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Quark 2014.15 New Brochure: Behind the Scenes


My name is Wendy Fowler and I’m a graphic designer at Scott Thornley + Company in Toronto, Canada. I’ve designed the brochure for Quark Expeditions for the last three seasons. Creating this lovely booklet though is really a group effort. The team here at STC includes a production manager, a proofreader, a photo editor/colour specialist, an account manager, and our creative director. Not to mention, of course, the team at Quark Expeditions with whom we work closely. Creating the brochure is an exciting time around the studio, and it's always rewarding to see the final product.



Photos that say: “WOW! I want to experience that.”

The most important job with each brochure is organizing and selecting the vast amount of expedition photography that comes in from the travellers. Quark is fortunate to have many passengers from all around the world who are also amazing photographers. The brochure is a great opportunity to feature some of these beautiful images. It’s the passenger’s point of view that truly reinforces the authenticity and uniqueness of the expeditions: the precious one-on-one time with a Gentoo penguin in the Antarctic Peninsula, or a couple marvelling at the Northern Lights in Eastern Greenland. Such visual memories are special because they show the traveller interacting with nature in a very personal and meaningful way.




A graphic designer can’t ask for better photographs than these!

The submissions were really unbelievable this year. We received so many unexpected gems: a kayaker amongst curious Minke whales, or orcas following a Zodiac. And of course our fabulous cover shot: a Spitsbergen polar bear, captured in the most beautiful light and pristine ice.


Brochure Cover


Tips for the Quark adventurer — we want to feature YOUR amazing images

One of the heartbreaking parts of my job is finding a great photo, only to discover the resolution is too low, or it's too dark or grainy. So, for all travellers ready to depart on an extraordinary Quark polar adventure, here are a few tips:

• We are always looking for that special interaction between traveller and wildlife;

• The higher resolution the photo, the better – set your picture quality to the largest setting;

• If the photo is too dark or grainy, we can't use it;

• We love gorgeous landscapes, especially pristine ice and blue skies;

• We also love day-to-day life aboard the ship, especially for our ‘Day in the Life’ features;

• Quark Expeditions is very thankful that their passengers share their beautiful photography. Please include your full name in your photo submissions to ensure we include you in the photography credit listing on the inside back cover.

Thank you Quark Expeditions

I feel very fortunate to work on such a special project here at Scott Thornley + Company. I can’t wait to see all the photos for next year, especially from the Arctic destinations and Canadian trips that are new to this season. I’ve learned a lot about these regions, not just from studying the photography, but by becoming fully immersed in all of the details and stories. I think it’s finally time to start planning for my trip. But, the most difficult decision is going to be... Arctic or Antarctica?



Ushuaia: Meet the Quark Ground Team!


The Quark Ground Team (stationed in Ushuaia, Argentina) is an invaluable extension of both the Quark onboard expeditions team as well as the head office team, and the only one of its kind with an office stationed at the jumping off point for Antarctica. I recently had a chance to speak with Marcelo Vanecek via phone during one of his regularly busy days in-and-out of the office. Marcelo is Quark’s Ushuaia Services Manager and essentially coordinates the ease of travel for Quark passengers upon their arrival (and departure) in Ushuaia.


Marcelo Vanecek Marcelo Vanecek, Quark's Ushuaia Services Manager

1. What should Quark passengers know about our Ushuaia Ground Team?

“Ultimately, we’re here to help and guide them in EVERYTHING they need to know. With a live Quark person on the ground, we are able to suggest restaurants and shops and help smooth out logistics in real time. Passengers really appreciate that extra touch. They should also know that our expertise is in their stay in Ushuaia and visits to the surrounding areas (such as National Parks or other local attractions and highlights); while the Expedition Team is far more knowledgeable about Antarctica itself and will do their best to make that experience a memorable one.”

2. How long have you been assisting passengers in Ushuaia?

“I’ve been assisting travelers en route to Antarctica for over 10 years. The last company that I worked for merged with Quark in 2009 and that is when I began working for Quark Expeditions.”


