The Crystal Serenity cruise tour of the Arctic promises to carry passengers through Northwest Passage. The controversial itinerary was scheduled to set sail Tuesday from Seward Alaska and end 32 days later in NYC New York.
As many as 1,700 passengers and crew were expected to be on board the Crystal Serenity, which will transit the Bering Strait and visit Greenland. Tickets for the historic journey started at about $22,000 and went into the six figures. That price doesn’t include extras that guests can book, such as a helicopter ride or side excursion to a Greenland glacier.
Despite the cost, the cruise sold out quickly, and the company behind it said a second journey is already in the planning.
The USD 350 million cruise ship has 535 staterooms, putting green, casino, movie theater, restaurants, swimming pools, spa, fitness center.
The expedition has raised safety concerns. Northwest Passage is extremely isolated and remote route. The small towns along the shores could hardly handle an influx of patients in cases of major medical emergency. And were the ship to somehow get stranded or need help, sending aid could be dangerous, uncertain and massively challenging.
“The area is plagued by lack of adequate nautical charts, no navigation aids, poor communications, lack of infrastructure.
Even as the first cruise begins, the USCG is continuing to study the safety and efficiency of navigation through the strait.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been huge amounts of preparation for the voyage. U.S. and Canadian government and Coast Guard officials have worked closely with Crystal Cruises to plan for the trip — and for any emergencies that might arise along the way. The ship will be be accompanied by an ice-breaking boat and two helicopters.
The cruise ship will be getting constant updates from Canadian Ice Service. The vessel has two ice searchlights, forward sonar, thermal imaging camera, software improving the ability to pick up small radar contacts such as small ice packs. The cruise vessel will be escorted by the icebreaker Ernest Shackleton.