Global warming and the resultant melting of parts of the Arctic icecap have opened a new world of travel — a 900-mile, 32-day luxury cruise with fares starting at $20,000.
Crystal Cruises, one of the world's top-rated cruise lines, has announced that one of its ships, the Crystal Serenety, will traverse the fabled Northwest Passage on this Pacific-to-Atlantic voyage, beginning from Seward, Alaska, through the north part of mainland Canada and the Arctic Ocean to New York City.
Crystal says it will be the first luxury cruise ship to make this voyage, following the route that Norwegian explorer Roald Amundson discovered some 100 years ago.
Crystal, in press releases, says the journey, in August 2016 will be on "a mystical Pacific-Atlantic sea route far beyond the Arctic Circle that for centuries captured the imagination of kings, explorers and adventurers."
Part of the reason that the Northwest Passage captured so many imaginations for many centuries, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, was that it was choked with ice and impossible to navigate. But climate change has set off a scramble to control the now-accessible shipping routes and mineral rights.
The Crystal Serenity, Bloomberg says, is simply following the wake of the freighters that are already plying the Arctic.
Climate-change tourism will offer something greatly different than a usual journey. The cruise, notes Bloomberg, will offer passengers kayaking and tundra treks, up-close sightings of polar bears, narwhals, musk oxen and caribou.
"These are encounters," notes the newsletter, with the inhabitants and distinctive elements of the world that climate change —- the same thing that's allowing the cruise to take place — is threatening.
Crystal bills the trip as a "once-in-a-lifetime expeditionary voyage that marries extreme wilderness adventure with unsurpassed luxury voyage." It adds that cruisers "will bear witness to breathtaking landscapes that few have ever seen, from spectacular glaciers to towering fjords and experience nature that is truly wild."
The cruise line says that two years of extensive planning has gone into the itinerary, balancing days at sea with scheduled ports of call. Designed to be flexible, the cruise will incorporate unplanned "expedition days," when favorable weather conditions allow. These treks will be led by veteran explorers.
All told, a team of 14 experts, including scientists and an Arctic guide, will be aboard. Ports of call include remote areas of the Canadian Arctic such as Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories and Cambridge Bay in Nunavut.
The cruise sails from Aug. 16 to Sept. 17, 2016. Prices start at $19,975 double occupancy and cabins are on sale.
Crystal's web site, at crystalcruises.com/NWP-FAQs, offers more information.
Plans set for new Mexico City airport
If you've flown into Mexico City's airport — and we have — you will know that a new airport is needed, and one apparently is on the way.
A new $9.2 billion facility is planned that will quadruple the capacity of the current Benito Juarez Airport. The nation's president, Enrique Pena Nieto has described the project as Mexico's largest infrastructure addition in recent years and called it "Mexico's gateway to the world."
Travel Weekly reports that the airport will be built on 11,400 acres of federally owned land adjacent to the existing airport and the plan is to handle up to 120 million passengers a year — four times the capacity of the existing facility.
The design of the structure will be unique: The soaring vaulted terminal and lightweight glass and steel structure will be designed in the form of a giant X. No date has been set for the start of the project.