Quark Expeditions Cruises Review: Cruise Ship Guide, Itineraries, Bookings & Deals

Quark Expeditions stands as a pioneer in polar exploration, offering adventurers the opportunity to embark on extraordinary journeys to the ends of the Earth aboard their fleet of specialized expedition ships. With a focus on the Arctic and Antarctic regions, Quark Expeditions provides guests with unparalleled access to some of the most remote and pristine wilderness areas on the planet, making for an unforgettable and life-changing travel experience. At the heart of the Quark Expeditions experience is a commitment to exploration, education, and conservation. With a team of expert expedition leaders, naturalists, and scientists onboard each voyage, guests have the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s foremost polar experts while immersing themselves in the stunning landscapes and wildlife of the polar regions. From spotting penguins and seals on Antarctic ice floes to witnessing the majesty of a polar bear in the Arctic, Quark Expeditions offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with nature in its purest form.

In a Nutshell…

  1. Ocean Adventurer: Carries up to 128 passengers, featuring an ice-strengthened hull for navigating polar waters. Speed: 12 knots.
  2. Ocean Explorer: Accommodates 138 passengers, with an ice class of 1A and a speed of 16.5 knots.
  3. Ultramarine: A vessel for 199 passengers, equipped with an ice class of 1A+ and a speed of 16 knots.
  4. World Explorer: Carries 172 passengers (140 on Antarctic Express programs), with an ice class of 1B and a speed of 16 knots.
  5. 50 Years of Victory: An authentic icebreaker with 128 guests, boasting the highest ice class rating (LL1) and a speed of 18 knots.
  6. Kapitan Khlebnikov: Another icebreaker, accommodating 110 passengers, with an ice class of LL3 and a speed of 15 knots.

The history of Quark Expeditions cruise ships is a testament to the company’s pioneering spirit and dedication to providing extraordinary polar adventures. From humble beginnings to becoming a renowned leader in polar exploration, Quark Expeditions has a rich history that has shaped its fleet and the experiences it offers to adventurous travelers.

Quark Expeditions was founded in 1991 with the vision of offering unique and immersive voyages to the polar regions. The company recognized the growing interest in exploring the remote and untouched landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctic and set out to create a fleet of ships that could navigate these challenging environments.

The early years of Quark Expeditions were marked by the acquisition and conversion of ice-strengthened vessels suitable for polar exploration. These ships were specifically designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the polar regions while providing a comfortable and safe experience for passengers. Quark Expeditions’ commitment to safety and expertise in navigating polar waters quickly earned the trust and loyalty of adventurous travelers.

Over the years, Quark Expeditions expanded its fleet, acquiring new ships and upgrading existing ones to enhance the guest experience. The ships underwent extensive renovations and modifications to meet the highest standards of comfort and safety. State-of-the-art technology and equipment were installed, ensuring that passengers could enjoy their polar adventures with peace of mind.

One of the notable vessels in the Quark Expeditions fleet is the legendary Kapitan Khlebnikov. Built in 1981, this icebreaker has a storied history and is renowned for its ability to traverse the most challenging ice conditions. The Kapitan Khlebnikov has carried explorers, scientists, and adventurous travelers to some of the most remote and inaccessible places on Earth, including the North Pole. It represents the spirit of exploration that Quark Expeditions embodies.

In recent years, Quark Expeditions introduced new purpose-built ships that further elevated the polar expedition experience. The addition of vessels like the Ocean Adventurer, Ocean Endeavour, and Ultramarine brought a new level of luxury, comfort, and innovation to the fleet. These modern ships were designed with the specific needs of polar adventurers in mind, featuring spacious cabins, panoramic observation decks, and cutting-edge amenities.

The Ultramarine, in particular, stands out as a game-changer in polar expedition cruising. Launched in 2021, this state-of-the-art vessel redefines the standard for comfort and expedition capabilities. It features two twin-engine helicopters that allow for unrivaled access to remote landscapes, as well as a fleet of Zodiacs for up-close exploration. The Ultramarine also boasts a range of upscale amenities, including a spa, fitness center, panoramic lounge, and a variety of dining options, ensuring that guests can relax and rejuvenate after their polar adventures.

