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Quark Expeditions returns to legendary Emperor Penguin Colony

Credit: David Merron & Quark Expeditions

Quark Expeditions, the recognised Leader in Polar Adventures, has announced a much-awaited return to the rarely-visited emperor penguin colony at Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea of Antarctica. The 14-day Emperor Penguin Quest: Expedition to Snow Hill will have two departures in November 2023.

“The legendary emperor penguin colony at Snow Hill Island holds a special place in our hearts and in the history of Quark Expeditions,” said Andrew White, President of Quark Expeditions. “In 2004, Quark Expeditions made polar history when we conducted the first-ever ground visit to the remote emperor penguin colony at Snow Hill. Driven by a true expeditionary spirit—and guided by years of polar expertise—our team sailed past masses of dense ice and thick, tabular icebergs in the Weddell Sea to experience the legendary rookery, which now numbers 8,000 breeding pairs of emperor penguins. Today, it is one of the most exclusive wildlife viewing experiences on the planet. Our guests will be able to embrace the thrill of the search as we travel on Ultramarine—with its two Airbus H145 helicopters—on the new ship’s first attempt to visit the emperor penguins at Snow Hill. We’re confident our guests will be rewarded with scenes reminiscent of BBC’s ‘Frozen Planet.’ Observing thousands of penguins sliding across the ice into the sea—what wilderness adventure can compete with that!”

The ultimate aim of the Emperor Penguin Quest: Expedition to Snow Hill itinerary is to take guests to the penguin colony itself. However, Quark Expeditions has designed every day of the itinerary to be adventurous and educational, and to enable guests to experience the expeditionary spirit that fueled polar explorers more than a century ago.

“This is a one-of-a-kind voyage,” said Alex McNeil, Director of Expedition Experience and Innovation for Quark Expeditions. “Guests will experience a true polar quest as they journey on our new ship, Ultramarine, which is equipped with two twin-engine H145 helicopters that will fly them to the vicinity of this rarely-visited rookery, whereupon they will walk across the thick sea ice to stand within metres of the most coveted penguin species on the planet. While at base on Ultramarine, guests will have the opportunity to experience Zodiac cruising among the icebergs, paddle-on-top kayaking, join scientists on drifting ice floes as they demonstrate their research techniques, or work with specialist ice navigators and meteorologists to observe and learn about crucial weather and ice forecasting and ship operations up close.”


Another key component of the Emperor Penguin Quest: Expedition to Snow Hill itinerary is the bespoke daily educational program tailored specifically for this voyage. Quark Expeditions’ team of polar experts, who include penguin scientists, ornithologists, biologists and polar historians, will present on various aspects of emperor penguins and their behaviors, ice formations such as the tabular icebergs which will be visible from the ship deck, and the experiences of polar explorers who braved the Weddell Sea over a century ago. Guests can also choose to take the polar plunge, try stand-up paddleboarding or enjoy some pampering thanks to Ultramarine’s superb onboard amenities, such as the spa, sauna and fitness room.

“To make this trip even more intimate,” said McNeil, “we’ve reduced guest capacity to 150 and increased the number of expedition staff so there will be one expedition team member for every four guests—who will truly experience the expedition of a lifetime!”

Quark Expeditions is considered as the World’s Leading Specialist Cruise Line 2021 by World Travel Awards.