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Stand-up Paddleboarding: A Unique New Perspective on Antarctic Adventure

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A Unique New Perspective on Antarctic Adventure

Beginning in the 2015.16 Antarctic travel season, Quark Expeditions passengers can participate in a fun, exhilarating new adventure: Stand-up Paddleboarding (also known as SUP).

Popular in warmer climes, we're offering this combination of surfing and canoeing or kayaking in the Antarctic, to give visitors a unique perspective on the pristine, untouched land and waterscape. Even though the watersport started in Hawaii, it's not limited to tropical areas. one of the world's best places to go stand-up paddleboarding!

Imagine penguins and seals swimming by beneath you as you glide easily around floating ice, with majestic views of sprawling glaciers and icebergs. On these small but study boards, powered by your own momentum, you can truly become one with the Antarctic in the most eco-friendly way.

 

What is Stand-up Paddleboarding?

Led by an experienced guide and equipped with a paddle, you'll set out in small groups aboard high quality, lightweight stand-up paddleboards.

As with all of our optional adventure activities, we only head out in good weather, on calm bays and in harbours. Your safety is our top priority, regardless of the activity.

Stand-up paddleboarding is a great activity for people of all fitness levels. The level of physical exertion can be low, though you can burn calories and get a full-body workout, depending on your speed.

Remember to bring a waterproof camera (see our post about polar photography equipment for tips) to capture amazing photos from this special vantage point, where you're almost walking on water! One of the main benefits of stand-up paddleboarding is that you’ll have a different vantage point from that of sitting in a canoe or kayak and be better able to see what’s in the water around you.

Stand-up paddleboarding in Antarctica

Antarctic Adventure: Stand-up Paddleboarding Tips

If you can do a practice run in warmer waters in, give it a try, but even first-timers can enjoy setting out on a stand-up paddleboard in the Antarctic. Our experienced instructors will help you get started. Remember:

  • You might find it easier to kneel on the board at first, until you get your balance. That's okay!
  • Keep your hands on either side of the board as you stand, to stabilize it.
  • Keep your feet parallel, centered, just aft of the centre point and about hip-width apart as you paddle.
  • Point your toes forward, bend slightly at the knees, and keep your back straight for good balance.
  • It might be instinctual, but try to avoid staring at your feet. They're still there, we promise! Instead, try to keep your gaze on the horizon or the epic Antarctic sights around you.
  • Don't worry about falling – it happens all the time. You'll be wearing a dry suit and a personal flotation device, and our experienced guide will help you get going again.

Stand-up paddleboarding is available as an adventure option for Quark Expeditions passengers on select Antarctica voyages aboard the Ocean Endeavour in the 2015.16 season. Quark will be piloting the program on select voyages during the 2014.15 Antarctic season. Space is limited and we can take reservations for 10 paddleboarders at the time of booking. Other paddleboarding opportunities may be offered on a first-come, first-served basis on-board the ship.

Contact our Polar Travel Advisers to learn more about stand-up paddleboarding and other unique adventure opportunities available this season.

Photos courtesy of Ice Axe Expeditions

 

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Myths of Traveling to Antarctica by Marybeth Bond

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Our friends and colleagues plagued us with questions before we left. Won’t you be cold, bored, unsafe and sea sick? I admit, I too had some concerns but none of them proved true.

Cold?

I was never cold and we were exposed to the ferocious winds and weather when we climbed a volcano in the snow, rode zodiacs around icebergs and kayaked through thin ice. We also had sunny, calm days. How did we stay warm? The pre-departure packing list from Quark Expeditions was so detailed and complete; there was not room for error. We bought the recommended layers, fleece, gloves and socks. The yellow, fleece-lined, super warm, water-proof Polar coats were given to us when we boarded the ship.

There was one exception: both my husband and I voluntarily took the “Polar Plunge” and jumped into the frigid water. Adrenaline and excitement kept me warm until my entire body was submerged. Then I gasped and struggled to climb the ladder back onto the ship. The cheering of new friends kept me sane, or made me do this insane jump. It was truly a “once in a lifetime” experience. Yes, I’ll never do it again, but I’m glad I did it once. It was one of those peak life moments.

Polar Plunge

Safety?

We felt secure and never at risk during the entire voyage. Numerous, detailed safety briefings and procedures, as well as the competent and experienced staff and crew, put us at ease. We chose Quark Expeditions because they have 30 years of experience and excellent past passenger reviews.

