A cruise ship is a passenger ship that is used for pleasure trips, where the journey and the ship amenities offered are part of the whole experience. The ship will visit several different destinations i.e. ports of calls along the way. Transportation is not the main purpose as several cruise lines return to their originating port after the voyage. There are even some ‘cruises to nowhere’ trips which simply sail for 2-3 nights without any port of call. Cruise liners have become a massive part of the tourism industry.
There are several different types of cruises like mainstream cruise ships, luxury cruise ships, adventure cruise ships, expedition cruise ships, glacier cruise ships and river cruise ships. Glacier cruises mainly operate in the far upper regions of the Earth. Hence, places like Alaska, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland are the most popular destinations for tourists seeking the wonders of glacier cruises. Glaciers are truly one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular sights, especially when a tidewater glacier is seen at the end of its life cycle, plummeting into the ocean. The dense glacier blocks are visible from miles away as shining white fields of snow or mesmerising shades of blue from up-close as they absorb all visible light except the short, blue spectrum.
Glacier Cruises: Drivers
Glacier cruises have become multigenerational activities, so to speak. Initially, these tours were targeted at the geriatric populations in western countries who have both the time and income to spare. Now, even families and children have begun opting for these offbeat options for the sheer grandeur of it all. What better way can there be to teach children about global warming and environmental protection than watching glaciers melt or a whale breaching the surface to breathe?
The desire to opt for less travelled and exotic destinations is very strong amongst the millennial generation. Glacier cruises frequently travel to sparsely populated regions which are pristine and untouched. They offer their customers out of this world experiences like viewing sub-arctic wildlife, being able to see entire glaciers and river valleys through chartered flights and also various sports activities like rafting, ATV tours and hiking.
Glacier Cruises: Restraints
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A major challenge to glacier cruises is the limited seasonal duration and unpredictable weather. Glacier cruises, as the name suggests are primarily meant to observe glaciers in the upper latitudinal belts of the Earth. These regions have a long, harsh winter and the entire river or ocean can freeze over completely making it all but impossible to undertake glacier cruises during that time. The only time of the year which they are viable is from spring to autumn i.e. May to September. Even during this time, the weather can be very uncertain and there can be frequent snow storms which can seal off an entire area.
A second major issue is that of global warming. While the entire world feels its effects, nowhere else is it more apparent than in Polar Regions of the Earth. Glaciers have been shrinking by substantial margins every year and there is a very strong possibility that they may disappear altogether as the situation worsens. For e.g.- the Exit Glacier in Seward, Alaska has sign posts which show where the ice was several years ago and where it is now. This has even been visited by President Obama in 2015 to try to focus the world’s attention on the perils of global warming.
Glacier Cruises: Key Regions
The key regions which one can avail a glacier cruise in are Alaska, Canada, Antarctica, Chile, Greenland, Norway and Iceland. The most popular cruise ship excursions usually travel to Alaska. The second largest region is Europe while China is expected to drive growth in the years to come.
Glacier Cruises: Key Players
Some companies offering glacier cruises are Princess Cruises, Phillips Cruises, Kenai Fjord tours, Salmon Berry Tours, Northern Latitude Adventures and Alaska Good Time Charters LLC.
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