3. How has tourism changed in Ushuaia over the last 10 years?

“Tourism in Ushuaia has grown dramatically… and positively. Not only have we seen increasing numbers of Quark passengers route to Antarctica, but travellers with around-the-world tickets are making it a must-see stop along their route as well. The increased visits have brought with it a better infrastructure here in town with better choice in quality hotels and services like restaurants and shops, etc.”

4. What is your favourite part of being a Quark Ground Team representative in Ushuaia?

“Meeting our passengers. I get to see the expressions on our travelers’ faces when their dreams turn into realities. Quark passengers often read about and prepare for a journey like this for months and sometimes years. The expression on our passengers’ faces tells me how satisfied they are when we exceed their every expectation."

Sea Spirit in Ushuaia

Call a Polar Travel Adviser to book your voyage to Antarctica… and be sure to stop by Quark’s Ushuaia office when you’re there to say hi to Marcelo and his team!

By Jonathan Carroll, Quark Business Development & Trade Communications


A day in the life: Spitsbergen, Arctic


Ever wonder what it's like to be on an Arctic expedition? This video gives you an intimate snapshot of a day in the life of one of our Spitsbergen voyages. Time spent in Spitsbergen is always unique from one day to the next. Epic, awesome and majestic, the Arctic region of Svalbard region is full of wildlife and amazing scenery just waiting for you. Come explore the Arctic and Antarctica with Quark Expeditions.

View video >

A day in the life: Spitsbergen, Arctic


Scott vs. Amundsen: Keep Calm and Eat your Veggies


By Rachel Hilton, VP Marketing & Product

In May of 2013, I had the pleasure of attending a preview of the Royal BC Museum’s current exhibit, Race to the End of the Earth, which recounts Scott and Amundsen’s separate journeys through Antarctica in the contest to reach the South Pole. Quark Expeditions was one of the sponsors of the exhibition.

The exhibition details the challenges that both the Norwegian and British leaders faced as they each journeyed 2900 km from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf to the South Pole and back again. The exhibit itself was fascinating, but the preceding lecture by curator, Dr. Ross MacPhee, really gave me an appreciation for the fact that despite superficial similarities the Scott and Amundsen expeditions, they actually differed on two key fronts: traditional knowledge and diet.

Amundsen vs. Scott

Explorer Manpower Transportation Sledges
Amundsen 5 52 sled dogs 4
Scott 16 23 sled dogs

10 ponies

2 motorized sleds


A first glance, it would seem that Scott’s team was abundantly equipped. However, the ponies and primitive motorized vehicles Scott brought failed him, and he was forced to use mostly man power to drag his heavy sledges.


Scott team diet Scott Team Diet. Clockwise from left: cocoa, pemmican, biscuits, butter, tea and sugar cubes.

What’s more, Scott’s team’s diet was not sufficient for all that hauling. According to Dr. MacPhee, the daily sledging ration for one man for one day consisted of cocoa powder, sugar cubes, tea, pemmican, biscuits and butter (approximately 4,240 calories). Meanwhile, the estimated required nourishment for man-hauling is at least 5,500 calories. The diet itself was also deficient in vitamin C which was why many of Scott’s team contracted scurvy.

Meanwhile, Amundsen’s team had stored 60 tons of seal meat in their winter quarters; which Amundsen thought was enough for themselves and 110 dogs (including pups born on the journey south). At winter’s end, seal meat was supplemented with tinned meats. For dessert, they ate green plums, tinned California fruits, as well as cloudberries, a golden-yellow, soft and juicy berry, rich in vitamin C.

When Scott and his party arrived at the Pole to find that the Norwegian team had already arrived, they had lost a lot of weight, were suffering from the effects of the cold and an inadequate diet. Finding themselves beaten to the Pole, Scott and his two remaining companions, suffering from severe frostbite and wounds, turned around and trudged back to base camp, only to be trapped in a prolonged blizzard, out of food and fuel, and froze to death in their tent. They were only 11 miles from the next supply depot.



