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“I’ve recently returned from an awe-inspiring trip up to the High Arctic, aboard the nimble yet comfortable M/S Expedition. The trip surpassed my expectations on so many levels – the wildlife, the route, the staff, crew and the ship; it was a fantastic experience from start to finish.
We were incredibly lucky on the wildlife front – so lucky in fact that our bear count reached double figures! We saw 10 bears, one of which was a very special encounter, with the bear practically walking right up to the bow of the ship and posing for photos! We were with the curious bear for around two hours, whilst he scanned and navigated his way across the pack ice and dipped in and out of the water.
We had many other special encounters – a Zodiac cruise amongst groups of swimming walruses, watching an Arctic fox hunt for kittiwakes, as well as 'waving' humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins, Arctic reindeer and many others.
What really added to the wildlife experience though, were the staff. There were experts on-board from every field including ornithology, zoology, geology, biology and photography and they were always on hand to answer questions and enhance the experience with their knowledge. Each day they would offer lectures on various subjects, which would help further explain the fascinating events/scenes and wildlife we were witnessing. I believe between them they had amassed a combined expedition experience of over 200 years!
One other added benefit was the “Photographer in Residence” – a professional photographer that was on-board to help us get the best out of our photos. She held a series of workshops, as well as one-to-one tuition and advice when we were in action, allowing us all to take some excellent photos to treasure and to show off to our friends and families!
And then there’s the ship. The M/S Expedition is perfect for expedition cruising, with its ice-hardened hull and bow thrusters to help it manoeuvre through pack ice and around the coastline with ease. It has a large fleet of Zodiacs which allowed us to get very close to the action, and of course providing the platform for the all-important shore landings.
On-board, the cabins are all en-suite, spacious and comfortable, and there is a generously sized ‘discovery lounge’ with large windows and views of the passing scenery, a dining room with excellent cuisine, and even a small pub! My favourite bit about the ship though is its open bridge policy – you can head up to the bridge and witness the Captain navigating his way through this unique environment first-hand.
To sum it up– it was the trip of a lifetime to one of the last true wildernesses on earth.“
Explore Tailormade’s Hanna Holmes recently had the chance to visit the Polar Pioneer while it was docked In Scotland. She spent some time exploring the ship and viewing its facilities.
"On my visit to the ship, not only did I get to explore it, I also learned all about the physicalities of the Polar Pioneer and its crew. It’s a small ice-strengthened research ship that has been refurbished to accommodate 54 passengers.
One great thing about the vessel is that its main focus is on the expedition experience. They have some extremely knowledgeable guides on board who will be there throughout to answer any queries. All the crew members I met were extremely passionate about the polar experience of those that journey with them. Throughout each cruise they build a comprehensive log which is later emailed to all those aboard, giving a fantastic memento of your holiday.
I had a look through all the types of cabin on board; they were all simple yet comfortable with a porthole or window. Another thing I really liked about the vessel is that it has a large open bridge, which you can visit at any time during your cruise. The bridge has some of the best views on the ship and also has some seats, plus you can ask the captain and the crew about navigation.
There is also a an open bow on the 1st deck, which allows you to walk all the way round the vessel for better sightings, plus they have a 'floating' bridge which is open to all and provides great views - all these additional outside spaces are invaluable during any polar cruise. The Polar Pioneer is perfect for polar expedition cruising - hopefully I'll get to go aboard while she is in polar waters one day!"
Take a look at all our Polar Voyages
Set sail to the far ends of the Earth to see the last true wilderness areas in existence. Travelling on a small expedition vessel crewed by a team of polar experts and using Zodiac inflatable boats for shore excursions, you will witness the splendour of areas virtually untouched by the hand of man.
These icy extremes are a haven for wildlife, much of it endemic to the polar regions. Just imagine waking up surrounded by glaciers and mountains as far as the eye can see, standing encircled amid hundreds of penguins or that heart-stopping moment when you see your first polar bear.
