Green machine: What is it really like to cruise onboard new Havila Capella?
Sailing the Norwegian fjords aboard Havila Capella, Lucy Abbott discovers that sustainable cruising can be huge fun, too.
With a bunch of three-week-old husky puppies playing in my lap, that’s when it happens.
As I sit there, planning how to spend the rest of my life working on a Norwegian husky farm, the power of a good cruise excursion becomes truly apparent.
For my presence in fjordland I must thank Havila Capella, the 640-guest debut ship of new line Havila Voyages. Launched in December 2021, she sails the well-known coastal route between Bergen and Kirkenes, but she is far from your average cruise vessel.
The first of a planned fleet of four, Capella combines the world’s largest battery packs with LNG-powered conventional engines to minimise emissions. Backed by the Norwegian government, she also serves as a hop-on/hop-off bus service for locals in remote ports up and down the coast. So, like her engine, Capella’s purpose is something of a hybrid.
Room to breathe
Stepping into my cabin, the one thing that strikes me straight away is space– there’s plenty of it. At 15sqm, my Seaview Superior cabin is well above average, especially compared with other ships sailing the Norwegian coast.
It’s also equipped with everything I need for the next four nights, from a kettle (yes, they know what we Brits expect) to a mini-fridge, TV, desk and USB charging points.
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Of course, plenty of ships can supply all of the above. But Capella adds – get this – a ‘Northern Lights’ button on your in-room phone.
While this won’t summon the aurora borealis on demand, it will ensure that you get a courtesy ring if the fabled celestial phenomenon makes an appearance during the night.
Find your ideal cruise
Something else I love is the way they’ve used local talent for the onboard decor, with Norwegian-made chairs and wooden zig-zag coat hooks adding a lovely homespun Scandi touch.
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If you want to push the boat out a little further, a Junior Suite adds a floor-to-ceiling window, a fully stocked mini-bar and a Nespresso machine, while the blow-the-budget Lighthouse Suite features a roomy private balcony and private Jacuzzi.
Guests with mobility issues are well catered for, too. In the more accessible cabins, both the main and bathroom doors swing open automatically when activated, and there is a walk-in shower. There’s also a ramp on to the balcony, for those stunning fjord views.
The bar’s the star
The atmosphere on board is laid back, and more like a river voyage than an ocean cruise, maybe because our route hugs the coast.
Views from the top-deck veranda are every bit as spectacular as you’d expect, and you’ll definitely want to be up there with your camera –but pack plenty of layers, because a fjordland cruise can get a bit chilly out on deck, whatever the season.
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Inside, however, Capella’s lounges are toasty warm, and I find myself strangely drawn to the roomy bar at the top of the ship, where locals and cruise guests can stop for a drink any time of the day and swap life stories. And thanks to large glass ceiling panels, there’s no missing out on those fjordland vistas.
The views from the gym are pretty amazing, too, and I have to say my daily session on the treadmill has never felt less like hard work.
Food for thought
The ship’s main restaurant, Havrand, offers impressive complimentary cuisine, with a daily menu that features local delicacies such as king crab and (block your ears, children) grilled reindeer.
I’m told both are very good – and I can personally vouch for the veggie options – though if you want something really special, an extra £25 buys you a five-course fine-dining menu.
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Norway is famous for its unique landscape and wildlife habitats, and there’s ample opportunity to explore both, with daily excursions ranging from e-biking to snowmobiling under polar skies.
Both are huge fun, but I have to admit that being whisked around by a pack of nine huskies who howl the moment they stop running is the highlight of my trip.
Apart, that is, from the aurora. Many people come here just for this, and leave disappointed if it fails to appear.
Call it beginner's luck, but I was treated to a heavenly lightshow night after night, even getting a glimpse while out snowmobiling in Tromso.
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It has to be faced that my alternative lifeplan of becoming a husky farmer may not come to fruition. But another eco-friendly cruise along the beautiful Norwegian Coast with Havila? Where do I sign...
Six-night ‘Voyage North’ aboard Havila Capella, from Bergen to Kirkenes via Geirangerfjorden, Alesund, the Arctic Circle, North Cape and Tromso, frequent departures, from £663.
‘Sustainability made easy’ is the ethos of Havila Voyages, and every element of Havila Capella is well thought out with environmental considerations in mind.
Thanks to its unique battery pack, the ship can sail for up to four hours at a time with no emissions and no noise. When running in conventional mode, powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), the ship still reduces Co2 emissions by 25 per cent, with no particulate emissions.
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Havila Voyages is already sailing emission-free in the UNESCO World Heritage fjords, even though that is not a legal requirement until 2026. Looking further ahead, the line plans to adapt its LNG engines to run on hydrogen fuel as this becomes more readily available.
With its supplies of electricity and hydrogen both produced sustainably, Havila could then be the world’s first 100 per cent green cruise line.
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