WATERBURY, Vermont – When Quark Expeditions 2010 Arctic expedition cruise season comes to an end September 8, preparation for its history-making 20th anniversary season begins. In 1991, the company operated two expeditions, one to the North Pole and the first ever passenger transit of the Northeast Passage. To mark the company’s 20th anniversary, Quark returns to the North Pole, June 23 to July 7, 2011. The 20th anniversary vacation cruise through the Northeast Passage is part of a rare circumnavigation of the Arctic – July 10 to September 13, 2011.
Quark’s first Arctic expedition cruise to the North Pole was aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker Sovetsky Soyuz. In 2011, 50 Years of Victory will transport travelers to 90 degrees N. Victory, a sister ship, the most powerful and most advanced nuclear-powered icebreaker on the planet. Capable of producing 75,000 horsepower, on her maiden voyage to the North Pole in 2008, she reduced a 6-day transit to 4.5, breaking all previous records.
Thirty years ago, a transit of the Northeast Passage was impossible as foreign visitors were not permitted to sail the freight route through the Russian Arctic. Sailing the northern route from Europe to Asia became possible when the management of Quark Expeditions took advantage of the economic crisis that occurred at the dissolution of the Soviet Union to secure the only vessel capable of navigating to the North Pole and through the Northeast Passage in a timely fashion – Sovetsky Soyuz. The 2011 voyage will be aboard Kapitan Khlebnikov, Quark’s flagship and a legendary expedition ship.
Travelers can sail on one of three segments of this never-to-be-repeated vacation cruise. The full circumnavigation is 66-days long. The segments range from 21 to 28 days in length. The staging point for the circumnavigation and the Northeast Passage is Anchorage, Alaska. The Northeast Passage disembarks in Murmansk, Russia. The full circumnavigation disembarks in Anadyr, Russia. In between, travelers will explore Spitsbergen, Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic’s Northwest Passage.