Quark Expeditions explains how its latest vessel adheres to its Polar Promise sustainability framework
Expedition cruise ship Ultramarine’s technical features will minimise the ship’s environmental footprint in keeping with its Polar Promise sustainability framework.
The vessel, at 128 m long, with a beam of 21.5 m and at 13,500 gt, will set sail in 2021, accommodating up to 200 passengers in spacious cabins and public areas. Quark Expeditions announced in January 2020 that Ultramarine is ready for booking during an inaugural Arctic season with voyages to Spitsbergen, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic.
“Every aspect of the ship has been built with one thing in mind: continuing to redefine what is possible in polar adventure,” said Quark Expeditions president Andrew White at the steel cutting ceremony at Brodosplit shipyard last year. “We’ve created a ship unsurpassed in its class not only by partnering with industry leaders like Brodosplit and LMG Marin, who are as committed as we are to pushing the boundaries, but also by consulting with our own polar experts and expedition leaders, who know better than anyone else what guests want out of their polar experience.”
Minimising environmental footprint
Quark Expeditions operations and sustainability manager Lyndsey Lewis tells Passenger Ship Technology that Ultramarine will feature “ultra-efficient energy systems.” The ship will be powered by four main engines, which are compliant with the stringent IMO Tier III requirements. These will be manufactured by Anglo Belgian Corporation and located in two redundant enginerooms.
Each engine will drive an electric generator which supplies power to the main propulsion motors at 3,000 kW each, and to the two bow thrusters at 600 kW each, a single stern thruster at 800 kW, and all onboard electrical consumption. This configuration allows for the most fuel efficient and low emissions operation over a wide variety of operating speeds and conditions.
The vessel will also feature a micro auto gasification system (MAGS). Ms Lewis says “The self-generating MAGS system gasifies combustible waste. Mixed waste is converted into thermal energy and solid carbon matter, called biochar, decreasing the waste volume by 95%.”
There will also be efficient power. “Four diesel engines of two different sizes allow Ultramarine to meet fluctuating power needs, automatically shifting to the optimal combination and minimising fuel use and exhaust emissions,” Ms Lewis comments.
Reused heat is another innovative feature. Ultramarine’s enthalpy wheel, a heat recovery system, “salvages useful energy and returns it to the ship as fresh air, reducing the amount of energy required to heat the ship”, says Ms Lewis.
A consistent environment is also important. “Fan coil units, top-quality thermal insulation and low heat-transfer windows in every suite mitigate against high variability in HVAC usage, keeping temperatures stable,” says Ms Lewis.
LEDs throughout the ship produce potential energy savings of up to 50% compared with standard fluorescent lighting, Ms Lewis comments.
Ms Lewis also highlights the streamlined design. “The re-imagined hull and propeller design ensures the lowest possible resistance, reducing the power required to propel the ship.”
“The strategy translates Quark Expeditions’ existing and new efforts into concrete, measurable goals and sustainable outcomes to be achieved by 2025”
In April 2019, Quark Expeditions unveiled its sustainability strategy named Polar Promise, which Ultramarine adheres to.
Ms Lewis says “It advances both ongoing and new initiatives aimed at improving environmental and social outcomes in the polar regions. The strategy translates Quark Expeditions’ existing and new efforts into concrete, measurable goals and sustainable outcomes to be achieved by 2025.
As part of this, the cruise operator follows the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to view the impact of its activities and use as a benchmark to assess the relevance of its initiatives. Ms Lewis explains “We have identified sustainable development goals to which we believe we can make the biggest contribution. They include conserving our oceans and taking action to combat climate change.
“We are committed to environmentally responsible tourism because protecting the places we visit is vital to ensuring we can continue to enable travellers to enjoy the spectacular beauty of the polar wilderness.”
In addition to ultra-efficient energy systems, Ultramarine will feature innovative safety features including:
Asked if Quark is planning on adding to its fleet, Ms Lewis says “With the largest and most diverse polar fleet offering passengers a wide range of choices, our continued mission is to offer travellers unparalleled access to the most remote places on earth. As the leader in polar expeditions for 30 years, we are always looking to go beyond, to help people experience the polar regions in unique ways – this includes constantly looking to enhance our fleet.
“We are in the planning phases for future vessels and our current focus includes that of Ultramarine, our latest vessel, containing a pioneering mix of advanced sustainability features that will reduce its environmental impact to an extent unseen for a polar vessel of comparable size.”
The ship represents LMG Marin’s first polar expedition cruise ship design contract. LMG Marin will deliver a basic design package in the contract with Brodosplit Shipyard.
Brodosplit shipyard has previously highlighted to Passenger Ship Technology that the expedition cruise sector is not only an area of interest but is its “niche”.
Brodosplit head of sales Matea Culo told Passenger Ship Technology “We have knowledge and experience with expedition cruise vessels and enough capacity for building these intimate ships for special experiences. This versatility of projects is also very exciting for our employees and increases our competences in a very demanding industry, which shipbuilding certainly is.”
Lyndsey Lewis is an operations and sustainability manager at Quark Expeditions, responsible for the Polar Promise sustainability framework and securing permits for voyages to the Arctic and Antarctic. Prior to joining Quark Expeditions, she co-founded a sustainable 3D printing materials company and brings with her nearly 10 years of experience as a consultant in the sustainable building industry.