In Gallivanting the Globe

Historic First: Expedition-Style Arctic Voyage Set for 2016

If you’re a Crystal Society member, you can be among the first to experience a new, expedition-style voyage traversing the Arctic Ocean via the legendary Northwest Passage in 2016. The mysterious and remote Northwest Passage, located 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle, eluded explorers for centuries until Roald Amundsen discovered it over 100 years ago. Following in the footsteps of these intrepid explorers, the once-in-a-lifetime journey through once-unpassable waterways marks our maiden expedition-style itinerary and a break from many cruising traditions.

Polar bears in the Arctic
Polar bears in the Arctic

In fact, we’ll be the first luxury cruise line to ever navigate the route when Crystal Serenity sets sail on a 32-day voyage from Anchorage/Seward, Alaska, to New York City on August 16, 2016. We’ll cruise north of mainland Canada, through 900 miles of majestic waterways lined with spectacular glaciers, towering fjords, and vast, unspoiled landscapes.

Almost two years in the making, the voyage will be safe for guests and crew and respectful of local lands and cultures. Onboard guest speakers will provide information about climate change and how it has impacted the passage. And approaches to itinerary scheduling, destination visits, onboard offerings, and safety standards are all new or enhanced. Among them:

Calls of the Wild

A flexible itinerary includes extra “surprise” days to allow unplanned “calls of the wild” for polar bear-viewing, whale-watching, glacier-cruising and scenic helicopter flights. On the advice of local specialist guides, we’ll be able to seek out the best wildlife and weather.

A Zodiac watercraft
A Zodiac watercraft

New Wilderness Adventures shore excursions will take you across polar tundra, up ice-strewn fjords, and into scenic coves to explore areas in and near maiden ports-of-call. You’ll also be able to respectfully visit the small, remote communities and uninhabited, unscheduled spaces, lands and waterways en route—often with champagne waiting at the other end.

Some excursions will be determined “in the moment,” based on circumstances and environment. The plethora of excursions and Arctic safaris also will include kayaking, Zodiacs watercraft tours, helicopter flights, ATV tours, fishing, hiking, climbing, and golfing at the world’s northernmost nine-hole course. Camping and other overnight excursions may be available; and voluntourism opportunities to help local lands and communities will be offered complimentarily via our “You Care. We Care.” program.

Arctic Enrichment

New enrichment includes a 14-person expedition team of experts in a variety of subjects, including a local Arctic guide, scientists, and accomplished wildlife and landscape photographers. These experts will provide lectures on subjects such as the science and history of the area, offer hands-on seminars and workshops, host dinners with guests, guide wildlife watching from the ship, and accompany excursions, where appropriate.

In addition, you’ll have a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in the lifestyles of small and remote communities during port visits, which will include demonstrations of local arts and crafts, Arctic sports, traditional drum dancing and throat singing, and tastings of local foods, such as Arctic char and bannock bread.

A village in the Northwest Passage
A village in the Northwest Passage

Onboard, you’ll have complimentary use of parkas and boots and receive outfitter recommendations. There will be no “black tie optional” nights; and our onboard cuisine, although still gourmet, will be modified to reflect the locales.

Northern Ports

During the voyage, Crystal Serenity will call at Kodiak, Dutch Harbor, and Nome, Alaska; Ulukhaktok, NW Territories; Cambridge Bay and Pond Inlet, Nunavut; Ilulissat, Sisimiut, and Nuuk, Greenland; Bar Harbor, Maine; Boston; Newport, Rhode Island, and New York City. Several of them will be maiden calls. In between, we’ll traverse numerous waterways, including the Bering Sea and Bering Strait, the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Coronation Gulf, Dease Strait, Larsen Sound, Parry Channel, Prince Regent Inlet, Croker Bay, Eclipse Sound, and Labrador Sea.

Arctic murres
Arctic murres

With the new cruise comes a new booking process. A 20% initial deposit will be required to secure all bookings, with $500 of the deposit being non-refundable. Starting July 17, the initial booking window will only be available to Crystal Society members (guests who have sailed with Crystal before). Non-members may add their names to a waitlist; and remaining space, if any, will open to the public on September 2. Crystal Adventures will open for pre-reservation 18 months in advance of the cruise.

 

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