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This guest post is by Hans Lagerweij, who travelled on our special 20 July 2017 Journey to the North Pole. Hans is an adventure travel veteran who has worked for our sister company Quark, who operate our polar voyages.

This special departure will have something a little different to offer.

Journey to the North Pole

Since I joined the company as President in 2010, Quark Expeditions’ North Pole voyages have always fascinated me. First, there is the ship – unlike any other vessel in the polar regions.

The 50 Years of Victory was the world’s largest nuclear-powered icebreaker until this year when the Arktika was launched. With an incredible 74,000 horsepower, Victory can break through 3-meter-thick multiyear ice at the same speed as a regular expedition cruise ship goes through the water.

North Pole Voyages

Then there is the itinerary itself – unlike any other voyage on offer. All North Pole voyages start in the city of Murmansk, Russia. Though the city will never win a prize for its beauty, it’s fascinating to realize that 300,000 people live here above the Arctic Circle, making it the largest city this far north of the circle.

From this embarkation point, the voyage heads straight to the 90 degrees north. Upon arrival at the pole, we celebrate with a champagne toast, and if conditions allow, we have a barbeque, take balloon rides and maybe even do the polar plunge.

On the return south, we visit the unique archipelago of Franz Jozef Land. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, fascinating history and wildlife, such as polar bears, whales and walrus.

In the summer of 2017, Quark added an additional program to the July 20 departure. The first North Pole Summit: Breaking Ice. Breaking Barriers, featuring seven international thought leaders who will join the voyage to share their unique perspectives on everything from climate change and environmental issues to how to pursue your dreams.

Travelling on any polar voyage with Quark Expeditions voyages brings a rare global perspective to all those who participate. Quark’s passengers hail from over 50 countries, represent different age groups, and faiths: Quark is a truly global citizen.

What binds us is our passion and quest for discovery and exploration as well as a shared passion for the unique natural environments that our planet offers.

Global Citizens

We hold the belief that it is important to unite the passion of our expedition staff and our passengers. As global citizens we can raise awareness and become champions for some of the major challenges our world faces today.
Global warming is an obvious one, especially as it relates to the polar regions, however, there is also the enormous stress on wildlife globally.
While they’re not a polar animal, this summer, the study “Great Elephant Census” published a worrying finding; only 350,000 African elephants are left; 144,000 elephants were lost to ivory poaching and habitat destruction in less than a decade.
You don’t have to excel in math to understand the significance of this. Unless we act globally, by supporting the local communities involved, ban corruption, fight poaching, stop ivory trade* and protect and restore natural habitats, our grandchildren will only be able to see elephants in zoos.
Probably next to the polar bear, whose natural habitat is severely threatened as well. It is time to act now, as global citizens. *British citizens and UK residents can act now by signing the petition to fully stop the ivory trade in the UK.
ice caps meltingIce caps melting – climate change before your eyes 

Personally, I am looking forward to being a part of this special North Pole voyage this summer, for the thrill of the destination, but also a passion for the programme and taking part in these important discussions.

Browse voyages to the North Pole and the Arctic below and plan your expedition.