While the Arctic May be Unforgiving, Modern Icebreakers Aren’t

In this Saturday, July 22, 2017 photo, Canadian Coast Guard Capt. Victor Gronmyr looks out over the ice covering the Victoria Strait as the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica traverses the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

While it may be frigid and wet on deck, the crew of a modern icebreaker can expect creature comforts inside the ship, even saunas.

Cabins on board the MSV Nordica are small but functional, with a desk, a TV and an en suite bathroom. Most of the 21 regular crew work 12-hour shifts as the vessel pushes through the Arctic’s Northwest Passage. It’s also carrying a team of Associated Press journalists who are aboard to document the impact of climate change.

The day starts with breakfast at 6:30 a.m., featuring a buffet of eggs, beans, mushrooms, bacon, cold cuts, cereal, porridge, yogurt, fruit and fresh coffee – up to eight large vats are drunk on board each day.

Lunch takes place from 11:30 a.m. and dinner is at 5:30 p.m. The menu aboard Nordica in a given week can include roast salmon, pork ribs, burgers, tortillas and, in a nod to the Far North, reindeer roast.

The ship has two gyms and two Finnish saunas, where the crew can burn off the calories and stay fit. Both are off limits during stormy weather. The vessel is relatively stable in the water, but can shake when it crushes sea ice.

Recreation rooms on the fifth floor, right beneath the bridge, offer a view to the horizon and space for movie nights with a selection of films from the onboard library.

One popular pastime is scanning the sea for signs of marine life.

Although modern ships can largely drive themselves in open seas, there is always someone on the bridge keeping watch.

Even below deck the ship is a 24/7 operation, with engineers tending the machinery and cooks preparing meals while the rest of the crew relaxes, sleeps or stays in touch with friends and family using the vessel’s satellite internet connection.

Follow a team of AP journalists as they travel through the Arctic Circle’s fabled Northwest Passage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/NewArctic

Source: Associated Press