• facebook
  • twitter
  • rss
  • pintrest

Featured Posts

Dr. Dan Zak Shares Sea Sickness Prevention & Treatment Tips


Even the hardiest adventure travelers can experience sea sickness, as the waters we find ourselves in can be challenging for the strongest stomachs. The Drake Passage is well known amongst Antarctic travelers as a nausea-inducing hot spot, although any open water can get your insides rolling.

In the Arctic, as we cross the Davis Strait between Monumental Island and Ilulissat, those prone to motion sickness will need to keep an eye on their comfort level. Our ships are equipped with stabilizers, to help fend off the effects of rough waters. The Ship Captain and your Quark Expedition Leader are also monitoring weather and water conditions constantly, to determine the best routes and ensure the safety of passengers. Still, as with other ailments, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to sea sickness!

As the on-board doctor, I have access to two types of anti-motion sickness medications on the ship: Phenergan (promethazine) and antivert (meclizine). Ideally, we’d like you to have consulted with your family physician before departure, to ensure there are no interactions with other medications you may be taking.

Drake Passage

If you are prone to motion sickness, it’s not a bad idea to take one of these medications as a preventative measure. Once vomiting kicks in, dehydration becomes a risk – and if we determine you are becoming dehydrated, a shot of anti-motion sickness medicine in the buttocks may be in order. We’ve found that most passengers do best with Phenergan.

Health and safety on board the ship are also key in preventing motion sickness. Wash your hands with soap and water after using the washroom, before every meal, and frequently throughout the day, to prevent contracting any illness. Keep a hand on the railing as you navigate the stairs on board, as they can be quite steep. Holding on can help keep you from falling, but also adds a sense of stability. If you have any questions about sea sickness prevention or treatment, one of our two onboard doctors will be happy to assist.

Check out these other tips from our experienced Expedition Leaders:

Drake Passage Video


It never hurts to be prepared, though your Davis Strait crossing may very well be more like a “Drake Lake” crossing; it’s not uncommon for good weather to make these passage crossings smooth sailing. Regardless of the weather, once you catch your first glimpse of a majestic iceberg or the spectacular wildlife up close, you’ll know your participation in this rite of passage was worth it!

Do you have any sea sickness tips or tricks to share with other travelers? Leave yours in the comments.


Guest Post: Antarctica through the Eyes of an Arctic Aficionado by Andrew White


As someone who has truly been bitten by the Arctic bug, I was chomping at the bit to see Antarctica. And as the newest member of the Quark sales team, I was looking forward to seeing a Quark expedition in action. Like most salespeople it is easier to sell something you have experienced and even easier if you are genuinely passionate about it. Would it stack up to my experiences in the Arctic? Would I be able to sell Antarctica as passionately as I can sell the Arctic? And more importantly, would I get sick crossing the Drake Passage? (Yes. Yes. And NO!)

I overheard one passenger say that she had brought four books to read during the voyage but there was so much to do and so much to see that she didn't have time to crack open even the first book. To me, that sums up the experience of seeing Antarctica. A Quark Expeditions trip to Antarctica is sensory overload and I definitely ‘came back different.’ Based on the many conversations I had with guests as well as having read all the customer feedback surveys, I wasn't the only one! Not only did I return with friendships and memories that I will take to my grave but I also returned with a profound respect and sense of deep appreciation for the world’s last great wilderness.

Iceberg Antarctica

Ice: In Antarctica, it’s all about scale and colour of these amazing icescapes. The blue ice totally “blew” me away. They may measure in excess of 25 cubic miles whereas the Arctic masses are measured in mere yards. 90% of the all the ice and 70% of all the fresh water on the planet is in Antarctica, these stats are quite staggering and completely dwarf ice caps as massive as even those found in Greenland. But stats are stats; you need to experience the sheer scale of enormity, the texture, the colour and the movement of the ice – photos and video simply don’t capture its immensity.

Penguins Antarctica

Wildlife: To see wildlife in Antarctica you just have to be there! Thousands of penguins, hundreds of seals, plenty of whales and unique bird life galore – the soaring albatross or the leopard seal patrolling the shore will stay in my memory forever. To stand in the middle of a large penguin colony and witness parents taking turns waddling from their nest to the water to gather enough krill (which can take days), to then return to find their hungry chicks (amongst thousands of others) and regurgitate the krill into their chick’s mouths is a sight to behold; the 'circle of life' takes on a new meaning. If frequency of sighting and quantity of wildlife is high on your list then Antarctica is your destination. When I guide in the Arctic I tell guests that we cannot absolutely guarantee we will see polar bears, narwhals, musk ox, belugas, wolf and walrus (which is what makes those sightings so unique and magical), BUT seeing an abundance of wildlife in Antarctica on every excursion is guaranteed!

