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Arctic Travel: Exploring on your own or with Arctic Tour Group? Two Different Ways to Discover the North


Traveling to the Arctic is a once in a lifetime adventure for some, while others have made it a semi-annual or even annual tradition, exploring different areas or returning to favorite regions with each visit. Whether it's your first trip to the Arctic Circle or your tenth, is it better to travel alone or accompanied by an Arctic tour group? There are a number of factors to consider, but it really all comes down to the experience you seek. Here are some considerations as you decide:

Safety & Comfort

Travel and tourism to Arctic regions – from the Svalbard archipelago to Greenland's eastern coast, right to the North Pole – has increased substantially over the last several decades. Even so, the polar regions remain the most expansive, naturally remote areas on earth. Exploring them solo is adventurous, though it's generally a good idea to travel with a group at least initially, until you fully understand the geography, climate and wildlife.


Cabin Luxury cabins aboard the Sea Explorer.

Our two Arctic ships, Sea Spirit and Sea Explorer, are a comfortable, mobile home base for travelers. After a rewarding day of Zodiac cruising, Arctic wildlife photography or kayaking, is there anything better than sharing stories and laughs over drinks after a delicious meal served in a formal dining room? Returning to ship each day eases the burden of carrying luggage from place to place and gives guests a home away home feel quite different from that of moving from hotel to hotel over a period of weeks. Of course, many find comfort in the company of others. Single travelers tend to meet people throughout their trip, at each stop along the way. Participating in an Arctic tour allows groups of people – families, old friends, or special interest groups like the Chinese Arctic Youth Group – to participate in activities of their choice during the day, then come together in the library or the all-inclusive bar in the evening. You might be surprised to learn that the Arctic climate in summer, while certainly not tropical, can be quite balmy. Tour guests enjoy an on-board hot tub on the Sea Explorer's wraparound sun deck, while many cabins have private verandahs. Of course, our ships meet or exceed rigorous safety standards and two experienced physicians are on board to ensure the safety and comfort of every passenger.

Knowledgeable Guides

Traveling alone tends to offer more freedom, as you can change your plans at the drop of a hat, if you choose. However, some find that they miss out on part of the experience. Those with less than expert knowledge of Arctic flora and fauna may crave the expertise of an experienced Arctic tour guide.


Norm Lasca Norm Lasca, Professor Emeritus of Geology.

Our expedition team members are seasoned Arctic travel veterans like Norm Lasca, Professor Emeritus of Geology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Norm has worked extensively in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions for over 50 years and is an expert in Earth-surface processes, especially pertaining to glaciers. Alaska native Shelli Ogilvy has been a wilderness guide for over a decade and has worked with several research groups studying humpback and gray whales. Shelli finds her peace and joy through sharing her vast knowledge of Arctic ecosystems and wildlife with passengers.


Shelli Ogilvy Shelli Ogilvy, Wilderness Guide.

These are just two of the many incredible professionals who help make the Arctic group tour experience a fantastic one for Quark passengers. With the lowest staff to passenger ratio in the industry, you'll have plenty of face time with these knowledgeable, passionate Arctic tour experts – you’ll even get to break bread with them. Access to Remote Areas Traveling with an organized cruise gives passengers access to some of the most beautiful and remote places on the planet. Trekking alone to the North Pole would be a harrowing experience (just ask Børge Ousland or Yasunaga Ogita) and is a feat most could never accomplish. Hiring charter flights, renting boats or traveling with local guides can get you into some pretty remote areas, yet they can be cost-prohibitive, as well.


Passengers at North Pole Photo by Quark passenger at North Pole.

However, it's not impossible – passengers aboard 50 Years to Victory, the world's most powerful nuclear icebreaker, not only journeys all the way to the geographic North Pole, but gets you there in style. Decked out with a gym, lap pool, two saunas, a dining room and bar, a library and even a helicopter for shore excursions, this magnificent ship can cut through ice over 9 feet thick as it propels passengers to the one place on earth where every direction is South. The decision to travel the Arctic alone or as part of a group is a personal one that deserves careful thought and consideration. We welcome any questions you have about Arctic travel – call one of our Polar Travel Advisers today at (888) 892.0073 or share your comment below!


