Innovations in Wind-Powered Cruising

In keeping with the eco-friendly travel focus of our April issue of Global Traveler, “green” family tourism opportunities and environmentally conscious vacation options pop up all over the travel world.

Even the cruising industry makes waves in the sustainable travel trade. Exhibit: the ferry-cruiser, Viking Grace. Based in the Baltic Åland Islands, Viking Line joined the ranks of innovative cruise ships as the world’s first passenger vessel utilizing wind power. Now equipped with a high-tech rotor sail, a cylindrical device propels the ship by harnessing wind power and pushing slow-moving pressure toward one end, releasing a powerful spinning motion of the propeller.

The ecological improvements come after the vessel was already known to be a sustainable ship, fueled with low-emission liquefied natural gas since 2013. Now with the all-new rotor sail, Viking Grace hopes to reduce CO2 emissions by 900 tons yearly. The wind-powered cylinder is difficult to miss, stretching nearly 80 feet tall, 13 feet wide and passing through the water with ease. Developed by the Finnish firm Norsepower Oy Ltd., the simple and primitive, but effective concept is revolutionary in the cruising industry and lightens the company’s carbon footprint.

This may be the first of its kind, but it won’t be the last. Two similar rotor sails to double the power output of the vessel will be installed on the line’s newest ship. While currently under construction in China, the new ship is expected to be fully operational by 2020.

Viking Line ferry ship on Baltic Sea

© Igor Groshev | Dreamstime.com

Viking Line’s focus on sustainable travel and constant environmental work began in the 1980s, but has grown exponentially. The cruise line’s mission to protect the Baltic Sea and surrounding archipelago, lower harmful fuel emissions and produce less waste recently increased with the help of cooperating partners.

Thanks to the Finnish-Swedish EU project of Connecting Europe Facility, the organization works to promote sustainable and efficient maritime connections, cutting out frivolity and minimizing harm on the environment. Together with the Port of Turku, Ports of Stockholm and the Port of Mariehamn, Viking Line has been granted EU funding from CEF for its collaborative NextGen Link project to use more sustainable vessel fuel, recycle materials and improve logistics in the link between Turku and Stockholm.

Read all about the conscientious cruise line’s “green” efforts, from knitting socks for the Red Cross, producing organic ice cream and supporting those in the Finnish community with disabilities.