By Midge Raymond of thedailybeast.com
This year, the new 820-foot-long, 13-deck cruise ship Crystal Serenity will be the first large-scale tourist ship to navigate through the Northwest Passage. And while amenities such as a casino, a movie theater, six restaurants, and a driving range may be what most potential tourists consider first, the safety precautions the cruise line is taking should be most important.
As the ship’s parent company, Crystal Cruises, notes, “Two ice searchlights, a high-resolution radar and other equipment will be installed to allow the vessel to scan the waters ahead looking for underwater obstructions or uncharted rocks.” The cruise liner will also carry a helicopter for “ice condition reconnaissance,” and will be accompanied by an escort ship with “damage control equipment.”
These precautions constitute the minimum security protocols for the safe travel of large ships in unstable, ice-choked waters. And the very fact that such extreme measures are necessary tells us that large cruise ships shouldn’t be in polar waters at all.