Crystal Serenity has set sail on a historic 32-night journey through the Northwest Passage.
The Arctic region north of Canada was unattainable until just 100 years ago, meaning the trip has required more than three years of planning by Crystal Cruises.
“Every aspect of this voyage is literally unparalleled in the luxury cruise industry, and nearly the entire travel industry as well,” said 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 September 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 will be on board to advise the master of Crystal Serenity, captain Birger J Vorland 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.
During the route of the Northwest Territories the ultra-luxury ship 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.
“The wealth of historical, cultural and natural wonders waiting to be discovered in this region is seemingly endless, and our guests are inquisitive, savvy world travellers who will certainly relish the opportunity to explore it,” said Rodriguez.
The Crystal Serenity is not the first passenger ship to sail the Northwest Passage, but it is the largest.
The cruise has received considerable amount of press attention, with the Telegraph pondering if it is “the world’s most dangerous cruise”.
Michael Byers, of the University of British Columbia, told CBC: “If the entire ship – all 1,000 passengers, all 600 crew – require search and rescue, for instance, then that would break the Canadian search and rescue system,” “They would not be able to get to those people and retrieve them in time.”
For cruise updates and destination highlights from Crystal’s first-ever Northwest Passage journey, follow the company’s blog, the Crystal Insider. Crystal has also announced it will sail the route again in 2017.