Cruise Ship to Dare the North West Passage

Crystal Serenity, By bert76 07:28, 29 August 2006 (UTC) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Crystal Serenity, By bert76 07:28, 29 August 2006 (UTC) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The North West passage is an infamous graveyard of ships, where the weather can turn deadly without warning, and floating ice is an ever-present peril. But this arctic track record of disaster is not deterring the owners of the Crystal Serenity, and passengers reportedly paying a staggering $22,000 + per berth, from attempting a daring journey from Alaska to New York starting on August 16th this year.

A new Titanic? US and Canada prepare for worst as luxury Arctic cruise sets sail

The loss of Arctic sea ice cover, due to climate change, has spurred a sharp rise in shipping traffic – as well as coast guard rescue missions – and increased the risks of oil spills, shipping accidents, and pollution, much to the apprehension of native communities who make their living on the ice.

It’s into these turbulent waters that the luxury cruise ship Crystal Serenity will set sail next August, departing from Seward, Alaska, and transiting the Bering Strait and Northwest Passage, before docking in New York City 32 days later.

The scale of the Crystal – 1,700 passengers and crew – and the potential for higher-volume traffic in the Arctic has commanded the attention of the coast guard, government officials and local communities, all trying to navigate an Arctic without year-round ice.

“If something were to go wrong it would be very, very bad,” said Richard Beneville, the mayor of the coastal town of Nome, which the Crystal is due to visit. “Most cruise ships that get here have passenger manifests of 100, maybe 150. This is a very different ship.”

Prices for the journey aboard the 14-deck luxury liner start at nearly $22,000 rising to $120,000 for a deluxe stateroom – and this year’s cruise is sold out, according to the company.

Read more:

You know what? I wish I had a berth. I can completely understand why the ship is fully booked, despite the risk. The Arctic is beautiful, and utterly alien, compared to more temperate regions. I only visited the Arctic once in my life, a week in Bodø in April. The snow covered mountains, the familiar seaside sights, mixed with the utterly unfamiliar, the sun which hangs just above the horizon for 18 hours, before dipping into a brief twilight, the people, the strange landscape. I would love to see places like Nome, one of the stops on the planned route.

If it all ends badly, as seems a real possibility, at least everyone is embarking on this adventure with their eyes open – unlike the ridiculous ship of fools, the Crystal Serenity owners appear to be taking the safety of the passengers seriously.

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March 30, 2016 3:05 am

This ship is being escorted by an ice breaker, so it appears even the owners have some concerns over the journey.

Reply to  jbenton2013
March 30, 2016 3:31 am

What does this prove anyway? They have an ice breaker to clear the way, and with that load of rich people on board any trouble will come with scores of helicopters to the rescue.
Are they trying to prove that in this “Warmest time Ever” that we can do what was done in the past?

Reply to  markstoval
March 30, 2016 8:24 am

“What does this prove anyway? They have an ice breaker to clear the way”
Luckily those ice breakers never get stuck in heavy ice. Oh, wait….

Reply to  markstoval
March 30, 2016 9:35 am

With 1700 passenger and crew: how many “scores of helicopters” and where will they magically come from.? We’re not talking about Manhattan Island here.

…at least everyone is embarking on this adventure with their eyes open

everyone, that is, except for the hundreds of responders who will be required to put their own lives at risk to bail out yet another ship of fools.
This whole venture is grossly irresponsible, though with something like 1400 paying passengers and AT LEAST $22k per head, + berths + meals + bar takings + saunas + casino takings, etc. etc. they probably are talking about 100 MILLION dollar revenue if they pull it off.
And if it goes aground the boat will be well insured and the Canadian tax payer will pick up the bill for the rescue mission, and possible loss of life.
At least I hope that they do not have an italian captain who will run away at the first sign of trouble, and watch his ship roll over from the safety of the shore.

Bryan A
Reply to  markstoval
March 30, 2016 2:26 pm

Definitely not Manhattan but perhaps they could plan and staff a temporary Heliport in Tuk. I would certainly sue if they didn’t deliver and seek some of my investment back

Reply to  markstoval
March 30, 2016 4:49 pm

“…They have an ice breaker…”

They have ‘two’ ice breakers with them Marstoval.
One does wonder just what cruise ships do with their wastes.

Reply to  markstoval
March 30, 2016 6:28 pm

ATheoK March 30, 2016 at 4:49 pm
“…They have an ice breaker…”
My error markstoval, I misread Goldenberg’s sentence about the icebreaker and two helicopters. You are correct that there will be only one icebreaker in attendance.

Jay Hope
Reply to  markstoval
March 31, 2016 1:43 pm

Well, they really shouldn’t need an ice breaker if they think there’s no ice. What a joke!

Don K
Reply to  jbenton2013
March 30, 2016 4:50 am

I imagine that the Canadians and their insurance companies told them that they HAVE to have an icebreaker along. Think about the problems with potentially having to rescue many hundreds of people in a remote area with basically no infrastructure and the potential for nasty weather even in August.
If you ask me (and no one will) this is a likely truly stupid idea. Running a SMALL cruise vessel through the region every year for a decade or so to get some experience might make sense. … maybe … But 1700 people?
From the wikipedia article on the trans-Alaska pipeline
“In 1969, Humble Oil and Refining Company sent a specially fitted oil tanker, the SS Manhattan, to test the feasibility of transporting oil via ice-breaking tankers to market.[16] The Manhattan was fitted with an ice-breaking bow, powerful engines, and hardened propellers before successfully traveling the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Beaufort Sea. During the voyage, the ship suffered damage to several of its cargo holds, which flooded with seawater. Wind-blown ice forced the Manhattan to change its intended route from the M’Clure Strait to the smaller Prince of Wales Strait. It was escorted back through the Northwest Passage by a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the CCGS John A. Macdonald. Although the Manhattan successfully transited the Northwest Passage again in the summer of 1970, the concept was considered too risky.”

