What’s on board luxurious Arctic cruise ship? Lots of ice gear, parkas

One of the first documented voyages through the Northwest Passage was Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen's 1903-06 expedition on his ship, the Gjøa (pronounced "Yur").

By: AP | Nome | Updated: September 9, 2016 5:34 pm
arrctic, arctic tours, arctic cruise, arctic travel, tours to arctic, arctic travel guides, arctic ship inside, travel news, latest news The luxury cruise ship Crystal Serenity anchored just outside Nome, Alaska. The ship made a port call as it became the largest cruise ship to ever go through the Northwest Passage, en route to New York City. (AP Photo)

It took years of planning and several million dollars to ensure a city-sized luxury liner could become the largest to ever sail through the Northwest Passage north of Alaska and Canada.

The Crystal Serenity left the town of Seward on Aug. 16, sailing up the Bering Strait and then east across the Arctic Ocean. It will complete its voyage September 16 in New York.

Several million dollars were spent outfitting the ship with equipment and personnel to navigate through Arctic waters, said the vessel’s captain, Birger Vorland. And everyone on board was outfitted with their own parka.

This Aug. 21, 2016, photo shows a high-end restaurant aboard the cruise ship Crystal Serenity while it was docked near Nome, Alaska. The luxury liner was not only the largest ever to visit Nome but the biggest to go through the Northwest Passage en route to New York City. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen) The luxury liner was not only the largest ever to visit Nome but the biggest to go through the Northwest Passage en route to New York City. (AP Photo)

The special equipment includes a dedicated ice radar, an ice navigation system that combines electronic charts with satellite imagery and thermal imaging, and two large ice searchlights on each bridge wing.

In addition, two Canadian ice pilots are on board. And the ship has an escort vessel carrying oil spill response equipment and two helicopters in case people need to evacuate.

“Ice is a concern,” Vorland said while the ship was docked in Nome for a port call. “Luckily, 2016 is turning out to be a reasonably good ice year.”

Not many vegetables are grown in the Arctic, so chartered flights have delivered fresh perishables to be served in the cruise liner’s five-star restaurants.

One of the first documented voyages through the Northwest Passage was Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s 1903-06 expedition on his ship, the Gjøa (pronounced “Yur”).

So it’s a sense of excitement for Vorland, a Norway native living in Los Angeles, to follow in Amundsen’s footsteps, as it were.

“They spent three years, and we’re going to do this in 32 days and in a lot more comfort,” Vorland said.