Needless to say, I can’t wait until my next trip – I have been well and truly bitten by the Antarctic bug. Bring on South Georgia, the Falklands, and let’s cross the circle while we’re at it. This trip was just the tip of the iceberg (pardon the pun). And yes, now I am more than a salesperson for Quark, I am an evangelist!

For anyone considering a trip to Antarctica I defy you to look at photos and watch video and not feel compelled to visit this uniquely special part of the world. And if that still doesn't do it for you, call me directly and I would be happy to share first-hand what to expect (1.416.645.8252).


Fly-Cruise Confidential: An interview with the President of Quark Expeditions


There is probably no bigger and more passionate fan of all things Quark Expeditions than our CEO Hans Lagerweij. Fresh from his first experience aboard one of our Antarctic Express voyages, we sat down to chat with Hans about the fly-cruise program and hear him tell the tale of another Quark “first” achievement in Antarctica!


Name: Hans Lagerweij
Job title: CEO (Chief “Experience” Officer)
Trip Name: Antarctica Express fly-cruise
Pre-post night city: Punta Arenas
Ship name: Sea Adventurer
Date of Travel : February 2013


Thanks for taking the time to do this little interview Hans. First off, how would you describe the type of traveler best-suited for Quark’s fly-cruise voyages?

Definitely you’re an adventurous and active traveler. We have great optional activities on offer such as sea-kayaking and camping, that any active traveler would enjoy. It’s a unique way to get up close and personal with the 7th continent.


Hans gets up close and personal with some penguins

What makes the fly-cruise program distinct from other Quark voyages?

If you’re pressed for time and still want to experience all the best highlights of the Antarctic Peninsula, these trips are fantastic as they can get across the Drake Passage and be in Antarctica in only two hours. Mind you, the flying is more sensitive to weather conditions (make sure you buy travel interruption insurance!). Unlike our regular expedition trips where embarkation/disembarkation is at the pier, for Express trips we do this in Antarctica, and then transfer you by Zodiac to/from the ship just off King George Island.

For all those aviation buffs, you may be interested to know that we use a British Aerospace 146 jet plane, which has four engines, STOL capabilities – short take off and landing –and can land on gravel. All great attributes for this type of voyage! [Editor's Note: You can watch a video of the airplane landing on King George Island right here.]


Did anything interesting happen during your journey to the destination?

There’s never a dull moment in expedition travel! Trying to make our way down to King George Island from Punta Arenas, it was foggy on the day we were supposed to fly, so we were delayed for 8 hours, making it evening when we were finally cleared to fly. So, as it turns out, this was the very first passenger night flight that our airline partner DAP had ever done in Antarctica, and was thus a new achievement in the history of tourism in Antarctica!

It was a really great night. The last passengers arrived on the ship at 2 a.m., where they were welcomed and served food with a smile by the hotel staff who had already put in more than 20 hours that day.


What are some of the highlights of your trip?

On my flight from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas, we had amazing views over Torres del Paine: probably one of the most spectacular views from an airplane that I have ever seen. Make sure you get a window seat on the left side of the airplane when you fly down, and right side when flying up, and have your camera ready!

Another memorable moment was when Expedition Leader Laurie Dexter gave his lecture about the failed Scott expedition to the South Pole; he is such a skilled storyteller and he recounted this historical event with such emotion that guests had tears in their eyes.


Top 3 things you did or experienced on your Polar expedition :

(1) Camping on the continent!

(2) Sea kayaking among the ice

(3) The polar barbeque on the outer deck – always a fun highlight, both for passengers and staff


You’ve seen all the iconic Antarctic wildlife before on your many trips to the region. Any unique encounters on this trip?

At Hannah Point, we observed a large number of penguin chicks “irritating” the huge elephant seals. They climbed on top of them and walked on their heads until the seals reacted by raising their bulbous heads and letting a big loud seal roar which had all the penguins scattering…only to regroup and begin their show minutes later. Truly hilarious!