Reply to  Don K
March 30, 2016 3:09 pm

Sorry but 1700 is a modest-sized cruise vessel, these days.
And that includes the crew, concessionaires, etc [who will likely number 250-350].
The last time I did a Polar Conference, we were assured that the Canadian Coastguard only ever operated helicopters in pairs.
You a r e your own support up in those latitudes.
Hence, the ice breaker
I’ve sailed round the Nordkapp in Norway, bathed by the Gulf Stream – but never into ice.
That c a n be done – with circumspection.
I trust their bathymetric data is good. Cruise ships have [comparatively] shallow drafts [probably 25 to 28 feet, I guess for a ship that size], so perhaps this is not a great problem – but everywhere they go they may be stretching the envelope, as much depth information may have been derived from lead-line surveys.
If the accompanying ice breaker is good, and the Crystal Serenity has a master [or senior officer] with extensive ice experience, this may pass off well.
And then the casino profits will repay the company handsomely.
I’m sure they have done their risk assessment – they are risking the capital cost of the ship, future revenues – and, crucially, reputation.
Given the possibilities for the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns, this is risky – but perhaps not fool-hardy.

Tom O
Reply to  jbenton2013
March 30, 2016 8:40 am

I don’t agree with the author – these people are no better prepared than the “ship of fools” and they are booking with their eyes wide shut. They truly have no more idea of what the real danger is than did the Australian jackasses. I would expect the cruise ship to be wider than the icebreaker, certainly has far thinner skin, and if it has to follow through a path cut by the icebreaker in a storm, there won’t be many survivors unless God intervenes and they have a miraculous rescue effort costing many, many more millions of dollars than the ship, crew, and passengers are worth. If that last sentence sounds harsh, too bad. Idiocy doesn’t need to considered as anything but.

John in Oz
Reply to  Tom O
March 30, 2016 8:46 pm

Not many jackasses in Oz.
We do have a few drongos, some with roos in the top paddock or a tinny short of a six-pack.
Please use the correct cultural references.

Reply to  Tom O
March 31, 2016 9:17 am

“…there won’t be many survivors unless God intervenes and they have a miraculous rescue effort…”
I would point out that God is notoriously unreliable in this respect.

george e. smith
Reply to  jbenton2013
March 30, 2016 3:41 pm

They should all be charged with environmental vandalism.
If the Arctic is such pristine unique habitat, and the polar bear survival depends on a continuous around the year Arctic Ice cover; why should anybody be allowed to deliberately break up that ice so it can blow away in the wind, and uncover the arctic ocean leading to catastrophic man made global warming climate change.
This is utter madness to even contemplate such environmental destruction.

Reply to  george e. smith
March 31, 2016 9:22 am

I guess because Nunavut doesn’t have a big enough lobby in Ottawa?

Reply to  george e. smith
March 31, 2016 9:34 am

“polar bear survival depends on a continuous around the year Arctic Ice cover”
Nonsense. Almost all polar bears actually live in areas with seasonal ice cover. Polar bears do need ice cover in winter and spring, not the rest of the year.

Reply to  george e. smith
March 31, 2016 5:07 pm

george was being typically sarcastic.

Philip Berkin
March 30, 2016 3:14 am

For information, recent successful, single season transits for vessels of all sizes of the NWP have been as follows:
2007, 5
2008, 8
2009, 13
2010, 12
2011, 14
2012, 20
2013, 19
2014, 10
2015, 13

Reply to  Philip Berkin
March 30, 2016 10:53 am

Note well that “all sizes” caveat. Most are boats crewed by two to four. A couple good size yachts and one polar ice capable bulk cargo freighter carrying a year’s worth of nickel ore concentrate.

Reply to  Philip Berkin
March 30, 2016 3:11 pm

All noted.
An apparent peak in 2012, with an apparent declining trend after that date.

March 30, 2016 3:19 am

“If something were to go wrong it would be very, very bad,” said Richard Beneville, the mayor of the coastal town of Nome.
I do sound morbid but I will be utterly fascinated, watching to see if this voyage ends in tears.

Reply to  Craig
March 30, 2016 4:47 pm

Sometimes I think that’s what it will take. Sad but true.

March 30, 2016 3:20 am

Hopefully not led by proff Chris Turney of the Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 infamy

March 30, 2016 3:33 am

Air New Zealand used to run tourist flights to Antarctica. No landings, just fly over it. Ended with the Mt Erebus disaster. Terry Pratchett coined the phrase “réja vu”: I am going to have seen this again. Me, I’m a *real* Eco-tourist: I don’t go.

March 30, 2016 3:33 am

There’s a lot of truth in the old saying “more money than sense”.

March 30, 2016 3:38 am

A whole lot of Hillary votes could be lost if something goes wrong !!

March 30, 2016 3:39 am

I would guess that the ticket prices are that high to cover costs of insurance for the vessel. Crew and passengers would have to sign a disclaimer stating that they were aware of any risks. I have never seen personal travel insurance that has Arctic or Antarctic cover, but I bet it would be expensive.

