World’s first round-the-Arctic luxury cruise could set sail in 2020

Silversea Expeditions hopes to offer luxury cruises around the Arctic as soon as 2020. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Luxury cruise ship will next summer sail from Nome to Tromsø via the Northern Sea Route and then to Newfoundland via Greenland. In 2020, the idea is to circumnavigate the entire Arctic.

A luxury cruise ship will next summer sail from Nome, Alaska to Tromsø via the Northern Sea Route and then to Newfoundland (Canada) via Greenland. In 2020, the idea is to circumnavigate the entire Arctic.

“This is your chance to become the polar pioneer you have always dreamt of,” says the tempting promotion on Silversea Expeditions’ portal, listing famous explorers who have sailed part of the same route; Nansen, Nordenskiöld, DeLong and Amundsen.

The 25-day-long voyage next August will sail as far north as the ice allows, or as Silversea names it “Ice Edge Cruising”.

Northern Sea Route and North Atlantic cruises

Starting in Nome, Alaska, the expedition sails across the Bering Strait to Kamchatka and further towards remote Russian Arctic islands like Medvezhiy, Wrangel, Severnaya Zemlya, Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land. 19 stops are planned along the Northern Sea Route, depending on ice and weather. Back in Europe, the voyage will make port call to Murmansk, Svalbard and bird-cliffs at Gjesverstappan before ending in Tromsø, Norway.

From Tromsø, a new 30-days voyage with the same ship sails via Iceland and Greenland to St John’s in Newfoundland, Canada.

Tromsø is the largest town in Northern Norway. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

If shopping both itineraries in one of the cheapest suites on board, you can enjoy the nearly circumpolar 2019 navigation for €50,000, butler service included. If choosing only one of the voyages, the Northern Sea Route option costs from €33,480, while the Tromsø to Canada tour has fares from €16,600. Should you have more to spend that’s no problem, larger cabins cost a few thousand euros more. The most expensive suits already have waiting lists.

“Silver Explorer” can take 144 passengers and has a crew of 118.

The cruise in 2019 will not be the first time a foreign cruise liner are allowed to sail along Russia’s Northern Sea Route. In 2016, “Hanseatic” sailed the same route. This time, however, will be first when you can combine two voyages on the same ship starting in Arctic America and ending in Arctic Canada after visiting all five Arctic coastal nations.

Decision to come on round-the-Arctic cruises

Building on the 2019 experiences, Silversea will take a decision on a full circumpolar navigation for the 2020 season, including both the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage all way back to Alaska, managing director of the company, Mark Conroy, told Travel Weekly.

He said a challenge, though, is that a Northern Sea Route cruise can’t be commercially insured, meaning passengers won’t get full refunds if the cruise has to be aborted because of ice clogging the route. While sailing in ice-covered waters north of Siberia, the ship will be followed by a Russian icebreaker.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Nunavut gears up for increase in Arctic tourism, Radio Canada International

Finland: Baltic Sea helps Helsinki post record cruise season, YLE News

France: A cruise ship bound for the North Pole, The Independent Barents Observer

Iceland: Environmental groups call on Arctic cruise industry to reduce pollution in Iceland, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norwegian cruise company takes hybrid-electric shift, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Tourists back from North Pole delayed by Russian naval exercise near Murmansk, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Alaska’s cruise industry just keeps getting bigger, Alaska Dispatch News

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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