Seattle-based Quark Expeditions has been organizing cruises to the Arctic and Antarctic since 1991. Its fleet famously includes the former Soviet icebreaker, the Kapitan Khlebnikov, which has transited the Northwest Passage more times than any other vessel, as well as smaller expedition ships. This year saw the launch of Ultramarine, a purpose-built 199-passenger vessel, designed to have a minimal environmental footprint. It aims to offer a high degree of luxury as well as an unrivaled menu of adventures. Most of the 102 spacious suites come with balconies, while onboard amenities include a spa with a yoga studio, a large fitness center, a glass-walled sauna with views of the polar landscape, a lecture theater with a high-resolution LED screen wall and a restaurant with a wraparound deck.
Ultramarine carries two twin-engine helicopters, plus 20 Zodiacs that are launched from a water-level hangar. As well as wildlife viewing, activities will include heli-hiking, heli-skiing, mountain trekking, ski trekking, camping, sea kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. The ship’s first voyage, a seven-day trip to Spitsbergen, leaves on May 16. Many cruises aboard Ultramarine in spring and summer 2021 are discounted up to 40 percent.