Ron Clutz
March 30, 2016 3:57 am

In 2015 on the Northern Sea Route, the Russian shipping lane, there were only 18 crossings, of which 7 did the whole trip from Bering to N Atlantic. This is down from 53 in 2014 and 71 in 2013.

Ron Clutz
Reply to  Ron Clutz
March 30, 2016 5:20 am

comment image?w=771&h=800

Philip Berkin
Reply to  Ron Clutz
April 1, 2016 11:13 am

Here’s a link to the data about the NSR that Ron cites…

Reply to  Ron Clutz
March 30, 2016 11:46 am

The Russians also have nuclear powered ice breakers to mow through the ice. Heck, in 2014, they were charging only $12,000 per passenger to go to the North Pole on one of their ice breakers.

Ron Clutz
Reply to  Mohatdebos
March 30, 2016 12:27 pm

A few years ago the Russian icebreaker fleet numbered 75, with some newer nuclear ships added lately.

Ron Clutz
Reply to  Mohatdebos
March 30, 2016 12:30 pm

BTW the nuclear icebreaker pictured is named Yamal (same as the infamous hockey stick tree)

David Ball
Reply to  Mohatdebos
March 30, 2016 5:56 pm

To add to the irony, I wonder if the passengers will be able to spot the petrified coniferous forest on Ellesmere Island.

Reply to  Mohatdebos
March 31, 2016 9:39 am

” I wonder if the passengers will be able to spot the petrified coniferous forest on Ellesmere Island”
Nope. They sure as hell won’t be going that far north. It is probably impossible for a cruise ship by the way, even with icebreaker assistance.

Reply to  Mohatdebos
March 31, 2016 11:58 am

The Nunavik managed the whole transit of the northern route in 11 days a couple of years ago using the same route as the LaRouche once did:
Not as far north as Ellesmere Island but not far off.

March 30, 2016 4:18 am

“here is a wonderful painting in the art collection of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia which depicts the historic meeting of the HBC schooner Aklavik with the RMS Nascopie at Fort Ross, Northwest Territories. In 1937 the Nascopie sailed from the Eastern Arctic to Prince Regent Inlet and into the Bellot Strait to allow the Hudson’s Bay Company to establish Fort Ross. While there she was met by the HBC schooner Aklavik which had sailed into Bellot Strait from the Western Arctic”

Samuel C Cogar
March 30, 2016 4:30 am

Well now, iffen Prudhoe Bay “oil” is a source of your wealth, …… why not spend a wee bit of it on a cruise ship tour just to see what the place looks like?

March 30, 2016 4:44 am

its not as if the pasage has never been ice free.
I admit I hope they get well n truly stuck
of course an escorting icebreaker..wont be mentioned if they DO get through

Reply to  ozspeaksup
March 31, 2016 9:42 am

Actually the northern, deeper, route that they will probably be following hasn’t ever been ice-free. The very crooked, narrow and shallow southern route has been, a few times.

Tom in Florida
March 30, 2016 4:48 am

The fools and their money are soon parted.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 30, 2016 7:27 am

Well, at least this time is the fools and their money, unlike Proff Turney’s ship. That was the fools and our money.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 30, 2016 9:00 am


March 30, 2016 4:56 am

‘The Arctic is beautiful, and utterly alien, compared to more temperate regions.’
I think the tourists will find much of the coasts low and utterly uninteresting.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Gamecock
March 30, 2016 7:47 am

Yeah, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I much prefer turquoise waters, white sandy beaches with swaying palm trees, blue skies with scattered puffy clouds and very warm temperatures.
Tell me again why warmer is bad?

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 30, 2016 8:27 am

Tom…not to mention bikinis or less as swimming apparel! Now there’s some “sight seeing”

Richards in Vancouver
Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 31, 2016 11:10 pm

Tom: In your lovely sun-soaked vision, is there, down by the shore, an orchestra playing, “Begin the Beguine”? If so, make room for me!

old engineer
Reply to  Gamecock
March 30, 2016 3:23 pm

In August of 1964 I was north of the Artic circle in the Chukchi Sea for several days aboard a U.S. Navy ship. We were in fog the whole time, with visibility about a half mile. Even if there had been anything interesting to see, we wouldn’t have seen it. I was led to understand that this was not uncommon.

March 30, 2016 4:58 am

If the SS Manhatten navigated the NWP in 1969 why not a ship today,

Reply to  englandrichard
March 30, 2016 5:40 am

It was reinforced unlike this cruise ship.

Don K
Reply to  rogerknights
March 30, 2016 5:59 am

And it was significantly damaged by ice in one of its transits through the Canadian Archipelago — enough so that the oil companies elected to spend a billion dollars (which turned out to be 8 billion dollars) on the Trans-Alaska pipeline rather than use hardened tankers to get the oil out of Northern Alaska..

Reply to  rogerknights
March 30, 2016 6:57 am

did the Manhatten have this-
“​MacGarva also says the cruise ship will be outfitted with ice searchlights and a forward-looking sonar that will help spot underwater obstacles that may not be charted”

March 30, 2016 5:06 am

They better keep moving. Thar be poley bears about, aye.
On the bright side, the odds of being hijacked and held hostage by Somalian pirates is slim to none.

Reply to  H.R.
March 30, 2016 8:29 am

H.R. Somali pirates no but the chances of running up on back of a U.S., Russian, British, Chinese submarine are probably greater.

Reply to  fossilsage
March 30, 2016 9:04 am

Every silver lining has its cloud, fossilage.

Reply to  H.R.
March 31, 2016 5:44 pm

They better hope the polar bears don’t organize to take advantage.

