Planning and prepping for a polar expedition can be exciting and challenging – it's a GREAT BIG DEAL!
We get it. That's why Quark Expeditions offers the services of our highly knowledgeable and experienced Polar Travel Advisers (PTAs). Whether you're just looking for information, or have already booked and are planning for your upcoming polar adventure, our PTAs are packed with resources, tips and guidance to help you make the absolute most out of your arctic or Antarctic holiday.
So just who is it on the other end of the line when you call a Quark PTA? In this series, we'll introduce you to the wonderfully knowledgeable people who help passengers with every aspect of their expedition preparation and planning.
Meet Naomi Box, Quark Expeditions PTA
Naomi works out of the Quark Expeditions office in Toronto, Ontario. Her enthusiasm for polar travel is limitless, and she puts this passion into practice in her consultations with Quark passengers.
Early in life, Naomi spent a month attending school in Australia, where she caught the travel bug. For many years since then, she's worked in the travel industry in Canada and the U.K. A traveler to over 20 countries, Naomi first visited Antarctica in February 2012. More recently, she traveled to the Arctic this past June. One of her goals at work is to help each traveler discover how to bring their own economic, environmental and social benefits to any destination.
Where did you go in Antarctica?
"I went on the Antarctic Explorer expedition voyage in 2012. A lot of people don't realize just how diverse Antarctica is, but there are over 200 Antarctic landing sites there! Every trip literally is different, as the weather guides which landing sites we'll visit. Quark's on-board staff monitor the conditions constantly and safety is always first. On my trip, we visited Port Lockroy, Deception Island, Aitcho Island, and Wilhelmina Bay."
How do you learn about the areas travelers have questions about?
"I've been to all 7 continents and spent a lot of time traveling in my youth. Lonely Planet was a great resource for my own travel and I also watched documentaries and reviewed tourist board websites, if they were available.”
My greatest resource now is our staff. A lot of people in the office are really educated and regularly travel to Quark's polar travel regions. We each travel with Quark and teach one another about the areas we visit."
What's your favourite place you've ever traveled to?
"Once I visited Antarctica, it became my instant favorite. We think of penguins, ice and harsh conditions, but I've never seen as blissful a place as the Falkland Islands. We stepped on this white sandy beach with ducks, sheep, seals, dolphins, and penguins… it's really surprising and unexpected. It's made me want to go back.
Getting ready to travel to the Polar Regions, or even just considering booking a polar holiday, can cause people to feel anxious, excited, elated – a lot of different things! For a lot of people, it's the trip of a lifetime and they want to be prepared. So we hear a lot of common questions.”
Common Arctic or Antarctica Questions
Do we help with flights and insurance? “Yes.”
What should I pack? “We provide packing checklists to help people prepare.”
Am I going to see wildlife? “This is probably the question I'm most frequently asked. We can't make guarantees, but we go to the best places we possibly can at the time and our expedition teams are tuned in on that.”
How often might you speak with a traveler before their trip?
“Often. These expeditions are a type of “calling” for people. They might not go right away, but they will go, even if it's a few years from now. People who go to Antarctica are adventurers. Going to the Arctic is an exploration – you're in search of things.
The first phone call usually lasts about 20 minutes. People tend to have done their research by the time they decide to take the next step and talk to a PTA. There's a lot of excitement, but also a lot of apprehension.
We (PTAs) usually talk to travelers several times, as they decide on their trip, plan and prepare, and then even afterwards. I love getting phone calls from passengers telling me about all the amazing things they did and saw!"
What resources does Quark provide in advance of a trip?
"Each passenger receives a booklet about their ship so they can prepare for life onboard. A detailed itinerary lists the activities, adventures and landings they might see and participate in. We have two fantastic publications, the Arctic Reader and the Antarctic Reader, packed with information – each passenger will receive the publication for their region.
Of course, passengers can always access the PTAs! We're happy to talk anytime about any questions or concerns passengers have."
Is sea-sickness a concern? “If this is a concern for you, there are excellent options nowadays to prevent this, even for passengers who may suffer from this it quite severely.”
What do you love most about being a PTA?
"There's so much to see in the Polar Regions but we also have to be really mindful of how we conduct ourselves in these places. I love this job because this type of travel changes people. The only way we're going to keep Antarctica pristine is by turning people into ambassadors and I'm so proud to be a part of this process. It's great when I hear my clients come back and they're so excited and changed by the travel experience. Each PTA has clients who call us six months after their trip to talk. You just feel very grateful for being able to travel to these regions!"
To speak with a Quark PTA, call 1-844-249-2056 or outside of North America, call 1-802-490-7533.