Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Little Red Ship Goes Down ...

MV Explorer, August, 2007, in the Canadian Arctic

After a lovely, quiet Thanksgiving with old friends and new, I awoke on Friday morning to discover that the "Little Red Ship," I had traveled on this past summer in the Canadian Arctic was in distress in Antarctic waters, twelve miles south of King George Island and 700 miles south of Cape Horn, after reportedly hitting ice hidden beneath the sea. All 150 passengers and crew had been evacuated to life boats and were eventually taken on board the Nord Norge, a Norwegian cruise ship, sailing in the area. Though very cold, fortunately the weather was calm. There were no injuries reported. The Explorer, since then, has sadly gone to rest beneath the waters she was built to sail upon.

Built during the '60s, the Explorer, at 2,400-tonnes, 75-metres-long, with an "ice-hardened double hull," was the "first commercial vessel to navigate the Northwest Passage." Not one of today's glamorous, luxury cruise liners, I found the Explorer to be a small, intimate, very comfortable vessel. The staff and crew were wonderful people who went out of their way to help in any situation.

My husband and I have often considered traveling to the Antarctic aboard one of the small "adventure" cruise ships, but we've always been more drawn to the Arctic, where we have enjoyed meeting the Inuit people as well as seeing amazing wildlife. Would we do it again aboard the Explorer, if she hadn't met this tragic ending? You Betcha!! We love traveling with people who are interested in learning about our planet and our fellow creatures, while making as small a mark on the landscape as we can. Yes, there are risks involved in traveling to remote destinations, but I figure on today's crowded highways, I'm at a greater risk staying home and going to the grocery store!!


marja-leena said...

I heard about the Canadian ship sinking, but didn't realize it was the Explorer! How tragic. And I'd hoped to have taken one of those interesting trips on it one day.

I, too, like the smaller more intimate ships - we took a Finnish one from Helsinki to St. Petersburg in summer 2002 that was wonderful, visa free too, back then.

paris parfait said...

That's so interesting that it was the same ship on which you traveled! So sad about the Explorer.

Lucy said...

How sad! But at least you took the trip when you did!