Virtuoso Life - May/June 2018 - 20
The Virtuoso Life
singular experience. The High Arctic in
summer is essentially a desert. It's not for
everybody - you have to have the time and
money. But if you do, it is worth every penny.
You go for the history, the Inuit culture, the
beautiful stark landscapes, and a little
wildlife - these sailings are only offered midAugust to mid-September, not the season to
see polar bears and seals.
A rare adventure through a storied Arctic route.
HIGHLIGHTS: The lectures on board were the
A Northwest Passage
sailing highlight: Icebergs
off Greenland. Below: Fran
and Herb Kramer.
best history lessons I ever had. We got a real
picture of what the early explorers were
presented with, and learned about disasters
such as the HMS Terror, a doomed British Royal Navy voyage abandoned in 1848,
which was discovered in 2016 as a nearly
perfect preserved shipwreck.
One day, we took Zodiacs to a little uninhabited island, where there were tables set
up with flowers. It was cold, but a brave chef
was asking if we wanted chocolate or vanilla
in our cream puffs, proceeding to squeeze it
on the spot.
BON APPÉTIT: Le Boréal is a French ship with a
French chef. We had homemade croissants,
macarons, brioche, and baguettes. All of the
meals, including afternoon tea, had a French
flair. There were so many choices, with seafood, lamb, and red meats.
V I RT U O S O L I F E
INCOMMUNICADO: Know that you will have
Archipelago. No wonder it took so long to
figure out." Here are her recommendations
for this adventure well off the beaten path.
WHY GO: Very few people have done this. We
followed much of the original path of Roald
Amundsen. To follow this route on a modern
cruise ship with all of the amenities is a
almost no communication option (except
for emergencies) or Wi-Fi for the length of
the cruise. We all thought this would be a
challenge, initially. But you settle into the
atmosphere and environment, and you
really slow down. You're in the same boat
as your fellow passengers - you're all in
it together, fortunate to have such a rare
Departures: Ponant's Le Soléal sails the
Northwest Passage August 27, 2018; from
$21,510. Sister ship L'Austral sails the route
August 24, 2019; from $24,850.
(GREENLAND) HENRIVDL/GETTY IMAGES, (PEOPLE) FRAN KRAMER,
(DOLOMITES) GETTY IMAGES
For centuries, explorers tried to chart a
course through the Northwest Passage,
which connects the Atlantic and Pacific
oceans, as a trade route between Asia and
Europe. But it wasn't until an expedition that
lasted from 1903 to 1906 that Norwegian
explorer Roald Amundsen successfully navigated the route. Rochester, New York-based
Virtuoso advisor Fran Kramer traveled on a
23-day expedition from Greenland to Nome,
Alaska, with her husband, Herb, aboard
Ponant's Le Boréal, chartered by Abercrombie & Kent.
"If you do this, you see why so many failed
to find the route through the Northwest
Passage, considered to be the 'great quest'
or the holy grail," Kramer says. "You uncover
the pages of this incredible story. There are
tens of thousands of islands in the Arctic
WORKING OUT: There's an exercise room on
board, but walking around on land is much
more laborious than a normal city walk.
You tire easily after taking the Zodiacs to
explore, walking on gravel, dirt, sand, or
sometimes the tundra.