MurresCrystal Cruises said it will offer an unusual cruise in 2016 from Anchorage to New York by way of the Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean

The company said it will be the first luxury cruise line to navigate the passage, which includes about 900 miles of spectacular glaciers, towering fjords and vast unspoiled landscapes. The cruise departs on Aug. 16, 2016.

Crystal's executive vice president, Thomas Mazloum, said the voyage, which was planned with help from EYOS Expeditions, took two years to organize.

He said the cruise will be Crystal's first expedition-style itinerary.

The 32-day trip includes “surprise days” built into the itinerary for extemporaneous whale watching, bear spotting and glacier cruising.

Crystal said an escort vessel will shadow Crystal Serenity on the trip, carrying safety and environmental-protection equipment, as well as personnel trained in its use.

In addition, Crystal will serve as a platform for a helicopter and zodiacs, which will be manned by a crew experienced in all aspects of operating safely in the Arctic.

The cruise will not include a black-tie night, and other standards of formality are being relaxed in keeping with an expedition atmosphere, Crystal said.

A new booking procedure is being introduced for the voyage. It requires a 20% initial deposit, with $500 of the deposit being nonrefundable.

Starting July 17, the initial booking window will only be available to guests who have sailed with Crystal. Others may add their name to a wait list. Remaining space, if any, will open to the public on Sept. 2. The price starts at $19,755 per person.

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.

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