World's first zero-carbon whale watching cruise arrives

New eco-friendly trips promise a more peaceful marine wildlife encounter


Having a whale of a ti... oh, forget it | Image: North Sailing Husavik

In an unassuming fishing village on the edge of the Arctic Circle in North Iceland, a small whale watching operator is braving the waves of innovation to improve responsible eco-tourism in Iceland and around the world. In 2015, North Sailing Tours endeavors to become the world's first whale watching company to offer zero carbon emission ocean sails with the introduction of Hybrid-Electric Technology for Marine Vessels.

On 23 May 2015 from colorful Husavik harbor, North Sailing will launch the maiden zero-carbon voyage of Opal, a wooden schooner ship refitted with a unique Regenerative Plug-in Hybrid Propulsion system (RPHP). The new technology is part of a cooperative initiative to improve the environmental footprint of boat operations as well as the passenger experience and impact on marine life.
"Introducing this technological innovation has the potential to change the face of eco-tourism as the world knows it," says Birna Bjornsdottir, Head of Sales and Communications for North Sailing Husavik. "By operating our whale watching excursions on carbon-free ships we show it's possible to visit amazing places like Iceland in remote nature and preserve it for future generations."
The Regenerative Plug-in Hybrid Propulsion (RPHP) concept and application was developed using knowledge based on the electric automobile industry. By introducing RPHP to whale watching, North Sailing adds a new dimension to the way guests experience wildlife. The slow-going, electric-driven propeller eliminates engine noise and allows passengers to more peacefully experience whales in their natural habitat while causing minimal disturbance to marine wildlife. The project scope entails testing and optimization of the new technology based on vessel operation. The remaining ships in the North Sailing fleet will be converted into carbon-free, ship-shape vessels by 2020.

North Sailing offers whale watching and boutique expedition cruises in North Iceland and Greenland aboard restored wooden schooner ships which are Iceland's only traditional gaff rigged sailing ships and play an important role in preserving knowledge of maintaining a traditional sailing vessel. North Sailing have put Husavik (pop. 2300) on the world map as the whale-watching capital of northern Europe, providing eco-friendly wildlife adventures to nearly 50,000 visitors per year.


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