New Arctic Cruise will use a Research Icebreaker for touristic purposes

Published by Marie-Amélie Brun on

23rd of June, 2016

The BBC news revealed that the British icebreaker : RRS Ernest Shackleton, will be use to facilitate Arctic cruises this summer.

The RRS Ernest Shackleton is an icebreaker used for scientific purposes and it usually carries out support work for the British Antarctic Survey.

The vessel will be used this summer to create a route for a cruise in the Arctic. This decision has been greatly criticised because of the impact of ice breaking in the already fragile region. Ice breaking is used for scientific studies but it will be the first time that such a method is used for touristic purposes.

As underlined by Prof Michael Byers from the University of British Columbia, it could also lead to more of these cruises and it could be a disaster for the Arctic, which is already polluted and melting fast.

“There is a significant tension between the science and environmental mission of the Shackleton and its participation in an exercise in tourism that has an enormous per capita carbon footprint”, said Michael Byers.

1,700 passengers will travel 1,500km from Alaska to New York in 32 days. The paradox is that the cruise will only cater for few people as it costs between 20,000 and 120,000 dollars. They will have the opportunity to discover the natural landscapes that we are destroying, partly with this kind of expedition.

“This voyage is a significant contribution, at least on a per capita basis, to climate change by people who are going to see an ecosystem before it is destroyed by climate change. I find that irony quite terrible”, continued Byers.

Let’s hope that this kind of cruise will not become a popular holiday.

route alaska

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Marie-Amélie Brun

Marie-Amélie is a contributor to the Green News. She is currently completing a Masters in International Cooperation and Multilingual Communication at the University Grenoble Alpes.