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Quark Expeditions

In 1991, Lars Wikander and Mike McDowell, two adventurous spirits with a hankering to visit the North Pole, founded Quark Expeditions. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, they specialized in expedition cruises to the Arctic and Antarctica using Russian icebreakers suddenly available for charter. In 1998, Wikander became the company's majority owner. In 2007, Quark Expeditions was sold to First Choice. It's owned by the British company TUI Travel, and its president is Andrew White.

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Quark Expeditions Cruise Highlights

Why Go?

Experts in polar exploration

Close encounters with wildlife in the Arctic and Antarctic

Wide choice of ships and accommodations

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Among its firsts, the company counts the first-ever tourism transit of the Northeast Passage across the Russian Arctic in 1991 and the first circumnavigation of Antarctica for commercial passengers in 1997.

Quark Expeditions continues to offer polar travel only, be it north to the Arctic (June through August) or south to Antarctica (November to March). Arctic cruises may cover Canada, Greenland, Spitsbergen or Iceland. Southern itineraries generally cruise the Antarctic Peninsula and might include the Falklands and South Georgia.


Think of Quark Expeditions as providing floating basecamps for exploring the most remote regions of the Arctic and Antarctic. The ships are small in size, allowing them to venture where other ships can't go. They provide creature comforts, transport and exceptional opportunities for learning about polar wildlife, history and landscapes from experts in their fields. They are also a base for shore landings via Zodiac and, at an extra cost, sea kayaking, cross-country skiing mountaineering, camping and stand-up paddleboarding.

Life onboard is casual and informal, no matter how luxurious the ship and cabins may appear. Depending upon the ship, your cabin may be a suite with a balcony (available on Sea Spirit, Sea Explorer and Ocean Diamond), contemporary Scandinavian (Ocean Nova) or quite basic (Sea Adventurer). In reality, you're rarely in your digs, what with Zodiac excursions, talks by expert naturalists, daily recaps, dining and hanging out on deck for views of wildlife and icebergs. Entertainment is of the natural kind provided by polar bears, penguins and whales, rather than flashy manmade shows. Most Arctic voyages are inclusive of beverages, as well.

Fellow Passengers

Quark Expeditions attracts curious, active adventure-seekers from around the world. All share a desire to discover the poles in an environment that's both exhilarating and educational. They're flexible and eagerly expect the unexpected. Passengers are evenly divided between men and women. Ages, as well, are equally represented, ranging from 25 to older than 65.

Quark Expeditions Fleet

Quark Expeditions have five small expedition ships and two authentic icebreakers for their line.

The small expedition ships are: Ocean Adventurer, Ocean Diamond, Ocean Endeavour, Ocean Nova, and World Explorer.

Launched in April 19th of 1975, Ocean Adventurer (Formerly known as Sea Adventure), went through a full multi-million dollar renovation in as of June 2017. The vessel can carry up to 128 passengers which allows each customer to explore the corners of the world in complete comfort. The latest refurbishments each traveler can appreciate are:

  • New twin cabins and suites.

  • The interior of all existing cabins as well as bathrooms are all furnished as of new.

  • The main Lounge and Dining Room as well as other common areas have been remodeled completely.

  • Two new Rolls Royce engines have been installed to increase fuel efficiency which will thus minimize the carbon pollution.

  • Launched in 1986, Ocean Diamond is the largest modern and stable super yacht of Quarks fleet, with the capacity limit being of 189 passengers. The vessel is equipped with an ice-strengthened hull which allows the ship to navigate through the polar waters with ease.

    Launched in 1982, Ocean Endeavour remains one of the most well-appointed polar vessels of its fleet. While carrying 199 passengers, the ship underwent a 2017 refurbishment, which offers its passengers expansive choices of cabin categories. The ship unlike its fellow sisters offers a health and wellness features such as an organic spa, saltwater pool, gym and smoothie bar.

    Launched in 1992 and built in Denmark, Ocean Nova, one of the smallest vessels of its fleet delivers an efficient course of travel mainly in the polar regions. Obtaining a strengthened ice hull, comfortable outside cabins as well as private facilities, the vessel does not disappoint with its friendly and informal atmosphere onboard. The vessel because of its size thus can only carry a max of 78 passengers.

    Launched in 2018, World Explorer is the newest vessel of its fleet, which will debuting its sail in 2018/2019 in the Antarctic season. While carrying 176 passengers, this alluring and modern ship will be one of the most fastest and finest of its line. Equipped with its glass-dome observation lounge, intricate interior design of the common areas and cabins, as well offering discussions in its designated theater for philomath individuals.

    The authentic icebreakers are: 50 Years of Victory and Kapitan Khlebnikov.

    Launched in 2007, 50 Years of Victory, is one of the only vessels of its line to be able to break ice up to nine feet thick. With occupying 128 guests, this ship showcases a gym, two saunas, an onboard helicopter landing pad for shore excursions, clinic with a licensed doctor, as well as other niceties.

    Launched in 1981, Kapitan Khlebnikovis as its other sister is a classified polar icebreaker vessel. No ship has traveled unlike this vessel has in the Northwest Passage. Originally designed to take on northern Siberia, it is equipped with a 24,000 horsepower engine.

    It can hold up to 110 passengers.

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