustainable operations,” said Eksfin CEO Tone Lunde Bakker.

Using LNG will reduce emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon dioxide (CO2) by 95%, 85%, and 25%, respectively, compared to conventional cruise ships.