Sochi 2014 Games: Olympic torch visits the North Pole


For the first time in history the Olympic flame was brought to the North Pole, on board Quark's nuclear-powered icebreaker, 50 Years of Victory, as part of the torch relay to the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. The icebreaker, which departed from Russia's Arctic port of Murmansk, made the journey in about 91 hours, the quickest trip ever - 50 Years of Victory can take up to eight days to travel north. Once the ship reached 90 degrees North, expedition members performed a torch relay both aboard the icebreaker and on the sea ice.

Olympic Torch Council

Torch bearers were selected from the eight member countries of the Arctic Council – Russia, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Canada, the US, Iceland and Denmark – to symbolize international unity in the region.

90 degrees North Pole

This is what polar dreams are made of and bucket lists are made for: join the world's most exclusive club located at 90 degrees North and celebrate at the top of the world! How exclusive are we talking about? Very few people can say they stood at the one earthly spot where every direction is south. In fact, only 250 people every year are able to set foot on this pristine polar ice with Quark Expeditions.

"My experience of being on the voyage to the North Pole was nothing short of a dream." ~ Rahul Manjar, Quark Passenger

The added excitement of helicopter excursions at the top of the world make this Quark Expeditions' adventure a true once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Expedition in Brief:

  • Top of the World 90° N
  • Nuclear-powered icebreaker, 50 Years of Victory
  • Zodiac cruising
  • Franz Josef Land wildlife and wildflower

For more details on this life changing expedition visit North Pole: The Ultimate Arctic Adventure 2014




Top 5 reasons to visit the North Pole!


1. Be one of 250 people each year to stand on top of the world

Ice Breaker

2. Hear the sound multi-year ice breaking aboard a Nuclear powered icebreaker ship

3. Sip champagne and toast at 90 degrees north

Polar Bear

4. Encounter arctic wildlife and see polar bears in Franz Josef Land

5. Walk or take a helicopter ride at the North Pole



Traveling to the Arctic is without a doubt a life changing experience! For more information on our amazing Expeditions check out: Arctic Cruises and Travel


Quark Expeditions’ at the top of the World with 50 Years of Victory


Ship will carry Sochi Olympic Flame to the North Pole.

[Waterbury, VT] – July 2, 2013 – Quark Expeditions, the leader in polar adventures, has just successfully reached the geographic North Pole for the 46th time as part of its first voyage of the 2013 Arctic season. It took only four days from Murmansk, Russia, to the North Pole. The 50 Years of Victory can take up to eight days to travel north, making this Quark’s fastest voyage to date.
Since 1991, Quark has operated voyages to the North Pole via icebreaker in June and/or July each year. Quark operates two departures of its signature North Pole voyage, taking a lucky 250 people in total each season to the top of the world aboard the powerful nuclear icebreaker, 50 Years of Victory.


Quark Expeditions passengers with Russian Ice Breaker 50 Years Of Victory at the North Pole in July 2012. Quark Expeditions passengers with Russian Ice Breaker 50 Years Of Victory at the North Pole in July 2012.


This fall, in honor of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, the 50 Years of Victory will be participating in the Olympic flame relay, carrying the flame to the North Pole. After the official lighting ceremony in Greece, the flame will travel through all Russia’s nine time zones and even to the International Space Station on board the Soyuz TMA‐11M manned spaceship, completing its route in Sochi in early February 2014.


Welcome to the North Pole!


A polar bear appears to wave lazily at passing Quark Expeditions passengers: "Welcome to the North Pole!"


Photo from the passenger slideshow, "Voyage to the North Pole" 24 June to 6 July 2011.

Be one of only 250 people to stand at the top of the world in 2013! Join us on Russian icebreaker 50 Years of Victory as we head to 90 degrees north.

Got an ice photo of your own to share? Post it to twitter and tag with #IcePhoto! Follow Quark Expeditions on twitter @quarkexpedition where we share photos and videos and chat about all things polar!


North Pole bound


Russian Icebreaker The 50 Years of Victory heads north in this incredible photo from our July 2012 North Pole cruise.


Be one of only 250 people to stand at the top of the world in 2013 - join us on our unforgettable North Pole voyage this year!



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