Traditional Cruising To Return – Oceania’s Riviera at Reviewed.com – Veteran Cruise Ship Retired – Heritage Sailing Goes Ahead

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 13th January 2014..

Viking Star stern view

Viking Cruises has begun its advertising for the 2015-16 maiden season of its 930-guest 47,800-ton Viking Star, a ship that promises to move in a new direction in the contemporary world of cruising. Viking promises to steer away from mega ships and the superficial glitz that has become too common, and back traditional cruising. At the same time, another of the new wave of more traditional cruise ships, Oceania Cruises’ 1,258-berth 66,048-ton Riviera, has been attracting attention at Reviewed.com and at USA Today, which wrote up the review. Meanwhile, last week saw one of the last of the traditional ships, the Saga Ruby, complete her last cruise after a career of forty-one years. Finally, the Akademik Shokalskiy, now freed from the ice of the Ross Sea, will be able to take up this Friday’s expedition voyage from Bluff after all.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                         (See previous columns)

The First Passenger Ship To Cross The Northern Sea Route – From Murmansk to the Russian Far East at Anadyr

Last Thursday we tweeted that the tanker Vladimir Tikhonov had just carried a commercial cargo of over 120,000 tonnes of gas condensate across Russia’s Northern Sea Route. This voyage was the first time ever a ship of this size,  over 160,000 tonnes deadweight (ice-class 1A), has transported a full consignment of the cargo using this route.

Today, the news is that Australian expedition-cruise company Aurora Expeditions has become one the first companies ever to complete Russia’s Northern Sea Route in an ice-strengthened passenger ship.

The chartered Russian vessel Akademik Shokalskiy, departed Murmansk with 50 passengers, 10 staff and 23 crew on August 10, taking 26 days to traverse Siberia’s vast north coast to Anadyr, and in the course of her voyage crossed nine time zones and six seas.

The Akademik Shokalskiy followed in the wake of the Swede, Baron Nils Nordenskjöld, who first succeeded in the steamship Vega in 1878, calling at numerous archipelagos, huge Siberian river deltas and isolated Eskimo villages, polar bear dens and a observing a treasure trove of Arctic wildlife. But while the Akademink Shokalskiy took 26 days, the Vega had been trapped for the winter and did not reach the Russian Far East until the following spring.

Only a privileged few have ever sailed through the Bering Strait and pack ice to Wrangel Island and explored the rugged scenery of the Siberian and Chuckchi coasts.

This inaugural voyage was Aurora Expeditions’ most adventurous in scope and duration, visiting places where few people have ever been.  Passengers also had the opportunity to visit militarily restricted Novaya Zemlya, name peaks on mountainous Severnaya Zemlya, make a midnight cruise around the Novosibirskie Islands, along with a special tour of polar bear haven and World-Heritage listed Wrangel Island.

Reaching 80 degrees north, the voyage offered attractions such as abandoned Russian polar stations and working meteorological huts, and passengers observed 10,000-year-old fossils of mammoth tusks and teeth, as well as housands of birds and hundreds of walrus, whales and polar bears.

Aurora Expeditions 2012 “Across the Northeast Passage” cruise has already sold out. For information on the 2013 Northeast Passage voyage or the 2012 Northwest Passage voyage with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises across the Canadian Arctic please call The Cruise People on 020 7723 2450  or email cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.