North America (Change)

The Canadian Arctic reopened to cruise ships and yachts after a two-year closure due to COVID while Russia’s Arctic considered off limits due to the invasion of Ukraine. The result was a record number of full transits of the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific for commercial vessels, and a busy year overall for the Canadian Arctic.

Eight cargo ships, four westbound from Quebec and the United States to Asia and four eastbound from China, all operated by the Dutch shipping company Royal Wagenborg, completed voyages this year.

In July and early August, one cruise ship, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ENDURANCE, made a westbound cruise from Greenland to Nome, Alaska followed immediately by a return voyage from Nome to Greenland.

After a series of Alaska cruises from Vancouver, ROALD AMUNDSEN completed her season sailing from Vancouver to Nome, then onward from Nome to Halifax.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC RESOLUTION, SCENIC ECLIPSE, SILVER WIND, L’AUSTRAL and LE BOREAL sailed west from Greenland to Nome. All continued on from Nome to Vancouver.

The final cruise ship through the Northwest Passage was the new LE COMMANDANT CHARCOT, also sailing westbound. While the other cruise ships are ice strengthened, she is a heavy icebreaker/cruise ship and completed two voyages to the North Pole before testing the Northwest Passage sailing through M’Clure Strait, the most challenging route, and then had fun bashing through the Arctic ice pack north of the Beaufort Sea before heading for Nome, arriving October 1.

All of these cruise ships are now migrating southward toward Antarctica.

Also, during the summer, more than a dozen other adventure cruise ships were active throughout Canada’s eastern Arctic and Greenland.

About 10 yachts tested the Northwest Passage this season but the number to complete full transits has not been finalized.

Oher traffic i included the tugs and barges of Marine Transportation Services (MTS) which were active along the Mackenzie River, the Beaufort and into Nunavut including Kugluktuk, the Hope Bay Mine and in September. two barge deliveries to Sabina Gold’s Goose Mine project’s port facility at the south end of Bathurst Inlet. One unusual move was barging a new wind turbine including 67-metre blades barges the full length of the Mackenzie from Hay River to Inuvik for assembly.

From the east, three cargo ships and three product tankers in Nunavut’s annual sealift passed through the most difficult sections of the Northwest Passage to reach as far west as Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay.

The Canadian Coast Guard once again dispatched SIR WILFRID LAURIER from Victoria to the Western Arctic and operated two buoy tenders on the Mackenzie. Six icebreakers worked in the Eastern Arctic.

–  Fred McCague, CMILT