Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The real Northwest Passage is lost in 2013 from multiple commercial passenger ships

The best way to experience the Northwest Passage is on a private yacht... who is going 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 between Atlantic Arctic circle and Pacific Arctic Circle, 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.
How many private yachts will be challenging the Northwest Passage in 2013?

21 yachts made the Passage in 2012. More in 2013? Stand by and see...
If you know anyone planning a NWP your comments below would be appreciated.

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