Throughout its history, Quark Expeditions has been at the forefront of responsible and sustainable travel in the polar regions. The company takes pride in minimizing its environmental impact and actively contributes to conservation efforts. The fleet of Quark Expeditions ships adheres to strict environmental guidelines and employs innovative technologies to reduce emissions and waste. By fostering a deep respect for the fragile polar ecosystems, Quark Expeditions ensures that future generations can continue to explore and appreciate these pristine environments.

The Quark Expeditions Cruises Fleet

Quark Expeditions offers a variety of cruise ships designed for exploring the polar regions. Here’s a look at what you can expect on a Quark Expeditions cruise ship:

Variety of Ships: Quark Expeditions operates a fleet of several ships specifically designed for navigating the polar regions. These ships vary in size and amenities, offering options for different budgets and preferences.

Focus on Exploration: All Quark Expeditions ships prioritize exploration and discovery. They are equipped with features like Zodiac landing crafts that allow for close encounters with wildlife and landings on remote shores. Onboard facilities support exploration, such as lecture halls for informative talks by naturalists and polar experts.

Icebreaking Capabilities: Many Quark Expeditions ships are icebreakers, specially reinforced to navigate through ice-covered waters. This capability allows them to access remote areas inaccessible to ordinary ships.

Sustainable Features: Quark Expeditions is committed to sustainable travel practices. Many of their ships incorporate features that minimize their environmental impact, such as low-emission engines and advanced waste treatment systems.

Passenger Amenities: While varying by ship, Quark Expeditions ships offer comfortable accommodations and amenities. Expect features like well-appointed cabins, dining options, and public areas for relaxation and socializing. Some ships may also feature wellness facilities like saunas or fitness centers.

Safety First: Safety is paramount on Quark Expeditions cruises. The ships are equipped with advanced navigation and safety features, and the crew is highly trained in emergency procedures.

Overall, Quark Expeditions cruise ships are designed for exploration and discovery in the polar regions. The variety of ships in their fleet offers options for different budgets and preferences, all prioritizing safety, comfort, and minimal environmental impact.

Note: Quark Expeditions cruises are designed for adults with a strong interest in exploration and the natural world. While some itineraries may be suitable for families, there are no dedicated children’s programs or amenities onboard most ships.

Quark Expeditions World Explorer Review

In the realm of polar expeditions, the World Explorer stands out as a beacon of luxury and adventure. Operated by Quark Expeditions, this vessel is a modern marvel designed to navigate the icy waters of the Earth’s extremities with grace and agility. Here’s an in-depth look at what makes the World Explorer a ship like no other.

A Vessel Built for Discovery The World Explorer is not just any cruise ship; it’s a purpose-built expedition vessel equipped to handle the challenging conditions of polar exploration. With an Ice Class 1B rating, it can safely traverse icy seas, bringing adventurers closer to the untouched wilderness of the poles.

Luxury Meets Adventure Accommodating up to 172 guests, the World Explorer offers six tiers of deluxe accommodation, each featuring either a private walk-out or French balcony for direct ocean views1. The ship’s design emphasizes personal space and comfort, ensuring that every traveler has a serene haven to return to after a day of exploration.

Eco-Friendly Exploration At the heart of the World Explorer are two state-of-the-art Rolls Royce hybrid-electric engines. These engines not only provide a smooth cruising experience but also significantly reduce the ship’s environmental footprint, making it a responsible choice for eco-conscious travelers.

Engaging with the Environment The World Explorer’s amenities are thoughtfully designed to enhance the polar experience. The glass-domed Observation Lounge offers full skyline views, allowing passengers to gaze upon the majestic landscapes from the warmth of the indoors. For those wishing to feel the brisk polar air, the outdoor track and wraparound deck on Deck 8 offer unparalleled opportunities to witness the region’s wildlife and scenery.

Wellness at Sea Understanding the need for balance, the World Explorer features health and wellness facilities, including a small gym, sauna, and a spa with change rooms, showers, and lockers. These facilities provide a perfect way to unwind and rejuvenate after an adventurous day.

Enriching Onboard Experience Education and enrichment are core to the Quark Expeditions experience. The World Explorer boasts a dedicated lecture theatre where guests can attend presentations and discussions on topics ranging from history and biology to glaciology and geology, facilitated by onboard polar experts.

