MarineLink | October 17, 2016 | Randall Luthi
Last month, a large cruise ship completed its inaugural cruise through the Northwest Passage. The historic journey brought nearly 1,700 passengers from Seward, Alaska, past the rugged wilderness and isolated villages of the Arctic, to the concrete jungle of New York City. Along the way, passengers and crew were treated to a stunning contrast of climates, geography and culture.
While understandable, concerns over passenger safety, wildlife disruptions and water pollution went unrealized during the historic cruise through the passage. A centuries-old navigational barrier has been successfully breached, presenting both challenges and opportunities for the natives of the Arctic. For them, the world has indeed become smaller, as receding ice now allows more face to face contact with outsiders from around the world. The challenge now is that these new opportunities are on terms determined by the Arctic natives, and that change in culture and technology come as a result of invitation rather than domination.