Hurtigruten Expeditions reveals two godmothers for battery hybrid powered MS Fridtjof Nansen

Hurtigruten Expeditions has appointed two seasoned exploration and environmental pioneers as godmothers of battery-hybrid powered MS Fridtjof Nansen: Canadian Sunniva Sørby and Norwegian Hilde Fålun Strøm.

September 8, 2021 - The two explorers are dedicating their lives to inspire action and engage a global dialogue on climate change and made history as the first women team to overwinter in remote Arctic Svalbard.

Svalbard is also where Hurtigruten Expeditions founded expedition cruising in 1896 and will conduct its naming ceremony for the battery-hybrid powered MS Fridtjof Nansen on September 14th.

“It is an honor to serve as godmothers to one of the world's most advanced and environmentally friendly expedition cruise ships. Over decades of polar exploration, we have witnessed the significant changes and challenges our planet faces. Sponsoring MS Fridtjof Nansen gives us a strengthened platform from where we can increase global awareness and dialogue around climate change – and inspire active engagement and create more ambassadors for our natural world,” stated Strøm and Sørby.

EXPLORE MORE: About the world's northernmost naming ceremony and the 1896 birth of expedition cruising 

Exploring 250 destinations across the globe, Hurtigruten Expeditions is today the world’s largest and leading expedition cruise line. Their newest battery-hybrid powered expedition cruise ship is named after one of the greatest polar heroes and humanitarians of all times, Nobel peace prize winner Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930).

“As Nansen himself, Hilde and Sunniva are true pioneers. Their dedication and enthusiasm for our planet is not only inspiring, and an extremely valuable contribution for change. They are true role models, and amazing ambassadors for our shared values”, said Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam.

Citizen science for change

EXPLORATION HERITAGE: Hurtigruten Expeditions’ newest vessel is named after one of greatest polar heroes and humanitarians of all times, Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930). Photo: ANDREA KLAUSSNER/Hurtigruten Expeditions

In 2019 – 2020, Hilde Fålun Strøm and Sunniva Sorby made history being the first women to overwinter solo on Svalbard – spending a total of 19 months at the remote trapper’s cabin of Bamsebu, located at 78°N; 140 km from the nearest settlement.

With no running water and relying solely on wind and the sun for power – and Polar Bears as neighbors – their Hearts in the Ice project sought a deeper understanding of climate change and how we all can play a participatory role. They were able to connect with 100.000 youth globally through satellite video calls related to climate change.

“Our aim has been to bridge science and citizen science, and to connect these spheres with NGOs, governments, students and the corporate world. People need information and inspiration. We spent time in the polar winter nights to shed light on some critically important questions such as: How do we, as a world community, best gather the strength of experts, citizen scientists, industries and other stakeholders, to solve the challenges we face together. It is important to both reach adult people who can make a difference today and to educate and inspire the next generation. By partnering with Hurtigruten Expeditions, we support their efforts in utilizing sustainable tourism as a tool for change,” said Strøm and Sørby.

Hurtigruten Group is entering into a long-term partnership with Sørby and Strøm’s organization Hearts in the Ice.

“Hilde and Sunniva’s relationship with and passion for Svalbard and the Arctic run as deep as ours. It‘s only natural that we combine forces and work together to ensure our expeditions stay the most responsible, educational, and sustainable in the adventure travel industry as we vigorously grow and expand as a global company,” said Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam.

The naming of MS Fridtjof Nansen is set to take place in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, September 14th, and will be live streamed in Hurtigruten’s digital channels.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam is proud to join forces with godmothers Strøm and Sørby to push the entire global forwarding cruise industry to become more responsible and sustainable

More about the godmothers of MS Fridtjof Nansen and the Hearts In the Ice project (external link)


Hilde Fålun Strøm

  • Project Co-Leader Hearts in the Ice
  • Polar Ambassador and Citizen Scientist
  • Has held leading positions in Hurtigruten Svalbard for 26 years.
  • Authorized Svalbard Guide
  • Holds International Leisure Skipper Certificate (STCW and D5LA)
  • Member Explorers Club
  • Married, 2 children, 3 grandchildren, has been living in Svalbard for 25 years
  • Expedition Leader- Svalbard Summit Ski Festival 2016, Arctic Haute Route 2017, Arctic Ski & Sail 2018, Reality TV Program “71° Nord”. Expedition Cruise Leader for “Future Talks” 2018
  • Responsible for all operations of the classic ship M/S Nordstjernen
  • Meteorological Observer at Jan Mayen and at Bear Island, 2013-14
  • Has spent more than two full years total in Trapper’s Huts in the High Arctic
  • Has had more than 300 polar bear encounters
  • Has deep Arctic expertise and have travelled around the whole Archipelago of Svalbard for 25 years.
  • Proficient in big game hunting – reindeer, fox, fowl – Svalbard
  • Experienced in: Kayaking, Snowmobiling, Glacier Travel, Climbing, Boat handling – Captain (D5LA), Skiing, Dogsledding, Photography and Trekking


Sunniva Sørby

  • Project Co-Leader Hearts in the Ice
  • Polar Ambassador and Citizen Scientist
  • Senior Polar Guide for PTGA
  • Member – Historic Women’s South Pole Expedition 92-93- First Canadian Woman
  • Expedition Leader Greenland Crossing 1999 – First Canadian Woman
  • Expedition Leader King George Island Crossing 1998
  • Chair of BC/Yukon and Member Explorers Club
  • Fellow, RCGS – Royal Canadian Geographical Society,
  • Member Society of Women Geographers
  • Flag Carrier – Wings World Quest
  • Resident of Comox, BC, Canada
  • Skied Sierra Haute Route 1996/ Climbed Kilimanjaro 5 times
  • Lead Instructor for Adventure 16 – Backpacking, Backcountry Navigation, Winter camping
  • Born in Tønsberg Norway – raised in Canada
  • Nominated as Woman of the Year-2002 for efforts to promote sports education for young girls
  • Worked as Historian/Zodiac driver in Svalbard, Canadian Arctic and Antarctica
  • Frequent lecturer on Leadership, Risk Taking, and the Polar regions
  • Experienced in Mountain Biking, Running, Glacier Travel, Trekking and Kayaking

Hurtigruten Expeditions - World leader in exploration travel

With sustainability and exploration at core, Hurtigruten Expeditions founded expedition cruising in 1896. Today, Hurtigruten Expeditions is the world’s largest and leading expedition cruise line.

Building on more than 125 years of experience dating back to 1896, Hurtigruten Expeditions offers big adventures on small ships, taking guests to over 250 spectacular destinations in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Hurtigruten Expeditions operates a fleet of small, custom-build expedition cruise ships, including the world’s first battery-hybrid powered cruise ships.

Hurtigruten Expeditions is part of Hurtigruten Group, the world leader in exploration travel, which also operates Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express, known as ‘the most beautiful voyage in the world’ and extensive land-based activities – including hotels, restaurants and more – through Hurtigruten Svalbard.