banner
← Back to News Section

Polar bears spotted halfway through Northwest Passage cruise

By Melissa Frey, KTVA  

After traveling about 4,000 miles and spending 16 days at sea, the Crystal Serenity completed the first half of its 32-day voyage from Seward, Alaska to New York City via the Northwest Passage. This is the first time a large cruise liner has attempted to sail the Northwest Passage.

After making stops in Kodiak, where the rain was falling and the port was busy, and at Dutch Harbor, where the fireweed was still in bloom, the ship made its northward trek to Nome. Nome hosts visitors on adventure cruises to the Arctic every summer, but has never before entertained a cruise ship of this size.

Crystal Cruises blogger Emily Woods writes about their trip to Nome:

Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

“Today has been awash with new sights and smells including, to all of our surprise, some roadside Musk Ox. Locals welcomed us with a blueberry fair, smiling faces, and even managed to keep the winds away for our visit. This stop was nothing short of a delight for all interests with native music, culinary treats, artisan crafts and wildlife. The town has a longstanding tradition of bringing folks from all over the world together in the Iditarod race. Before there was the Iron Man, Tough Mudder and other ultras, mushers and their dog teams gathered in Anchorage, AK to embark on one of the greatest tests of human and animal endurance to date. Every March, Nome marks the end of this 1,049-mile journey, and turns into what some have termed the ‘Mardi Gras of the North.’

How could one possibly encapsulate all this polar community has to offer? Sailing away in calm seas, we bid farewell to Nome with fond memories, the best jams, and the perfect photos of what this place means to us. Louis Armstrong plays on the outer decks as the ropes are thrown, and indeed…what a wonderful world.”

Leaving Nome and the clouds behind, the ship began its long haul through the Beaufort Sea under mostly sunny skies and with little sea ice seen.

Suzette Burdt shared the experience with her friends and family back home on Facebook:

“Day 10 on our trek to the Arctic! Check out this photo from today! What? No we are NOT in the Caribbean! Loving this trip. Love the crew, love the activities, love the people!!”

Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

As temperatures dropped, whale sightings became more common and the presence of sea ice increased.

Courtesy Suzette Burdt

Courtesy Suzette Burdt

The Crystal Serenity joined up with the RSS Ernest Shackleton, an escort vessel to provide support and supplies while traveling through the Northwest Passage.

Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

In Canadian waters, the passengers had opportunities to visit Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Crystal Cruises blogger wrote about adventure off the ship:

“As reluctant as we are to leave Ulukhaktok, it felt the Inuit residents were even more keen to have us stay. In fact, the mayor kept hold of the boat until the very last Zodiac pushed off of the beach. Their welcome was unmatched; their enthusiasm to share their culture evident in every aspect of our visit. Some of us opted for helicopter flying, kayaking, fast boat riding, hiking or strolling through the village…some of us opted for three or more of these options! Even if you never left the beach, there were children aplenty asking your name, and anxious to teach you the best stone-skipping technique. There were toddlers in traditional dress, Arctic char samplings, art demonstrations, chanting and more than enough crafts for folks to peruse. But what made this visit so special are the wonderful stories so openly told…the warmth with which they embraced us…the perfect serenity exuded from every person.”

Ulukhaktok Community Dancers

Ulukhaktok Community Dancers

Passengers Suzette and Bill Burdt enjoyed the excursions on zodiacs and helicopters:

“We had beautiful weather. In and out of Zodiacs today. Went on our very first helicopter ride and loved every second! I’m hooked,” said Suzette Burdt.

Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

With little ice nearby polar bears were nowhere in sight, but on the 13th day of the voyage many passengers’ dreams for this voyage came true. More ice and the first polar bears were seen after the ship left Cambridge Bay and began cruising the Victoria Strait.

“The early morning paid off quickly with our first polar bear sighting! And what an experience it was. This apex predator patrolled calmly on an ice floe, and put on quite a show stretching, and scanning for any potential prey,” writes Crystal Cruises Blogger Emily Woods.

With icebergs off the bow, the Crystal Serenity is now sailing toward Pond Inlet, 16 days and nearly 4,000 miles to go.

Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Categories: News