The sudden absence of that rhythmic churn of the engine, punctuated occasionally by the crack of a larger chunk of ice left in the trail, rouses you even before the morning greeting announcement. The swish of slushy ice sliding along the hull has gone quiet.
And on deck, the purest, most complete silence. The breeze that seemed to push you back as you powered your way north on board one of the world’s most powerful icebreakers has ceased. It’s a still and peace you wouldn’t have thought possible, were you not experiencing it in this very moment. You turn your face to the blazing midnight sun—it’s high in the sky, right where you left it late last night—close your eyes, and smile.
You are here.
Soon, your Captain will lower the anchor. Expedition Team members will host a celebration on the ice unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. You’ve reached the pinnacle of our planet; a sacred place of frigid beauty, infinite sky and ever-changing icescape. Owned by none and coveted by all, the North Pole belongs to each of us, but is visited by only a rare and privileged few.
Only a handful of people reach the North Pole, where all lines of longitude converge, each year. It takes an icebreaker to get there, and Arktika-class* 50 Years of Victory is uniquely and exclusively qualified. (*Arktika-class is a Russian designation for its most powerful icebreakers.)
Equipped with an onboard helicopter for sightseeing and Zodiac cruisers for shore visits in Franz Josef Land, she’s converted from a commercial Russian icebreaker to a comfortable expedition ship for a limited time in the summer. Each sailing is a rare and authentic opportunity for just 128 passengers to journey to the top of the world for a celebration of their life’s greatest travel achievement out on the thick, multi-year sea ice.
There, on top of the world, only Quark passengers have the opportunity to take it up another notch with an optional, weather-permitting hot air balloon ride. Soar up to 30 metres over the ship at 90° North for the ultimate experience of being (literally!) on top of the world.
“During the long, dark winter months, when the sea ice advances to capture Russia’s massive Arctic coastline, 50 Years of Victory keeps the shipping lanes open for trade, leading flotillas of ships between the ports of the Northeast Passage. However, in the brief summer, when the ice has retreated, it becomes the only ship to take tourists to the geographic North Pole.” - Dale Templar in National Geographic Traveller UK
The journey from Murmansk, Russia, to the North Pole is an icy 2,335 km (1451 miles, or 1260 nautical miles) odyssey. Each of your 4 to 6 days en route is a new adventure as fast-paced or relaxing as you choose to make it.
Join new friends in the gym for a game of volleyball or basketball to get moving, or kick back in the library and explore a selection of texts on the region’s fascinating history and ecology. Head to the bridge or deck for whale watching and spectacular landscape photography, or take in an expert lecture in the Aft Saloon. Your Expedition Team are always on the lookout for seals, polar bear or walruses hauled out on the ice, to ensure you don’t miss a thing on what may very well be your life’s greatest journey.
Over the course of your journey from Murmansk, Russia, through the Arctic Ocean to the top of the world, you’ll have plenty of ways to customize your experience. Enjoy themed events like a Russian dinner party, complete with an authentic menu and a cultural performance put on by your Russian service staff. Choose from both organized and informal sports and games opportunities, from board games or cards in the lounge to basketball and volleyball in the gym. You’ll also have opportunities to take in top quality educational programming, enjoy a swim and sauna, or visit the engine room to explore the marine technology that’s powering you to the North Pole.
“Nothing will ever top this expedition! The expedition crew were so knowledgable about the area & the animals, and we got to visit the islands in the Arctic. Best trip ever!! - Phylis R., verified North Pole passenger
An all-inclusive bar, chef-prepared meals and comfortable cabins, each with exterior views and private facilities, mean all of your needs are met. Relax and enjoy the exceptional thrill of up to 74,000 horsepower nuclear propulsion, 21 knots cruising speed in the open ocean, and the spoon-shaped bow powering through ice up to 2.5 meters (9.2 feet) thick.
Your North Pole journey is as unique as you are! Plenty of options help you truly make the experience your own.
There’s no party like a North Pole party! Gather with international passengers on the ice for a brief moment of reflection and recognition of this massive travel achievement before enjoying the North Pole your way. We’ve had inukshuk building, a book signing, marriage proposals, singalongs and much, much more initiated by passengers as they’ve celebrated their bucket list dream come true.
Service staff and your expedition team will prepare a delicious meal for you to enjoy out on the ice, beneath a sea of flags representative of the diversity of your group. Raise your glass for a toast to this exquisite experience shared with like minds.
Want to learn more? Read passenger Dale Templar’s North Pole expedition story.
About the Author
Paul has been helping Quark Expeditions passengers choose the polar expedition to best suit their needs since 2009. An adventure travel expert and avid traveler, he’s visited over 40 countries and explored the Antarctic Peninsula, Canadian High Arctic, Spitsbergen and the North Pole on expedition.More Content by Paul Schuster