What would you say to anyone who is considering travelling to the Polar Regions?

I highly recommend that you take advantage of the good advice from our passionate and experienced Polar Travel Advisers. Study all your options for the different ships and itineraries we have, and decide what suits you best. As the leader in Polar expeditions, we offer the largest choices to enjoy these regions, so please consider all the possibilities.

And one last thing, if you find that one of our fly-cruise voyages is for you, please note that the baggage limitation for the fly-cruise is 15kg per passenger. So pack smartly and remember that Quark has an informal atmosphere on board, so you don’t have to pack any fancy clothes – just those that keep you warm!


Thank you for sharing your experiences with us Hans!

Zodiac driver (and CEO) Hans Lagerweij


Antarctic Shake


This just in!

The Quark office staff has just received this video from our Expedition Team on the Sea Spirit. Check out that Antarctic Shake! This time...it's NOT just the Drake Passage.

Thanks to the team on the Sea Spirit for putting together this video...you made our day!



Flying to Antarctica - not just for birds!


February 11, 2013 - Quark passengers touch down at King George Island, ready to board their expedition ship and begin the adventure of a lifetime!

Passengers disembark a plane on King George Island
During this 8 day Fly the Drake voyage, passengers who are short on time, or may be prone to sea sickness are able to skip the infamous Drake Passage by flying from Punta Arenas, Chile to King George Island. It was an incredible feeling watching the plane touch down and the excitement in the air was tangible! Once landed, the adventure begun as passengers were ushered down the beach to awaiting zodiacs, then whisked away to their awaiting ship!

How do you feel about the Drake Passage? Is it part of the experience or something you'd be glad to skip?


Antarctica through the eyes of a first-timer


When it comes to booking your Quark Expeditions trip, our Polar Travel Advisers are top notch. They can guide you through the entire booking process and answer every question you can possibly think of! Why? Because they've been in your shoes; a first time polar adventurer, brimming with anticipation and excitement! That's why we asked one of our PTA's, Naomi, to tell us a little about her Quark Expeditions voyage to Antarctica. She's knowledgeable friendly, and wants to make sure you get the most out of your adventure.

Name: Naomi Box
Job title: Polar Travel Adviser
Trip Name: Antarctica Explorer
Pre-post night city: Ushuaia
Ship name: Sea Spirit
Date of Travel: January 31st – February 10th, 2012

1. Give a brief overview of your role at Quark and what you like most about it:
As a Polar Travel Adviser at Quark Expeditions, I thoroughly enjoy talking to clients and helping them plan for this completely different adventure. I take great pleasure in helping them understand what to expect, how to prepare, and like to remind them that although there is a great urge to photograph every moment it is important to put the camera down.

2. Tell us a little bit about your travel style:
International Woman of Mystery – kidding!!!! Adventurer.

3. Did anything interesting happen during your journey to the destination? Interesting seat mate, tips for smooth entry, Anything interesting in B.A./Ushuaia?
We had a crazy Drake passage crossing with 13 meter waves, breaching Humpback whales who entertained us for over 45 minutes off the bow of the ship, and I had two penguin chicks try to get on my lap. Awesome.


Baby Gentoo cooling off on some rocks Baby gentoo cooling off on some rocks

4. What were the weather conditions like during your trip?
Crazy crossings but beautiful sailing when we hit Antarctica. Blue skies all the way through minus one morning.

5. Best memory on the ship or your overall impression of the ship and/or staff:|
Phenomenally passionate individuals representing an equally phenomenal experience. The closest I can come to describing my trip and Antarctica is that it was like being on another planet -spectacular.

6. Top 3 things you did or experienced on your Polar expedition :

(1) Penguin chicks following me around the island we were on
(2) Humpback whale calf breaching for over 45 minutes
(3) Watched an avalanche from afar


Naomi and a curious gentoo penguin chick Naomi and a curious gentoo penguin chick
7. Describe a wow moment or particularly special memory from your trip:
I was speechless for about 2 hours after that encounter with the humpbacks – I almost could not believe what I was seeing. It affected me greatly and I am very thankful that I was privileged with the encounter.
8. Sum up your trip in 3 words:
Majestic. Eye opening. Fortunate.


9. What would you say to anyone who is considering travelling to the Polar Regions:
It is a once in a life time experience – so go. When you are there - put your camera down. When you come back – remember how fortunate you are and tell everyone why it is so important to see these areas.

