While First Commercial Cargo Ship Transits The Northwest Passage, Passenger Ships Have Been Doing It Since 1984

Nordic OrionThis week came news that the Danish bulk carrier Nordic Orion (right) has become the first commercial cargo ship to traverse Canada’s famed Northwest Passage, with a cargo of 73,000 tons metallurgical coal loaded at Vancouver and bound for Finland. The route saved her 1,000 miles and allowed her to load 25% more cargo than she can normally carry through the Panama Canal.

National_Geo_ExplorerMost people don’t realize, however, that commercial ships have been traversing the Northwest Passage for three decades. The Lindblad Explorer did it for the first time in 1984. Such transits are now offered by no fewer than six operators, including Compagnie du Ponant (Le Soléal) from France, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises (Bremen and Hanseatic) from Germany, Lindblad Expeditions (National Geographic Explorer, pictured) from the US , Adventure Canada (Sea Adventurer) and One Ocean Expeditions (Akademik Ioffe), both from Canada, and Silversea Expeditions (Silver Explorer) from Monaco.

NWPHapag-Lloyd, Ponant and Silversea transit the Northwest Passage to or from Nome, Alaska, or Anadyr, Siberia, while Adventure Canada, Lindblad and One Ocean turn at Coppermine (now called Kugluktuk), in the Canadian Arctic, at the western end of the Passage.

The Cruise People have been booking Northwest Passage passengers for several years now, but remember to book early as despite new ships being added to the route the season is limited to two months in high summer, usually departing in August, and these sailings sell out quickly.

For further information, here are a few earlier posts on the subject:

Northwest Passage post from The Cruise People

And for details on availability and fares please call The Cruise People L:td in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

How Costa Loss Led to a Global CLIA – Ponant to Transit Northwest Passage – Norwegian Breakaway’s Waterfront – Viking Ocean Cruises – Mega-Ships In Australia – And Other Stories From 2012

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 31st December 2012

Voyager of the Seas at Circular Quay

Voyager of the Seas at Sydney © Brian Gaskin, Australian Cruising News.com.au

The usual year-end cruise summary lists the newest ships and their latest features. But we bring you a slightly quirkier recap for the year 2012. Two of the most interesting results this year stem from the loss of the Costa Concordia in January. That tragedy has been well covered elsewhere, but the two results are: a German chief executive now heads up Costa Crociere, and CLIA has gone global. Other news for 2012 sees a new contender for the Northwest Passage, new concepts from Norwegian Cruise Line with the Waterfront on its latest ships and the end of Classic International Cruises. Holland America Line has abandoned Bermuda in favour of Canada, Seabourn goes to Antarctica and the mega-ships have arrived in Australia, while the Chinese cruise market conrinues to grow. We have also seen the beginning of a move back towards human scale cruise ships with Viking Ocean Cruises’ plans for up to six 48,000-ton cruise ships that will accommodate fewer than 1,000 passengers. Finally, in a surprise annoucement, STX France has nabbed the order for a third Oasis class ship for Royal Caribbean, with an option for a fourth. Happy New Year to All!

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                       (See previous columns)

Three Ships To Tackle Canada’s Full Northwest Passage in 2013

The first commercial passenger ship to transit Canada’s famed Northwest Passage was Lindblad Expeditions’  2,398-ton 104-berth Lindblad Explorer, which made the passage in 1984. Arctic conditions can vary from year to year but the only problem she encountered was off the coast of northern Alaska, where fog and ice forced her to backtrack for ten hours, then sail closer inshore to escape the permanent polar ice shelf.

Since then, a small number of expedition cruise ships have made the full transit, and from time to time, one of them has had to turn back because of ice conditions. In recent years, other ships have introduced partial transits of the easternmost end of the passage that make only part of the full passage and then return east.

