Today the tourist can go anywhere — even to the North pole. Such a journey without intermediaries can offer only two travel agencies in the world. No matter how old you are, and what you in physical form. The main thing — the amount of money in your Bank account. If enough nuclear icebreaker safely and comfortably take you to the end of the world, and you don’t have to take any special efforts.
Both the travel Agency that sell trips on the pole (Russian and American), to send its customers on the icebreaker “Yamal”. It provides the Murmansk shipping company. Two agencies almost do not differ in price and quality of offered services, but offer the trip to the pole at different times. If you want to see masses of thick ice and polar vagaries of bad weather, that is, to see the icebreaker in action, then go in July, having bought the tour from the Americans. But if you prefer to enjoy the Arctic nature, enjoy the sun and land on the surrounding Islands, use the services of the Russian Agency in August. In other months the ice breaker in flight is not sent. All the rest of the year, “Yamal” is, like all the other working breakers. Then the pole you can get on dogs, skis, helicopter, and snow-shoes.
To maintain the balance
Tourists climb aboard at Murmansk shipyards — where Yamal had just passed the annual inspection. Icebreaker is undergoing a major overhaul every year, because security on the nuclear icebreaker always comes first. The shipyard is strictly forbidden to photograph and shoot video.
An integral part of the crew is the ship security, armed with machine guns. If you ask the head of security, why is he on the ship to guard icebreaker from tourists or to tourists to protect from polar bears — he just laugh.
“Yamal” went on 26 June around 16.00, when the water level of the tide was the highest. It is necessary for the icebreaker to leave Murmansk pier. On the first day everywhere, one water, small ice floes began to appear only on the second day. Although the sea was calm, the ship is rocked, and most of the tourists suffered from seasickness. The corridors to the cabins of tourists framed paper bags, open and attached to the fence every couple of meters. Deck the doctor promised that when the ship hits the ice edge, pitching will stop.
The next day, the icebreaker crossed the first ice field, the doctor’s words were confirmed: the ship really stopped pumping. But instead, it shakes, and constantly and unpredictably. If seasick tourists simply could not eat, but now even walking was difficult. Tourists had to get used to the fact that each step can be a step into the void. A second floor beneath you can drop a couple of meters (this happens when the ice under icebreaker polymyalsia, and the bottom of the ship for a moment be compared with water level). Given the fact that the average age of tourists is approximately 50 years, the crew ordered to develop small rate. The bigger it is, the more the ship shakes, and the more likely to get injured. But the American Agency has an extremely negative attitude to the broken limbs of the tourists. Despite all the measures, in the evening, the doctor visited one tourist with a bad arm. Fortunately, it was the first and the last injury in this expedition.
For the next two days, to her own surprise, getting used to the unsteady ground beneath his feet and already moving with greater confidence. Someone younger, even went to the ship’s gym and tried hard to play volleyball. In fact, to travel to the North pole in General is boring. You are safe in the womb of the icebreaker and just waiting when it will get to your destination.
The travel Agency organizes lectures on different topics, but the lack of Europeans is that most of the information they are already known from high school. Add to that filled by the noise (very close to the icebreaker breaks the ice) and a stuffy audience, and everything else seems much better than sitting in the hold and listen to the course of Geology.
On deck everything is different: you can see how the icebreaker is struggling with the heavy ice, watching the endless ice plain, unexpected variations of white, grey and blue. You can still look out for polar bears, walruses and Arctic birds. You can be surprised to observe the constant changes in the weather, when for a few minutes the sun and the rainbow is replaced by a thick fog, and for two meters can not see anything. And all this — the raging noise of breaking ice around the icebreaker.
Another interesting destination is the bridge. From the second day of diving tourists allowed to go there at any time of the day or night. But if you speak Russian, the crew readily will talk to you about anything for hours.
The last time — drawing lessons. For example, you can learn how to draw a polar bear. The planned course of photographing ice this time did not take place, because it was a little wanting. Also, surprisingly, found no response, the initiative to hold the tournament in volleyball, table tennis and chess. Maybe it’s the age of the tourists?
And to the North! And to the South…
And here we are almost on the spot. In the evening the first of July, the organizers announced that we should reach the North pole at noon the next day. At that moment, “Yamal” was at the point 89° 20 North latitude and 41° 40 East longitude. All possessed excitement. The organizers assured that if we make it to the pole late at night, I’ll Wake up.
Soon on the bridge I learned that the crew ordered to go with such a speed that the icebreaker reached the North pole in the morning. And faster can? Of course, at midnight.
