Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
While working on finishing the story of my sea voyage last week down from Canada to Oregon, I was surprised to see that there is a new market in the world of marine “eco-tourism”. This one involves burning thousands and thousands of gallons of eeevil fossil fuels so that rich folks can make a futile attempt to traverse the Northwest Passage, over the top of the US from Anchorage to New York. In a giant cruise ship. Not this year, not next year, but in the year 2016. Polar cruises of all kinds seem to be hot right now. As a seaman, I think that there are places where no cruise ship should go. Here’s a picture of an Antarctic cruise that went wrong …
Now, as others have commented, I’ll believe CO2 is a problem when the folks who claim it’s a problem act like it’s a problem. But what intrigued me was, how was the Crystal Cruise line going to deal with the fact that there’s a good chance they won’t be able to make it all the way through the Northwest Passage in 2016? Would they issue refunds if they couldn’t complete the trip? Do you get half the money back if they only make it half way?
So I did some research on the Crystal Cruises site, and found a couple of oddities. First, since the cost of the cruise alone starts at $20,000 per person and goes up from there, we’re gonna assume that most contestants will be well past fifty years old … and as a result, subject to a variety of weaknesses of the flesh, including but not limited to dropping dead without prior notice. So on their “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) page, the cruise ship operators put the following restriction on potential cruisees …
Due to the remote locations, emergency medical evacuation by plane from the Arctic regions can reach costs of $50,000 or more. Therefore, proof of a minimum of $50,000 per person in Emergency Evacuation Repatriation insurance is required to participate in this cruise.
Well, that’ll keep out the feather merchants. However, on either the page advertising the 2016 Northwest Passage cruise or their FAQ page, I couldn’t find one word about too much ice. So I dug deeper, and here’s what I found in their fine print that applies to all cruises:
9. Itinerary/Right To Change/Detention: Crystal Cruises reserves the right at its sole option and discretion and that of the Captain of the Ship without liability for damages or refund of any kind, to deviate from the Ship’s advertised or ordinary itinerary or route, to delay, advance or cancel any sailing, to omit or change ports of call, to arrange for substantially equivalent transportation by another vessel and/or by other means of transportation, to cause the Guest to disembark from the Ship temporarily or permanently, to tow or to be towed or assist other vessels or to perform any similar act which, in its sole judgment and discretion, is justified for any reason. SOURCE
Holy moly, talk about signing your life away. Once you’re on their ship, they can do anything they damn well please, including saying they’re going to Tenerife and taking you to Texas instead, or tossing your poor benighted corpus off the ship if they don’t like the cut of your jib.
Oh, if the cruise is cancelled before it starts they’ll refund the ticket, but otherwise? Once the ship sails, they’ve got your money, and if there’s too much ice … tough. They’ll just shorten the cruise, go to Vladivostok instead, and call it good enough. And if you get sick? Pay for it yourself.
Clearly, we’re all in the wrong business …
Best to everyone,
PS—Care to sign up? Do you have $20,000 to spare? Their web site is here, a news story on their crazy-like-a-fox plan is here. To their credit, the journalists do note the irony of burning fossil fuels in order to save the planet from fossil fuels.