Luxury ship enters Bering Strait, starts cruise on Russia’s Northern Sea Route

The Silver Explorer is transiting the Northern Sea Route on its way from Nome, Alaska, to Tromsø, Norway.

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - August 15, 2019
The Silversea ship Silver Explorer is shown in 2015 in Arctic waters off Svalbard.(Gary Bembridge / CC BY 2.0 via Flickr)

The Silversea cruise ship Silver Explorer has entered Arctic waters, on a cruise that will travers Russia’s Northern Sea Route.

The 108-meter (about 355-foot) cruise vessel met the icebreaker Novorossiisk as it made it into the Chukchi Sea on Aug. 14. The icebreaker will escort the ship through the Northern Sea Route all the way to the Kara Sea.

The escort will last for two weeks, ship operator Rosmorport informs. The Silver Explorer will subsequently proceed to Tromsø, Norway.

On board  are up to 144 passengers and a crew of 118.

Sea ice in the area is rapidly retreating, but conditions remain highly complicated for shipping. According to data from the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Institute, parts of the East Siberian Sea still had ice as thick as 2 meters as of Aug. 11-13. Both the Laptev Sea and Kara Sea are now mostly ice-free.

The luxury voyage started in Nome, Alaska, and ends in Tromsø. It comes with a price. The voyage across the Northern Sea Route costs from €33,480 per person.

“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 voyage will sail as far north as the ice allows. The company calls it “ice edge cruising.”

Cruise company Silversea in 2020 intends to circumnavigate the entire Arctic.

The Silver Explorer expedition cruise ship is designed specifically for navigating in some of the world’s most remote waters, including polar regions. It has a 1A ice-class hull and can push through icy waters.

The ship was built in Finland in 1989 and operated under several names before being acquired by Silversea Cruises in 2007. It subsequently underwent a multimillion-euro refit.

The Arctic is increasingly a priority region of the cruise companies and at least 26 expedition ships will in 2020 offer voyages only to the northern and eastern icy waters of Norway’s archipelago of Svalbard.

In addition comes the larger cruise vessels, some of them with thousands of passengers.