Cruising to the polar regions is all about balance. You’ll absolutely want to spend your days tracking polar bears or pods of orcas, but when the day’s explorations are through, it’s important to have a sauna to soak up some warmth, a bar to sip cocktails with a loved one, and a panorama lounge to soak up the sights without putting on a coat.
Quark Expeditions — a line that’s been cruising the poles since 1991 and has more polar cruising vessels than any other — is looking to strike that balance with its new ship. Called Ultramarine, the line’s new 199-passenger, yacht-like vessel is a combination of sleekly designed interior spaces and buzz-y polar exploration accoutrements like helicopters (a first for the line) and zodiac boats.
A key aspect of this new ship is the ability for its guests to move quickly from the ship to the ice. “Ready” rooms with individual lockers, four onboard boat launches, and two helicopters mean that when the ship’s eagle-eyed experts spot penguins, seals, or polar bears, guests can actually get out to see them before they wander or swim away.
"We're all about being off-ship and exploring,” says Laurie Di Vincenzo, a Quark expedition leader who’s guided more than 70 trips to the poles. She describes a polar cruising experience as a totally dynamic one where timing is everything. Ultramarine’s new features, she says, will help guests get closer to wildlife, faster. “If there's lots of whales around, we would decide whether the best viewing would be from the ship or from the zodiacs. If it's from the boats, we’ll be able to get everyone out at once and all be on the water.”
Of course, once you’ve taken all your photos, gawked at the glaciers, and absorbed the pin-drop quiet and majestic beauty of the place, it’s nice to slide under the covers in your handsomely designed stateroom and pad across heated bathroom floors.
Ultramarine launches in 2020. Itineraries and pricing will be announced later this summer.