Travel has changed an awful lot in the last century. A few short decades ago, the idea of boarding a plane for a vacation to, say, the Caribbean was a pipe dream for most middle-class Americans. Today, entire fleets of ocean liners are at the ready to ferry average-income travelers to every corner of the globe. In many cases, passengers can expect all the comforts of home, even while adrift in the high Arctic or anchored offshore in Antarctica. Next year, Quark Expeditions looks to define a new standard in polar cruising with one of the greenest, most luxurious, most technologically advanced ships in the world.
Quark’s recently announced Ultramarine will be a class-leading expedition vessel set to explore Spitsbergen, Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic. The concept photos reveal swanky, designer staterooms with a long list of upscale amenities. Spa-inspired bathrooms, heated bathroom floors, HDTVs, and private balconies — unheard of even on many of today’s upscale cruise lines — will be standard in most rooms. Onboard amenities will include a fitness center with a yoga room, a beautiful spa and sauna with panoramic windows, and a high-end restaurant and lounge.
What truly sets Ultramarine apart, however, is the extensive list of excursion options. Like most other polar expeditions ships, typical activities like hiking, Zodiac cruises, and professional lectures will all be included. Depending on their chosen destination, however, Ultramarine guests can also take part in sea kayaking, mountain biking, stand-up paddleboarding, cross-country skiing, polar mountaineering, and heli-hiking. In Greenland, passengers will even be able to overnight at a unique, authentic shore camping experience.
Arctic and Antarctic cruises have come a long way since the days of Shackleton. Even up until a few years ago, many cruise-goers were sailing Earth’s polar reaches aboard repurposed Russian research vessels. Most lacked what many passengers might expect as “essential” modern amenities such as Wi-Fi, spa services, and private bathrooms throughout. If the photos are any indication, Ultramarine will redefine what passengers expect in a polar expedition cruise.
Passengers can book their cruise aboard Ultramarine now, with the first departures scheduled for May 2021. Seven-day itineraries to Spitsbergen start at less than $4,000 (not including flights) per person. The two flagship, 17-day journeys through the Northwest Passage are priced north of $14,000.
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