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This Planet is a series of short video stories that draw on the best new videos, awesome graphics, and surprising facts about climate, energy and innovation.

The Northwest Passage Opens for Luxury Cruisers... Thanks to Climate Change

This Planet Chronicle

The Northwest Passage Opens for Luxury Cruisers... Thanks to Climate Change

Frank Bozzo

The Fabled Northwest Passage isn't what it used to be - an impenetrable ice-choked wilderness. For the first time, but surely not the last, a high-end luxury cruise ship has traversed the Arctic Sea. 

THIS PLANET is publishing a video while the Crystal Serenity is still at sea, heading for New York City, it’s final port of call. 

Iceberg.jpeg

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:

Photo: Public Domain 

Photo: Public Domain 

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. 

Image: Andy Lee Robinson 

Image: Andy Lee Robinson 

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 passal of zodiacs for viewing stranded polar bears and the like.

Photo: Crystal Cruises 

Photo: Crystal Cruises 

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 polar bears stranded on a sliver of ice (like this one), before the carbon melts it.

Photo: Captain Birger Vorland, Crystal Cruises

Photo: Captain Birger Vorland, Crystal Cruises