The Lure of the Northwest Passage: From Heroic Explorers to Modern Cruise Tourists

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2020-04

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Abstract

For centuries, explorers sought a marine shortcut from Europe to Asia, across the top of North America, to expedite trade. This longed-for sea route, known as the Northwest Passage (NWP), became a sort of “holy grail” of ocean navigation, but attempts to traverse it were repeatedly blocked by ice and harsh conditions, resulting in lost lives and ships. Today the Arctic is the fastest warming part of the planet. As longer, warmer summers decrease sea ice and open the passage, cruise tourism has increased significantly. Why are so many drawn to this remote region, and does the experience live up to their expectations? This project examines the lure of the NWP, both historic and current, the evolution and marketing of NWP cruises, the motivations of passengers, and the risks of traversing the passage. It also draws on personal observations from a partial transit cruise I took in September 2019.

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Riley, Sharon E. (2020). The Lure of the Northwest Passage: From Heroic Explorers to Modern Cruise Tourists. Capstone project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20758.


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.