Berényi Péter
March 30, 2016 5:22 am

I did not know they already have wind powered icebreakers. Cool.

Jimmy Haigh
March 30, 2016 5:41 am

If the thing gets stuck in ice they’ll blame “global warming”. If the thing manages to get through they’ll blame “global warming”.
I wonder if they have contracted Reggie and his blowtorch to clear the way for them?

March 30, 2016 5:48 am

The MS Bremen has been making the passage (both ways with icebreakers) for several years.
One of the reasons I question the accuracy of ice measurements is all the maps showed the Belot Straight ice free, but Bremen’s bowcam showed an icebreaker pushing through solid ice.

Philip Berkin
Reply to  DavidCobb
March 30, 2016 5:57 am

Are you sure that the MS Bremen has made the whole transit in the past rather than just voyages into the Arctic? I can see from their website that the ship is trying it later this year, along with an NSR attempt…;destinations=632

Philip Berkin
Reply to  Philip Berkin
March 30, 2016 5:58 am

Sorry, I see it now. Remark w/drawn.

Bruce Cobb
March 30, 2016 6:00 am

Sure, there is less ice now than in the 70s and 80s. But rising demand for visiting exotic places, as well as eco-tourism are propelling this. A lot could go wrong. What if there’s an outbreak of norovirus, for example?

March 30, 2016 6:23 am

I would suggest running at full bore to set a speed record and tie up the radio with personnel messages and useless climate travelogue info. Then if something happens blame others. But don’t let the climate change trip leaders get into the life boats ahead of you.

Steve Fraser
Reply to  Resourceguy
March 30, 2016 6:35 am

Theme song: On a clear day, you can see Lavrentiya.

Ferdinand Engelbeen
March 30, 2016 6:33 am

If the cruise ship is not fortified for any ice it still may encounter, even with the help of an ice breaker, they still can have severe damage.
Some long time ago I was sailor (engine room) on a tanker, which delivered heating oil to Stockholm a few days before the harbor was closed (February 1966) because of too much ice in the Baltic Sea. When we returned we had to stop for three days in the channel from Stockholm to the sea, because of lots of pack ice at sea was driven Southwards by wind. Even with “only” 20 cm of ice thickness, the bow and propeller were damaged and after being freed by a huge ice breaker, the ship needed urgent repairs…
After the ships stopped, the pilots just stepped down on the ice and were picked up by the pilot vessel in the still open held (by ice breakers) channel in the middle. The next day we had a football game with the other crew on the ice…
But I agree with Eric, Norway is a fantastic country, as well for the fjords in the South, the glaciers, the mountains, the “vidda’s” (plateau’s) as for the Lofoten and Lapland in the North… Still looking for a trip to Antarctica, but prices are too high for my budget, even not as high as the trip through the NW passage mentioned here… Used as alternative Greenland in 2000, which also has lots of ice…

Steve Fraser
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
March 30, 2016 6:38 am

I’ve seen that channel in the summer. The snow/ice makes it look foreboding.

Paul Coppin
March 30, 2016 6:49 am

I hope the Cdn govt has the good sense to say no to this voyage, although with the current govt, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear the Prime Adolescent has a bunkie on board for the trip. Irrespective of the risk to human life (which frankly, given the opportunists who will waste 22K for the “experience”, there, I could care less), there may be a very real risk of a ship like that foundering mid voyage, ice breaker or not. Then there would be the problem of getting it’s massive hulk out of there. Canada does not need a massive American steel inukshuk” rotting on a reef in the Arctic.

Dave in Canmore
Reply to  Paul Coppin
March 30, 2016 8:35 am

“I hope the Cdn govt has the good sense to…”
That’s hard to know since the last election!

Steve Fraser
Reply to  Paul Coppin
March 30, 2016 9:06 am

Why would they have any say at all? It starts and ends in the USA, and will likely stay in international waters for reasons of gambling and other regs. Canada could only deny help, and places to dock for land visits. I assure you, the arrival of a cruise ship of this size would be a financial boon to any town visited.

Reply to  Steve Fraser
March 30, 2016 2:08 pm

According to Canada the NW Passage is not international waters therefore a cruiseship entering the Passage would have to check in with Canadian authorities, I’m pretty sure that happens when anyone sails through there

Tom Halla
March 30, 2016 6:51 am

I just hope whatever the Canadians call their coast guard has a large number of helicopters.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 30, 2016 6:58 am

I’ll modify my traditional comment: People who climb mountains aren’t heroes. People who rescue people who try to climb mountains are heroes…
Oh, and we call it the Canadian Coast Guard. At least they’ll get some experience, but see my line above. If someone gets hurt (not a lot, just enough to learn a lesson), I hope its a celebrity or a gazzillionaire, and not someone who actually works for a living.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 30, 2016 7:51 am

I wonder what Switzerland calls their coast guard?

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 30, 2016 9:36 am


Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 30, 2016 10:23 am

Switzerland contracts their coast guard services from Bolivia.

george e. smith
Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 30, 2016 4:02 pm

Well they have a lake in Geneva, and it most surely has a coastline, so a Coast guard would be needed. They weren’t able to help my little sister, who got moved to a coastal village opposite Geneva. She got sick there and they weren’t able to get her back to Geneva in time.
I spent a month on a boat on the Pacific Ocean. Good thing I didn’t get sick, we weren’t near any helibirds in those days.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 31, 2016 3:03 pm

These United States does have a Coast Guard Station on Lake Tahoe

March 30, 2016 6:52 am

I will have to modify a saying I’ve been using for a few years:
“People who climb mountains aren’t heroes.
People who rescue people who try to climb mountains are heroes.”
Well, at least Canada’s S+R folks will get some experience.
BTW, this is one of those “re-announcements” that the MSM picks up on a yearly basis:

March 30, 2016 6:52 am

There don’t seem to be many lifeboats….

