National Geographic Endurance was purpose-built for polar navigation and provides exceptional comfort
The expedition cruise ship was built by Ulstein Verft, which explains the main considerations for the design and construction of the ship. “The owner’s philosophy has been to limit the number of passengers to keep standards and comfort high, enabling the passengers to get to know everybody during a cruise.”
It adds “Ulstein has traditionally designed and built offshore vessels. This is a new vessel type for Ulstein as regards design, engineering and construction, although Ulstein Verft previously built cruise vessels in the 1960s and two vessels for Hurtigruten in 1981 and 1997 (Midnatsol and Polarlys).”
Midnatsol was later upgraded and renamed National Geographic Explorer and is owned and operated by Lindblad Expeditions.
Ulstein says the vessel needed to meet Safe Return to Port (SRtP); Polar code; United States Public Health (USPH) regulations and class notations Passenger Ship – with rules regarding safety, escape and stability; PC(5) – ice strengthening the hull and propeller for year-round operation in polar waters; and Silent(E) – reduced noise into the sea to protect the environment.
Highlighting the difference between building the cruise ship and offshore vessels, it says “More parties and suppliers have been involved than in offshore projects and there is much more accommodation compared to offshore.”
One of the features that makes the new cruise ship striking is it is built with Ulstein’s patented X-BOW. Ulstein explains “Ulstein entered into the expedition cruise vessel market to introduce the Ulstein X-BOW in cruise vessels. This feature has been used for more than 10 years on many offshore vessels operating in rough weather and sea conditions. Therefore, we found the X-BOW very suitable for passenger vessels crossing rough stretches of sea such as the Drake Passage or operating in the Norwegian Sea. In head sea, the hull shape leads to reduced motions and accelerations which in turn leads to increased comfort and safety.”
In cold areas, the Ulstein X-BOW reduces spray from the bow, reducing the risk of icing.
“The increased volume in the bow part of the vessel has proven to be excellent when manoeuvring in icy waters”
The main difference between an Ulstein X-BOW and a conventional bow is the part of the hull above the waterline. Ulstein says “The increased volume in the bow part of the vessel has proven to be excellent when manoeuvring in icy waters. Film and feedback from the first X-BOW cruise vessel Greg Mortimer prove the easy entrance of the vessel in such conditions.” Indeed, SunStone Ship’s cruise ship Greg Mortimer, delivered last year, is the first cruise ship to feature an X-BOW.
The shape of the underwater hull, especially in the bow area for National Geographic Endurance, is designed to meet requirements of DNV GL’s class notation PC(5).
The X-BOW also helps to provide what Ulstein and Lindblad say is “exceptional comfort”.
Other features used to provide comfort include stabilisers. The vessel is equipped with two stabilisers, one on each side, from SKF. The stabilisers can be used both during transit and at zero speed to reduce roll motions.
The vessel meets COMF-V(1) & COMF-C(1) class, the highest comfort class notation regarding noise, vibrations and air quality for all passenger areas.
The interior areas and suites have also been designed to be extremely comfortable. All suites have either balconies or windows and the balcony ratio is a high 77%. Single suites are 15 m2 and doubles are 20-40 m2.
Public areas include a main restaurant, bistro and bars, a lecture lounge, observation lounge, spa, exercise and yoga facilities. Mud rooms are provided to prepare for expeditions and large outside areas can be used to observe nature or relax in the sun in one of the hot tubs, igloos or a seated area around the bbq area.
A range of energy efficient and environmentally friendly technology is used, including heat recovery of cooling water from engines. This means less power is needed to produce fresh water, heat the potable water including jacuzzis and heat the accommodation.
The HVAC system includes frequency-controlled pumps that allow for reduced power consumption, and frequency-controlled AC compressors, two units each with 2 VFD/2 compressors for maximum efficiency.
There are also frequency-controlled supply and exhaust fans for public spaces based on CO2 measurements for occupied and unoccupied modes, individual passenger cabin fan coil units and frequency-controlled engineroom ventilation.
LED lights throughout the vessel allow for reduced power consumption and marine gas oil will be used.
For propulsion, the vessel is equipped with 2 Azipods from ABB, each with a capacity of 3,500 kW and strengthened according to DNV GL class notation PC(5) requirements. The Azipods allow for increased manoeuvrability and reduced noise levels in the vessel.
