A luxury cruise liner has taken off from Anchorage, Alaska today filled with wealthy thrill seekers preparing to go on the ultimate adventure: sailing through the Northwest Passage.
The ship, called the Crystal Serenity, will take 32 days to journey from Anchorage to New York, and is the first of its kind to make it through the Northwest Passage. This is largely because only 100 years ago, the trip was completely unsailable, but now, thanks to global warming, the cruise operators feel the trip is possible because such a large percentage of the ice caps have melted.
Tickets for the sold-out trip were not cheap; they started at $22,000 and went up to $120,000. Aboard the boat, there’s a Feng Shui-inspired spa, a fitness center, promenade, filmmaking classes, celebrity speakers, a movie theater, shopping in luxury boutiques, a pool, pilates, tennis, formal dinners and a casino.
Still, for all the talk of luxury, the trip is very dangerous; the Northwest Passage is still unpredictable and largely unmapped. As a precaution, the US Department of Defense is training for a rescue mission in case the Serenity (or another cruise liner after it) falls into icey waters. “The potential number of people on cruise ships that would need rescue exceeds the capacity of most [search and rescue] response vessels and aircraft available in the Arctic,” notes the U.S. Coast Guard, Yikes.
There’s also the worry that the Serenity or another cruise ship may spring a leak, polluting the delicate ecosystem with oil or gas.
Of course, it’s all completely worth it for the people on board. Just think of all the great Instagram photos they’re going to take?