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Jim Hunt

My own take on the prospective voyage of the Crystal Serenity through the Northwest Passage:

The Northwest Passage in 2016

Whilst I think her cruise will prove to be eminently feasible this summer I agree with you and Suzanne that it is a very dumb idea. Amongst other things:

There will not be shore-based cell phone signals along the transit, except in the communities and towns we will be visiting. However, guests are requested to not use this signal when in port, as it will overwhelm the local system and disrupt the communication within the community.

Please do pop in and have a look at all the other charts, songs, history and videos that seem to be swiftly accumulating over there too.

Aaron Lewis

If the rich and idle cared about the Arctic (or the Earth) we would not be in this situation.

This is conspicuous consumption to demonstrate their status, not an interest in the environment. Since they want to be "high status", I do not feel bad about blaming the whole situation on them - Much is expected of of those to whom is given.

AGW will eat great wealth and all of its trappings as easily as it eats permafrost on the Alaskan shore.

John Bilsky

Disaster tourism. *sigh* We are truly an insane species.

No need to be polite Neven. J H Kunstler makes a living calling 'em like he sees 'em and for a moment there, I thought that that was who I was reading. Well done sir. Well done.


I was amazed to see the trips to the North Pole this year - flights to Barneo (which in themselves I guess should be relatively low impact (apart from planes / tractors / ??? on the seabed)... or you could of course SMASH your way there in the nuclear powered icebreaker later in the season ! The adverts say you can go "Crushing through multiyear pack ice"... that should help speed up the icefree arctic.


Mockery is the only reasonable response. The 0.01% don't give a damn about what we think and if they want enjoy the live disaster movie of the melting Arctic they will.

One point of clarification on the fuel that will be used from the cruise ship's web page:

begin quote


1. What environmental protections will Crystal take?

During the transit, Crystal Serenity will be voluntarily using Marine Gas Oil, a low-sulphur fuel. Marine Gas Oil contains less than 0.1% sulphur, is extremely clean burning and is well in excess of the existing environmental regulations. In addition, Crystal Serenity's transit speed has been set at a relatively low speed so that only 2 of the ship's 6 diesel generators will be required for the majority of the transit, which in combination with the fuel used, will minimize carbon footprint.

2. What will you do with the garbage produced onboard? Will you leave it in the Arctic?

Crystal will operate, as it always does, with a “nothing overboard” policy. No garbage or food waste of any kind will be thrown overboard.

end quote.


I will, as usual, be taking my annual virtual trip to the North Pole.

Thanks, Captain Neven!

Glenn Doty

I guess my take on this is the same as my take on the elephants in zoos and circuses.

It may be something that I don't personally like... but without the elephants in circuses over the past 100+ years, it's almost certain that they never would have captured the imagination of the West, and we wouldn't have put in the funds to try to help protect them... and they would have joined the White Rhino in the annuls of extinction.

With respect to the arctic, these tours may seem crass, but if they serve to captivate real interest among the elite in the beauty and fragility of the arctic... then they'll do more good than harm.

Like it or not, in America, no-one cares at all about one of the most important components of Earth's climate control - the Arctic Ice cap.

When I talk on political forums about the plight of the arctic... they see a threat that doesn't touch them, and I have trouble communicating why they should care. It's too remote, too distant, and too great a problem for them to get wrapped up in. I myself only really care insofar as the impact on global sea level rise and the extremely uncertain impacts on storm systems and ocean currents, and I consider myself an avid environmentalist.

This "disaster tourism" might mobilize the political activism and (more importantly) the money of the elite to really try to do something.

That's my take.

I lurk this site because I'm eager to learn all I can about the arctic, and here I've found an easily approachable group of people far more learned on this subject than I who both present and discuss the constantly evolving data in a digestible format.

But in this case the post was purely political, so I thought I'd chime in with a different perspective.

k eotw

I find it hard to fault people for taking actions that contribute such a small part of the problem. The problem is a collective one and cannot be solved by individual action. Principled stands and example setting aside, the solution for reducing global emissions has to ultimately be a top down enforcement of new laws.


Glenn Doty, I appreciate your perspective but will respectfully disagree.

The cruise(s) planned are moneymaking affairs capitalizing on self-indulgent voyeurism. While I have no problem with that in principle when it is taking money out of the pockets of those who have it and should know better, it doesn't work here. It's not just the rich being affected.

Local communities will be hit hard. Local governments are scrambling to find money to deal with the influx of tourists. National governments are having to spend money on hardware and training to insure the passenger's safety. In short, money isn't just coming out of the passenger's pockets. For practical purposes, the cruise is being subsidized by governments and communities, without any choice on their part.

