Monday, 17 January 2011

A New Chapter in Antarctic Expedition Cruising

Canadian polar travel specialist, One Ocean Expeditions, represented in Australia by Active Travel, have secured the long term use of the celebrated Russian polar research vessel, Akademik Ioffe for the next five years, begining a new chapter in travel to Antarctica.

Over the past decade, consumer interest in Antarctica has increased exponentially, with a number of expedition cruise companies operating two- and three-week voyages to the Antarctic Peninsula, the Falklands and South Georgia.

Apart from the occasional innovation, such as sea-kayaking or overnight camping on the Peninsula, the various operators have, to a large extent, offered a very similar product, the main differences being the size of ship, quality of accommodation and length of cruise.

In 2011/2012 this is all set to change.

Andrew Prossin, a Polar veteran and CEO of the highly successful One Ocean Expeditions, says "Antarctic product is in danger of becoming stale. Each year we see new players coming into the market but they are offering nothing new. It's becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to tell one cruise from another".

Prossin is an innovator by nature. He was the first to introduce the sea-kayaking option to the Australian market and the first to offer overnight camps on the Antarctic Peninsula more than a decade ago.

For the 2011/12 season he is planning a raft of new ideas that will put One Ocean Expeditions in a league of its own. Among the planned innovations are:

- Cross country ski touring
- Kite surfing
- Overnight sea kayaking excursions away from the ship
- Full day excursions with a professional photographer

Such activities have rarely, if ever been offered before in Antarctica, but Prossin's list of new ideas doesn't stop here....

He has just signed a contract to charter the well-known Russian research vessel, Akademik Ioffe, for the next three seasons and is talking to the Russians about integrating tourism and research. The Akademik Ioffe is a highly sophisticated research vessel still used by the Shirshov Marine Institute in Moscow. It is likely that Russian scientists will be on board during the 2011/12 season to conduct a research programme, which will add another element of interest for cruising passengers. The Russians, of course, are thrilled they may be able to use their ship for the purpose for which it was built.

Several onboard changes are also planned, including an indoor climbing/bouldering wall, and a spa and Jacuzzi. Cabin and facility upgrades will also be implemented to offer even better value for money. Our fleet of Zodiac inflatable boats will be joined by a 30 foot long RIB powered by a 250hp engine, to allow extended trips away from the ship of up to 10kms and to act as a 'mother ship' to the rest of the Zodiac fleet.

One Ocean's Australian agent, Active Travel, will shortly be releasing the 2011/12 brochure. Dates and rates for the 2011/12 season are available now. For details call 02-9264 1231 or visit www.activetravel.com.au