The passenger vessel Poseidon Expedition recently made history when it carried out a direct crossing between Svalbard and Franz Josef Land – and back again – without sailing via mainland Russia. This route considerably shortens the sailing distance between Svalbard and Russia and is a route many Arctic tour operators plan to organize as soon as Russian authorities give general authorization.

Click to view larger image.This development signals continued growth in the vessel-based Arctic tourism. Recognizing the unique and wide-ranging management challenges associated with the growth of tourism across the Arctic, the Arctic Council recently commissioned the Arctic Marine Tourism Project (AMTP) as part of a renewed effort to analyze and promote sustainable tourism across the circumpolar Arctic.

Likewise, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators(AAECO), an industry organization representing the concerns and views of expedition cruise tourism companies operating in the Arctic, continues to encourage the incorporation of specific standards and guidelines for operating expedition cruises in the Arctic.

While the immediate impact of the increase in vessel-based Arctic tourism to New England is difficult to forecast, it is clear that the region stands to benefit in two respects: first, New England is a center of the marine technology industry, especially new, advanced navigational and related technologies specifically developed for use in high latitudes. Second, New England cities will be eastern ports of call for planned cruises through the Northwest Passage. One example is the recent announcement of the planned voyage of Crystal Serenity from Anchorage, Alaska through the Northwest Passage to Bar Harbor, Boston, and New York City in 2016.