Adventure-Ready Amenities For the active adventurer, the World Explorer offers a range of add-ons such as kayaking, camping, and stand-up paddleboarding. The Mudroom on Deck 3 enables passengers to comfortably prepare for and disembark from Zodiac excursions and shore landings.

A Journey to Remember Whether it’s witnessing the ethereal glow of the Antarctic or the rugged beauty of the Arctic, a voyage on the World Explorer is more than just a trip; it’s an immersive experience that connects you with the natural world in a profound way. With Quark Expeditions’ commitment to excellence and the World Explorer’s exceptional capabilities, travelers are assured a journey that’s as enriching as it is exhilarating.

See Our Full Review of the Quark Expeditions World Explorer.

Quark Expeditions Ultramarine Review

Quark Expeditions’ Ultramarine is not just a cruise ship; it’s a marvel of modern engineering designed specifically for polar exploration. With its cutting-edge technology, luxurious amenities, and unwavering commitment to sustainability, Ultramarine redefines the standards of expedition cruising in the polar regions.

At the heart of Ultramarine’s appeal is its unrivaled ice-class hull, capable of navigating through the most challenging ice conditions with ease. This allows passengers to explore remote Arctic and Antarctic landscapes that few others have the privilege to witness. The ship’s advanced propulsion system ensures smooth and efficient sailing, while its reinforced structure provides unparalleled safety in the harshest of environments.

Ultramarine’s spacious and elegantly appointed cabins offer the perfect retreat after a day of exploration. Each cabin features floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing guests to enjoy breathtaking views of the polar wilderness from the comfort of their own private sanctuary. Luxurious amenities such as plush bedding, en-suite bathrooms, and state-of-the-art entertainment systems ensure that guests feel pampered and relaxed throughout their journey.

When it comes to dining, Ultramarine’s culinary offerings are nothing short of exceptional. The ship boasts multiple dining venues, each serving a diverse range of gourmet dishes prepared by world-class chefs. From sumptuous buffets featuring fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients to fine dining experiences inspired by the flavors of the polar regions, there’s something to tantalize every palate onboard Ultramarine.

In addition to its exceptional dining options, Ultramarine offers a wealth of onboard amenities and activities to keep guests entertained during their voyage. From a fully equipped fitness center and spa to a heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs, there’s no shortage of ways to relax and unwind onboard. For those seeking adventure, the ship’s fleet of Zodiacs and helicopters provides unparalleled opportunities for exploration, allowing guests to get up close and personal with the polar wilderness.

But what truly sets Ultramarine apart is its unwavering commitment to sustainability and responsible tourism. From its state-of-the-art waste management systems to its carbon-neutral operations, Quark Expeditions has gone to great lengths to minimize the environmental impact of its operations. Ultramarine is equipped with the latest eco-friendly technologies, including hybrid power generators and advanced water treatment systems, ensuring that guests can explore the polar regions with a clear conscience.

Read Our Full Review about the Quark Expeditions UltraMarine

Destinations of Quark Expeditions Cruises

  1. Antarctica: The frozen continent of Antarctica, Earth’s last pristine wilderness, beckons with its exquisite isolation. Here, you’ll encounter rich wildlife, dramatic glaciers, and rugged coastlines. Quark Expeditions’ ships navigate these icy waters, allowing you to witness the simplicity, flawlessness, and fragility of this unique environment. From penguin colonies to towering icebergs, Antarctica promises unparalleled adventure.
  2. Arctic: The Arctic regions—rugged, remote, and unexplored—offer a different kind of adventure. Imagine intimate wildlife encounters, diverse landscapes, and the raw beauty of untouched wilderness. Quark Expeditions takes you to the Arctic’s wildlife-rich islands, icy fjords, and historic sites. Whether you’re a trailblazer, nature enthusiast, or bucket-lister, there’s an Arctic adventure waiting for you.
    • Greenland: Explore Greenland’s vast icebergs, fjords, and tundra. Witness the midnight sun and discover ancient Inuit culture.
    • Svalbard: Encounter polar bears, walruses, and Arctic foxes in this Norwegian archipelago. Explore icy fjords and glaciers.
    • Canadian High Arctic: Navigate through the Northwest Passage, tracing the footsteps of early explorers. Discover Arctic history and wildlife.
    • North Pole: Embark on an epic journey to the top of the world. Stand at 90 degrees north and experience the magic of the Arctic Ocean.
    • Russian High Arctic: Venture to Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya, where polar bears roam and icebergs dominate the horizon.
  3. Ushuaia and Punta Arenas: Quark Expeditions’ World Explorer sets sail from Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego) and Punta Arenas. These southernmost points in South America serve as gateways to the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions. From here, you’ll embark on unforgettable voyages to explore the 7th continent and its surrounding islands.
  4. Exclusive Helicopter Adventures: Quark’s Ultramarine features twin-engine Airbus H145 helicopters, designed to take you deeper into the Polar Regions. These helicopters enable off-ship experiences exclusive to Quark Expeditions. Imagine alpine heli-trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, ice sheet landings, and more—activities that set Quark apart from other cruise lines.

