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Fast Facts About a Journey Rarely Made

Crystal Endeavor and her 200 guests will embark on an expedition through the High Arctic in the late summer of 2021, and it’s a big deal. Why? Because until very recently (i.e. the 1990’s), the only ships who made this journey were specialized vessels who made the trek through the Northeast Passage during a very limited window and with very specialized ice-breaking capabilities. So unless one happened to stow away in a shipping container bound for the Arctic, this extremely remote region remained unexplored by travelers. Journeys like the epic one set for Crystal Endeavor make the world profoundly smaller, as we reach farther than ever to explore.

At a Glance

Here are just a few of the many fascinating tidbits to know about this little-known land.

It’s NOT the Northwest Passage, despite the fact that most web searches for “Northeast Passage” will result in suggestions for the more well-known route through the Arctic above Canada – it’s that remote. The Northeast Passage travels from the Bering Sea and East Siberia to the Barents Sea via the Arctic Ocean.

Solovetsky Island
View of the Solovetsky Monastery on Solovetsky Island from the White sea. Arkhangelsk region, Russia

It’s not all wild. One of the voyage’s scheduled stops will be in Solovetsky, once home to the Solovetsky Monastery, an important holy site and pilgrimage destination establish in 1436. The fact that a site this remotely north attracted the many thousands of faithful to its sanctuary in this period makes its significance all the more impactful. The monastery was reinstated as a place of worship following the 20th century’s World Wars.

It spans the last charted place on earth. Not only was this region long unexplored, parts of it weren’t even known to man until the 20th Severnaya Zemlya, covered in glacier-carved peaks, dramatic fjords and surrounded by the icy Vilkitsky Strait, wasn’t officially on any map until roughly 1915.

Walruses in Arctic
Walruses sun themselves on Arctic ice floes.

Wildlife reigns here. While we don’t know the actual statistic, it’s absolute that animal species outnumber human residents in the high Arctic by a significant measure. Besides polar bears, Arctic foxes, walruses, reindeer, whales and thousands of bird species populate the islands and shores.

It’s a land of giants. Wrangel Island is known to be one of the last places on earth roamed by the massive woolly mammoth, evidenced by numerous fossils collected there. Today, Wrangel Island and its neighbors Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya and other spots along the route are home to the “kings of the north,” polar bears.

Glacier on the coast of Novaya Zemlya Island

One bold quest deserves after another. Crystal’s Northeast Passage expedition is a journey of monumental discovery on its own, one that also visits another great region of the north: the North Cape. Before arriving in Tromsø, Norway, Crystal Endeavor will call in Honningsvåg, gateway to the wonders far above the Arctic Circle.

Crystal Endeavor’s 28-night Northeast Passage expedition will sail from Anadyr, Russia to Tromsø, Norway on August 18, 2021. The journey will be available for general booking beginning March 13, 2019.

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