Crystal Cruises the Northwest Passage as the Largest Ship Ever

by Daniel Nikulin

Where does a 1,000 passenger, 13-deck high, almost 70,000 ton, 800-feet long cruise ship go?

Anywhere she wants!

Evidently, Crystal Cruises wanted to take their beloved Serenity on an adventure of a lifetime, bridging the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans via the seldom-travelled Northwest Passage of the wild Canadian Arctic.

Leaving Anchorage, Alaska on August 16th, the perilous sailing will be attempted by the largest passenger ship ever, taking a route up through the Baring Strait, across the Arctic archipelago of over 36,000 islands, turning south at Greenland and arriving in New York City’s harbour on September 16, for a total 32-day mind-blowing trip.

Northwest Passage Serenity

The crossing, first completed in 1905, took three years then. In 2012, globe-trotting residence/cruise ship, The World, carrying 481 passengers crossed the passage successfully too but the Serenity’s staggering 1,070 passenger count will make it the spectacle it is, and should take only eight ice-blinding days.

The almost 1,000 mile voyage will be making its way through still mostly unmapped waters with only 10% of the area currently charted. There are no defined routes or shipping lanes – only ‘possible’ waterways.

For logistical support, the Serenity will be accompanied by research vessel RRS Ernest Shackleton, an ICE 05-Class icebreaker chartered from the British Antarctic Survey. It will also provide any ice-breaking assistance, if needed, and carry emergency supplies. Two helicopters will also help scan for ice.

The sailing took Crystal Cruises over two years to plan, taking special precautions to ensure a more eco-friendly journey. The ship is using lighter oil that would be easier to clean-up if spilled.

On top of that, the Serenity is equipped with state-of-the-art forward-looking sonar and ice-detecting high-resolution radar, thermal imaging equipment and specially designed searchlights to help identify hazards at night.

“From low-sulphur marine oil that we are using to engaging the local community and involving them in our plan to ensure we don’t disturb their environment, we have taken many, many precautions to ensure we don’t disturb their environment.” Edie Rodriguez, Crystal Cruises CEO

Ports of call will include Ulukhaktok, a North West Territories town of only 400 people the cruise line didn’t want to overwhelm with visitors. During its stop there, only 150 passengers will be able to disembark at a time.

And exactly how much are excursions on such a coveted itinerary, you ask? Well, it’s not pretty but neither is the cruise fare. Cabins start at over $21,000 and top off at over $120,000! Shore excursions can cost over $6,000 and don’t forget the compulsory medical insurance that must include emergency evacuation coverage. Even at such exorbitant prices, the cruise sold out in 3 weeks.


Also on board will be 21 guest scientists, adventurers and lecturers including marine biologists, climatologists and naturalists.

For anyone wanting to pretend they’re cruising along with the Serenity on the voyage, Crystal Cruises has set up a Live View, showing real-time vistas from four different parts of the ship; the bridge, the port side, the starboard side as well as from the ship’s computer lab inside.

For anyone wanting the real thing, there is already another sailing planned for next year. Our Cruise Experts are standing by.


To book your spot on next year’s unbelievable Arctic adventure, call us at 1877 967 5302, connect with us online or visit your nearest Flight Centre store location today.