When you travel with Quark Expeditions, you’re not just on vacation; you’re on the expedition of a lifetime. Their commitment to environmentally responsible tourism ensures that these pristine regions remain accessible for generations to come. So, whether you’re chasing the midnight sun in the Arctic or marveling at Antarctica’s untouched beauty, Quark Expeditions invites you to explore where few ever will and do what few ever dream.


The expedition ships themselves are purpose-built for navigating the icy waters of the polar regions, with reinforced hulls, powerful engines, and advanced navigation systems ensuring safe and comfortable passage through some of the world’s most challenging waters. Onboard amenities include spacious observation decks, cozy lounges, and well-appointed cabins, providing guests with a comfortable and welcoming environment in which to relax and recharge between excursions.

Accommodations aboard Quark’s expedition ships are designed with comfort and convenience in mind, offering guests a cozy retreat after a day of exploration. From comfortable twin cabins to luxurious suites with private balconies, guests can expect warm and inviting interiors, plush furnishings, and all the amenities necessary for a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

Dining onboard Quark’s expedition ships is a culinary adventure in itself, with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and innovative cuisine inspired by the regions visited. From hearty breakfasts to gourmet dinners, guests can enjoy a variety of delicious dishes prepared by talented chefs using the finest seasonal produce.

One of the highlights of a Quark expedition is the opportunity to participate in a wide range of immersive and educational activities led by expert expedition teams. From guided shore excursions and zodiac cruises to informative lectures and workshops, guests have the chance to deepen their understanding of the polar regions and gain insight into the unique ecosystems and cultures of these remote and fascinating destinations.

Service aboard Quark’s expedition ships is warm, attentive, and personalized, with a dedicated crew committed to ensuring that guests have a memorable and enjoyable experience from start to finish. From the moment guests step onboard, they are greeted with genuine hospitality and a sense of camaraderie, creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for travelers of all ages and backgrounds.

In addition to its exceptional onboard amenities and activities, Quark Expeditions also offers a range of customizable expedition packages designed to suit every traveler’s interests and preferences. Whether seeking a thrilling adventure to the Antarctic Peninsula or a cultural immersion experience in the Canadian Arctic, Quark Expeditions has an expedition itinerary to match.

In conclusion, Quark Expeditions offers travelers a unique opportunity to explore some of the most remote and awe-inspiring destinations on the planet in comfort and style. With its commitment to exploration, education, and conservation, along with its expert-led expeditions, comfortable expedition ships, and warm and attentive service, Quark Expeditions sets the standard for polar exploration and eco-conscious cruising. Whether embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime voyage to Antarctica or discovering the wonders of the Arctic, guests can expect an unforgettable journey with Quark Expeditions.

– Reviewed by Contributing Author Silvester Thomson

N.B. – The information on this review has been compiled by contributing author and Cruise Expert Silvester Thomson for thedigitalglobetrotter.com and is provided “as is” for the convenience of online readers. The Sources come from personal opinions, online research on official and unofficial websites, and in some cases with the help of AI generated content. It should not be taken as fact, as it can be mistaken or altered by future ship modifications from the cruise line done after review. Thedigitalglobetrotter.com does not and cannot verify all information and should not be taken as granted fact. All readers must take measures to find reliable facts by their travel agent or from the official page of the cruise line to verify any doubts.

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