It is a monstrous distraction, which in fact will steer resources *away* from researchers trying to get things done during the short season they have. It's not helping, and the problem while political is still harmful.


Smacks to me of "X is an endangered species, shoot yours now before they are all gone." approach.

We have a existential problem with global warming, so they are advertising a long slow cruise in a diesel powered ship through the very area which is worst affected for 1000 very rich individuals.


No need to be polite Neven. J H Kunstler makes a living calling 'em like he sees 'em and for a moment there, I thought that that was who I was reading. Well done sir. Well done.

Thanks for the compliment. I used to read Kunstler's stuff regularly. I think he might appreciate the word shrimp-o-naise. ;-)

Principled stands and example setting aside, the solution for reducing global emissions has to ultimately be a top down enforcement of new laws.

There will never be any top down law making or enforcing thereof, if we at the bottom sheepishly accept this kind of stuff from the people who are most responsible and who have all the real power.

AGW is also a social-cultural problem caused by decades of consumerist brainwashing, and it's this kind of opulence that sets the whole thing in motion.

If I were younger, I would perhaps take more of a stand than just blogging about it, but I'll support anyone who will (non-violently) oppose this.

Sure, let that cruise ship sail the Northwest Passage, just to show that it's possible and that this is insane in itself, a hallmark of how far things have already come.

But along the way, every step of the way, everyone on that cruise ship needs to be made to understand how shameful the whole charade is.

I don't know, maybe I'll fire off a mail to the cruise company. It's a start.

Andy Lee Robinson

If bacteria had human traits, they'd be planning adventure trips to the edge of the Petri dish...

Still, I would love to explore the Arctic but with something solar powered.

Jim Hunt

Or even human powered Andy?


Charles Hedrich completed his own multi-year voyage through the NWP last summer. His vessel was much smaller than Franklin’s:

“He is now, the first man to have rowed solo the North-West Passage.”

Charles' vessel was also much smaller than Crystal Serenity!


I'm waiting for the first cross polar cruise. That might teach the elite a lesson.


I'm thinking we should maybe crowd-source your passage so that you can tell your story in the form of an evening celebrity lecture? If you plan on being accompanied by a 'Mrs. Neven', the best fit socially is if she is 25-30 years younger.

trophy wife

"Aboard the most award-winning ships at sea, your story can be written exactly as you wish: pamper yourself at the Feng Shui-inspired Crystal Spa, work-out at our state-of-the-art fitness center or Walk-on-Water along our 360º Promenade Deck; learn how to translate your story into a movie with USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Digital Filmmaking class at our Creative Learning Institut;

Or learn about art, history and worldly destinations with our engaging celebrity entertainers and speakers with our Crystal Visions Enrichment Program; sneak away to watch recently-released movies in the Hollywood Theatre, shop our luxury boutiques, or simply lounge poolside while our attentive crew caters to your every whim. From mat Pilates and yoga to PGA golf instruction and paddle tennis on full-size courts, today is all about you.

As evening arrives, dine on the renowned culinary creations of Nobu Matsuhisa, and Crystal’s own acclaimed chefs with new Modern Cuisine and Global Inspired menus, enjoy special wine-makers dinners, breakout new production shows, intimate lounges, a pulsing dance club or our action-packed Crystal Casino. The choices as always aboard the World’s Best are yours. How will you write your story on board?"



".... The choices as always aboard the World’s Best are yours. How will you write your story on board?"

I have insufficient words. What astonishing narcissism.

Susan Anderson

An edit might be appropriate: consign "polar ice ... to the pages of history."

Just finished "Dark Money" and can't say I'm surprised. These people don't think reality applies to them. Their money exempts them from reality.


This year or some time very soon the ice edge will melt as far as the North pole from the Atlantic side. You can be sure that soon after that there will be cruise ships running North Pole adventures.
I anticipate a new record either this year or next year by the way.

Rob Dekker

Guys, I think you are over-doing this one.

As long as they don't leave a mess, this cruise is infinitely better than the REAL problems facing the Arctic. The drilling for oil in the Arctic, or the shipping routes across the Arctic, where vessels use high-sulfur fuel oil, or the digging for Tar Sands in the Boreal, with not just the immediate pollution this causes, but also the vast amount of methane required to turn that goop into something useful.

In that context, I think that some Arctic tourism like this cruise is comparable to well-organized Safari trips in the Serengeti. It does not hurt wildlife, and it may help create awareness of the uniqueness of the environment.


Wow, A-Team, I thought that text had flowed out of your sarcasm pen. I should've known it's real, as I've worked on a cruise ship for a short period (in the Caribbean).

This is the AGW problem in a nutshell.