Bored?

Never! Although we packed several books, a deck of cards, and dominoes, we were never bored. Two excursions daily, visits to research stations, lots of educational lectures, movies, a health club and activities from yoga to Latin dancing kept us busy.

Excursion

Resize2

Seasick?

Everyone aboard had a different remedy for potential seasickness-- just in case the two-day crossing of Drakes Passage was rough. I got queasy for a few hours the very first night and took seasickness medicine which worked like a charm. Other cruisers used a “patch” or ate saltine crackers and candied ginger. My husband never got sick.

Why?

For those friends who wondered “Why”, we answer, “Why did we wait so long?”

How does it stack up against other “once-in-a-lifetime destinations?

We rank our Antarctic cruise right at the top of the list, equal to our honeymoon safari in Africa.

Watch the video of Marybeth's Antarctic voyage:

Video

Interested? For more information please visit our Antarctic voyages

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Wow moment: Quark passengers encounter humpback whales

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Expedition Leader, Shane Evoy, and the passengers aboard Quark's Antarctic Peninsula East & West Voyage, shared a once in a life time experience; being surrounded by humpback and orca whales. For close to three hours, a group of 50 whales were breaching, tail slapping and flaking around the zodiacs that were cruising in Wilhelmina Bay.

Fun fact: Reaching between 40 and 50 feet in length, a humpback whale can weigh up to 48 tons.

xWHITE-STEVEN-2-600x399.jpg.pagespeed.ic.PRUmM3M--W

Photo courtesy of Quark Passenger Steven White, from our Antarctic Peninsula East & West Voyage.

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Best Job In The World

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Expedition Leader, Shane Evoy, who is leading Quark's Antarctic Peninsula East & West Voyage, has experienced what most people can only dream of; a once in a life-time encounter with Humpback and Orca whales. Below is Shane's description of this phenomenal event:

 

Anonymous1 Pod of Orcas

Well when I wrote you to tell you about having the best office ever...it got better.

We started our cruise at 1430 in Wilhelmina and we had about ten humpback whales in the bay. In two hour that number went to 15 to 20 by the time we hit 3 hours we had over 50 whales with in sight and driving distance. They were breaching, tail slapping and flaking almost all the time. At one time two humpbacks breached at about the same time (one was hitting the water and the other was in the air) and about 10 metres from two Zodiacs. Then it got better. A pod of orcas came in to the bay, so all zodiacs had orcas around them, swimming up to and under.

The weather was 5 knots of wind and blue sky for the entire 4.5 hour cruise.with not one person wanting off the Zodiacs.

I have been working in Antarctica for 19 seasons and I have never had this encounter with so many and active wildlife. It was such a spiritual day. I will never forget it and I will share it for the rest of my life.

 

Feature photo courtesy of Quark passenger Steven White.

 

 

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Humpback whales bump into zodiac: rare moment captured on video

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When passenger Walter B. Jenkins was on Quark's 2013 Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica Voyage, he managed to capture a rare (and amazing!) moment:

"We had several great encounters with whales and dolphins, and the highlight of the trip for me was when two humpback whales came so close to our Zodiac one of them bumped us. I managed to get that on video!"

Humpback Whale Video

 

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

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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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Hot Docs & Quark Expeditions: First-ever Polar Floating Film Festivial

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Talk about a milestone here at Quark Expeditions! Eight documentaries have been selected by Hot Docs for the first-ever Polar Floating Film Festival. Starting November 2, 2013 the films will be featured on the Sea Spirit during the 23-day Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica via Buenos Aires: Explorers and Kings voyage.

“Quark is continually striving to provide its passengers with unique experiences when traveling to the Polar Regions,” said Hans Lagerweij, president of Quark Expeditions. “We are really excited to be able to bring this diverse roster of incredible films to our passengers for what is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience." Hot Docs selected the films with Quark’s passengers in mind – their love of adventure, the environment, globalization, the Polar Regions, and of course, pop culture.

"We are thrilled to share an eye-opening journey with Quark Expeditions' passengers through these eight outstanding documentaries,” says Brett Hendrie, Hot Docs executive director. "From witnessing the dramatic consequences of climate change to experiencing a solo sailing voyage around the globe through the eyes of a teenager, the inaugural Floating Polar Film Festival will appeal to their sense of adventure and curiosity about the world."

