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Polar Quest

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Established in 1999, Polar Quest has long experience in arranging small-ship expedition cruises in Svalbard and other polar destinations. Every expedition is unique and their aim is that each passenger will have the trip of a lifetime. Traveling with Polar Quest allows you to enjoy remote wildernesses without having to undertake a scientific expedition or become an explorer with a beard full of ice. All you need is a curious mind and a desire for wildlife adventures! Sustainability is at the heart of Polar Quest and all trips are 100 % climate compensated.

Polar Quest Cruises

Polar Quest Ships

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Do all cabins have a window and en-suite bathroom?
All the ships in Svalbard have outside cabins with windows or portholes facing the sea and en-suite showers and toilets. In other destinations, some vessels have shared facilities.

Do I need to be very fit to be able to join an expedition cruise? 
Participation on the expedition cruise requires individuals to be in generally good health. To enjoy the trip in full, they should be able to walk without difficulty in varied terrain and get in and out of a Zodiac. Some trips may have several guides, and the participants will be divided into smaller groups ashore based on shared interests and physical ability. Different groups may opt for longer or shorter walks, slower paces, beach stays, or Zodiac cruises. While spending as much time ashore as possible, passengers are always welcome to remain on board if they prefer.

For those who have undergone major surgery in the past two years or have medical conditions that the onboard physician should be aware of, PolarQuest should be contacted before departure to provide all necessary information to the ship. It is also advised to bring a written description of their medication on board.

If passengers occasionally require assistance due to reduced hearing, reduced eyesight, or poor mobility, they must be accompanied by someone willing to assist them. The guides onboard must be available to all passengers and may not be able to provide special attention to travelers in need of extra assistance.
What does a typical day on an expedition cruise look like?
There are no typical days on their expedition cruises! However, one of the secrets behind a successful expedition cruise is the use of Zodiacs. With these safe and sturdy rubber boats, they navigate among icebergs, cruise along glaciers, and land to experience unique nature encounters. In between the landings, passengers are treated to delicious meals, can enjoy the views from the decks, and listen to inspiring talks about the area's flora, fauna, and history. Expedition members are on standby at all times. Sometimes, they may be awakened in the early morning as the ship sails past wildlife or icebergs on a calm sea—a sight not to be missed. Flexibility is the key to every successful expedition! The exact route will also depend on weather conditions.

Is there a physician on board? 
Yes, there will be a physician on board who is trained in emergency care. There will also be an infirmary on board with the necessary equipment and medicine.

Sustainability Onboard

PolarQuest was among the eight companies that established the Association of Arctic Expeditions Cruise Operators (AECO) in 2003. The primary objectives were to regulate tourism in Svalbard and promote sustainable, environmentally friendly, and safe tourism in the region. AECO is committed to conducting expeditions with the highest regard for nature and wildlife. To achieve this, the organization has meticulously developed guidelines that all members must adhere to during cruises and landings. As of today, AECO has earned recognition as a reputable representative of the cruise industry and serves as an invaluable support to operators dedicated to responsible tourism in the Arctic.

Northbound sea currents are transporting an increased amount of garbage from all over the world to the pristine and vulnerable Arctic. It is upsetting to see the polluted coastlines, but unfortunately, it has become a quite common sight. Even worse, it is a growing problem for wildlife, who risk getting caught in fishing nets or eating plastics. Microplastics seem to become a bigger threat to the Arctic ecosystem than previously imagined.

PolarQuest and its travelers have always collected garbage during their expeditions, and today they do so through the project Clean Up Svalbard. Over the years, they have collected tons of garbage, but their aim is to continually improve their efforts.

In 2017, AECO and its members were invited by the UNEP to participate in the project "Clean Seas – turn the tide on Plastic." As part of their efforts to combat marine plastic pollution, AECO’s members have committed to significantly reducing the use of single-use plastics on Arctic expedition cruise vessels.

Travel with Awareness

The mean temperature is rising, and the glaciers are melting. Microplastics and chemicals are polluting the seas, and the world needs to make an instant change. PolarQuest has the privilege of visiting parts of the world that are most exposed to climate change—the Arctic and Antarctic. Journeys through these spectacular wildernesses evoke a lot of feelings and create memories for life. They urge for help in preserving these areas for generations to come.

Tourism holds a significant responsibility in education and observation and is one of the few businesses that benefit from preserving the visited areas. It is seen as a necessity for survival. As trip operators, they can observe changes in the environment and other industries and their actions.

PolarQuest travels in small groups, aiming to have a minimal impact on the environment. Their ships in Svalbard accommodate 12 or 53 passengers, and they believe that small expedition ships are the most sustainable way to explore the wildlife and nature of Svalbard. The idea of viewing a walrus in a group of 10–50 passengers contrasts greatly with doing so in a group of 250–500 passengers.

As operators of expedition cruises, PolarQuest cannot avoid emitting greenhouse gases. Until renewable fuels become available in their line of business, they have chosen to invest in projects with positive effects on nature, prioritize transparency with their emissions, and continuously strive to reduce their emissions. In collaboration with South Pole, PolarQuest has measured all emissions from flights, over-land transports, expedition cruises, meals, hotel nights, and their office's climate impact.

The projects that PolarQuest invests in have been developed by South Pole, and more information about South Pole can be found on www.southpole.com. Examples of the amount of CO2e emitted can be found under "Footprints."


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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen
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