((About 1500 people have climbed Mt. Everest which is more than 10 times the number of vessels transiting the Northwest Passage))
Here's the tally: (according to http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=106937)
Complete transits have been made by 135 different vessels.
The Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov has made 17 transits, the largest number of any vessel.
Hanseatic has made 10, Bremen 6 (2 with the former name, Frontier Spirit), and Polar Bound 4 (5?) (the largest number by any private yacht); 4 vessels have each made 3 transits, and 12 have made 2. More than one year was taken by 18 of these vessels, mainly small craft, to complete a transit wintering at various places along the route.
The vessels are from 28 registries: 43 from Canada, 24 Russia, 20 Bahamas and United States, 15 Britain, 11 France, 6 New Zealand, 6 Cayman Islands and Sweden, 4 Australia, Germany, and Poland, 3 Norway, 2 Belgium, Finland, and Italy, and 1 from Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Barbados, Croatia, Denmark, Ireland (E?ire), Japan, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, and Switzerland. Passengers have been carried on 40 transits but only three (numbers 72, 73, and 171) were otherwise commercial voyages.
Four of the vessels have travelled through the Panama Canal and circumnavigated North America, three have circumnavigated all America, and seven have circumnavigated the Arctic Ocean.
In terms of individuals, Captain Viktor Vasiliev has commanded 8 transits, Heinz Aye and Piotr Golikov 6, David Scott Cowper and Thilo Natke 5, and several others have commanded more than one.
To the 2012 end of navigation 184 transits of the Northwest Passage have been made. Excluding the three composite voyages (shown as cp on the chart) a route analysis shows:
Route 1: west 3 east 0 total 3 (In 2012 POLAR BOUND was the first private yacht in recorded history to complete Route 1. BELZEBUB II claims a Route 1 transit in 2012 but has not published any public proof.)
Route 3: west 29 east 30 total 59
Route 5: west 15 east 22 total 37
Route 7: west 0 east 3 total 3
Route 2: west 9 east 5 total 14
Route 4: west 29 east 14 total 43
Route 6: west 5 east 17 total 22
All Routes: west 90 east 91 total 181
The list is in alphabetical order in the years of completion of the voyages (not by the precedence of completion). Superscript numbers in the list are cumulative numbers of voyages, commands, flags, etc.
Sources include a compilation by Thomas Pullen and Charles Swithinbank published in Polar Record (1991), with advice from Lawson Brigham (USCG), Peter Capelotti (USCG), David Fletcher, Brian McDonald (CCG), John MacFarlane, Peter Semotiuk, Tony Soper, Patrick Toomey (CCG), and Victor Wejer, personal observations made during several transits with Quark expeditions, many publications, advice from persons directly involved and several internet sites. Advice of subsequent voyages, any corrections and additions, and similar details is appreciated. It is intended that this compilation will be revised annually.
NOTE: To be considered an official Northwest Passage the vessel must cross BOTH the Atlantic and Pacific Arctic Circles by connecting waterways. Movements within, upon or through the Canadian Arctic are NOT a "Northwest Passage" unless the vessel waterway navigation crosses BOTH the Atlantic and Pacific Arctic Circles located at latitude 66.5622 degrees North.
I do not believe National or military vessels, including submarines should be counted but can be included for record keeping purposes, i.e. The "Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov has made 17 transits" does not accurately reflect true Northwest Passages since the dates and navigations are not known - we serious doubt that each "transit" by an icebreaker resulted in crossing BOTH the Atlantic and Pacific Arctic Circles.
A word to the wise - planning a Northwest Passage? Navigate with a SPOT GPS reporting (be sure to save the weekly track lines before they are deleted) device taking care to cross BOTH the Atlantic and Pacific Arctic Circles. KEEP AN ACCURATE SHIP's LOG!