With maritime superstition being what it is, perhaps another name might have better-suited the ship RCGS Resolute.
The British Navy also had a ship called the Resolute that embarked on an Arctic exploration in the 1850s. It was trapped in ice and abandoned, to be later recovered and broken up. Some of its timber was used to craft the Resolute Desk, a gift from Queen Victoria that US presidents sit behind in the White House, making all sorts of dubious decisions.
In Star Wars, the Resolute was a destroyer used by the Jedi general Anakin Skywalker. He did some good work from the Resolute, but it was eventually destroyed in a space battle and Anakin went over to the "dark side", becoming the evil Darth Vader.
And the polar expedition ship to which the Royal Canadian Geographic Society lent its moniker also seems to have gone to the dark side, having been "arrested" numerous times to recover debts for fuel, wages and supplies and even rammed by a navy patrol boat.
It was finally sold in Curacao in the Caribbean to claw back a further $US4 million ($A5.7 million) owed by the ship. According to cruiseindustrynews.com the RCGS Resolute sold for just $US600,000 ($A870,000) at auction on June 22, whereas "the book value of the ship was previously said to have been in the $US25 million ($A35 million) range."
The RCGS Resolute was the third ship chartered by Canada's One Ocean Expeditions (OOE), a business that for about a decade successfully ran cruises to the Antarctic and Arctic and along Canada's north-east coast, first using two Russian ships built for polar research - the Akademik Ioffe and Akademik Sergey Vavilov - that were also capable signals ships, meaning they never docked in a US port.
Before COVID-19 there was excellent growth in polar cruising, but things came unstuck for OOE when, even though bookings were strong, their annual charter of the Russian ships wasn't renewed. In May 2019 both the Akademiks returned to Russia.
OOE continued to use the RCGS Resolute, but it wasn't smooth sailing there, with reports in December 2018 that, unable to refuel in Ushuaia, the Argentinean port used by many Antarctic cruises, the Resolute had to cruise via the Falklands for fuel, cutting short passengers' time in Antarctica.
Without the Russian ships, OOE couldn't deliver on its bookings and by January this year was insolvent, leaving staff unpaid and travellers, many Australians among them, completely out of pocket and struggling to claim refunds, even on travel insurance.
Where did that leave the RCGS Resolute? The ship was held in Buenos Aires in November 2019 and, according to a report in Canada's Chronicle Herald, the ship's owners, the Bahamas-based Bunnys Adventure and Cruise Shipping Co Ltd, paid $US3.6 million to avoid it being sold. "Two European fuel suppliers, three South American ships agents, and 22 crew were paid as a result of the action," the report said.
It left port early in March and was possibly heading for Europe, but eventually set a course for Willemstad in Curacao, a Dutch constituency in the Caribbean, off the coast of Venezuela. If the trouble with the creditors wasn't enough, the Resolute was set for a less than friendly encounter with the Venezuelan Navy.
As the Resolute approached Curacao, with 32 crew but no passengers on board, it was intercepted at night by a Venezuelan Navy patrol vessel, the Naiguata. According to the RCGS Resolute's managers, Columbia Cruise Services (CCS), which acts for Bunnys, the Naiguata instructed the Resolute's master to follow it to Puerto Moreno on Isla Margarita, which is Venezuelan territory.
"As the RCGS Resolute was sailing in international waters at that time, the master wanted to reconfirm this particular request," CCS said in a statement. "While the master was in contact with the head office, gun shots were fired and, shortly thereafter, the navy vessel approached the starboard side at speed with an angle of 135 degrees and purposely collided with the RCGS Resolute."
The Naiguata continued to ram the Resolute but maybe didn't know it was ice-strengthened. The Naiguata came off second-best and started to take water.
"Ready to support anytime, the RCGS Resolute remained for over one hour in vicinity of the scene and reached out to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Curacao," CCS said.
"Only after receiving the order to resume passage full ahead by the MRCC and that further assistance (was) not required, the RCGS Resolute... continued sailing towards her destination at Curacao."
If it was still equipped with Zodiacs for shore excursions, the Venezuelans may have suspected terrorists or commandos were on board the Resolute, a possible explanation for their interception. But then a quick search on the patrol boat's internet would have told them about the RCGS Resolute. Maybe they did indeed do that search and had some debts of their own to settle.
In any case, the RCGS Resolute escaped their clutches and that's how it came to be tied up in Curacao in June, facing the auctioneer's hammer in what would surely be a very poor market for five-star, ice-strengthened cruise ships.
Speculation is that the buyer might have been the ship's owners, Bunnys, using the auction as a way of wiping out the ship's debts and giving it a clear title, doing nothing for the many left out of pocket by One Ocean Expeditions.