Bloke down the pub
Reply to  David
March 30, 2016 7:01 am

I wouldn’t want to spend any time in a life-raft in those waters.

Don K
Reply to  Bloke down the pub
March 30, 2016 10:00 am

If you had to take to a lifeboat, it probably wouldn’t be far to shore. However, once there, it would likely be a fair walk — maybe 400km — to the nearest pub.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
March 30, 2016 1:53 pm

You could always take a sled like Amundsen did to get to the nearest telegraph office, so that he could let the King know that he had successfully completed the NW Passage (800km).

Reply to  David
March 30, 2016 7:06 am

More than enough; it’s unsinkable.
I wanna know if there’ll be a live orchestra on board.

Steve Fraser
Reply to  kim
March 30, 2016 9:25 am

Live music, yes.
Here is the link to cruise activities. They are even taking a climatologist.–6319/entertainment

Reply to  kim
March 30, 2016 12:19 pm

I want to know if the orchestra has learned the song “the morning after”?

R Shearer
Reply to  kim
March 30, 2016 3:21 pm

Is the climatologist teaching the photoshop class?

george e. smith
Reply to  kim
March 30, 2016 4:05 pm

Well only up to the time the deck gets too steep for the orchestra to remain seated. They will likely play Handel’s Water Music over and over again.

Reply to  kim
March 30, 2016 4:58 pm

Steve, I reckon the climatologist will be downgraded to “tourist” should they stuck, same as they did with the Ship of Fools (it suddenly was a tourist ship instead of the earlier proclaimed science vessel). I reckon there’ll be plenty of greens aboard too, all ready to dance the CAGW dance should they get through.

Steve Fraser
Reply to  David
March 30, 2016 9:16 am

Floor plan shows 10 full size tenders, and 2 smaller. Should be fine for 1700 Innuit…

Reply to  David
March 31, 2016 7:36 am

Warmists walk on water, they don’t need lifeboats.

Bloke down the pub
March 30, 2016 6:59 am

Under investment, by the Canadian and US governments, in ice breakers over recent decades, has left the area with a shortage of resources to cope with an emergency of the scale that this cruise could result in. The nearest suitable vessels, able to provide assistance, are probably those belonging to the oil industry.

Ferdinand Engelbeen
Reply to  Bloke down the pub
March 30, 2016 8:07 am

Even the oil industry has few (if any) vessels there, as the waters in Prudhoe bay are not very deep and half a year frozen. Most work from shore to production units is done by helicopters, but these can’t fly more that a few hundred km before refueling. That means that large parts of the trip can’t be reached by helicopter. Additionally, in summer most roads – as far as there are – are not passable…
Seems to me that they are taking too much risk with this trip…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
March 30, 2016 10:26 am

All will be well. They will have a climatologer aboard.

March 30, 2016 7:03 am

When I was a pup and spent time in the arctic, we spent a lot of time listening to the short wave pleadings of arctic adventurers who got into all kinds of trouble. They, and their friends, may have thought they were heros; we had another opinion.
The Canadian Government doesn’t have many heavy icebreakers. None of them are remotely capable of handling 1700 souls for more than a few hours. They have heads (washrooms) and food handling for a crew of about 50. That means the survivors might be better off in their lifeboats. I’m guessing that there might be about 20 helicopters scattered around the Canadian arctic. It would take them hours to get to the scene. A landing strip could be built if the ice were thick enough. Fuel for the helicopters could be tankered in by DC-3 or Twin Otter. If the survivors were ferried to somewhere like Resolute the facilities there would be strained. The available aircraft are mostly used for freight, they don’t have many seats. I wouldn’t be surprised if it took a hundred trips. It wouldn’t take much to turn the situation into a logistical nightmare.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  commieBob
March 30, 2016 7:32 am

Just imagine if they ran out of banana milkshakes. The horror!

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
March 30, 2016 9:14 am

or ran out of Gin!

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
March 30, 2016 9:40 am

I can imagine their delight, though, when they discover that seal blubber is still gluten-free.
Although they might want to ration the seal meat though, as I don’t know if human tissue has been tested for it.

Reply to  commieBob
March 30, 2016 10:28 am

A Twin Otter….? Oh. Yes that would be large enough to fuel a couple of helicopters.

Reply to  ClimateOtter
March 30, 2016 12:06 pm

Helicopters are notoriously thirsty. Here’s one solution to transporting fuel on aircraft the size of a Twin Otter.

Reply to  commieBob
March 30, 2016 12:52 pm

The Canadian Government shut down its mid Canada Search and Rescue Centres. Now there is just Victoria, BC on the west coast; Halifax, Nova Scotia on the east coast; and Trenton, Ontario which covers everything from Quebec to Alberta, and the US border to the Arctic. The last time we had a big crash in the North, it took the Hercules S&R crew a couple of days to get there due to weather. I spent a week in Inuvik waiting to fly out on one trip. Days in Yellowknife too. Getting weathered in is common.
Imaging waiting in the North West Passage for assistance from S&R thousands of kilometres away, not knowing if they will even be able to assist you if they get there. That’s life in the Canadian Arctic.
Good thing they have an icebreaker along as S&R up there is more likely to come from exploration companies and locals than from the Canadian government. ( “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” isn’t even a joke up there.)
Nevertheless, I am sure the posts from the ship will be entertaining.

Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
March 30, 2016 1:39 pm

… S&R up there is more likely to come from exploration companies and locals than from the Canadian government.

Absolutely. Mind you, a whole bunch of the ‘locals’ work for the Canadian government. Resolute is a logistics hub for various aviation companies plus the Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP). Every year ‘stuff’ happens and we never hear about it because folks just deal with it. Calling in the SAR TECHs is relatively uncommon.

Paul Westhaver
March 30, 2016 7:31 am

I nobody gets hurt.

Paul Westhaver
Reply to  Paul Westhaver
March 30, 2016 7:32 am


Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
March 30, 2016 7:35 am

The article simply says there will be “an icebreaking escort vessel carrying two helicopters” but gives no further details. If the Crystal Serenity gets into trouble, odds are she will require assistance from one of Russia’s fleet of nuclear icebreakers; the US is down to just a single heavy-duty ice breaker (the Polar Star).
On the other hand, since our military transport helicopters are no longer needed for such things as quick reaction force delivery to besieged embassies, they have nothing better to do than rescue stranded eco-tourists (unless they’re busy taking the First Canine on another POTUS vacation).

David Ball
March 30, 2016 7:52 am

Classic Canadianna w/ Stan Rogers

John Robertson
March 30, 2016 7:56 am

Probably not gonna happen.
Two years ago we lost Helicopter,pilot and Coastguard Captain of Icebreaker.
Death by hypothermia, because there was no second helicopter to perform a rescue.
Our icebreakers are old, depend on refuelling from auxiliary tankers (if attempting extended tours) as there are very few port facilities in the Arctic.
For a nation claiming Arctic sovereignty we are very poorly prepared.

Reply to  John Robertson
March 30, 2016 9:08 am

Russia makes the best icebreakers, including 10 that are nuke-powered. They have become excellent capitalists since the fall of the Soviet Union, and I’m sure they would love to contract with us for a few.

Reply to  John Robertson
March 31, 2016 9:56 am

There are actually a few Swedish and Finnish icebreakers powerful enough to be useful. Particularly “Oden” which is the most powerful noin-nuclear icebreaker. That’s the one I would hired as an escort.

michael hart
March 30, 2016 8:23 am

I presume the Crystal Serenity will have an indoor sun-deck. The weather can be a little inclement in those places.

Steve Lohr
March 30, 2016 8:29 am

I doubt anyone has properly assessed the risk to underwrite this voyage even with the high cost of passage. I also don’t believe there are any pilots with experience or skill for any of the channels and straights. With the variable ice conditions they are certainly going to make it up as they go. I believe the risk is unacceptable. Anyone who would take on this task has more bravado than common sense. This has remarkably high potential for tragedy.

Don K
Reply to  Steve Lohr
March 30, 2016 10:21 am

More than one cruise ship has gotten into trouble already. For example the MS Explorer — which was actually designed to handle ice — was lost near Antarctica in 2007. see and

March 30, 2016 8:38 am

Long, boring, cold, risky.
I’ll stick with the Caribbean, thanks.

Reply to  wallensworth
March 30, 2016 11:07 am

My guess too. Based on my trips north of the Aleutians (False Pass/Dutch Harbor to Nome a few times), there is not much to see by ship. If the stop at Nome is a highlight then i’d pass. The ice flows out of the Yukon and minimizing the direct collisions with the big ice in late spring was one of the few entertaining aspects.
(And even at the high latitudes you can get a very nasty sunburn if you fall asleep on top of the wheelhouse).

March 30, 2016 8:43 am

Curious George
March 30, 2016 8:58 am

The real danger of global warming is that the Arctic will be full of rich fools. And they will get indoctrinated about dangers of global warming.

March 30, 2016 9:09 am

Spose at least they may be able to rescue a few of Al’s polar bears clinging desperately onto the few remaining ice cubes.

March 30, 2016 9:54 am

Thanks for the post, Eric. While this is interesting news, it is also that great oxymoron called “old news”, as it was covered here on WUWT back in 2014 …

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 30, 2016 1:02 pm

Excellent ref and Article Willis. A good reminder and it will be interesting to see how it turns out. Looking at your post, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see the passengers arriving in New York at JFK from Nome …

Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 30, 2016 4:33 pm

My bad, you are totally correct … you’re just too subtle for me.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 31, 2016 12:44 am

Eric Worrall March 30, 2016 at 6:11 pm

I should have made the link to your post more prominent Willis, sorry about that.

No worries, amigo, it’s good to see the work carried forward.

March 30, 2016 10:02 am

Cruise ships lately have a dismal record in normal sea conditions. Sounds foolish.

March 30, 2016 10:13 am

Space heaters are extra.

March 30, 2016 10:35 am

“The loss of Arctic sea ice cover, due to climate change, has spurred a sharp rise in shipping traffic…” Perhaps it is the “sharp rise in shipping traffic” that is a major contributor to “The loss of sea ice”?

Tom Judd
March 30, 2016 10:47 am

I wonder how serene it’s going to be on the Crystal Serenity when the ship’s manifest of modern day, seafaring, Donner party passengers run out of food (after the ship’s been trapped in ice for six months with no rescue) and begin to eat one another?
Well sir, what red wine (which, unfortunately, cannot escape being chilled) do you believe would be a good pairing with that butt roast?

