Just over one year after the polar cruise ship MV Explorer sank off Antarctica, another such ship, the MV Ushuaia, has run aground on rocks in the same area. Governments and international organizations responsible for protecting the environment on the frozen continent are likely to feel more pressure to tighten rules for tourist ships at the ends of the Earth.
To get some impressions of the benefits and risks of polar travel, I called Geoff Green, the founder and executive director of an amazing program called Students on Ice, which has used a variety of ships -- including the Ushuaia once -- to take more than 1,000 students from three dozen countries to the Arctic and Antarctic.
"I'm definitely a big believer that the polar regions are incredible platforms for education," he said. "It makes issues like climate change real and personal and these kids have dome back and made a difference. But I also believe we have to do it in an way where we're obviously not having any impact on the places we're going. But there do need to be limits and more rules."