Among the most unspoiled, unpredictable places on the planet, these polar adventures are beautiful bucket-list journeys through a spectacular wilderness where nature creates the rules, making every trip unique and personal.
Choose from an array of outdoor activities in each region; wildlife encounters, Zodiac boats, ATV rides, glacier hikes, fishing, biking, rafting, kayaking, camping, skiing, snowshoeing, hot air ballooning and mountaineering.
Explore the Arctic and Antarctica alongside true expedition guides, all of whom are seasoned veterans, skilled outdoorsmen and well-trained experts with rich backgrounds in marine biology, history, geology, glaciology and more.
Quark Expeditions' modern fleet of small expedition ships and authentic icebreakers, each carrying fewer than 200 passengers and all equipped with Zodiacs, allow passengers to reach the world's most remote, unspoiled and breathtaking places in comfort and ease.
When is the best time to travel to Antarctica and the Arctic?
The answer depends on what you want to see or do. You can't cruise to the Polar regions all year round. Travel is restricted to the austral spring and summer, when daylight lasts between 18 and 24 hours each day.
October to the beginning of December
The continent is covered in snow to the water’s edge. Penguins build highways as they waddle the same path again and again, from the sea to their nests far from shore. During this period penguins, shags and seabirds court and lay their eggs.
December through February
The snow retreats, exposing rocky headlands. Penguin chicks hatch and their parents spend endless hours feeding their hungry young.
Mid-February to March
The whales return to feed. Seals haul out on the beachheads and penguins begin to moult. Antarctica is preparing for long months of darkness. Highlights for travelers are whales, red snow and fledging Gentoo Penguins on parade.
June to mid-July
This is the best time to see ice and snow. The midnight sun has not yet melted the ice, so polar bears and walrus will be hunting on the ice edge. Birds are returning to breed.
Mid-July to mid-August
The best time to circumnavigate Spitsbergen, as ice is less likely to block channels. Tundra flowers are blooming. Wildlife is abundant.
Mid-August to September
The days are shortening; birds begin to migrate south; and skies can be moody.
Does Quark travel anywhere other than the Arctic or Antarctica?
No. Quark is a polar specialist with the sole purpose of delivering the most authentic polar adventure available.
Do I need a passport to visit Antarctica?
Since expeditions to Antarctica orignate elsewhere, you must have a valid passport to participate in any yoyage. When you embark on your expedition, a team member will collect your passport and hold it for safekeeping during your entire voyage. Your passport must be valid for six (6) months beyond the return date of your expedition.
Is there a doctor or clinic on the ship?
Expedition Teams include a doctor, who is responsible for the health of all guests and Expedition Team members. Some ships have dedicated clinics and are equipped to handle minor emergencies. Ships carry emergency supplies of medication, but it is important that you bring sufficient prescribed medicines with you.
What is the weather like on a Quark Expedition?
Depending on what polar region you are visiting, weather conditions are variable. Typically, temperatures hover around the freezing mark. The continuous daylight in the Arctic warms sheltered areas so that you may find temperatures warm enough for t-shirts. However, you may encounter snow squalls, rain, fog and even white-outs, during any expedition.
What’s the difference between an ice-strengthened hull and an icebreaker hull?
The ship’s purpose drives the difference in design. Icebreakers are designed to ride up onto ice, crushing it with the ship’s weight. This opens a path for other vessels trying to navigate icy waters. A ship with an ice-strengthened hull can navigate in waters dotted with ice. It has neither the strength nor the weight to ride up and crush ice.
Do expeditions include opportunities to explore ashore?
Yes! Every vessel in the Quark fleet becomes an expedition base camp. Unpack once. Visit an exciting range of places, because the ship moves from place to place. The ships are equipped with inflatable landing crafts known as Zodiacs. They are used for shore landings and ocean-level cruising.
Activities off the ship are called shore landings or Zodiac cruising. These are daily activities. In the Arctic, you may visit Inuit in their home communities. In the Antarctic, you may visit research stations manned by scientists who brave the extreme environment to add to our knowledge of wildlife, climate and ice. You will hike carpeted tundra valleys or glistening ice fields. Optional activities include kayaking, cross-country, camping, skiing and mountaineering.
The capacity of the vessel determines where you go ashore and how often in Antarctica.
In Antarctica, Quark operates under International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) guidelines that limit the number of travelers and Expedition Staff ashore during a landing. No more than 100 people can be ashore at any one time, and in some locations that number is 50. Quark operates small expedition vessels, and none of their Antarctic vessels carry more than 189 travelers.
Are Zodiacs safe when we're traveling to and from land?
Zodiacs are exceptionally safe and sturdy, and are used worldwide in both polar and tropical regions for passenger and scientific expedition cruising. They are easy to step into and out of and crew are always on hand to assist. They allow adventurous guests to visit areas that are out of reach of larger ships and is an iconic part of what expedition cruising is all about!
What is there to do on the ship?
Expedition voyages have educational components that prepare you for shore landings and visits to research stations. These formal presentations are delivered on the ship. Informal shipboard activities range from birding and whale watching to movies with popcorn in the evening. There are board games to play in the lounge. You can chat with friends over a drink in the bar. The open air decks make excellent platforms for photography or for a romantic stroll. While not a traditional cruise experience in most respects, there is always something to do on Quark ships.
What are the dining options on Quark Expeditions?
Quark prides themselves on the meals served aboard their ships. Chefs are internationally trained. The menu changes every day. Breakfast is buffet style. Lunch often features a buffet. Dinner is plated service, with a choice of three main dishes. A vegetarian choice is always offered. Afternoon tea, with pastries or cookies, is provided about 4 p.m. every day. Fresh pastries arrive warm from the oven for early birds about 6 a.m.