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Antarctic Expeditions

Expedition History

Our History

Lars Wikander and Mike McDowell, the cofounders of Quark Expeditions, took the first group of commercial travelers to the North Pole In 1991. That inaugural, game-changing expedition—the first-ever tourism transit of the Northeast Passage—set Quark Expeditions on a course that would put us at the forefront of polar exploration. We’ve spent the last three decades taking travelers on polar expeditions to remote parts of the Arctic and Antarctic where no one else has set foot. Polar expeditions have evolved since Quark Expeditions’ 1991 journey aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker Sovetskiy Soyuz. While that first journey solidified Quark Expeditions’ role as the leader in polar adventure, we’ve not rested on our laurels. We’ve continued to achieve new firsts. We’re forever driven to forge new paths in polar explorations.  


We're Proud of our Firsts in the Polar Regions

  • 1991: Quark Expeditions took the first group of travelers to the North Pole.
  • 1992: Quark Expeditions undertook the first non-scientific visit to Emperor penguin rookeries.
  • 1997: We completed the first circumnavigation of Antarctica for commercial passengers
  • 1999: We completed our first circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean
  • 2004: Quark Expeditions was the first to confirm the most northerly Emperor penguin rookery near Snow Hill in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica
  • 2008: Quark Expeditions hosted the maiden voyage of the nuclear icebreaker 50 Years of Victory to the North Pole
  • 2011: Our “Three Arctic Islands” trip was voted one of National Geographic Traveler’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime.
  • 2013: Quark Expeditions hosted Jonathan Shackleton (cousin of famous polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton) and Falcon Scott (grandson of polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott) on an expedition to the 7th Continent where they camped out together.
  • 2013: Quark Expeditions hosted the first-ever floating polar film festival onboard the Sea Spirit
  • 2017: Quark Expeditions started Quark Academy, making us the only expedition company in the polar regions with its own proprietary polar training institution.
  • 2019: Quark Expeditions commenced the building of our very first purpose-built polar vessel, Ultramarine
  • 2019: Quark Expeditions advances its sustainability framework with the launch of Polar Promise.
  • 2019: Quark Expeditions offers expeditions into the remote, seldom-visited Russian archipelagoes of Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya.

Discover Your Next Adventure

The Polar Regions are waiting to be explored. Browse all of our expeditions and departures to find your next adventure.