Crystal Cruises is making history this week with Crystal Serenity, in an industry first, embarking on a 32-day journey through the Northwest Passage, the Arctic region north of Canada that was unattainable until just 100 years ago.
Following more than three years of planning and preparation, Crystal’s welcomed nearly 1,000 intrepid guests aboard in Seward, Alaska, embarking on what promises to be an experience punctuated with rare wildlife encounters; insightful visits to remote communities; rugged treks on land and icy waters; and immersive onboard enrichment from some of the world’s top expedition experts.
“Every aspect of this voyage is literally unparalleled in the luxury cruise industry, and nearly the entire travel industry as well,” says Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez. “It is a tremendous undertaking to embark on such a historic journey, but also an honour for us to be able to offer the world’s most discerning travellers the opportunity to experience a region of the world that so few others have or ever will.”
Throughout the voyage, which will conclude in New York City on Sept. 16, Crystal Serenity will sail with additional crew, training and equipment in consideration of the unique operating conditions in the far north. Two veteran Canadian Ice Pilots are also on board to advise the Master of Crystal Serenity, Captain Birger J. Vorland (pictured) and his bridge team. Earlier this year, the Captain and ice pilots attended an ice navigation simulator training in St. John’s Newfoundland, and during a routine scheduled dry-dock in May, Crystal Serenity was outfitted with two ice searchlights, forward looking sonar, a thermal imaging camera and software to improve the ability to pick up small contacts on the radar such as small amounts of ice.
In addition, Serenity will be receiving constant ice condition updates from Canadian Ice Services that can be overlaid on its electronic navigation systems. This technology is not typically found on cruise ships and represents the best possible preventive measures to detect any unforeseen anomalies along the ship’s path.
During the route of the Northwest Territories, Serenity will be accompanied by the RRS Ernest Shackleton, a powerful and high ice classed vessel with a crew that has years of experience operating in polar conditions.
From Seward, the Arctic itinerary includes port calls in Kodiak, Dutch Harbor, and Nome, Alaska; Ulukhaktok, NW Territories; Cambridge Bay and Pond Inlet, Nunavut; Ilulissat, Sisimiut, and Nuuk, Greenland; Bar Harbor, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island, and New York, New York. The ship will transit waterways including the North Pacific Ocean; Bering Sea & Bering Strait; Chukchi & Beaufort Seas; Amundsen Gulf; Dolphin & Union Strait; Coronation Gulf; Dease Strait; Queen Maud Gulf; Victoria Strait; Larsen Sound; Franklin & Bellot Straits; Peel Sound; Parry Channel; Barrow Strait; Prince Regent Inlet; Lancaster Sound; Croker Bay; Navy Board Inlet; Eclipse Sound; Baffin Bay; Davis Strait; Labrador Sea; North Atlantic Ocean.
Due to the tremendous response from travellers regarding the 2016 Northwest Passage sailing, Crystal has announced it will sail the route again in 2017, available for booking now.