North Pole Adventure with Chris

 

Name:

Chris McFarlane

Job title:

Assistant Manager, Operations

Trip Name: North Pole

 Pre-post night city: Helsinki

Ship name: 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years of Victory)

Date of Travel:

July 1, 2013 to July 12, 2013

What word best describes your travel style & why? (Adventurer ,Check-lister, Learner , Escapist)

Adventurer. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a list of places that I’m interested in travelling to, and I certainly enjoy checking them off, but what drives me to travel is a sense of adventure and exploring foreign places and cultures. I’ve always been a very curious person.

Give a brief overview of your role at Quark and what you like most about it:

I work in the Operation department in Quark’s head office. My role revolves around ensuring the smooth and safe operations of our expeditions, including making sure we have the best ships, staff and equipment in the industry. I like that operations is really the front-line department of the company, and because of this we get the chance to work closely with all other departments (finance, marketing and sales) to get a very holistic view of our business. On top of this, we get the opportunity to experience a few voyages every year which is amazing!

Did anything interesting happen during your journey to the destination? (interesting seat mate, tips for smooth entry, Anything interesting in B.A./Ushuaia?)

I decided to spend a day in Reykjavik, Iceland on my way to meet the group in Helsinki. It was gorgeous, and I highly recommend breaking up a trans-Atlantic flight with a stopover in Iceland if you get the chance! I rented a car at the airport and clocked close to 500kms in 24hrs driving around this unique island. The highlight was definitely a late evening visit to the famous Blue Lagoon spa by the airport – so relaxing!

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Photo courtesy of Blue Lagoon Spa

What were the weather conditions like during your trip?

This was my first North Pole trip so I wasn’t sure what to expect weather wise, but I’m told it was overall above average. We started with a record-breaking hot day in Murmansk that was a bit of a sweaty one, and aside from one day of thick fog on the sail to the Pole we had clear skies and sun. Our day at the Pole was slightly overcast and about -1 degrees Celsius, but the wind stayed down which allowed us to have fun all day on the ice! On our sail back to Murmansk we were blown out of one landing opportunity in Franz Josef Land, but we were able to get on the Zodiacs and in the Helicopter for two others so overall it was a success.

Best memory on the ship or your overall impression of the ship and/or staff:

My best memory on the ship was sailing North and encountering the sea ice for the first time. Watching our ship steam ahead and break through meter thick ice at full speed was truly amazing and really gave me a sense of how powerful these nuclear icebreakers really are. After the first hour or so of breaking through the ice we also encountered our first polar bear – what a day!

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Top 3 things you did or experienced on your Polar expedition:

1)     Watching the ship break through some seriously thick ice for the final 5 nautical miles to the 90 degrees North.

2)     Seeing my first polar bear

3)     Getting in the ship’s helicopter and seeing the vast expanse of sea ice from high above

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Describe a wow moment or particularly special memory from your trip:

Maybe not a wow moment, but the traditional Russian parade music that blared as our ship casted her lines and left port was definitely very memorable!

Sum up your trip in 3 words:

Unlike any other.

What would you say to anyone who is considering travelling to the Polar Regions:

If you’re considering travelling to the Polar Regions you are probably an adventurous, curious and likely experienced traveler. If this is the case, it will be one of the best trips of your life!

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Are there any other experiences, restaurants, food, people, places or sites you would like to highlight?

I will mention Reykjavik, Iceland again because I was truly surprised by the unique beauty and very friendly people I encountered there. A must visit!

 

 

 

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