The vessel is equipped with four main engines from General Electrics, delivered by VMS Group, each connected to a generator from ABB. Two engines are installed in each of the two enginerooms for redundancy according to safe return to port requirements. Each engineroom has an engine of 3,150 kW and one of 2,250 kW. There is no need for SCR & UREA to meet IMO Tier III NOX emission levels due to the GE combustion recirculation technology. All GE engines also meet US EPA Tier 4 emissions regulations, which limit the release of particulates into the environment.
The vessel is equipped with two tunnel thrusters from Brunvoll for redundancy during berthing. Each of the thrusters has a diameter of 2,000 mm and a rating of 1,000 kW. The vessel is not equipped with stern thrusters as it has sufficient manoeuvrability from the ABB azipods.
A major consideration behind the design and construction of the cruise ship was ensuring it is purpose-built for polar navigation. Compliance with the Polar code involved an assessment workshop with the owner, designer, builder and class to reveal the intended operation of the vessel, operational areas, defining minimum operational temperature, risks and how to mitigate them. Some risks can be taken care of by technical solutions and some by procedures.
Ulstein and Lindblad gave an example: Risk: The vessel might be exposed to icing during operation. These can be taken care of by technical solutions including that the X-BOW reduces spray, hence less risk for icing. Also, air inlets are sheltered.
Operational procedures include that the crew will remove the ice, salt will be used to avoid icing and there will be follow-up on findings in the Polar code assessment report during the engineering and construction of the vessel to find ways to mitigate the defined risks.
The vessel has the highest ice class for any purpose-built passenger vessel (PC(5)). Ulstein says “The intention behind this is to be able to enter areas earlier in the spring and to go further into the polar areas. The intention is also to increase the safety of the vessel and its passengers and crew.”
Polar code compliance includes a special focus on navigational systems for several reasons: the vessel will enter areas with limited known sea maps; the altitude of the operations cause challenges regarding satellite coverage and the cruise ship is equipped with ice radar and sonar.
Lindblad Expeditions newbuild to use new cable transit
National Geographic Endurance will be the first vessel built in Norway to be equipped with a new type of cable transit. STI Marine cable transit EZ-Path, supplied by Elpro, is a new solution being deployed on Lindblad Expeditions’ cruise ship.
“EZ-Path is a new and innovative solution, but our customers have been reluctant to be the first mover to implement the product. Therefore, it is a pleasure to announce Ulstein Verft has selected this transit for newbuild 312,” said Elpro head of sales and marketing Ola Staverløkk.
Elpro is one of the specialised vendors in the European market who supplies EZ-Path, and the sole supplier in Norway.
Mr Staverløkk points out that the number of cables aboard a ship has increased considerably due to increased digitalisation – the greater number of digital solutions there are, the more cables needed.
“The cable transits from STI Marine hold DNV GL type-approval and A60 classification, meaning when using EZ-Path, the installers do not need to waste time packing cables to fireproof them,” he says.
Ulstein Elektro Installasjon chief production officer Atle Moldskred says “EZ-Path is something completely different. The transit is mounted, and you simply pull the cable through. With EZ-Path, we do not have to consider all the work that would otherwise be involved in packing cables in the correct and supplier-specific way.”
“The fact that EZ-Path makes packing blocks unnecessary is a huge time-saver, measurable by work hours, said Mr Staverløkk.
Mr Moldskred adds “Even though purchasing EZ-Path is slightly more expensive than other cable transits, it saves costs during operating time.” He explains that STI Marine cable transits are less expensive to operate because you can simply pull new cables through, as opposed to other solutions, where the packing needs to be dismounted and then reassembled after adding cables.
Main equipment suppliers
R&M Ship Interior: Interior solution
AF AeronMollier: Ventilation (HVAC)
Wärtsilä Valmarine: Navigation equipment
Oxin: Catering and laundry equipment
MacGregor Sweden: Side ports
Undertun: Embarkation ports/gangways
KONE Elevators: Elevators
Ulmatec Pyro: Heat recovery system
Palfinger Marine Safety: Lifeboats and davits
Palfinger Marine Norway: Windlass/mooring winches
Survitec Fire Solutions: Water mist system
Glamox International: Lighting fixtures
Aukra Maritime: Hangar handling system
Hydroniq Coolers: Rack coolers
IMS Technologies: Watertight sliding doors
Ahlsell Norge: Valves
Anda-Olsen: UPS (uninterruptable power supply)
Elpro Electro AS/Nordesign AS/
AKB lighting: Decorative lighting
Libra Plast: External doors
Jets Vacuum: Sewage treatment plant, vacuum toilets
Brombach + Gess: Glued windows and glass railing
PPG Coatings: Paint
Enwa Water Technology: Water treatment
Ulstein Design & Solutions: Ship design