Back in 1991, Lars Wikander and Mike McDowell were adventure-seekers looking to visit the North Pole. There were not many options which inspired them to create their own. Since taking their pioneering trip, Quark Expeditions has helped take thousands of travelers to the corners of the world not seen by those in previous generations. They are the leaders in polar expeditions and they have achieved an unprecedented series of firsts. Ultimately, Quark Expeditions have made the Arctic and Antartica accessible to travelers from 50 countries around the world.

 

Rank Chart
Price
Total Ships
Our Score
#1
$149
3,652
7.5
#2
$91
6,296
7.4
#3
$279
4,248
7.0
#30
thumbnail-1
$5,195
199
3.8

The Good

Quark Expeditions leads the world in polar adventures. They have provided a way for thousands of people to see areas the Arctic, Antarctica and Galapagos for over 25 years. Their cruise ships take paths less traveled to seldom-seen destinations while still providing luxury accommodations. There are seventeen different “voyages” to the Antarctic and another twenty-five trips to the Arctic. They vary in price and trip length but all provide unique experiences to the seventh continent.

Each ship is equipped with the best accommodations and features possible to make a trip to the Arctic as comfortable as possible. There are his and hers saunas, 13 cabin categories to choose from, and scheduled adventure and wellness activities. Other benefits of booking a cruise through Quark Expeditions include traveling with:

  1. Polar pioneers: since 1991, the founders have provided a way to bring more explorers to places others can’t easily get to alone.
  2. Knowledge and expertise: the knowledge and expertise with Quark is unparalleled. In fact, they set the bar for standards for safety.
  3. Dedicated staff: the Quark staff makes each excursion fun and exciting
  4. Investigation: the Quark staff relentlessly works to understand weather. Nature is in constant motion and so Quark puts in the work to make sure everyone remains safe.

All cruises are backed by the best price guarantee. The policy applies to all season expedition fares. If Quark Expeditions reduces the price of any cruise portion of the fare up to 60 days prior to the departure date, previously booked clients may claim the lower rate. The only requirements for the lower rate include:

  • Be for the same ship, sailing date, cabin or berth category and number of guests
  • Have available space for booking at the time of the claim

*Price protections is valid on expedition portion only. That means that charter flights, pre/post excursions, insurance, airfare and adventure options are excluded.

The Bad

Due to the nature of the trips, Quark Expeditions require a steep nightly rate to cover all expenses. For expeditions to Antarctica, prices range anywhere from $5,595 to $19,995 per person. When traveling the Arctic, travelers can expect to pay anywhere from $5,995 to $29,995. These cruise rates only cover the cruise itself, the associated costs are not covered in that price.

In addition to paying for the cruise itself, there are other major expenses that are required in order to travel with Quark Expeditions. Since some of their cruise options are some of the most expensive on the market (due to where they travel to and from), this cruise may be out of budget for many prospective travelers. Other major expenses travelers can expect to pay will likely include:

  1. Airfare/transportation: travelers will need to pay to get to the starting location and then a returning ticket from where the expedition ends. Quark will arrange flights for you if requested.
  2. Outdoor clothing: the perfect clothing is a necessity in order to enjoy the trip and keep from getting sick. Purchasing outdoor clothing like a parka, coats, and waterproof boots are all necessities. Travelers will need to download the packing list and get all of the items.
  3. Gratuities: tips are paid at the traveler’s discretion, but it is recommended that travelers budget an additional $10-$15 per person per day (assuming the traveler is happy with the service). Gratuities are collected anonymously at the end of the trip. From there, the tips are distributed among staff and crew.
  4. Travel insurance coverage: all members of the traveling party are required to purchase comprehensive travel insurance coverage, with a minimum of $50,000 of emergency medical coverage.

While Quark provides the best Arctic and Antarctica cruises around, they only service those two areas. There are no other cruise destinations available through Quark, so if a polar expedition is not interesting to a traveler, they will want to look into other cruise lines.

Common complaints of Quark explorers include currency issues and seasickness. The Arctic waters are relatively calm (except for the Denmark Sea), but bad weather can cause rough water. Motion sickness medicine is recommended since there is no way to tell if sea sickness will be an issue.

The Bottom Line

There is no doubt that Quark Expeditions is the ideal cruise line for those looking to see Antarctic or the Arctic. Beyond that, there is not much else for a traveler since those are the only destinations available. Their fleet includes top-of-the-line accommodations and travel activities. Those that decide to travel with Quark Expeditions can expect the following from their trip:

  • Luxury accommodations on the ship
  • Number of travel length options
  • Best price guarantee
  • Various expeditions and adventures to choose from
  • Expensive rates per person
  • Additional service costs
  • Limited destinations

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