Reply to  Tom Judd
March 30, 2016 12:35 pm

When the winds kicked up and ocean roared with freezing death, the Crystal Calamity was caught in a vise of skyscraper-sized icebergs. The only thing heard above the roar of wind and ocean was the unforgettable screeching straining of metal being torn and twisted in never imagined ways. The water so cold it takes your breath and drops you in its tracks; paralyzed and helpless. Days later the straggling few faced the final twist of fate in this ill-gotten voyage of the Crystal Calamity, the masters of the land, the giants of the Ursidae.

March 30, 2016 10:58 am

How many “climate” grantees does it take to fill a ship of fools?

March 30, 2016 11:17 am

I wonder if part of that $22,000+ fare has gone into the purchase of arctic-water immersion survival suits. What good would life jackets be in those waters?

Reply to  Stephen Rasey
March 31, 2016 4:34 pm

SOLAS (Safety of Life At Sea) requires immersion suits unless the ship is restricted to tropical waters. Some 18 years ago, the Long Suffering Mrs. Jewett made a passage with me on the SS SeaLand Producer (23,510 Gross Tons, 32,000 SHP geared steam turbine container ship). The passage was from Long Beach CA to New Orleans LA vial the Panama Canal.
Upon departure from Long Beach, we had the required safety drill. Mrs. Jewett refused to put on her immersion suit because it was “stupid”. (It does make you look like a big orange Gumby.) We “had words”.
I had sailed with a Chief Mate Robert Cusick who had survived the sinking of the SS Marine Electric. The ship had gone down on 12 February 1983, about 30 miles off the coast of Virginia, during a winter storm.
As I recall from hearing his story some 25 years ago.
His story is below, but there are a couple of items that I remember. When it was obvious that they had to abandon ship, he put on ALL of his clothes that he could. They acted like a “wet suit” while he was submerged in the swamped lifeboat. Second, he told us that he could hear his shipmates in the dark, calling for help.

James at 48
March 30, 2016 11:20 am

That part of the Arctic may not ever be completely ice free this year. The good ice is all in that area, on either side of the date line. The MSM BS makes it sound like the ice is poor everywhere in the Arctic this year, but that is simply not the case. Only the area that straddles the Prime Meridian has poor ice.

March 30, 2016 11:40 am

These people are flaming idiots, how in the heck did they make 22,000 $$ pp (and more). If the Canadian government had any sense they would stop this immediately, it is insanity.

Reply to  asybot
March 30, 2016 5:06 pm

I bet some fares are payed for them. You know, climate funding to go out there and prove there’s no ice. Something like that. It would not surprise me at all.

March 30, 2016 11:49 am

Weeks at sea, stuck indoors looking at ice through a small window except for brief moments outside in the wind until your face freezes off, getting drunk with 1500 other bored passengers. With a meteorologist for entertainment, no less. Sounds like a lot fun to me. Hope the pool is heated.

Don B
March 30, 2016 11:53 am

Will the life rafts be tiny ice breakers?

Reply to  Don B
March 30, 2016 1:11 pm

Maybe ice skates?

Reply to  Don B
March 30, 2016 2:14 pm

I believe the polar bears will refer to them as hors d’oeuvre trays.

March 30, 2016 12:01 pm

Wow. There is just enough time before departure to write a quick novel – the people who signed up, the auspicious beginning and then – OMG – Things start to go wrong!
Imagine if eco-terrorists deliberately disabled the ship, holding the passengers hostage until we all abandoned fossil fuels. The possibilities are endless – the Russians refuse to send their nuke icebreakers until the US (fill in our favorite scenario) – how about gives up all claims to Arctic petroleum resources? Remember, Obama will still be in office.
The fingers are itching. And if things DID go wrong, well, just call me Nostradamus.

March 30, 2016 12:01 pm

If they get stuck we can release the emergency CO2 tanks

March 30, 2016 12:11 pm

Here is my timeline for the cruise. Starting in June, we will begin to observe multiple op-eds and letters to the editor in major newspapers complaining about the amount of carbon pollution this trip will create. Towards the end of the month, the New York Times and the Washington Post will have lead stories condemning the trip. CNN and MSNBC will get on band wagon In July. By August, you will observe increasing number of people who have signed up for the trip, asking for their money back. Finally, the cruise organizers will issue a statement that they had decided to cancel the journey to avoid polluting the pristine arctic. You will have the usual anti-prosperity groups, such as Greenpeace and WWF, clapping in the background. No one will mention the ice was too thick to complete the cruise.

March 30, 2016 12:15 pm

One assumes this vessel is rated for travel in polar waters, but I can not find trace of its classification currently.

Reply to  steverichards1984
March 30, 2016 6:13 pm

Not to worry!
The cruise’s FAQs include this tidbit:

“4. Do I need to purchase trip insurance?
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.”

Each passenger is required to provide their own ‘rescue’ costs and by simple analysis, their own rescue service.

John Robertson
March 30, 2016 12:42 pm

Paging our,canadian, pretty boy Prime Minister.
Will this vessel be allowed to sail, before they have an environmental assessment of their downstream Carbon dioxide emissions?
If imposing such a requirement on canadian pipelines after their approval is fine, surely a pleasure cruise will be held to the same standard?
Does the cruise ship company have a calculation for how much their ship and passengers CO2 emissions will warm the Arctic?
Sarc Off.
And what about the obesity problem amongst polar bears?
Offerring up such a buffet to starving bears, is cruelty to animals.
Of course if the passengers are Sierra Club Lawyers,they are probably safe from bears.
For at least one Eastern Arctic bear refused to eat the Sierra Club Lawyer he had caught, probably indigestible, even to polar bears.

