For the first time, in August/September 2018, Hurtigruten ran two cruises to the Canadian Arctic on Fram, advertised as “Northwest Passage - in the wake of the Great Explorers”. The two cruises were mirror images of each other: the first was planned to start in Greenland, cross the Davis Straight to Lancaster Sound, cruise through part of the Northwest Passage to Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island, where the passengers would disembark; and the second cruise would embark passengers in Cambridge Bay and take them through the Northwest Passage and on to Greenland.
These cruises were not cheap. With associated connecting flights, each UK passenger would pay a minimum of £10,000. Arguably, this was a reasonable cost for this fantastic experience, visiting notable historical sites on a ship “purpose built as an expedition vessel”, and apparently well suited for “the added navigational challenge of ice in the water .... no need to worry, though, … with a 1B ice class, ship-depth sounding database, extractable forward-sounding sonar and iceberg search lights - and the Captain and his crew are experienced in sailing treacherous waters …” Hurtigruten state in their Terms and Conditions that: “If we have to make a significant change or cancel we will notify you as soon as possible and … will offer you [the opportunity to] withdraw from the booking completely in which case we will as soon as possible, refund all money paid …”
Despite global warming, the normal state of the Northwest Passage is that it is blocked by ice. In 2016 and 2017, the only cruise ships to successfully traverse the route were accompanied by icebreakers. This information is freely available. In the summer of 2018, the Northwest Passage was blocked by ice, as usual. No cruise ship was able to complete the journey.
Cramped, but adequate