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Exploring the ends of the Earth — the North and South poles — is a coveted bragging right for any traveler. And polar specialist Quark Expeditions is about to raise the bar even further. The company’s new 199-passenger Ultramarine, which will debut next year, will take its passengers farther and deeper into the polar regions than any cruise line before it, according to Andrew White, president of Quark.
White says Ultramarine will feature three aspects distinguishing it from other expedition offerings. Its design will enable better maneuverability and access than previous vessels; two onboard helicopters will take guests to never-before-explored areas in the polar regions; and the ship’s operational range extends to 70 days without needing to refuel or reprovision (Quark plans to schedule some voyages longer than 14 days). In addition, Ultramarine will have a hangar that deploys 20 zodiacs in record time — a valuable tool that allows passengers more time experiencing the destination.
Quark is drawing on its three decades of experience as a polar specialist, with an impressive list of firsts in taking its clients to areas seen only by scientists and early explorers. In 1991, the company led both the first consumer expedition to the North Pole and the first-ever tourism transit of the Northeast Passage. In 1997, Quark was the first line to circumnavigate Antarctica with cruise travelers, and the line provided the first carbon-neutral voyages to the Antarctic.
When guests onboard Ultramarine depart the ship, they can access the adventure activities provided on all Quark cruise expeditions (except hot-air ballooning, which is only offered in the North Pole), along with new options such as heli-skiing. Additionally, the line will include flightseeing for every Ultramarine passenger.
Ultramarine’s level of onboard amenities is impressive, as well.
“We have the biggest cabins in our class (Ice Class 1A), and they all have balconies or floor-to-ceiling windows — to keep guests connected with the breathtaking landscape — and bathrooms with heated floors,” White said.
Accommodations are organized across nine categories that allow for solo travelers, doubles and groups of three. Options include six 132-square-foot solo Panorama staterooms, which each feature floor-to-ceiling windows, a refrigerator, a television, a desk and a private bath with a shower; the 285-square-foot Explorer Triple, which has three separate twin beds; and the 563-square-foot Ultra Suites, each of which offers a 46-square-foot balcony, interior living space, a private bedroom with a walk-in closet, a sitting area with a sofa bed and additional walk-in hallway closet, a desk, a refrigerator, a TV, a separate powder room and a private bathroom with a shower, a bathtub and heated floors.
The newbuild’s public spaces include two dining options with panoramic views; a Wellness Center with a spa offering a full range of treatments; a sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows; and a fully equipped fitness room with a separate yoga area. Bars, lounges and deck space are all designed to prevent passengers from missing a moment in the polar regions, where dramatic appearances can happen before you say, “Grab my camera.”
White notes that many clients will want to sail again after their initial voyage, as the Arctic and Antarctic are transformative places.
“You return home changed in some way,” he said. “I call it maximum aliveness — a response to the unique beauty and the wildlife and to traveling outside your comfort zone. Experience plus emotion equals memory, and if you have been bitten by the polar bug, you will return.”
The DetailsQuark Expeditionswww.quarkexpeditions.com