By Katie Jackson
At 6:45 a.m. this morning, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, Crystal Serenity’s guests were not sound asleep in their staterooms. Nor were they in Lido Café enjoying an early breakfast of brioche French toast. Instead, they were gathered outside on decks 12 and 13. How did Captain Birger J. Vorland get them up there at such an ungodly hour?
It wasn’t a safety drill. It wasn’t the mimosas being passed out by crew members balancing trays of silver platters. It wasn’t even the allure of being on TV. Yes, the news helicopters were circling above, but these travelers were accustomed to the attention on their cruise. Their Northwest Passage voyage had been covered by outlets around the world.
Each and every guest was up there because they wanted to be up there. And they wanted to be up there together. That’s the nature of an expedition. Your colleagues don’t just travel with you. They make history with you. And what do you do upon successfully finishing an expedition? You celebrate, regardless of what your alarm clock says. That’s also the nature of an expedition.
Yes, their voyage was a luxury cruise complete with all the Crystal bells and whistles, but it was also a bold journey into one of the most remote regions in the world. What they had signed up for had never been done before. Everyone was briefed to expect the unexpected, even if that meant they’d have to turn around. After all, the Northwest Passage is famous for its ice.
The guests saw plenty of ice—from the ship, zodiacs, fast boat, kayaks and shore. They also saw polar bears, glaciers, the Northern Lights and best of all, the unfamiliar faces of the curious locals—Inuit communities who welcomed them with unheard of hospitality and gave them a crash course in Arctic culture.
Crystal Serenity never turned around. She never even considered it. Instead, she triumphantly sailed into New York City’s harbor, 32 days after departing from Seward, Alaska. She was on schedule: timed to be welcomed by the sun rising over Manhattan, symbolically lighting Lady Liberty’s torch.
Mimosas in hand, helicopter overhead and most importantly, surrounded by new friends and family, it was time to celebrate. In other words, sleep could wait. That’s also the nature of an expedition.
While the momentous experience of the Northwest Passage is difficult to put into words, you can enjoy a glimpse into what awaits you in 2017…