The cruise ship MV Crystal Serenity, owned by the US-based Crystal Cruises, is scheduled to set sail from Seward, Alaska to New York on a 32 day, 1,500 km journey through the Northwest Passage via Canada and Greenland on August 16.
Crystal Serenity, which will carry more than 1000 passengers and 650 crew, will be accompanied by UK’s ice-strengthened polar logistics and science vessel RRS Ernest Shackleton, for safety backup, according to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) organization.
“This voyage symbolises the risk of large scale cruise ships operating in the Arctic. The unique wildlife is already stressed by a warming climate and the loss of sea-ice, and the arrival of mega-cruise ships in this part of the world could push it further towards the edge,” Rod Downie, WWF-UK Polar Programme Manager, said.
“It’s because the Arctic is in meltdown that this cruise can take place. This year we saw the sea-ice crash to a record low for June as it continued its downwards spiral. The loss of sea-ice is bad news for Arctic species like polar bears, walrus and narwhal, and for Arctic people,” he added.
WWF said that it believes that the risk of an accident “in these poorly charted, ice-infested waters is high. There is no effective technology to clean up oil spills in ice, and little infrastructure in place to deal with a major incident.”