Only in the past couple of decades has this region become accessible enough for non-icebreaker ships to make the crossing due to reduced Arctic Ocean pack ice. Purpose-built for high latitudes with a Polar Class 6 rating and the latest uncompromising standards of any ultra-luxury vessel, Scenic Eclipse is the perfect Discovery Yacht to do so. Embarking from Nome, Alaska, cross the International Date Line in the Bering Sea and enter the Northeast Passage at historic Cape Dezhnev, the most easterly point of the Eurasian continent.
Sail north to Wrangell Island, designated a ‘zapovednik’ during Soviet times, it continues to enjoy Russia’s highest degree of environmental protection and for good reason. Untouched by glaciers during the last Ice Age, its tundra boasts the Arctic’s greatest plant biodiversity, unchanged since mammoths made their last stand here 2000 years ago. Home to the largest population of Pacific walruses and surrounded by waters alive with bowhead, grey and beluga whales, Wrangell and nearby Herald islands host the planet’s highest concentration of polar bear dens.
Over the next two weeks your Captain and Discovery Team leader will assess ice, weather and sea depth conditions to identify possible excursions each day. Meet Chukchi reindeer herders and walrus hunters on Ayon Island. In the Medvezie (Bear) Islands, enjoy great kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding near flocks of long-tailed ducks and bearded and ringed seals. Keen hikers may walk to the imposing rock spires of Chetyryokhstolbovy Island or Zodiac cruise below sea cliffs where thousands of kittiwakes nest. Bennett Island, largest of the De Long Islands was claimed for the United States by the ill-fated Jeanette Expedition in 1881, a claim not recognised today.