Sarafina DiFelice, programming manager at Hot Docs, will also be on board to help introduce the films and guide passengers through their on board festival experience. The Floating Festival will be complete with commemorative program, concession stand and souvenirs available at the Polar Boutique.

In alphabetical order, the films are:

Chasing Ice (USA).Directed by Jeff Orlowski.

  • This visually stunning film follows renowned National Geographic photographer James Balog on a harsh Arctic expedition where he captures a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers—undeniable evidence that our planet is in crisis. Director in attendance for the film festival voyages.

Watch the trailer >

Chasing Ice trailer

Expedition to the End of the World (Denmark). Directed by Daniel Dencik.

For a few weeks each year, the North Pole melts just enough to reveal once-hidden, untouched fjords. A boatload of motley artists and scientists set sail in search of life in this hilarious, breathtaking modern-day adventure.

Watch the trailer >

Expedition to the End of the World

The Human Scale (Denmark). Directed by Andreas M. Dalsgaard

“It’s either cars or humans,” says revolutionary architect Jan Gehl, asked how to accommodate the 6.5 billion who will be living in cities by 2050. From NYC to Chongqing, this controversial film examines what urban landscapes could soon be.

Watch the trailer>

The Human Scale Trailer

Maidentrip (USA). Directed by Jillian Schlesinger.

At just 14 years old, Laura Dekker sets out to become the youngest person ever to sail solo around the world. Braving waves and loneliness for two years, she shoots her own amazingly intimate coming-of-age story on the wide open sea.

Watch the trailer>

Maiden Voyage trailer

Under African Skies (USA, South Africa). Directed by Joe Berlinger.

The film celebrates the musical accomplishments of Paul Simon’s award-winning album Graceland and investigates the maelstrom of political criticism surrounding the album’s production and release in 1986.

Watch the trailer>

Under the African Skys trailer

Village at the End of the World (UK, Denmark, Greenland). Directed by Sarah Gavron.

A witty, surprising and ultimately feel-good portrait of an isolated Greenlandic village of 59 people and 100 sledge dogs, surviving against the odds.

Watch the trailer>

Village at the End trailer

Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington (USA). Directed by Sebastian Junger.

In April 2011, filmmaker and photographer Tim Hetherington was killed covering the Libyan civil war. In an intimate portrait by those closest to him, Tim is revealed to be as much a humanitarian as he was an artist.

Watch the trailer>

Which way to the Front line trailer

William and the Windmill (USA). Directed by Ben Nabors.

An ingenious 14-year-old Malawian boy builds a windmill from junk, and rescues his family from famine. But when the overwhelming media attention transforms his life, can he survive the massive change?

Watch the trailer>

William and the Windmill trailer

 

How to Book?

Those interested in being aboard the first-ever Floating Polar Film Festival can take advantage of a special offer. Book your cabin before September 30, 2013, and receive 5% off the voyage price plus save up to $1500 per person off your international flights. For more information, or to reserve your cabin, contact a Quark Polar Travel Adviser at 888-892-0073 or visit www.quarkexpeditions.com

 

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Polar Adventure: Camping in Antarctica

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This post is featured on The Weather Channel website written by Matthew Neugeboren and Stephanie Valera. It highlights adventure couple Dave and Deb of ThePlantD as they embark on a memorable camping experience in Antarctica with Quark Expeditions:

With its breathtaking scenery and unique wildlife, many consider Antarctica as one of the most fascinating places on Earth. But it's also a land of extremes, the coldest and driest continent on Earth, and only accessible via ice-strengthened vessels that can brave the rough sea crossings. This makes Antarctica the ultimate destination for camping and outdoors enthusiasts. Couple Dave and Deb of the adventure website ThePlanetD, joined some of those enthusiasts and recently traveled with Quark Expeditions for a camping adventure "at the bottom of the world." In the following pages, they share their photos and tips.

"Camping in Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Dave told Weather.com. "The night we were in Antarctica, there was a full moon and it was spectacular to watch the moon rise over the Antarctic peninsula. We had penguins stop by to check us out and a leopard seal was already sleeping close by when we arrived. All night long we heard his gurgles and burps."

