|Captain Birger at the controls // Photo by Crystal Cruises|
Crystal Cruises has become the first luxury cruise line to cruise the Northwest Passage, as the Crystal Serenity is embarking on a 32-day itinerary through the area.
The cruise, departing from Seward, Alaska, is hosting nearly 1,000 passengers on board. The Arctic itinerary includes port calls in Kodiak, Dutch Harbor and Nome, Alaska; Ulukhaktok, NW Territories; Cambridge Bay and Pond Inlet, Nunavut; and Newport, Rhode Island. The trip concludes on September 16 in New York City.
The trip will have additional crew, training and equipment in consideration of the operating conditions in the far north. Two Canadian Ice Pilots will be on board to work with the Master of Crystal Serenity, Captain Birger J. Vorland and his team. During a routine dry-dock this past May, Crystal Serenity was fitted with two ice searchlights, forward looking sonar, a thermal imaging camera and software to improve the ship's ability to pick up small contacts on the radar.
During the voyage, the RSS Ernest Shackleton, an ice vessel with an experienced crew who operate in polar conditions, will accompany the ship. It will act as the first responder in case of an emergency and carries two helicopters and supplemental safety equipment.
The Shackleton crew is also assisting with Crystal’s specifically designed shore excursions, including flight-seeing journeys over glaciers, navigating floating sea ice on kayaks, “wet landing” by zodiac, polar bear and wildlife watching and Crystal’s brand new Unexpected Adventures, which offer impromptu opportunities to explore ashore and surrounding areas.
Crystal is offering guests of the trip specially designed parkas, boots and other outdoor gear with official Crystal Northwest Passage expedition patches on them. The ship has been renovated to include additional technological perks onboard as well as four telescopic binocular sets, floor-to-ceiling windows in Palm Court as well large flat-screen TVs for steaming updates from crew and expedition team members.
Crystal has also recently announced it will sail this route again in 2017, available for booking now.
For cruise updates and destination highlights, follow the company’s blog, The Crystal Insider, at www.blog.crystalcruises.com.
This story originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.