The successful cruise of a mega cruise ship through the Northwest Passage left industry leaders, Arctic officials and local people considering brand new regulations to govern future transits.
The new rules would limit the number of passengers that would visit a community at any one time. The regulations would also require cruise operators to distribute guidelines to their clients and require the companies to detail the economic benefits they generate.
Nobody wants the cruise ships to stop. But controls on shore landings would be welcomed by people like Vicki Aitoak, who managed Cambridge Bay's response to the Crystal Serenity's visit.
Aitoak said the Serenity's visit went well and left about USD 110,000 in the community — a significant boost for a town of 1,500.
Are communities ready for this? Daniel Skjeldam, head of the Norway-based Hurtigruten cruise line, is calling for size limits and strict regulations on shore visits similar to those in effect for Antarctica, where ships are limited to 500 passengers.
Many Inuit want to see tighter controls on all boat traffic in the Arctic, said Okalik Eegeesiak of the Inuit Circumpolar
For hamlets that don't have wharfs or docks, it's partly a safety issue,
Crystal Cruises took precautions for the voyage of the Serenity; the ship travelled with its own icebreaker (Ernest Shackleton) and helicopter. It burned low-sulphur fuel and disposed of no garbage at sea.
The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, whose members carry just over the half the passengers into the Canadian Arctic, has set guidelines on the ratio of guides to guests and the number of people that can congregate at any one site.
Crystal Cruises spokeswoman Molly Morgan said the company began planning for the trip three years ago.
"Crystal team members made multiple trips to the region to collaborate with the local communities and ensure that, as a company, we were well educated on the culture, history and ecosystem that makes up this delicate region."