Adventure Options highlight: Kayaking


Meet Quark's kayaking expert: Solan Jensen. Born and raised in coastal Alaska, Solan works as a kayak ranger and guide specializing in multi-day sea kayak trips. A highlight of his career, Solan was the co-leader of one of the first commercially guided overnight sea kayak expeditions in Antarctica. Below is an exclusive blog post from Solan:


Solan Jensen Solan Jensen

Kayaking in the Polar Regions is probably one of the most intimate and romantic ways to explore these majestic places. The kayak hasn't really evolved since its creation (it was invented in Greenland, BTW), so it's stuck to its primitive and principle concept of being at one with the water and therefore the animals and ice.


Whether it's in the Arctic or Antarctica, kayaking isn't really for everyone though. Between the tempestuous weather, the bone-chilling water, the wild animals and the colossal icebergs, this is some of the most dangerous waters in the world. Quark's kayak guides always encourage paddlers to take a weekend kayak course before they leave on their trip, where they can get a feel for the boat, practice a wet exit, and have a few more hours under their "spray skirt."

Whether it’s the slow pace at which you glide through the water, the bond with a small group of your fellow paddlers, or the primal way you’ll be immersing yourself in these regions, kayaking offers an experience unlike anything else you've ever, or will ever, have.


Interested in kayaking? Take a look at our Top 7 ultimate kayaking expeditions:



Helly Hansen: The Captain of Polar Fashion


In cooler temperatures, warm becomes the new black. No other brand has stood the test of time in polar fashion stronger than trailblazer, Helly Hansen. The brand started back in 1877 when Norwegian Captain Helly Juell Hansen and his wife Margarethe began producing jackets, trousers, sou'westers and tarpaulins, made from coarse linen soaked in linseed oil.

Fast forward to the 20th century, Helly Hansen has continued to make several huge fabric technology breakthroughs. In fact, they’re responsible for:

  1. The layering principal
  2. The original fleece, fiberpile, which protects and insulates the bodies temperature
  3. Helox, a thin sheet of translucent PVC plastic sewn into waterproof coats
  4. The wonder fiber, LIFA, which pushes moisture away from the body

In addition, in the late 1980’s, they launched Helly Tech technology and revolutionized the creation of breathable and waterproof garments.

Today Helly Hansen is used by world-class sailors, skiers, adventurers – and more importantly –Quark Expeditions! We’re thrilled to be selling Helly Hansen in our ships boutiques, and we’re confident the garments will provide Quark travelers with a strong and sturdy guard against the polar elements so you can snowshoe, hike, ski and sightsee with ease.

Needless to say, you're in good hands when you're with Helly and Quark.




This thin, lightweight down jacket for women can be worn as a mid layer or as a coat in its own right. Easily fits into a backpack, making it ideal for active lifestyles or when you're out and about in the polar regions.



A great-value, basic rainwear jacket for women. Fully waterproof with Helly Tech® Protection, this raincoat was developed for trekking, biking or just hanging out in winter weather on the ships deck.



This thin, lightweight down jacket for men can be worn as a mid layer, and easily fits into a backpack. Ideal for active lifestyles like Quark's adventure options.







Part 2: Greenland Explorer update from Expedition Leader Alex McNeil


The second update installment from Alex McNeil, Quark Expedition Leader on the Greenland Explorer.

Our time amongst the Viking spirits was over we headed north and prepared people for our first visit to an Inuit community. An extensive recap highlighted the cultural, social, and economical aspects of these communities. People were excited to visit this remote outpost and move into the next phase of our journey. Yes, I have broken this trip into three phases: wilderness / historical, cultural, and wilderness / ice.

Paamiut, Women in National costume Paamiut; women in national costume. Photo courtesy of ilovegreenland.

