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Are you worried about Mal de Mer? Unique X-BOW hull design may end seasickness on cruise ships says Builder

c: Lindblad

Norwegian shipbuilding company Ulstein recently unveiled its X-BOW hull design to make navigation through rough waters smoother for passengers and cut emissions.

Sailing to Antarctica entails a slew of challenges. In particular, unstable waves are common when cruising through the infamous Drake Passage – the massive body of water situated between the southernmost tip of South America and Antarctica’s Shetland Islands. As a result, nautical engineering companies have been developing technologies and vessel designs to make travel smoother and minimise ‘mal de mer’, or seasickness.

The X-BOW hull design – also dubbed the “inverted bow concept” by creators Ulstein – was trialled in Aurora Expedition’s Greg Mortimer, which was the first passenger cruise ship to use the technology in October 2019 for an expedition to Antarctica.

How does the X-BOW design work?

The hull of an X-BOW vessel is curved backwards with more volume in the ship’s fore, therefore making it particularly suited to adverse conditions in harsh waters.

The bow slices the waves, preventing them from crushing at the hull and allowing the ship to continue its smooth course so travellers feel softer motion and fewer vibrations and disturbances.

When compared to fore ship volumes with more conventional, bulbous bow shapes, the X-BOW has more displacement volume starting from the waterline.

Greg Mortimer’s captain Ulf-Peter Lindstrøm said that sailing in a ship with the X-BOW design was a different experience. “You don’t feel the sea,” he said in a testimonial on Ulstein’s website. “In big seas, I kept waiting for the slamming, but it never came. Other ships can only keep half the speed.”

After the successful 12-day voyage, in January 2020 Aurora Expeditions announced that it will deploy a second X-BOW ship – Sylvia Earle – in October 2021.