Norwegian Cruise Ship Company Says Electricity and Water Don’t Mix

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Passengers seeking space for their electric vehicles on vessels operated by Havila Voyages out of Norway are about to find themselves left ashore. The company is taking the advice of a risk analysis firm and refusing to board any electric, hybrid, or hydrogen vehicles on its ships.

To be clear – in spite of what is being suggested by some other outlets – Havila is primarily a cruise ship company, not a huge shipping corporation that floats jumbo vessels like the ill-fated Felicity Ace. There is inherently little space for vehicles, regardless of propulsion method, and they are treated more as cargo than they would be on a traditional roll-on/roll-off ferry. Havila describes these ships as providing ‘coastal voyages’, some of which are up to 12 days in length.

Still, anyone who grew up in a rural seaside town (*raises hand*) knows there is an unwritten expectation that any ship the size of these will reserve at least part of its cargo hold for shipping life’s necessities to far-flung frozen towns – even if official agreements with the Ministry of Transport do not decree this requirement. But many do, being good stewards of the community and all that tripe. Sometimes the cargo includes vehicles, a part of the balance sheet which has apparently frightened the tar out of risk assessment managers and caused the banning of EVs and their ilk for fear of fires that would be difficult to extinguish. 

These are valid concerns, to be sure, especially given the suspected reason for the loss of the Felicity Ace mentioned earlier. Even internal combustion cars don’t rank too high on Havila’s top-40 as cargo, with the company reducing to just two the number of ports at which it will offload vehicles, citing tidal considerations and the like.

There is an uncomfortable realization that Havila’s own ships deploy enormous battery packs in their daily plying of the seas, but company spox say those elements of vessel propulsion are safely encased in separate rooms which have special fire suppressors which may not be available elsewhere on the boat.

Remember these facts when, inevitably, your Uncle Walt shares a fake news story on Facebook with a breathless headline shouting ‘SHIPPING COMPANIES WON’T BRING ELECTRIC CARS HERE ANYMORE’ or ‘YOU CAN’T PUT AN EV ON A FERRY NOW’. Speaking quickly to the latter, a German-based company has installed EV chargers on several of its vessels serving a number of routes.

[Images: Havila]

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Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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2 of 20 comments
  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Jan 24, 2023

    I wonder if readers here know how EVs deal with regulations around battery packs spontaneously catching fire: The pack must contain the fire for 60 seconds; the user is warned to get the H out of the vehicle. After 60 seconds, all bets are off, and the battery is allowed to go full China Syndrome. Don't ask me how this solves anything if the car is parked in your garage, and it's the middle of the night...

    And before you tell me ICE cars catch fire too, that typically happens on the open road in old and poorly maintained vehicles. A relatively new ICE car isn't going to cook off while sitting in your garage.

  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Jan 24, 2023

    I did some digging. This applies to 2 ships owned by one repeat one cruise line. The ships don't have sufficient fire suppression equipment to handle electrical fires.

    Banning all EV's from ferries would be bad business considering the number of EV's in Norway.

    This site gets more clicks by flinging red meat on the gas stove than doing actual journalism.

  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):
  • Groza George Stellantis live off the back of cheap V8 cars with old technology and suffers from lack of new product development. Now that regulations killed this market, they have to ditch the outdated overhead.They are not ready to face the tsunami of cheap Chinese EVs or ready to even go hybrid and will be left in the dust. I expect most of their US offerings to be made in Mexico in the future for good tariff protection and lower costs of labor instead of overpriced and inflexible union labor.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is delaying an oil change for my Highlander by a couple of weeks, as it prevented me from getting an appointment before a business trip out of town. Oh well, much worse things have happened.I also just got a dealership oil change for my BMW (thanks, loss-leader prepaid plans!) and this didn't seem to affect them at all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Gonna need more EV fuel.
  • Lou_BC There's a company in BC that has kits for logging trucks and pickups. They have "turn key" logging trucks too. What they market is similar to what Ram wants to sell. The rig runs on batteries and a generator kicks in when depleted. On the West Coast logging in the mountains they found that the trucks run mostly on regen braking. The generator doesn't kick in much. Going up mountain, the truck is empty.