Circumnavigate the Arctic

Luxury cruise line opens the Arctic to you—if you have 55 days and $60,000

Ice Edge Cruising

Photo: Matthew Scott / Silversea
The voyages will travel as far north as ice permits, in what the company calls “Ice Edge Cruising.”

Thomas Nilsen
The Barents Observer

Luxury cruise ships will sail next summer from Nome, Alaska, to Tromsø, Norway, via the Northern Sea Route, and then to Newfoundland via Greenland. In 2020, the idea is to circumnavigate the entire Arctic.

“This is your chance to become the polar pioneer you have always dreamt of,” says the tempting promotion on Silversea Expeditions’ portal, listing famous explorers who have sailed part of the same route; Nansen, Nordenskiöld, DeLong, and Amundsen.

The 25-day-long voyage next August will sail as far north as the ice allows, or as Silversea calls it “Ice Edge Cruising.”

Starting in Nome, the expedition sails across the Bering Strait to Kamchatka and farther toward remote Russian Arctic islands like Medvezhiy, Wrangel, Severnaya Zemlya, Novaya Zemlya, and Franz Josef Land. Nineteen stops are planned along the Northern Sea Route, depending on ice and weather. Back in Europe, the voyage will make port calls in Murmansk, Svalbard, and bird-cliffs at Gjesværstappan before ending in Tromsø.

From Tromsø, a new 30-day voyage with the same ship sails via Iceland and Greenland to St John’s in Newfoundland, Canada.

If shopping both itineraries in one of the cheapest suites on board, you can enjoy the nearly circumpolar 2019 navigation for $58,000, butler service included. If choosing only one of the voyages, the Northern Sea Route option costs from $39,000, while the Tromsø to Canada tour has fares from $20,500. Should you have more to spend, that’s no problem, larger cabins cost a few thousand more. The most expensive suites already have waiting lists.

“Silver Explorer” can take 144 passengers and has a crew of 118.

The cruise in 2019 will not be the first time a foreign cruise liner has been allowed to sail along Russia’s Northern Sea Route. In 2016, “Hanseatic” sailed the same route. This time, however, will be first time you can combine two voyages on the same ship starting in Arctic America and ending in Arctic Canada after visiting all five Arctic coastal nations.

Building on the 2019 experiences, Silversea will decide whether to offer a full circumpolar navigation for the 2020 season, including both the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage all the way back to Alaska, managing director of the company, Mark Conroy, told Travel Weekly.

He said a challenge, though, is that a Northern Sea Route cruise can’t be commercially insured, meaning passengers won’t get full refunds if the cruise has to be aborted because of ice clogging the route. While sailing in ice-covered waters north of Siberia, the ship will be followed by a Russian icebreaker.

This article originally appeared in the October 5, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.