Centuries ago, the prospect of a Northwest Passage from Atlantic to Pacific was so tantalizing, so valuable, that explorer Henry Hudson died trying to find one. And starting this summer, thanks to climate change, you’ll be able to make this trip via luxury cruise ship!
That’s according to Discovery News, which reports that Crystal Cruises just announced 2017 dates for its second trip through the route, after this summer’s inaugural voyage. The good ship “Crystal Serenity” will depart Seward, Alaska, on August 16, and arrive in New York City on September 17. “We are thrilled to offer intrepid luxury travelers a second opportunity to explore this historical sea passage,” said Crystal Cruises’ CEO in an announcement.
The passage is indeed historic, in that generations of explorers beat their heads against this particular navigational brick wall before anybody found a way through. Discovery News explains:
Over the course of several centuries, multiple expeditions sought to find a path cross the top of North America through the ice-bound islands of the Canadian Archipelago.
For over 300 years, they all failed, some of them famously and spectacularly: In 1610, for example, Henry Hudson’s crew mutinied and set him adrift in a small boat; while the disappearance of Sir John Franklin’s expedition aboard the Erebus and Terror in 1845 mobilized a succession of searches that captivated British society.
Even as they fell short of their ultimate objective, however, many of these voyages filled in a little bit more of the Arctic map. Finally, the Gjoa, captained by Roald Amundsen — who, five years later, would become the first person to reach the South Pole — rounded Point Barrow, the northernmost tip of Alaska, and entered the history books.
Things have changed, though! “We are in a period of change in the Arctic. The ice is reducing in extent and thickness so it is easier to navigate, and the window during which it can be transited is lengthening,” Expedition Voyage Consultants founder Tim Soper told the Sunday Times (via the Telegraph). Though it’s still not a summer paddle across still waters in a swan boat, Fusion notes:
That doesn’t mean it’s completely safe. The Maritime Executivemagazine (presumably, a magazine for maritime executives) reports several U.S. and Canadian agencies will be meeting with Crystal Cruises next month to discuss safety for the trip. Executive also reports the cruise ship will be accompanied by an escort with ice-breaker capabilities, in case the recent record warmth at the North Pole doesn’t do the job.
You can book now for the 2017 trip, with fares starting at $21,855.