In the summer of 2010, both of Hapag-Lloyd’s expedition ships, the Bremen and Hanseatic, transitted the full Northwest Passage, with one ship traveling in each direction. While the Bremen traveled from Nome, Alaska, to Reykjavik, Iceland, the Hanseatic sailed in the opposite direction, from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, to Nome. During their cruises, the two made a rendezvous in the High Arctic near Cambridge Bay.

The route Hapag-Lloyd’s MS Hanseatic will take in 2012

In 2011, the Bremen made the passage from Kangerlussuaq to Nome while the Hanseatic made only a partial transit of the Northwest Passage on a cruise that began in Kangerlussuaq and ended in Reykjavik and followed the traces of Franklin and Amundsen. In 2012, the Hanseatic will make a full 25-day transit leaving Nome August 14 for Reykjavik.

In 2013, however, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises plan a two-ship transit again, with one ship sailing in each direction. But now comes word from Compagnie du Ponant that it too plans to send a ship across the Northwest Passage in 2013 after it takes delivery of its third Le Boréal class ship from Fincantieri.

Based on initial plans, the 10,900-ton Ice-classed ship, provisionally named Le Soléal, is due to make her 10-night maiden voyage from Venice to Lisbon on July 2. From Lisbon, details that have yet to be confirmed call for an 11-night cruise to Reykjavik, a 7-night round-Iceland cruise, and a 13-night cruise from Reykjavik to Kangerlussuaq, another 13-night cruise round trip from Kangerlussuaq and then an attempt at the Northwest Passage.

Le Soléal‘s Northwest Passage voyage is due to set off from Kangerlussuaq on August 25 for a 21-night transit, to arrive at Anadyr in Russia’s Far East on September 15. If all goes according to plan, the Northwest Passage transit would be followed by cruises in the Russian Far East, two cruises via Japan to Hong Kong and three 10-night cruises between Hong Kong and Singapore.

For further details on itineraries and how to book please contact The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

The Cruise Examiner for 14th November 2011 – Berlitz Guide to Cruising 2012 – Other Cruise News: US Gulf Ports Celebrate New Ships – Vancouver Sees 15% Cruise Passenger Rise

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com
by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 14th November 2011

This year’s star cruise ship has got to be Oceania Cruises’ new Marina. By outscoring all three of her stable mates from Regent as well as her three fleetmates at Oceania, she has managed to propel herself into the five-star league to be rated number 18 out of 285 cruise ships worldwide scored in this year’s “Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships.” At the same time, however, we have to wonder why two ships that have changed ownership and operation and a third that has not even changed her name yet end up with identical scores before and after the changes. Elsewhere, the US Gulf ports of New Orleans and Galveston have both greeted big new ships this weekend, with the Voyager of the Seas at New Orleans and the brand-new Carnival Magic greeted by Maroon 5 at Galveston. Meanwhile, as Seattle treads water in 2011, Vancouver has seen a 15% increase in cruise passengers with Oceania’s Regatta, the Disney Wonder and the Crystal Symphony bringing new business. Next year, however, will likely see Vancouver tread water while Seattle makes the gains, most notably with the defection of Disney Wonder from Vancouver to Seattle in 2012.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                      (See previous columns)

The Cruise Examiner for 13th June 2011: Cruise Passengers Welcome on m.v. Explorer’s Semester At Sea – Other Cruise News: Two Expedition Ships Carry New Colours – Prince Philip Turns 90

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com
by Kevin Griffin

Cruise Passengers Welcome on m.v. Explorer’s Semester At Sea – Other Cruise News: Two Expedition Ships Carry New Colours – Prince Philip Turns 90

And now for something totally different. We look at two cruises that are being offered to the public on Semester at Sea’s 24,318-ton world cruiser m.v. Explorer, which offers two world cruises a year as well as a number of shorter enrichment voyages, on which passengers may book as well as university students. And we look at two expedition ships, the Orion II and Hanseatic, which both left port on Friday under new colours. Finally, Prince Philip turned 90 on Friday and we have a look back at his maritime background, which has included yet another kind of cruising.

THIS WEEK’S STORY