In Paamiut, the shore staff we were greeted by Helga, our guide, at the dock. After finding a floating soccer ball in the drink on our way in the staff broke into a spontaneous game of street soccer with the local dock workers, as we were waiting for our dock to be fixed. A few nuts and bolt tightening’s later and we were ready to go, luckily we had arrived with ample time before passenger disembarkation and Helga was already on top of the local handymen getting them to fix the dock. We had a great team of local guides: Helga (whose mother was watching us from her kitchen window), Christer (the local policeman), Saqqoq (the local paramedic), and Else-Marie. Our guests came ashore and immediately began engaging with the locals. Helga was answering everyone's questions (of which there were many) and the guides went off with folks to show them around the town.


Paamiut Greenland Paamiut, Greenland. Photo courtesy of ilovegreenland

It was like releasing a group of school children, who had been learning about something in class into the theory meets practice arena. Funny enough the local teacher had the same idea, and brought her english class out for a real world test. She challenged her young students to approach the yellow coated guests and practice their english, a test which many passengers were thrilled to take part in. Almost everyone chose to take the fish factory tour. At this time they were processing Cod and Snow Crab (yes there was a tasting). Our guests were given a further insight in the local economic structures of these communities. We arrived around the same time as the local fishermen were returning from fishing and Jimmy and I went over to investigate what the "catch of the day" was. The first gentleman we spoke to, an older man (likely in his 60's), had hauled a good catch of Arctic Char. When we asked what he would sell them for we almost fell out of the boat. He had 10 - 12 large char 10 - 15 lbs each, caught only hours ago, and he wanted 500 kr for the lot. Around $90! I always keep a keen eye on the Char section of the St. Lawrence market and one fish that size would sell for between $50 - $80. Anyhow, Vincent (our hotel manager) was thrilled when Jimmy brought the fish aboard and said his chef would prepare the fillets and be able to have enough for every passenger!


Arctic Char Arctic Char. Photo courtesy of ilovegreenland

Today we were in Nuuk. Luckily we booked three busses for the bus tour (08:30 - 10:00) as everyone took part, and as it is Saturday nothing was open until 10:00 anyhow. People were able to enjoy the museum and all were keen to see the famous Greenland Mummies Laurie had told us about the night before. Our guests explored the vast metropolis of Nuuk and were back on board by 16:30, some with shopping bags, and most with smiling faces. The ace in the hole was the surprise (yes, I kept it a surprise for dramatic effect) performance by the local choir. They came dressed in their beautiful traditional costumes and sung some soothing hymns in the Oceanus Lounge as we prepared for departure, there was even dancing at the end. We waved goodbye to our guests and set off for Simiut.


Nuuk Nuuk; Photo courtesy of ilovegreenland



Part 1: Greenland Explorer update from Expedition Leader Alex McNeil


Below is an insightful update from Alex McNeil, who is Quark's Expedition Leader on the Greenland Explorer. Alex has a strong passion for the polar regions, and has traveled extensively in the Arctic and Antarctic, completing nearly 100 expeditions:

Things have been going incredibly well. Everything we have been able to do has far exceeded even my own expectations for this voyage. We have been able to identify and take advantages of every opportunity and the passenger energy is very high. I think that the key element to this success is that no one really knew what to expect. We have had the ability to highlight all aspects of the places we have visited and have not only been able to achieve our initial goals but also to create added experience value in many ways.

On day three the original itinerary showed a transit of Prins Christian Sund, the excitement started on our approach, when the first narrow part of the entrance was seemingly blocked by a large iceberg. There was only a narrow gap between the iceberg and a small island holding us from either making it into the sound or having to turn back out into 40kn winds outside. After assessing current (we were luckily going into the current, and did not have it behind us), soundings, and the composition of the ice Captain Oleg decided it was safe to proceed. It was an incredible feat of navigation and all of the passengers cheered as we cleared the passage and entered the fjord. In the recap the night before I had told the passengers that our goal was to transit Prins Christian Sund and ship cruise through this scenic fjord. As always we would take into consideration time, distance, and local conditions and see if any opportunities presented themselves.

