Thursday, 24 March 2011

Quark Expeditions Retires Expedition Vessel Akademik Ioffe

Akademik Ioffe in Neko Harbour (c) Ewen Bell

Quark Expeditions said the Akademik Ioffe has sailed its final voyage for the polar specialist. The former Russian research vessel converted to an expedition ship had become out-dated, said Quark President Hans Lagerweij. “The 21st century polar travelers want cabins with private facilities, stylish public areas, and a choice of places to congregate to share a drink,” he said.

The 107-passenger vessel was a time capsule of the early years of polar travel, when spartan efficiency was enough to satisfy the early adopters. The contemporary polar traveler is more sophisticated, unwilling to forgo the creature comforts for the thrill of adventure.

The 112-passenger Sea Spirit, Quark’s first luxury vessel, will fulfill the Ioffe schedule in the Antarctic in 2011-12. Every cabin has king or twin beds, facilities en suite, a seating area and exterior views. Some cabins have balconies. Drinks are free and a 10MB communication access card is included in the per-person price.

The education program, shore landings and concern for the environment that polar travelers have come to expect from Quark are transferred to Sea Spirit. Its limited capacity ensures the ship is eligible to visit all Antarctic landing sites.

Polar travelers who book an Antarctic cruise aboard Sea Spirit will save 15 percent off the published fares if they book before April 29. This savings does not apply to triple cabins, but it does apply to the ship’s Owner’s Suite.

Quark Expeditions has extended its hours. Phones now are open 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. For more information, call 888-892-0171 or visit www.quarkexpeditions.com.