Quark Expeditions Nominated as World's Best Tour Operator by Travel & Leisure Magazine

The polar tour operator's 20th anniversary celebrations broaden

Mar 03, 2011, 10:11 ET from Quark Expeditions

WATERBURY, Vt., March 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Quark Expeditions, a polar travel specialist, has been nominated by Travel and Leisure as the World's Best Tour Operator in the magazine's annual consumer survey. On learning of the nomination, Hans Lagerweij, president of Quark, remarked, "Our 20th anniversary is turning out to be a year to remember!"

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110303/NE58615 )

Lagerweij explained, "In January, we added Sea Spirit to our fleet for a new level of comfort in polar cruising. In February, our sponsorship of Antarctica: Photographs by Santiago Vanegas at the Atlanta airport successfully launched our new mobile website. Now March has begun with an unexpected honor. Travel and Leisure has nominated us as World's Best Tour Operator."

The Top 5 ways to identify an excellent tour operator

Consumers may vote for their favorite travel providers in a number of categories. Voters should consider 5 criteria when voting for the world's best tour operator:

  1. The operator runs its own operations department
  2. The operator's personnel has decades of experience in the regions where it operates
  3. The operator has a significant and positive safety record
  4. The operator mitigates the environmental impact of its activities
  5. The operator continues to innovate

The most unusual world cruise offered in 2011 – a 66-day Arctic Circumnavigation

Continuing a 20-year tradition of innovation, Quark Expeditions will operate a 66-day world cruise from July 10 to September 13, 2011. Participants will visit Anchorage, Alaska; remote islands in the Russian Arctic; Norway's Arctic wonderland Svalbard; Greenland; and the Northwest Passage, the northern route to Asia in the Canadian Arctic.

Most of the voyage will be conducted in continual daylight, as the route is far above the Arctic Circle. Never to be repeated, this world cruise will deliver more opportunities to see polar bears, walrus, and musk oxen in the wild than any other wildlife cruise in 2011.

The Arctic Circumnavigation is the last time Quark's flagship Kapitan Khlebnikov will carry passengers through northern waters. The conventional icebreaker retires as an expedition vessel in March 2012.

Special Guests enrich Quark's traditional onboard education program

Three special guests will enrich the Quark's unparalleled onboard education program delivered during the voyage. The guests were chosen for their knowledge and experience in the regions through which the icebreaker will sail.

Peter Schmidt Mikkelsen will participate in the segment known as the Greenland Semi-circumnavigation (August 4 to 24, 2011). In the 1970s, the Dane spent a number of years patrolling the remote and virtually uninhabited eastern shore of Greenland by dog sled. He was a member of the SIRIUS dog patrol, a special division of the Danish Royal Navy charged with protecting the sovereignty of the world's largest island.

Irish filmmaker and polar explorer John Murray has spent a lifetime documenting the polar regions for international television. In 2002, he backed the Irish Canadian Franklin Search Expedition that sought the remains of Sir John Franklin's lost ships – Erebus and Terror. He will spool his films and present an insider's view of contemporary Arctic exploration aboard Arctic Passage (August 22 to September 13, 2011).

Cruise and earn marine navigation certification

While sailing the Northwest Passage through the Canada Arctic, participants can earn marine navigation certification from Starpath School of Navigation. The school's founder David Burch will provide hands-on training during the voyage in a full navigation station. The training is included in the cost of the expedition.

The per person cost, based on twin occupancy, for the Arctic Circumnavigation world cruise is USD $88,990. All cabins have facilities en suite and exterior views. Helicopter sightseeing and Zodiac cruising is also included.

Travelers interested in the voyage may activate Quark's live chat (quarkexpeditions.com) or call 1.888.892.0171 or +1.203.803.2887, between the hours of 8:30 AM and 8 PM eastern, Monday through Thursday and between 8:30 AM and 5 PM Friday.

SOURCE Quark Expeditions