Posted on 12 August 2016
Voyage symbolises the risk of large scale cruise ships operating in the Arctic
On 16th August, the MV Crystal Serenity
will set sail from Seward, Alaska to New York on a 32 day, 1,500 km journey through the legendary Northwest Passage via Canada and Greenland. With more than 1000 passengers and 650 crew, a casino, 6 restaurants, and a cinema, she is by far the largest luxury cruise ship to sail these remote, icy waters. Crystal Serenity
will be accompanied by the UK’s ice-strengthened polar logistics and science vessel RRS Ernest Shackleton
, for safety backup.
Rod Downie, WWF-UK Polar Programme Manager says:
"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."
"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.”
WWF 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.
Rod Downie adds:
"Arctic communities need good sustainable sources of revenue, and tourism is likely to be part of that future. We recognise the positive steps that Crystal Cruises have taken to minimise their impact, working with local communities and in particular choosing not to burn heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, which is more persistent and damaging to wildlife if spilled. But if tourism is not sustainable, we risk ruining the very thing that tourists would come to see."