Camping in an unspoiled land such as Antarctica, however, means following several strict rules. "A limited number of people can camp on the continent at one time and there are many rules and regulations," Dave said. "Nothing can be left behind. To ensure that happens, no food or drink is allowed on land except for water and you are not allowed to go to the toilet unless it is an absolute emergency. If it's an absolute emergency you can use the portable potty that they bring from the ship."

 

Camping in Antarctica Dave and Deb Photo courtesy of ThePlantD

According to Dave, campers trudged through the snow to find the perfect site and stomped out their "bed," enough below the ground to provide shelter from the wind overnight. "You have to be careful not to break out in a sweat or you'll lose all your body heat," said Dave. "So before we get down to sleeping, we're all walking around with no coats on doing our work."

Campers don't sleep in tents in Antarctica. Instead, Dave and Deb put down a foam mattress and slept in "bivouac sacks" (or bivy sacs) that zipped over their heads. "We had thick sleeping bags [inside the bivy sacs] and slept snug as a bug in a rug," said Dave. "We put our coats and boots under our heads so that they wouldn't be freezing when we woke up." According to Dave, the bivy sacs actually provided more warmth than tents, because they trap in the heat. "A tent is a wide open space that lets the cold air in," said Dave. "If you are a bit claustrophobic, like I was, it makes for an uncomfortable night. I had to keep unzipping my sleeping bag whenever I woke up to catch my breath, at times I felt trapped."

To sleep in sub-zero weather of Antarctica means having the appropriate gear. Dave, Deb and other campers wore layers underneath the parkas: a base layer to wick away moisture and an insulating layer to keep warm. The outer layers were waterproof and windproof. They also wore waterproof Gore-Tex pants, warm gloves, a "neck dickie" (Canadian for mock turtleneck) made of fleece, and a very warm hat. On their feet, they wore insulated rubber boots that we wore with a thin sock base layer under a warm wool sock. "Make sure you wear good sunglasses too," said Dave. "The sun in Antarctica is bright."

 

Antarctica Camping Dave and Deb Photo courtesy of ThePlantD

Venturing into subzero temperatures in a remote land requires preparation. Dave recommends booking with a company that specializes in polar expeditions and ensuring that they have an experienced staff. "The company we went with has a staff with several years of polar experience," said Dave. "They are marine biologists and scientists with a passion for Antarctica and our captain had decades of experience. They know and understand glaciers and weather and we felt in very capable hands."

Dave also recommends doing extensive pre-departure research. "Read your pre-departure guides on what to pack and what to expect and listen to your briefings," said Dave. "The company we went with gave us parkas and rubber boots to wear ensuring that we would be warm and comfortable, but there is a lot that you have to pack as well." And once on the continent? "Don't venture off from the boundaries that your guides set when you go to explore on land and make sure to listen to what your guide tells you when you are on the zodiac," said Dave. "Hold on and pay attention."

Check out more of Dave and Deb's camping experience in Antarctica at Camping in Antarctica on ThePlanetD.

Dave and Deb are a travel couple who live by the motto "adventure is for everyone" Married for 15 years, they've visited over 80 countries on 7 continents. They aim to inspire people to follow their dreams and push their boundaries. Currently they are 2013 American Express Ambassadors, Expedia Viewfinders for Expedia.com and HouseTrip Diplomats. They have appeared on TV as regular travel experts, been featured in such publications as The National Post, BBC Travel and National Geographic and have spoken around the world about pursuing your passion. Follow their journeys on their travelblog ThePlanetD.com.

 

Interested in this experience of a life time? Contact one of our polar travel advisers for more details!

 

 

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Spitsbergen Expedition - Voyage Update!

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Wow!! What an amazing day for the expeditioners aboard the Sea Spirit. This morning we ventured out in the zodiacs to explore the ethereal basalt cliffs of Alkefjellet, in the Hinlopen Strait. As we drew close we were absorbed into the cacophony of sound and ceaseless movement of several hundred thousand birds, mostly Brunnich’s guillemots. The sky swarmed with birds, many with small fish in their beaks, and the cliffs were crammed with guillemots closely guarding their young chicks. Returning to the ship, many commented how quiet it seemed after all the noise of the colony (despite all the excited chatter of 75 school children!)

xSea-Spirit--600x450.jpg.pagespeed.ic.IPhKC1WwMP

As we made our passage northwards after lunch, and just after crossing 80o North again, we saw huge columnar whale blows ahead. The expedition staff were thrilled to announce the extremely rare sighting of a blue whale. Then, over the course of an hour or more, there were no less than 6 of these magnificent animals, the largest on the planet. It was breathtaking to watch these mammals feeding, showing their flukes and turning towards us. Their blows were heard from the ship and the mottled blue colour of their 30m body seen clearly seen. We felt incredibly privileged to have observed these creatures.

