Northwest Passage Cruises

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Northwest Passage cruises are only possible on North Pole icebreakers, such as the Kapitan Khlebnikov. Starting south of Iceland and Greenland, the typical route takes a ship north through Baffin Bay, through the archipelago of myriad islands north of Canada, and exits along the north coast of Alaska. Despite global warming that continues to melt the Arctic ice pack, there are no shipping lanes that are free of dangerous ice fields.

Although ships are increasingly taking advantage of the reduced ice mass in summer months, cruise ships still do not dare enter the region. The Russian icebreakers, on the other hand, have a steady schedule of journeys into the Antarctic and Arctic, where excited passengers can get close to the North Pole. Sailing through the Northwest Passage using the Amundsen Route (the route of the very first successful passage), these ships allow visitors to cruise the northern Canadian Archipelago to view stunning glaciers and the wildlife of the tundra.

Northwest Passage Cruises on Icebreakers

Sailing on icebreakers may seem to some a crude journey with few amenities, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In recent years, these formidable ships have been retrofitted to provide excellent accommodations for passengers who want to go where no cruise ship goes. With European chefs and bartenders, these ships take their passengers on Northwest Passage cruises that are unforgettable both for the scenery and the service.

The sheer sweep of the tundra in summer is stunning. This vast expanse of boggy land reveals its abundance as the temperatures rise and wildlife hasten to breed and feed before winter arrives again. Lucky passengers may see the very symbol of the Arctic, the polar bear, as it lumbers across open territory. Musk ox, walruses, seals, and whales are all on display for passengers on Northwest Passage cruises to marvel at and photograph.

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