Arctic Ice Melt

The Luxury Cruise to the End of the World

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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Published on The Daily Impact on August 24, 2016

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This is how you watch the end of the world — aboard the Crystal Serenity, marinating in luxury.

Sorry, you missed it. But if you had known about it — I don’t know why you didn’t get the memo — and if you had $120,000 lying around ($22,000 for steerage) you could have joined 1,000-plus passengers served by 700 crew on the first luxury cruise from Seward, Alaska to New York City via the Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean. Once solid ice, the Northwest Passage became navigable in theory in 2007 because of climate change.

According to the brochure, the good ship Crystal Serenity is “an abomination—a massive, diesel-burning, waste-dumping, ice-destroying, golf-ball-smacking middle finger to what remains of the planet, courtesy of precisely 1,089 of its richest and most destructive inhabitants. And it’s all made possible by runaway climate change, the existential global crisis that these same people and their ilk have disproportionately helped to create.”

 

Oh, wait, I’m sorry, that’s not the brochure, that’s a report on the cruise from Slate.com written by Will Oremus. Damn, I wish I had said that.

What the brochure says is that this is “the ultimate expedition for the true explorer.” And that is certainly the case. Not many Arctic expeditions of the past have been conducted by people sleeping in luxurious suites, with access to “a spa, a fitness center, a hair salon, multiple swimming pools, six restaurants, a movie theater, a casino, a driving range” and a selection of “luxury shops”.  Only a “true explorer” would endure such limited access to gyms, restaurants and luxury shops in order to participate in an “historic voyage, one that marks the opening of one of Earth’s last frontiers.”

That these true explorers are intrepid is self-evident. Because there is, you know, a teensy bit of ice left in the Arctic Ocean, some of it in the form of bergs. They were required to take out a $50,000 emergency-evacuation insurance policy in order to board their expeditionary vessel. The policy has a one-year money-back guarantee. If rescuers don’t get to the ship within one year, your heirs don’t have to pay.

And if that were not enough of a reminder of the danger they are in, they cannot ignore the fact that they are being escorted by an icebreaker. It took “three years of planning and preparation,” gushed Business Times about this major advance in global gluttony, “to avoid any mishaps, including a repeat of the Titanic.” Yeah. That’s a quote.  

Yes, if only you hadn’t missed it, you too could have helped open this last frontier by being among the first few thousand people to defecate in some of the last pristine water on the planet. You could have taken a comfortable helicopter tour to watch the last polar bear drown. Or set a personal best by watching Batman v Superman north of the Arctic Circle.

“Not everyone is hailing the high profile voyage,”  marvels Business Times. It’s not like Crystal Cruises is insensitive to the environment: they have assured everyone that they will not dump their sewage within 12 miles of land. (They were one of four cruise lines that drew special criticism in a 2014 Friends of Earth study that estimated that cruise ships dump a billion gallons of sewage into the world’s oceans every year.)

Still, the tree-huggers are not satisfied. There’s just something about the thought of this 820-foot long, 13-deck high monstrosity ploughing through Arctic waters belching diesel exhaust and gushing sewage for the entertainment of some rich dilettantes that bothers them.

Go figure.

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