Explorers have long sought the fabled Northwest Passage route from the Atlantic to the Pacific – without going around Cape Horn. Thousands of miles would be saved. But alas, none was ever found. The St. Lawrence seaway peters out well before getting too far inland. The northern route has been plagued by a barrier called “ice.”
Global warming has brought about a drastic melt of the polar ice cap such that there is now actually a path between the seas.
The #1 ship in the industry is now on such a voyage as we speak. I a radical move, the cruise line sent its flagship out to “test” the waters. Nearly 1,000 passengers plunked down big bucks to be the first large tourist ship up at the top of the world. We’re talking about a sold-out excursion costing from $22,000 to $120,000…per!!
Crystal Serenity is outfitted with state of the art forward looking sonar, ice detection radar, ice searchlights and thermal imaging, as well as an ice navigation system that will display near real time satellite ice imagery and ice forecasts.
The ship is being escorted by the RRS Ernest Shackleton, an ice breaker able to provide assistance should the need arise and carries additional safety and adventure equipment.
Today the ship is anchored in Tay Sound. The Shackleton is deploying helicopters for walks on the snow-covered surface. Guests will get to see Ringed, Bearded and Harp seals.
You can view LIVE snaps of three views. There are updates about every 15 minutes. They left Anchorage on August 16 for the 32 day trip, ending in New York City.
The trade press has made some waves about the negative aspects, citing potential for oil and fuel spills and possible risks for habitats on which local indigenous communities depend. Bryan Comer, of the International Council on Clean Transportation said: “The ship is navigating in uncharted territory.” Crystal is owned by the mammoth Genting of Hong Kong and has the resources for guests to enjoy a safe and environmentally clean voyage.
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