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Meet Laurie Di Vincenzo, the first-ever Expedition Leader on Ultramarine

5 min read

Anyone who's already fulfilled their dream of a polar voyage to the Arctic or Antarctic can—and undoubtedly will— enthusiastically recount a list of memorable experiences that will feed the desires of those who are contemplating such a journey: the moment they see their first perfectly-sculpted iceberg; the sound of their paddle slapping the ocean surface on their first kayak excursion in the Polar Regions; or that split-second when they look up while on a guided hike and glance a small herd of reindeer cantering across the tundra; or the instant they stand on the deck of the ship and catch sight of a majestic polar bear sauntering along the ice edge; or that heart-in-your-mouth sensation prompted by the vision of a whale breaching the cool blue waters in a fjord.

These are the take-home snapshots that fill the memory cards on our cameras. These unforgettable moments are made possible by a team working (quite often) behind-the-scenes, coordinating, facilitating, ensuring the operation runs smoothly. It's the expedition team who ensures you go home with memory cards full of images—and memories to last a lifetime.

When our technologically-advanced ship Ultramarine sets sail on her inaugural polar voyage this year, it will also mark the maiden voyage of the expedition team on this particular vessel, which is equipped with two twin-engine helicopters, a fleet of 20 quick-deploy Zodiacs and the largest portfolio of off-ship adventure options in the polar industry. Their main priority is to ensure each and every guest has the opportunity to fulfill every polar adventure on their bucket list. Leading this team would be a daunting task to many, but it's one that Laurie di Vincenzo—as the first-ever Expedition Leader on Ultramarine—is ready and eager to embrace.

Laurie Di Vincenzo, the first ever Expedition Leader on the game-changing polar vessel, Ultramarine. Photo: Michelle Sole

Before we check in with Laurie, who has worked with Quark Expeditions since 2012, we'll first touch base with Malcolm Ellis, Senior Vice-President of Operations for Quark Expeditions, to get understand the significance of the Expedition Leader role on a polar vessel like Ultramarine.

Q: What's the significance of the Expedition Leader position on a polar vessel?
A: Malcom Ellis, VP Operations:

“The Expedition Leader (EL) role on Ultramarine is vital to the successful delivery of the overall expedition experience. While the vessel's captain has overall command of the ship, the EL has the significant responsibility for the overall planning and safe execution of all expedition activities – on the water, on land, in the air and on ship. This is a complex and challenging task on Ultramarine, given its range of off-ship adventure options, innovative itineraries and the large expedition team, which includes multiple specialist roles. The Expedition Leader's role often requires long hours, constantly monitoring the changing weather, tides and ice. The EL will spend many hours on the Bridge with the Captain and watchkeeping officers. That's why, on Ultramarine, the EL's cabin is located immediately behind the Bridge, opposite the Captain's cabin.

Q: What does Laurie bring to the role of Expedition Leader?
A: Malcolm Ellis, VP Operations:

“Laurie is a long-standing member of the Quark Expeditions Field Team, having worked in both Polar Regions for many years, across most vessels in our fleet and successfully filling a variety of increasingly senior roles. She maintains a perspective that ensures the guest experience always comes first. She's is a highly respected Leader of our teams in the field. I have personally sailed on multiple voyages with Laurie, perhaps most notably the inaugural season of the Ocean Diamond – the first time ever that Quark Expeditions took the ground-breaking decision to operate a 200-passenger expedition ship. Laurie held the key role of Expedition Coordinator, overseeing the day-to-day tasks of the expedition team, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable guest experience. Ultramarine's inaugural season and early voyages that Laurie will be leading will not be without challenges, but the expeditions and Expedition Team will be in good hands.”

And, now, we turn to Laurie di Vincenzo, who, after guiding 100 voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic, during which she's worked with the ship's captain to read the weather and ice, determining distances to be traveled and, ultimately, ensuring guests have the trip of a lifetime, embraces the role of first-ever Expedition Leader on Ultramarine.

Ultramarine Expedition Leader Laurie Di Vincenzo (right right) with members of the Expedition Team. Photo: Acacia Johnson

Q: “Being asked to take on the Expedition Leader role on Ultramarine seems daunting to those of us outside the Expedition Team. What does this role mean to you?”

A: Laurie di Vincenzo, Expedition Leader, Ultramarine:

“It's an honor to be asked to lead on Ultramarine, Quark Expeditions' first purpose-built vessel—and the first they've owned. A project of this nature requires incredible investment, not just in terms of finances, but in terms of the work and effort by a passionate team who have taken this build from a dream and a concept to the purpose built expedition vessel it is today. When Ultramarine is launched this year, 30 years after Quark Expeditions' inaugural voyage—to the North Pole—this vessel will encapsulate decades of knowledge and experience that our team has gained working on a variety of ships in the most diverse fleet in the polar industry. All that of the first-hand knowledge, combined with innovative new developments, means that Ultramarine will be an incredible platform to explore the Polar Regions, and I couldn't be more excited about working with the team onboard to ensure that this vessel lives up to its potential.”

Q: What aspects of the Expedition Leader role on Ultramarine are you most excited about?

A: Laurie di Vincenzo, Expedition Leader, Ultramarine:

“Working as an expedition leader in the Polar Regions demands flexibility and adaptability, and working on different vessels always brings those elements to the fore. I've worked on six different vessels over my nine years with Quark Expeditions, and I've always loved the challenge of working on a ship that's new to our fleet. There is so much to learn and adapt to during an inaugural season, and while an incredible amount of work has already been done in the planning of Ultramarine, it's not until the team gets onboard the ship that we'll really be able to bring it to life.

Q: If you had to sum up—in one sentence—the best experiences on Ultramarine, what would you say?

A: Laurie di Vincenzo, Expedition Leader, Ultramarine:

“There will be helicopters, highly efficient Zodiac operations, state-of-the-art educational facilities, and an impressive waste management system to reduce our carbon footprint.” (Laurie: “Describing the adventures and amenities of Ultramarine is one sentence? Now that's a challenge!”)

Q: What's your ultimate wish for travelers who book on Ultramarine?
A: Laurie di Vincenzo, Expedition Leader, Ultramarine:

“My greatest wish for our guests? I, along with my expedition team, want our guests to have the most immersive polar adventure possible—one that takes them deeper into the Polar Regions than previously possible. I want them to return home with memories of a lifetime! And I'll do everything I can to make that happen.”

Check out the upcoming departure dates for Ultramarine's inaugural season.

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