Greenland Fjord

Shortly after entering the fjord our first opportunity arose. There was a sheltered bay with a nice glacier where conditions were stable and we were able to offer a zodiac cruise. The passengers were thrilled and when I returned to the ship I was satisfied that we had already exceeded any expectations for that day. As the day progressed after lunch, and after spending a significant amount of time studying the topographical maps and nautical charts, we found an option for an afternoon landing. A true expedition landing as no one had ever been into this fjord arm before. We were able to land, offer an extensive hiking program (charger, medium-fast, medium-slow, and the best contemplative walk I have ever been on). We had plenty of time to explore this magical place and everyone returned to the landing with smiles on their faces. From a day which began with a very low probability for success, and with the weather Gods seemingly against us, we were able to offer two landings and a stunning ship cruise.

The following day the rough weather had passed, we were off to the south of Hierjolfness, the sun was out and the sea was calm. The exposed landing site was clear and ready to receive us. Our first taste of the rich Viking history everyone had been learning about was ahead of us. The weather held, we made it ashore, and had ample time to explore the ruins of the Viking settlement. Laurie said that he had not been able to land here for the last 7 years despite many attempts. We then re-positioned to Uunartoq where we were able to offer a hiking program as well as a hot spring dip (which was actually warm) to all. The best part was that the hiking groups were so well spaced that the pool never seemed crowded. There was a slight mist and nice big bergs floating by. One berg was even nice enough to entertain us with a collapse and flip performance.


Uunartoq Hot Springs Uunartoq Hot Springs: Photo courtesy of ilovegreenland

Our schedule had shown us continuing on the theme of Viking history for the following day with a visit to Hvalsey. However there was one element of this area of Greenland that I knew was entirely unique, and that our guests would not have the opportunity to experience anywhere else; the agricultural economy of South Greenland. After trying to find contacts and utilizing every resource I was finally able to get in touch with a nice lady named, Malena from Igaliko. She said that the community would be happy to welcome us so we planned to be there in the morning and Hvalsey in the afternoon. We awoke to fog and mist and by all estimations we were in for a wet and foggy landing in this remote community. Upon our arrival to the beach we were greeted by Malena and her sheep dog Koko. Her first words were "I think it’s going to be a nice day" as she finished her sentence we looked up and saw our first glimpse of blue sky. Coincidence we were sure. I asked what options were available for our passengers other than visiting the Viking ruin of Gardar (the cathedral of Eric the Red, a pretty big deal), she said that there was not much but she could do a farm tour. As the boats came ashore, the weather changed from fog and mist to brilliant sunshine and blue skies (shorts and t-shirt weather).


Hvalsey Viking Ruin Hvalsey Viking ruin: Photo courtesy of iloveGreenland

Everyone walked up to the Viking ruins and from there Malena and Laurie gathered people for a farm tour. At least 60 passengers joined and Malena was incredible. She managed the group as if it was an intimate tour for a small group, answering every question and involving everyone. I did not take the tour but the feedback was that it was the best experience anyone had experienced thus far. Malena and her sheep dogs walked with everyone to her family farm where they met her sheep and lambs, she showed them the buildings and discussed the processes involved. People could not believe that the farm was managed by Malena, her husband, and their son. Three people only! The weather held throughout the landing and before noon the day was already a great success. We came back on board and re-positioned to Hvalsey. The sun remained throughout the day and we offered hiking groups around Hvalsey, each group (especially the contemplatives) ample time at the church ruin. This was the cherry on top! The itinerary could not have been better planned. To start at Hierjolfness where all you can see are the foundations of the buildings; then to go to Gardar, where you can make out door frames and low walls; finally to finish at Hvalsey and see a Viking ruin standing almost exactly as it did when it was built was the perfect sequence. This was a progression through Viking archaeology.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Alex's update from the Greenland Explorer tomorrow!


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


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).


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