Coming into our afternoon landing site, sharp eyes spotted one polar bear, then a second, on the hills beyond our landing. We watched from a distance and then landed on the other side of the bay at Sorgfjorden. It was here that a short battle between two French war ships and a fleet of Dutch whaling ships was fought. Whilst wandering on the site, walruses in the water were spotted, carefully watching us from a distance.

It was a tired but happy group that returned to the ship – the special ice cream buffet was well-earned. There was much high-spirited talking in the lounge, amongst new friends and old, late into the evening. A fantastic day!

 

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North Pole Adventure with Chris

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Name:

Chris McFarlane

Job title:

Assistant Manager, Operations

Trip Name: North Pole

Pre-post night city: Helsinki

Ship name: 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years of Victory)

Date of Travel:

July 1, 2013 to July 12, 2013

What word best describes your travel style & why? (Adventurer ,Check-lister, Learner , Escapist)

Adventurer. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a list of places that I’m interested in travelling to, and I certainly enjoy checking them off, but what drives me to travel is a sense of adventure and exploring foreign places and cultures. I’ve always been a very curious person.

Give a brief overview of your role at Quark and what you like most about it:

I work in the Operation department in Quark’s head office. My role revolves around ensuring the smooth and safe operations of our expeditions, including making sure we have the best ships, staff and equipment in the industry. I like that operations is really the front-line department of the company, and because of this we get the chance to work closely with all other departments (finance, marketing and sales) to get a very holistic view of our business. On top of this, we get the opportunity to experience a few voyages every year which is amazing!

Did anything interesting happen during your journey to the destination? (interesting seat mate, tips for smooth entry, Anything interesting in B.A./Ushuaia?)

I decided to spend a day in Reykjavik, Iceland on my way to meet the group in Helsinki. It was gorgeous, and I highly recommend breaking up a trans-Atlantic flight with a stopover in Iceland if you get the chance! I rented a car at the airport and clocked close to 500kms in 24hrs driving around this unique island. The highlight was definitely a late evening visit to the famous Blue Lagoon spa by the airport – so relaxing!

bluelagoonspa

Photo courtesy of Blue Lagoon Spa

What were the weather conditions like during your trip?

This was my first North Pole trip so I wasn’t sure what to expect weather wise, but I’m told it was overall above average. We started with a record-breaking hot day in Murmansk that was a bit of a sweaty one, and aside from one day of thick fog on the sail to the Pole we had clear skies and sun. Our day at the Pole was slightly overcast and about -1 degrees Celsius, but the wind stayed down which allowed us to have fun all day on the ice! On our sail back to Murmansk we were blown out of one landing opportunity in Franz Josef Land, but we were able to get on the Zodiacs and in the Helicopter for two others so overall it was a success.

Best memory on the ship or your overall impression of the ship and/or staff:

My best memory on the ship was sailing North and encountering the sea ice for the first time. Watching our ship steam ahead and break through meter thick ice at full speed was truly amazing and really gave me a sense of how powerful these nuclear icebreakers really are. After the first hour or so of breaking through the ice we also encountered our first polar bear – what a day!

IMG_3379

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

1) Watching the ship break through some seriously thick ice for the final 5 nautical miles to the 90 degrees North.

2) Seeing my first polar bear

3) Getting in the ship’s helicopter and seeing the vast expanse of sea ice from high above

IMG_3462

Describe a wow moment or particularly special memory from your trip:

Maybe not a wow moment, but the traditional Russian parade music that blared as our ship casted her lines and left port was definitely very memorable!

Sum up your trip in 3 words:

Unlike any other.

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

If you’re considering travelling to the Polar Regions you are probably an adventurous, curious and likely experienced traveler. If this is the case, it will be one of the best trips of your life!

IMG_3443

Are there any other experiences, restaurants, food, people, places or sites you would like to highlight?

I will mention Reykjavik, Iceland again because I was truly surprised by the unique beauty and very friendly people I encountered there. A must visit!

 

 

 

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