Experts are warning there could be a Titanic-style disaster and serious environmental damage unless controls are brought in for cruise ships in the Arctic Ocean.

The first luxury ship sailed through the Arctic's remote Northwest Passage this summer, prompting fears more could follow suit before safety concerns have been addressed.

Some 1,700 passengers paid a minimum of $19,755 for a berth on the Crystal Serenity, which left Anchorage in Alaska on 15 August.

It cruised through the Passage along the northern coast of North America, before docking in New York a month later. There is no port on the journey between Alaska and Greenland.

The ship, owned by American operator Crystal Cruises, traversed an isolated route first navigated by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1903.

Although climate change means the region is iceberg free in summer, two shipping executives fear a disaster unless guidelines are brought in to protect passengers and the environment

Tero Vauraste, boss of Finnish shipping firm Arctia, warned there would be little authorities could do if a ship got into distress there, due to the lack of infrastructure.

"The Northwest Passage is thousands and thousands of nautical miles with absolutely nothing," he said.

"Navigation in icy waters is made more difficult by poor satellite imagery. An ice field might move at a speed of 4-5 knots, but a ship will receive a satellite picture of it that is 10-20 hours old.

"There is a need to discuss possible regulation … so we must do everything we can do to prevent this."

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