Reply to  John Robertson
March 30, 2016 6:25 pm

Again, in the cruise’s FAQs:

“5. Do we need to worry about polar bears when going ashore?
Polar bears usually do not enter the towns and communities where guests will be going ashore, and there are ample houses, buildings and shelters in these communities. During Crystal Wilderness Adventures, the expedition team will accompany the guests ashore. The expedition team is well practiced in polar bear protection and will be carrying environmentally-safe non-lethal and lethal deterrents, and other equipment for additional protection. Recommended protocols on group size and behavior will be strictly followed.”

So the passenger group sizes will be limited to ensure proper Polar Bear diet control? And non-lethal deterrents first, e.g. pepper spray, air horns?
Is our dear Susan Crockford getting to go on this cruise?
Perhaps we should take up a collection to send her to the Bahamas studying migratory fisheries and whatnot during next August?

Gunga Din
March 30, 2016 1:19 pm

Win-win for caGWers. If it makes it, it’s because of “Global Warming”. If it doesn’t make it, it’s because “Global Warming” has caused more “Climate Change” than the models predicted.
PS Sounds like it might be a fun cruise but I doubt I’d spend much time on the deck in the Arctic. 😎

March 30, 2016 1:50 pm

The Captain of the Grey Goose and keeper of the NorthwestPassage201x BlogSpot unloads….
News from 2014:
“What many did not appreciate so far is that the Crystal Serenity, although built in France, was actually completed to Ice Class 1C.
Wikipedia on Finnish-Swedish ice classes:
In addition, the ice strengthening of the ship’s hull must be adequate to allow safe operation in the presence of ice with a thickness of 1.0 m (3.3 ft) for ice class 1A Super,
0.8 m (2.6 ft) for 1A,
0.6 m (2.0 ft) for 1B and
0.4 m (1.3 ft) for 1C.

Reply to  Stephen Rasey
March 31, 2016 10:05 am

Ice Class IC isn’t very impressive. As of this date (March 31) only ships of Ice Class IA are cleared for northern Swedish and Finnish ports. With icebreaker assistance of course. And this was a quite mild winter.

Paul Coppin
Reply to  tty
April 1, 2016 10:01 am

So by that standard, the ship would barely be fit to sail in the waters of Ontario’s cottage country in the winter, if some open water could be found…

March 30, 2016 2:07 pm

If ice gets them, life boats are pointless. Walking off the ship would work better.
Surviving arctic weather and bears without even a tent would be, er, unlikely, though…
IMHO, they have near zero odds of rescue in less than weeks, and near zero odds of lasting that long… they are 100% dependent on hull integrity, without the hull for it…
Images of 1000+ passengers standing like penguins in blowing snow, those on the edge angling for a spot in the middle, come to mind… voyage of the Penguin People…

Will Nelson
March 30, 2016 4:16 pm

They may succeed, or go to their doom, or be rescued by heroes. I just want to see the video clip of the Bearing Straight transit from the perspective of Little Diomede. It would be one of those great contradictions that come along only every so often.

Smart Rock
March 30, 2016 5:41 pm

These cruise ships look top-heavy, but apparently they aren’t because all the heavy stuff is below the water line. But the very large area above the water line must act as a bloody great “sail”. I have the impression that on the typical cruises in warm waters, they manage to avoid storms by having good weather information (well everyone does these days) and running for a port if there’s a storm coming up.
If a serious storm arrives when they’re in the middle of the NWP, though, it could get nasty. Even turning into the wind could be somewhere between difficult and impossible once the ice starts jamming up. I wonder if a high wind on the beam could overturn a cruise ship?
I hope they have good weather forecasts. Rather them than me.

March 30, 2016 5:51 pm

Bet dollars to doughnuts that when that cruise ship finally makes the passage, the media (much of it under the Rockefeller and Ford funded International Press Institute) will be all over it as another harbinger sign of global warming.

March 30, 2016 6:59 pm

Last I checked, modern cruise ships don’t carry dogsleds, seal-hunting gear, ice tents, packed preserved food, or any of the other survival amenities that allowed 19th century polar explorers to live for a year or more on the ice when their ships became stranded, until the following summer loosened the pack and they could proceed. Good luck to them, I guess.
If any eco-yuppies on board ask their Apple tablets about Arctic survival, I hope Siri replies “Why the f*** are you in the Arctic?”

Gary McMillian
March 30, 2016 8:34 pm

On a positive note, the polar bears will feast for months on the remains.

March 31, 2016 12:55 am

The cruise could succeed or end badly. Either way, the company and its passengers figure they’ll end up in the history books. If a winter cold front comes early and traps them in the ice, they could come to know what the ship’s name, “Crystal Serenity,” really means.

March 31, 2016 1:30 pm

I sailed on the Crystal Serenity a few years ago from Montreal to NYC the last trip of that year in November. The ship is the epitomy of luxury. It is not fitted for hardship. Even that trip became uncomfortable from the weather. This is not a good idea. I wonder if they still require male passengers to bring a tux? Perhaps a required parka and dried food will replace that requirement.

March 31, 2016 1:48 pm

It would make a great UN IPCC Love Boat, or harassment boat maybe.

April 2, 2016 4:04 pm

Why is everyone so worried? Mr Gore assured us that the Arctic would be ice free by 2013. Relax everybody

Ed Zuiderwijk
April 7, 2016 12:01 am

It’s good news for the Polar Bears. Lunch being provided now that they can’t find their nosh on the melted ice.

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