10. Are there any other experiences, restaurants, food, people, places or sites you would like to highlight?
Deception Island, Aitcho, Neko Harbour, Pleneau Bay, Iceberg Graveyard and let’s hear it for the wildlife- nothing comes close to the experience you have seeing them in their natural habitat.


Frequently Asked Questions


We asked Polar Travel Adviser Naomi to give us a list of the most commonly asked questions that Quark passengers ask. She's listed them here with her answers - thanks Naomi!


Q. Is there an age restriction?
A. Quark Expeditions welcomes passengers aged 8 years old or above on any Quark vessel. Children under the age of 16 at time of travel require a waiver signed by a parent or guardian prior to embarkation, and must meet the minimum height and weight requirements (weight of 64lbs or 29kg and 48’’ or 1.2 m. tall). Parents must be on board with children under the age of 18 at all times, therefore, participation in adventure options may be limited for the parent. If these requirements are not met upon embarkation, Quark Expeditions reserves the right to refuse boarding without compensation or refund.


Q. Can I touch a penguin? Can I bring a penguin home?
A. Unfortunately no. We ask all of our passengers to follow the IAATO guidelines http://iaato.org/visitor-guidelines


Q. Can I trek the Drake passage?
A. Unfortunately not. You can however fly the Drake see our Antarctic Express programs found here.


Q. Will I receive a parka or do I need to bring my own? Are they warm enough?
A. You do not need to bring a parka as Quark Expeditions provides one to you. When you arrive on board your parka will be given to you. If you receive the wrong size we always have a few available on board to switch.


Q. Do I need to pack boots?
A. No there is no need to pack boots as we provided boots on loan for your to use while you are on the landings. Please note that we ask you to choose a boot size while keeping in mind that you will have on sock liners, and at least one pair of wool socks. If you do happen to select the wrong size please do not worry as we do have extras available onboard.


Q. What time is disembarkation?
A. We usually disembark our ships at 8 am on our usual Antarctic & Arctic itineraries ( except the fly cruise program)


Q. Do you have shampoo and soap in the cabins and are the bathrooms equipped with hairdryers?
A. Yes, we so supply shampoo, body wash and bar soap, and have hair dryers in the cabins. If you are particular about your toiletries I would suggest that you take your own.


Q. In Antarctica, will I actually be able to step on the continent and get off the ship?
A. Yes that’s the plan! However on the rare occasion due to extreme weather and ice conditions we may not be able to do a landing – but that is why we do a few days in the region as we will keep tryin until we land on the continent.


Q. Can I bring my snowboard ?
A. Unfortunately no as it is not safe – ie. we stay on paths, follow the guidelines as per IAATO etc. http://iaato.org/guidance-for-those-organising-tourism


Q. Am I allowed to bring my dog?
A. Unfortunately you have to leave FIDO at home as it is part of the Antarctic regulation to not have dogs on the continent – see IAATO regulations and rules for operation or ask Bill for more information.


Q. Is it okay to bring a hockey stick?
A. No, again everything that gets off the ship is thoroughly examined and sterilized for pests and invasive species. See guidelines above.


Q. Can you help me rent a car for Antarctica?
A. As much as we would love to help you plan your flights, insurance, additional hotels and tours we cannot provide you with a car rental as there are no roads or rental offices in Antarctica.


Q. Why are there no Polar Bears in Antarctica?
The quick answer is “no” as this is not their natural environment. However here is a little tidbit I like to share with clients:

Believe it or not we can thank the Ancient Greeks for the words Arctic and Antarctica. The word Arctic comes from the ancient Greek word “ Arkitos” which means “"near the Bear, arctic, northern" and that word comes from the word ἄρκτος (arktos), meaning “bear.” Some believe that the name refers either to the constellation Ursa Major, the "Great Bear", which is prominent in the northern portion of the celestial sphere, or to the constellation Ursa Minor, the "Little Bear", which contains Polaris, the Pole Star, also known as the North Star. While others believe it refers to the presence of Polar bears. So the word “Antarctica” defined means “opposite to the Arctic", "opposite to the north" or “ no bea” as some like to say.



Got a question for one of our Polar Travel Advisers? Send us an email at blog@quarkexpeditions.com



Posts by Topic

see all

Subscribe to Email Updates