Susan Anderson

Rob Dekker, you are right. Thanks.

Rob Dekker

Neven, with all due respect, I don't see the text that A-team provided in the references he linked too. It seems to apply only to cruises in the tropics. Maybe that text was flowed out of sarcasm after all.

Remko Kampen

"I'm waiting for the first cross polar cruise. That might teach the elite a lesson." forget it.


Look a little deeper, that text is copied word-for-word from the pull-down itinerary for Cambridge Bay in the CAA. It is also the default text for a dozen other slow days.

I'm guessing they fill it in later with cruise-specific outings -- take a selfie with your arm around a real Eskimo? shop for antique ivory dug from a graveyard? shoot a polar bear from a zodiac? buy real tanzanite earrings? harpoon a narwal from a helicopter? Make margarita iced from a real Jakobshavn iceberg?

There is no money to be made from a bare-bones cruise, it's all about the add-ons. They can't simply super-size the french fries since ample food is provided.

This is not an expensive cruise, considering. The people will just an ordinary cross-section of humanity, not the cast from Bilderberg, Davos, Bohemia Grove or Trilateral Commission.

Bill Fothergill

And as they sail past Point Barrow (or Nuvuk) these precious souls might even get a chance to spy the odd moose or two.

As the climate warms, the terrain is changing from tundra to a somewhat more boreal environment. (Still, I'm sure it must all be down to that pesky UHI effect.)


(Let's see if I've managed to beat Colorado Bob to the punch on that one.)

Bill Fothergill

As they go sailing past Point Barrow (Nuvuk), those adventurous souls might even get to glimpse the odd moose or two.

With climate change, the tundra is gradually melding into something a tad more arboreal, and hence allowing these giants of the deer family to expand their range poleward.


(Let's see if I've managed to beat Colorado Bob to the punch for a change.)

Artful Dodger

MrVillabolo wrote:

"I'm waiting for the first cross polar cruise. That might teach the elite a lesson."

Hi, VB. So sorry to report we missed the first sailing of Ship One back in '88 (Captain Hansen, 1st Officer Mann).

Luckily, the second ship is preparing to sale even as we speak. Most excitingly, it is reserved exclusively for Elites, Luke-warmists and Offshore Phishermen wearing Panama hats.

The third arc will follow shortly after the second one departs. Trust me. I'll be on that ship. ;^)


Lord Soth

Why my Government is allowing a cruise ship to pry across our Internal Northern Waters is beyond me.

Only 3% of Canadian Artic waters are surveyed to modern standards. This is recipe for disaster. The Southern North West Passage (Amundsen Route) is famous for shallow waters and uncharted rocks.

Sure our Coast Guard travel these waters, but in an icebreaker with a highly trained crew, with advance survival training.

Last time I checked the Crystal Insanity was not an icebreaking cruise ship, and if they hit a rock or pingo and take on water, I'm sure the vast majority of those 1000 passenger are not going to react in a positive way.

Crystal Insanity, the greatest adventure since the Titanic !


Bill Fothergill has trouble posting and asked me to post this for him:

As they go sailing past Point Barrow (Nuvuk), those adventurous souls might even get to glimpse the odd moose or two.

With climate change, the tundra is gradually melding into something a tad more arboreal, and hence allowing these giants of the deer family to expand their range poleward.


(Let's see if I've managed to beat Colorado Bob to the punch for a change.)

Bill Fothergill

"I'm waiting for the first cross polar cruise. That might teach the elite a lesson."

There is more than an element of chance involved with this. Winds and currents are going to be moving the ice about, and who knows where all the thick stuff is going to end up?

The Xue Long (Snow Dragon) tried to pull that stunt back in 2012, but came up short. Even when this does become possible, I think the ship's bearing (or possibly even, Bering) will be important. For some time yet, ships are going to have to carefully select their Longitude before they turn the bows due north.

Jim Hunt

Bill - The Xue Long isn't exactly a "cruise ship", and as far as I am aware succeeded in "pulling that stunt". Do you have information to the contrary?

You may be interested in discovering the tall (but nonetheless true) tale of how once upon a time I found myself having lunch with some Chinese sea ice experts:

The Strange Tale of The Mail and The Snow Dragon

Shortly afterwards I crossed swords with Rose of The Mail for the first time!

Bill Fothergill

Slack writing on my behalf Jim.

1) When I used the term "cross polar", I meant literally that: straight across 90N. That's how I interpreted the phrase when used earlier in this thread by Mr Villabolo. However, I should have spelled this out.

2) The Snow Dragon is, of course, an ice breaker. I have no reasonable excuse - other than senility - for somehow failing to mention that. (Just because I'm familiar with that ship, why the hell should I assume others are?)

