By Chris D’Angelo
20 August 2016
(Huffington Post) – As global temperatures soar, wildfires rage and sea ice levels dwindle to record lows, a luxury cruise company has found a way to make a pretty penny off our rapidly changing climate.
The Crystal Serenity set off from Seward, Alaska, Tuesday, on a 32-day voyage through the Northwest Passage. The sea route that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans was historically impassable, but global warming is transforming the Arctic and its ecosystem.
But these travelers won’t face the brutal, icy conditions Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen experienced when he successfully led a 70-foot fishing boat through the passage 100 years ago. Instead, they’ll be soaking in hot tubs, dining in fancy restaurants, gambling in the ship’s casino and sleeping in lush suites as they cruise past polar bears, Inuit communities, and vast, melting expanses of ice.
The cost of sailing in style through the environmental disaster unfolding near the North Pole is staggering: from $22,000 to $120,000 per person.
Accompanied by a large icebreaking escort boat and carrying two helicopters that will “allow for real time ice condition reconnaissance,” Crystal Serenity aims to make history with its nearly 900-plus mile journey to New York City. […]
The cruise company has taken positive steps, but unsustainable tourism risks “ruining the very thing that tourists would come to see,” Rod Downie of the World Wildlife Fund said in a statement last week.
“The unique wildlife is already stressed by a warming climate and the loss of sea-ice, and the arrival of mega-cruise ships in this part of the world could push it further towards the edge,” Downie said. “It’s because the Arctic is in meltdown that this cruise can take place.” [more]