28 December, 2012
Explore expands polar offering with greater choice for all budgets
Adventure travel specialist, Explore, has today launched its 2013/14 Polar Adventures brochure with 11 new itineraries on offer. The new collection features a greater breadth of choice for all budgets, with Arctic voyages costing from just £2,299 per person. What’s more, customers can now journey to Antarctica without having to contend with the infamous Drake Passage by taking advantage of the new Antarctica Fly and Cruise voyage.
Four new ships feature in Explore’s latest brochure. The M/V Ocean Nova, M/S Fram, M/V Polar Pioneer and the M/V Ushuaia each have their own unique features but all have ice-class classifications allowing them to travel safely through the remote Polar Regions. Those looking for a particularly intimate experience can travel alongside on-board experts and researchers on the M/V Polar Pioneer, which carries just 54 passengers and contains only ocean-facing cabins.
Offering fantastic value for money and an in-depth cultural insight is Explore’s new 12 day West and Southern Greenland voyage. This varied journey travels to the little-visited sounds and glaciers of west Greenland and visits Inuit settlements and abandoned villages while learning about their Viking history and admiring the unique wildlife. Travelling on the M/S Fram, the voyage departs in May, July and September 2013 and costs from £4,576 per person to include accommodation and all meals.
Another new itinerary but different from the rest of Explore’s polar offering, is the new land-based Polar Bears in Churchill tour of Canada. Designed especially for polar bear enthusiasts, the six-day tour allows customers the unique opportunity to admire polar bears up-close, from the comfort of a Tundra Buggy - a bespoke vehicle for polar bear viewing. Customers will travel alongside an experienced guide who will explain the bear’s behaviour while watching them. In addition, customers will view other Arctic wildlife and can participate in a dog-sledding excursion. Commencing in October and November 2013, the tour costs from £3,445 per person to include accommodation, some meals, transport and the services of a wildlife guide.
For those who long to visit the opposite pole but are wary of journeying through the infamous Drake Passage, Explore’s new Antarctica Fly and Cruise combos offer the ideal solution. Instead of spending multiple days sailing through its often-stormy waters, customers will avoid the passage entirely and take a two-hour flight to Antarctica, where they will meet the M/V Ocean Nova. Maximum time can then be spent admiring and exploring the wildlife, fjords, icebergs and landscapes of Antarctica. There are three different voyages to choose from; a five day trip departs costs from £2,594 per person. To include accommodation and all meals.
Another unique addition to the collection is Explore’s new 15 day Antarctic Peninsula and Weddell Sea voyage. The voyage journeys deep into Antarctica – an area famously explored by Ernest Shackleton - and will allow customers to experience the vast landscapes and tabular icebergs of Antarctica and the Weddell Sea. Customers may have the unique opportunity to view the world’s tallest penguin, the emperor penguin, as well as seals, whales and a variety of birdlife. They will make ample shore landings, allowing great photographic opportunities. Departing in February and December 2013, the voyage costs from £3,740 per person and includes accommodation and all meals.
Ashley Toft, Managing Director for Explore, commented “Explore has been offering small group adventures for over 31 years now and Polar Adventures are one of our newer additions. A trip to the Polar Regions was once the stuff of dreams, but with increasing exposure in the media, people are beginning to realise that actually, there’s no reason they why they can’t see the poles for themselves”.
He continued, “Over the last few years we’ve received ever-increasing demand for polar adventures. This year, we’re pleased to offer voyages from just £1,535 per person – an amazing price for a truly fantastic experience.”
For further information, or to book, visit www.explore.co.uk or call 0844 875 1895.
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Notes to editors
Please note, flights are not included but can be arranged through Explore.
For more media information, interview requests or images, please contact:
Louise Ponting, PR Officer, Explore – firstname.lastname@example.org, 01252 379 511
It’s important that you choose the right expedition vessel for your journey to the Arctic or Antarctica.
