Nome greets massive Serenity with drums, dance, festivity

Despite rainy weather, the luxury cruise liner Crystal Serenity arrived in Nome on schedule, Sunday morning.

About a thousand people poured out of the floating hotel and emptied into the town of Nome for a full day of scheduled activities and events, including the formal commemoration held at the Nome Mini Convention Center.

Commemoration speaker and Nome Mayor Richard Beneville said it’s days like these that make him feel excited to be mayor of Nome.

“And I got to be honest with you, as mayor of this town, I am so proud,” Beneville said. “I am so proud of our city employees that have come out to help this happen; I’m so proud of our volunteers that have worked on it; I’m so proud of Kawerak, who brought people in from the villages to sell goods. So it’s such a win-win-win, and it’s beautiful, and there’s a buzz in the air, and it’s energy, and it feels great.”

Many of the passengers getting off the boat were stepping onto Alaskan soil for the first time, Beneville learned from people onboard.

Passenger Marc Sola described the activities he was able to participate in as he ventured into Nome.

“We went to the church, we went to the visitors’ center, and then, there’s a little gift gallery we went to, and now we’re over here at the blueberry festival,” Sola said. “We just came out of that, all kinds of things going on in there, singing, gifts, all that kind of stuff.”

Carl Topkok and Linda Kimoktoak, a drummer and dancer for the King Island Dance Group, were thrilled to share some of their culture with these newcomers inside the Mini Convention Center.

“It really means a lot to us, it has to come from the heart, and you have to want to love it to do these songs,” Topkok said.

“Oh, it’s amazing to pass down our culture to people who haven’t experienced it before,” Kimoktoak said. “You kind of get goosebumps, and you get a really good, tingly feeling.”

Crystal Serenity captain Birger Vorland will have to traverse the icy Arctic waterway in order to successfully land in New York City within 30 days. An icebreaker vessel is accompanying the cruise liner throughout the journey.

The Norwegian ship captain was presented with a key to the City of Nome yesterday in the Mini Convention Center, and he took the opportunity to sink all rumors of his cruise liner being the next Titanic.

“We are the largest ship ever to attempt to go through the Northwest Passage, and when I say ‘attempt,’ that’s just for show, you know. We are going to make it, guaranteed,” Vorland said.

Captain Vorland and the Crystal Serenity’s next stop will be Ulukhaktok in the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Crystal Cruises is already booking passengers for another trip through the Northwest Passage next year.

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