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The 53-guest Quest (formerly the Sea Endurance) operates seasonally out of Svalbard for Polar Quest, with expeditions kicking off in May.

“We have started to operate earlier in the season as opposed to a few years ago, when everyone started at the end of June,” said Marie Lannborn Barker, CEO, citing demand.

“We have discovered that May is a good time to go and experience Svalbard as an Arctic white landscape,” Barker noted, in an interview in th e2018 Expedition Market Report by Cruise Industry News.

The ship is fresh off a renovation, and in tip-top shape, she continued. The Quest sails alongside two smaller classic vessels, the 12-passenger Stockholm and 12-passenger Sjoveien.

The small ship sizes allow guests to get close to inaccessible areas, according to company literature.

The Quest was originally built as a ferry in Denmark, launching service in 1992 on Greenland’s west coast. In 2004 she was completely refurbished into an expedition ship, with another major refit happening just before the start of this summer’s Arctic season. Fifty-three guests are complemented by five guides and five zodiacs.

New for 2019

The Göteborg, Sweden-based expedition company launched operations in 1999. In 2019, the big news is the addition of a Northern Lights voyage, sailing four nights in January from Tromsø, and signaling an expanding future for the company.

Passengers are mainly sourced in Scandinavia as the onboard experience is bilingual: Swedish or English.

There are also groups coming from Germany and Japan, and Polar Quest will adjust onboard language needs as necessary. Another big market has been the United States, with the company exhibiting at a travel trade event for the first time earlier this year. Barker called it a success and said she will continue exhibiting in 2019.



Onboard, the company offers a pure expedition-style product in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. The focus is on the destination and time ashore.

Itineraries are described as flexible, with the exact route up to weather, ice conditions and wildlife.

“We have the original format,” Barker said. “You live onboard, you do landings and you are active. We have a high guide-to-passenger ratio and 20 years of experience operating and being specialists in the Svalbard area.

Running an average of 40 departures per season, Barker said demand was good, and the company will focus on a quality product as new operators and big ships enter the market.

“There is a general interest in the Arctic and Antarctica regions. It’s a dream destination for many people today,” she said. “Twenty years ago you really had to explain you could go to the Polar Regions. Today it is commonly known.”

Looking ahead to regional growth, Barker said there will be challenges.

“We’re never better than the weakest point, and we have to make sure they (new operators) do things in a sustainable way. I don’t see how there will be enough trained and qualified guides on these (new) vessels.”

Excerpt from the 2018 Expedition Market Report.

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About the Expedition Market Report:

The 2018 Cruise Industry News Expedition Market Report presents a complete 127-page overview of the entire expedition market, including capacity projections through 2027, and profiles of 30+ major players, with exclusive interviews and insight, along with trends, original data, operational coverage and much more. Original reporting, analysis and research.

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