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Largest Cruise Ship Ever To Sail Northwest Passage Docks In NYC

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The largest cruise ship to ever sail the Northwest Passage docked Friday on the West Side of Manhattan.

As CBS News' Don Champion reported, the giant luxury cruise liner Crystal Serenity entered New York Harbor Friday morning and sailed into the history books. It was the first full-sized ship to sail the treacherous Northwest Passage.

"This was quite the voyage," said Capt. Birger Voraland.

The Arctic Ocean links to the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans at the Northwest Passage. Glaciers and thick sea ice normally make the route impassable.

But warming temperatures have thinned the ice and cleared the path.

The ship had extra safety equipment, including ice radar. Its operators even chartered cargo flights to northern communities to gather fresh perishables for the vessel's five-star restaurants.

"We also brought on board two very experienced Canadian ice pilots who brought the knowledge about ice," Voraland said.

The ship is nearly three football fields long and 13 stories tall. It left Seward, Alaska on Aug. 16 with about 900 guests and 600 crewmembers on board, and headed 900 miles through the Arctic and on to New York.

The cruise was three years in the making and just about everything was unique to the trip, said John Stoll, a Crystal vice president who organized it.

Barbara Peters and Robert Rosenwald called it a great adventure.

"The trip was really exciting," Peters said. "The idea was to see wild things and ice, and we did!"

The passengers paid between $1,000 and $4,000 per day for their experience.

Peters said the irony that the warming earth was the only thing that made the trip possible was not lost on her.

"The arctic is ground zero for global warming. Anyone who thinks global warming isn't happening only needs to go to the arctic," she said.

The Crystal Serenity is set to repeat the journey next August.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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