Explore has done the work for you and hand-picked a selection of ships that will take you to see the very best of the polar regions. We only use small, highly respected expedition ships, captained and crewed by some of the top experts in their field. All the ships have ice-strengthened hulls, enabling them to manoeuvre safely in the ice.
None of the ships are luxurious but all are comfortable and sensibly kitted out for expedition voyages in polar conditions. Whichever ship you choose, you will enjoy a warm, friendly atmosphere on-board – and the chance to witness some of nature’s most extraordinary sights up-close and in the company of a
Our Polar Ships
M/S Expedition gets the best of both worlds: large enough to offer stability and generous public areas, but small enough to manoeuvre easily and get you close to the action.
The M/S Fram is a comfortable vessel for your polar exploration with modern amenities such as fitness room, Jacuzzi and sauna.
M/V Ocean Nova is a modern vessel that offers the exclusive Fly and Cruise combination.
Polar Pioneer is a Finnish ex-research vessel, refurbished to provide an adventurous journey in the polar regions; its ice class means it has excellent manoeuvrability
The Ushuaia is an ice-strengthened small ship, accommodating just 84 passengers; making it a comfortable and steadfast choice.
The M/V Sea Explorer is a small, all-suite expedition vessel. Built in 1992 and refurbished in 2005, several improvements have been made to optimise comfort on board.
Explore has a team of polar experts waiting to talk to you about your expedition to Antarctica or the Arctic. Many of us have travelled to the poles, gaining first-hand knowledge of the region and the vessels you’ll be travelling on. We can help you make the best decision on which trip and which ship to go on, ensuring you really do have the journey of a lifetime. To contact our polar team for more information or to book a trip call 0844 875 1895 or email email@example.com
Built for the US agency NOAA (National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration), the Ushuaia has been constantly modernised and refurbished in its eight years operating in Antarctica. The Ushuaia is an ice-strengthened small ship, accommodating just 84 passengers; making it a comfortable and steadfast choice. Knowledgeable staff will ensure you get the most out of your visit and there’s an openbridge policy plus ample deck space for wildlife-viewing.
- Passengers: 84
- Staff and Crew: 38
- Dimensions: Length 84.7m; breadth 15.5m; draught 5.5m
- Cruising speed: 12 knots
- Ice Class: 1C
Polar Pioneer is a Finnish ex-research vessel, refurbished to provide an adventurous journey in the polar regions; its ice class means it has excellent manoeuvrability. The vessel accommodates only 54 passengers, meaning more time with the experts and a friendly on-board experience. Informed crew and experts will ensure you learn about how a polar expedition runs, your unique surroundings and the wildlife; Zodiacs will take you to shore for close encounters.
- Passengers: 54
- Staff and Crew: 32
- Dimensions: Length 71.6m; breadth 12.8m; draught 4.5m
- Cruising speed: 10 knots
- Ice Class: 1A
M/V Ocean Nova is a modern vessel that offers the exclusive Fly and Cruise combination. Built in Denmark in 1992 and completely rebuilt, the boat has an ice-strengthened hull ideally suited for expedition travel in Antarctica. Capacity is limited to 68 passengers accommodated in cabins with en-suite facilities. On-board is a panoramic observation lounge and presentation room, spacious dining room, bar and library.
- Passengers: 68
- Staff and Crew: 38
- Dimensions: Length 73m; breadth 11m; draught 3.7m
- Cruising speed: 12 knots
- Ice Class: 1B (hull 1A)
The M/S Fram is a comfortable vessel for your polar exploration with modern amenities such as fitness room, Jacuzzi and sauna. The ample indoor and outdoor public spaces are designed to ensure you enjoy the passing scenery and wildlife sightings; each table in the restaurant has scenic views and the observation lounge has panoramic windows. There’s also a selection of shore excursions to choose from, allowing you to experience as much of the polar wilderness as possible.
- Passengers: 318
- Staff and Crew: 77
- Dimensions: Length 114m; breadth 20.2m; draught 5.1m
- Cruising speed: 13 knots
- Ice Class: 1A/1B