The fabled Northwest passage isn't what it used to be - an impenetrable ice-choked wilderness. For the first (but surely not the last) time, a high-end luxury cruise ship has traversed the Arctic Sea:
This short THIS PLANET video is being published while the Crystal Serenity is still at sea, heading for New York City, it's final port of call. Maybe the cruise did not quite achieve the Crystal Line's trademarked offer of "Unexpected Adventure" (TM) - but somewhere between Ulukhaktok and Labrador, the small number of travelers who could pay for a berth on the ship did get their money's worth. Icebergs, check. Whales, check. Native villages, check. Polar bears standing on fragments of ice, seemingly bewildered by passing zodiacs full of humans -- check.
Meanwhile, worries by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Coast Guard about "another Titanic" were for naught, at least for this year:
Video: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Thanks to climate change, the Crystal Serenity never needed to deploy its rented ice-breaker to break ice. It's named the Shakleton by the way, after a hero of Antarctic expeditions, whose ship ended up like this:
But let's get back to the top of the world, where the sea ice cover has shrunk by 70% over the last 30 years:
So with the Serenity securely out of danger, the ice-breaker could focus on its day job: housing two helicopters, presumably reserved for those extra-cost "Unexpected Adventures," and fielding a passel of zodiacs for viewing stranded polar bears and the like.
It is possible that THIS PLANET is just jealous, and might gladly take that cruise if the price could be met. And if the irony could be swallowed - of expelling just a tad more carbon to see a polar bears stranded on a sliver of ice (like this one), before the carbon melts it.