The companion ship is operated by British Antarctic Survey and will provide operational support and safety to the 1,070-passenger luxury vessel. Crystal Cruises is the first major, luxury cruise line to try a sailing through the icy waters of Northwest Passage.
Ernest Shackleton will be equipped with two helicopters for emergency use, tools for oil pollution containment, high-tech communications equipment and survival rations. The crew has experience in the Northwest Passage and using the safety equipment.
Crystal Serenity will be upgraded with ice detection radar, ice navigation system and forward-looking sonar. The bridge team received ice navigation training, and ice pilots will board both Ernest Shackleton and Crystal Serenity for the crossing.
In a press release Crystal president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez, said:
"We have been planning this historic sailing for more than two years, working closely with expedition experts from EYOS-Expeditions, as well as Transport Canada, the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards and local agencies along the route to ensure the ultimate safety and a most memorable experience for our guests. The RRS Ernest Shackleton's assistance in navigating this region will only enhance the safety of our voyage."
The crew of Ernest Shackleton will also assist with line's "Unexpected Adventures" tours like helicopter flightseeing, Zodiac wet landings, speed boat rides and kayaking.
Crystal Serenity will head to the Northwest Passage on August 16, 2016 from Anchorage. In 2017 the ship will offer a second Northwest Passage expedition.
Another luxury cruise line, Regent Seven Seas, will also sail its first Northwest Passage voyage next summer.