The next morning I set the alarm for one hour earlier, at seven in the morning. Deck radio reported that the goal will be achieved before Breakfast, so we all dressed quickly and ran on deck to look at the North pole.
Thanks to GPS, you can easily know that the goal is finally achieved. But to put the antenna icebreaker in the correct position to the monitor the GPS receiver showed the coveted zeroes after only nine, not so easy. Six-meter ice and the size of the ice — breaker-not ideal conditions for fine manipulation. The frozen tourists are the watch firmly on your nose and watching as the icebreaker breaks the ice. We swam the North pole several times back and forth without knowing it (North and South). The ship moves back to the North, and the numbers on the screen increase — suddenly gallop and begin to decline. Another attempt: the ship moves to the South, and the captain again States: “We slipped.” Forward to the North and… a bit more… Heck, we again headed for the South.
An hour and a half finally got a few seconds to fix the zeros: 90° 00 North latitude and 0° 00 East longitude. Tourists on the nose, drank champagne, took pictures and congratulated each other. Then they quickly moved to the warm dining room to finally eat Breakfast. After persistent standing on the deck they just earned. The crew was happy too: all over. Now you only have to get everybody back safe and sound. But only after the end of the party on the ice.
The ice around the North pole was badly cracked from numerous maneuvers, and land on his tourists dangerous. Therefore, the icebreaker returned to a few tenths of a degree South. The captain and crew are found safe and sound “glade” — a relatively flat ice field. The next hour was spent on preparations for the landing: it was necessary to lower a ladder for tourists from the deck on the ice and strengthen the flagpole with the flags of those States whose citizens participated in this journey. This time at the North pole was 19 flags including Czech.
When all was ready, the travelers are able to go down to the ice. Their movement on the ice was restricted by the ship and armed guards with machine guns. For this conventional boundary no one has the right to go: last year, tourists are faced with a polar bear at the North pole, so you had all the time to exercise extreme caution.
First, tourists gathered in a circle around the flagpole with flags. He symbolized the North pole, which was separated from us by several hundred meters. After the speech, the chief representative of the travel Agency tourists, like one big snake, walked conditional the North pole. Your way around the Earth in parallel they finished with applause and joyful shouts. Two hours all were photographed on the ice with the ship, without the ship, ice and ocean, with a sign “North pole”… the Most daring can take a dip.
The cracks in the standing of the icebreaker crew staged an impromptu beach: carpets on the ice, benches and steps into the water. Tourists are tied with a rope, as a rule, boldly rushed into the water and then swiftly jumped back on the ice. The water temperature is 1.45 degrees. After the tourists quickly dried themselves with towels prepared and drank, for his heroic act of this Russian vodka. This time almost a quarter of the hikers found the courage to dive into the water.
In the end, promised a barbecue on the ice took place, because the years began to crack. Cracks in the ice can grow very rapidly — up to tens of centimeters in a few minutes. So all and all quickly returned to the ship. The tourists ate their burgers later on, in the warm dining room when the icebreaker is already making its way back to the South.
Brochures of travel Agency promised helicopter flights and zodiac trips, but on the ice breaker I learned that nothing of the kind attempted. You say, something is messed up. This program supposedly provides for other expeditions of this Agency. The helicopter could fly, but only if there would be time for a stop in the Land of Franz Joseph.
We were lucky. “Yamal” was moving back fast enough, so we were able to spend one day in this interesting place. We first landed in the area of the abandoned Russian polar station. Wooden ruins of houses, abandoned machinery and piles of old ice on the coast of one of the Islands give much food for thought and allow you to imagine how the explorers lived here in the last century.
The second time we landed at Cape flora, where there was only a marshy peat bog, fog, and high cliffs.
But even this was encouraging after the endless ice plains. It should also be noted Ruby rock where the icebreaker approached to a distance of hundreds of meters. The maneuver was accomplished under the supervision of a representative of the Russian Institute of natural history, because the rock nest thousands of Arctic birds.
From Franz Joseph Land to Murmansk was only a few tens of hours. During this time, I still managed to conduct a small survey on the topic of why people travel by icebreaker to the North pole. Without exception, all were seasoned travelers, although the stories of their lives differ. “Well, at least something I can spend before I leave, huh?” — without a smile said entrepreneur from Los Angeles. “Last year we went to Antarctica, so it decided to look to the North”, — said a young couple from India. “I’m here for the fifth time. I’ve been everywhere, but this trip I like the most,” — said the billionaire from England, which after surgery on both hip joints almost could not walk. “I am delighted that work has led me here, and I never would have believed that a polar landscape so beautiful,” said Russian operator of NBC. And it only remains for me to agree with him.