Cool weather, snow flurries greet cruise ship voyagers in Cambridge Bay

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When a massive cruise ship pulled into Cambridge Bay on Aug. 28, the community had last year’s experience to build on.
The 820-foot, 68,000-tonne behemoth pulled into the bay around 5 a.m. but the passengers didn’t come ashore by Zodiac boats until 8 a.m. The last of the visitors returned to the ship shortly past 6 p.m.
Approximately 520 passengers disembarked the 13-deck Crystal Serenity, which can carry a maximum 1,080 guests.
The visitors were met with a warm response from community members, but chilly weather.

The cruise ship Crystal Serenity made its way to Cambridge Bay on Aug. 28, marking the second straight year the massive vessel visited the community during its Northwest Passage voyage. More than 500 passengers poured into Cambridge Bay. photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises

The temperature hovered around 3C to 5 C most of the day and drizzle turned to snow flurries at times. The inclement conditions may have deterred some of the visitors from going farther into town and stopping by the Kuugaq Cafe, which saw about 60 customers from the Serenity, said Amanda Doiron, an owner of the eatery.
“It was a little bit of extra business, which was nice,” she said, adding that in addition to food, the cafe sold some jewelry, carvings, leggings, prints and postcards, all of which are produced by Northern artists.
The community hall was the main venue for purchasing arts and crafts. There were country foods available for passengers to sample. Walking tours were offered and there was a shuttle service as well.
At the gravel pit, tents were set up where Annie Agligoetok made char chowder and bannock. At a nearby cabin, Mary Avalak also made bannock and tea, and she offered passengers a place to come in and warm up. Elder Annie Atighioyak greeted visitors with a qulliq.
Throat singers, drum dancers and Arctic sports demonstrators went to the cruise ship to perform for those still on board.
All in all, Cathryn Epp, the hamlet’s cruise ship coordinator, was satisfied with how things came together.
“You’ll always have hiccups but everyone worked together to get through them. There was nothing significant,” Epp said. “Other members of the community stepped up where they saw a need and filled it.
“It was fun meeting the passengers and talking with them, and meeting the crew,” she said.
The MV Hanseatic cruise ship, owned by Hapag-Lloyd, due Aug. 30, was the final of five cruise ships expected to visit Cambridge Bay this season. It was carrying close to 160 passengers.