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Quark Expeditions

Quark Expeditions

Quark Expeditions

Lars Wikander and Mike McDowell, the cofounders of Quark Expeditions, took the first group of commercial travelers to the North Pole In 1991. That inaugural, game-changing expedition—the first-ever tourism transit of the Northeast Passage—set Quark Expeditions on a course that would put us at the forefront of polar exploration. We’ve spent the last three decades taking travelers on polar expeditions to remote parts of the Arctic and Antarctic where no one else has set foot. Polar expeditions have evolved since Quark Expeditions’ 1991 journey aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker Sovetskiy Soyuz. While that first journey solidified Quark Expeditions’ role as the leader in polar adventure, we’ve not rested on our laurels. We’ve continued to achieve new firsts. We’re forever driven to forge new paths in polar explorations.

We're Proud of our Firsts in the Polar Regions

  • 1991: Quark Expeditions took the first group of travelers to the North Pole.
  • 1992: Quark Expeditions undertook the first non-scientific visit to Emperor penguin rookeries.
  • 1997: We completed the first circumnavigation of Antarctica for commercial passengers
  • 1999: We completed our first circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean
  • 2004: Quark Expeditions was the first to confirm the most northerly Emperor penguin rookery near Snow Hill in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica
  • 2008: Quark Expeditions hosted the maiden voyage of the nuclear icebreaker 50 Years of Victory to the North Pole
  • 2011: Our “Three Arctic Islands” trip was voted one of National Geographic Traveler’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime.
  • 2013: Quark Expeditions hosted Jonathan Shackleton (cousin of famous polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton) and Falcon Scott (grandson of polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott) on an expedition to the 7th Continent where they camped out together.
  • 2013: Quark Expeditions hosted the first-ever floating polar film festival onboard the Sea Spirit
  • 2017: Quark Expeditions started Quark Academy, making us the only expedition company in the polar regions with its own proprietary polar training institution.
  • 2019: Quark Expeditions commenced the building of our very first purpose-built polar vessel, Ultramarine
  • 2019: Quark Expeditions advances its sustainability framework with the launch of Polar Promise.
  • 2019: Quark Expeditions offers expeditions into the remote, seldom-visited Russian archipelagoes of Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya.

Reasons to book

Expert Guides: The most experienced guides in the industry

The perfect polar expedition doesn't just happen. It takes a team of talented, knowledgeable and experienced professionals to bring it all together. Our Expedition Team is comprised of seasoned veterans with rich backgrounds in marine biology, history, glaciology, geology and more. With the highest staff-to-guest ratio in the industry, our Expedition Teams safely deliver your trip-of-a-lifetime to maximize your polar adventure every step of the way.

Quark Academy

With the launch of Quark Academy in 2017, Quark Expeditions became the first polar expedition company to institute its own proprietary polar training program. The underlying goal was to establish standard levels of training and safety that surpassed anything else offered in the industry—for the ultimate benefit of our guests and for the protection of the polar regions we visit.

The curriculum taught by our seasoned instructors at the Quark Academy Centre in Ushuaia, Argentina, includes a full range of hard skills such as emergency preparedness, appropriate gear, technical and practical competence and soft skills like the importance of being culturally aware, storytelling, interpretation, awareness of guests’ social, emotional and physical needs. 

Language Program

Quark Expeditions attracts an international contingent of guests who come from all over the world, from diverse cultures and backgrounds. It’s not uncommon for multiple languages to be spoken on one voyage.

Because we’re committed to ensuring every guest has the best polar expedition experience possible, we’ve developed a language program that ensures every passenger is included in onboard announcements, daily briefings, end-of-day summaries, disembarkment instructions, nature talks and other communication throughout the voyage.

Quark Expeditions commits to having at least one (sometimes two) expedition team members who speak Mandarin, French and German on each voyage.

French-, Mandarin- and German-speaking guests can expect briefings (including mandatory safety briefs), daily recaps, talks by natural guides, daily programs, introductions and presentations to be delivered in their preferred langue. Translations will be offered simultaneously or consecutively. In some cases, translations such as daily briefings will be offered after dinner. The expedition team will also endeavor to place guests in Zodiacs with a driver who speaks their language.

Our Polar Promise: Polar Exploration and Sustainability

Quark Expeditions is profoundly committed to environmentally responsible tourism. Protecting the places we visit is necessary to ensure we can continue to introduce travelers to the spectacular beauty of the polar wilderness. Through Polar Promise, our comprehensive sustainability strategy framework, we’ve incorporated existing sustainability initiatives into a cohesive plan so we can identify where we can do better or do more.

“Quark Expeditions recognizes its responsibility to do more to protect these magnificent places,” says Andrew White, President of Quark Expeditions. “We want to go beyond reducing our footprint. We want to work with other leaders in the industry and with our guests to address the complex and challenging issues facing the polar regions.”

Our Polar Promise framework is made up of four pillars. Each addresses a different aspect of our business, our operations—and ultimately your journey.

When it comes to our footprint, the most substantial impact we can have is how we get you, our guest, to the remote Polar environments and how we preserve those majestic environments once we get there.

Quark Expeditions aims to reduce our carbon emissions per passenger by 10% through fleet improvements and changes in order to reduce our impact. We’re working with our supply chain to measure, report and reduce their emissions, and our office and field operations aim to reuse or recycle 100% of waste on Quark Expeditions-owned vessels.

In 2019, an analysis of our historical ship fuel consumption showed that we decreased emissions by 13% from the 5-year average emissions per passenger per day. The purpose of this analysis was to establish a baseline and to further reduce our Scope 1 carbon emissions.

In terms of waste, Quark Expeditions has taken steps to reduce the amount of waste we are sending to landfills, including avoiding single-use plastics and partnering in the SeaGreen recycling initiative in Ushuaia. We’re working towards a zero-waste plan on Quark Expeditions-owned vessels.

Members Club

Quark Expeditions is pleased to offer passengers a new loyalty program: The Shackleton Club. Named in honor of one of Antarctica’s greatest explorers, The Shackleton Club was created to inspire guests to keep exploring with Quark. Membership is free and is available to anyone who wishes to join. Those who have traveled on two or more voyages with Quark will be able to take advantage of the program’s exclusive benefits.

When you sign up for The Shackleton Club, you’ll receive savings on future voyages, a commemorative patch, onboard treats, special offers from our sister companies, and more. Enroll Today!

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