Regarding the trans-polar stunt, the Wiki for Xue Long states that...

"Unfortunately we didn't reach the North Pole because Xue Long's icebreaking capability isn't strong enough," said one of the ship's officers.[23] Of note, while China did not state how close Xue Long got to the North Pole in late August 2012, China's Polar Institute did not claim a new "high north" record, suggesting the vessel did not break her record set in 2010.

That also tallies with my memory of how the attempt was reported at the time. Of course, my memory isn't worth s*&t.

BTW, I loved your reminiscences concerning the beginning of your warm friendship with the Daily Mule's finest science reporter.

Bill Fothergill

Our intrepid adventurers might also want to stock up on the old Factor 60.

Gistemp has just released its Global LOTI March anomaly of +1.28 degC. That's 6 in a row > 1.0


Jim Hunt

I see what you mean Bill. No doubt the Chinese media would have loudly proclaimed the feat if the Xue Long had actually reached the Pole itself. As it is they seem to have been a bit coy about the Snow Dragon's precise route. I actually met the guy that wrote this article in Oslo:


The emphasis was very much on "trade" rather than "tourism"! Getting back to cruise ships, as far as I am aware the closest one has ever got to the North Pole was the Hanseatic which reached 85° 40.7' N by "sheer good fortune" in 2014:


You will note that there may well be a cruise ship traffic jam in the Northwest Passage this summer!


At the beginning of the 20th century, Roald Amundsen completed the first full passage. To this day, various thrilling legends abound about this part of the Canadian Arctic, and you will follow in their path on this expedition.

When ice determines the course, the pioneering spirit of times gone by will come to life on board the BREMEN. A challenge to which the ship rises with its highest ice class and experienced crew.

Was there any mention of the ice class of the Crystal Monstrosity in the brochures? The owners don't seem entirely confident in that regard, since they've hired RSS Ernest Shackleton for support:


On your final point, Mr. Rose has been remarkably silent on Arctic matters recently. Perhaps even Paul Dacre can't see a way to spin the current facts into a suitably "skeptical" story without risking ridicule?


Surely all that's needed is a good bashing of the ice with something like the Baltika slicing a 50m wide swathe through the ice:


Bill Fothergill


I suspect that Baltika is intended for general support (and Search & Rescue) work along the Northern Sea Route.

The main problem with a very tightly constrained route - for example, trying to sail from the Bering to the Barents via 90N - is that one can run into pressure ridges which are 10 or more metres in thickness. Such a mass of ice is a rather daunting prospect even for the most capable and ice-hardened of breakers.

A thick pressure ridge basically says to any vessel, in the taunting voice of a football hooligan looking for a bit of aggro, "come on, if you think you're hard enough".


I agree Bill - more likely to clear where ice is reliably thinner. With a 50m width broken it would leave a good size passage. Worrying trend though with the cruises... regular freight won't be far behind.

Jim Hunt

Charles - It's not exactly regular as yet, but here's another ironic tall tale for you from 2013:

The Northwest Passage is Open for Business

One of the world’s few modern ice-class bulk carriers – MV NORDIC ORION – will carry a cargo of 73,500 tons of coal via the so called North West Passage through Arctic waters to Finland.

Bill Fothergill


Touching on one of your current topics, "not only is the ice recovering, but it never went away in the first place", have you seen this paper written by Ron Kwok and Norbert Untersteiner from a few years back?


Its title, "The Thinning of Arctic Sea Ice", gives something of a clue as regards its subject matter. It contains an overview of the way ice loss (areal and thickness) has been tracked since the days of the Cold War.

Jim Hunt


I hadn't seen that most interesting article before. My thanks for bringing it to my attention:

Over the past 30 years the average September ice extent has been declining at an astonishing rate of more than 11% per decade.

The surplus heat needed to explain the loss of Arctic sea ice during the past few decades is on the order of 1 W/m². Observing, attributing, and predicting such a small amount of energy remain
daunting problems.

Perhaps I might return the favour? Have you previously seen this 1958 video of Norbert Untersteiner treating the Arctic as an adventure playground?


It also contains a top secret recording of certain cold war activities of the US Navy's submarine fleet!

Bill Fothergill

Favour returned James.

Isn't it funny how Skate's emergence into an acoustically marked lead gets (mis)represented as proof of a 60-year cycle in Arctic ice extent?

RIP Norbert

Rascal Dog

I've noticed that relatives that are less than accepting of the whole idea of the climate changing have noticed this cruise.

"The climate has changed a lot, hasn't it?"

I'd like to say 'no duh', but instead find this a good teaching moment.

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