ABB to power first hybrid-electric polar expedition cruise ship built in South America


ABB has been selected by the Astilleros y Servicios Navales S.A. (ASENAV) shipyard based in Chile to provide a power and propulsion system for Antarctica21’s newbuild boutique expedition ship Magellan Discoverer. Due for delivery in 2026, the vessel is the first hybrid-electric polar cruise ship featuring Azipod® propulsion to be built in the Americas.

Accommodating up to 96 passengers and 67 crew members, the vessel will be operating in the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas).

ASENAV is the biggest private shipyard in Chile and Antarctica21 is a global leader in touristic operations focused on ‘fly & cruise’ expeditions to Antarctica. Both companies are important players in an expedition segment which recognizes technical innovation as key to balancing cost efficiency with environmental responsibility.

“This ship is born out of our unwavering commitment to meeting the rising expectations of our guests,” said Mr. Jaime Vásquez, President of Antarctica21. “Equipped with the latest technology, Magellan Discoverer strengthens our dedication to sustainability while offering seamless comfort for our travellers. With its modern elegance and advanced technical features, it supports our ongoing effort to provide unparalleled experiences in the spectacular Antarctic region.”

“Manufacturing the first hybrid-electric cruise ship in the Americas solidifies our position as a highly competitive shipyard on a global scale,” said Heinz Pearce, General Manager of ASENAV. “Alongside fostering new engineering solutions, we are constructing a vessel that meets the quality, comfort and sustainability needs currently demanded by the global tourism industry. With the support of our suppliers, such as ABB, we are now raising the standard in shipbuilding, leading the progress of an industry heading towards more sustainable development.”

The project further demonstrates ABB’s competitive advantage as a preferred supplier for electrification of expedition cruise ships. ABB’s scope of supply comprises the Azipod® propulsion system and a hybrid power plant featuring the Onboard DC Grid™ power distribution system, with battery bank from Corvus Energy. The ship’s energy storage system allows the engines to be switched off for silent operations in environmentally sensitive areas. Moreover, the flexibility of ABB’s Onboard DC Grid™ allows integrating a wide range of energy sources, such as fuel cells, ensuring the vessel is ready to comply with stricter emission regulations in the future.

“We look forward to our collaboration with ASENAV and Antartica21,” said Juha Koskela, Division President, ABB Marine & Ports. “Every new reference for Azipod® propulsion and hybrid power systems is a victory for ship efficiency, taking the industry forward on the journey toward decarbonisation.”