Category Archives: Antarctica

Antarctica – Not Exactly as Planned

Akademik Shokalskiy

The Akademik Shokalskiy, stuck in ice-laiden waters of Antarctica

Antarctica is one of the last wild places on earth. And this past week, it’s really lived up to its name.

The ice-strengthened, Russian-flagged MV Akademik Shokalskiy set sail in early December on a expedition to Antarctica. Carrying tourists and research scientists on their way to study the effects of global warming, the ship became stuck in the ice flow on Christmas morning. The passengers are in no danger, and in fact are seemingly enjoying the unique event. Passengers said it wasn’t a bad place to be stuck; the scenery is beautiful and penguins have been walking up to the ship and sniffing around, checking out their new neighbors.
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Orion Ship Saves Stranded Sailor in Antarctica

Passengers aboard the Orion where sailing on Day 11 of a 18-day Antarctica expedition cruise when they were drafted to assist in the rescue of a solo sailor who was adrift after his sailboat had sank more than three days earlier.

Crew members from the Orion rescue a sailor adrift in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica

Crew members from the Orion rescue a sailor adrift in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica

Experienced yachtsman, Frenchman Alain Delord was attempting to sail solo around the world, without assistance. He had been at sea since October last year. On Friday, his yacht, Tchouk Tchouk Nougat, was damaged and sank in rough weather off southern Australia’s Tasmania island.

The Orion diverted from its scheduled Antarctic itinerary to assist with the rescue, battling deteriorating weather conditions to reach him before sunset. It was the only ship within 100 nautical miles to respond to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)’s distress call. The AMSA had dropped Delord food, water, communications equipment and a safety suit on Saturday and had stayed in regular contact with him leading up to the rescue.

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Quark Expeditions Polar Expedition Featured on Frozen Planet

When the BBC & Discovery Channel decided to explore Antarctica for their popular Frozen Planet series, they turned to Quark Expeditions.

This weekend, watch the North American premiere of the Discovery Channel and BBC co-production of Frozen Planet. The seven-part documentary series premieres March 18, 2012, at 8 p.m. ET/PM on Discovery Channel and highlights the Earth’s Polar Regions. BBC and Discovery Channel production crews traveled with Quark to capture the stunning scenery featured in the series.

Check out our Antarctica and Arctic Expeditions on SunstoneTours.com

2011 Holidays Aboard Small Ships

Many people settle down with family during the holidays to catch up, and reconnect with loved ones. For a small group, the holidays are a perfect time to explore and experience the world.

Small ship cruises have been busy this holiday season, exploring diverse areas of our world, from the southern reaches of Antarctica and the South Pacific, up to the unique Galapagos Islands and Central America, and further to Europe and America’s southern Atlantic coast.

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Quark Expeditions Obtains Ship for Speedier Antarctic Sailings

Ocean Diamond

Quark Expeditions recently announced an addition to its fleet. Currently the 189-passenger Le Diamant, the ship will undergo an extensive refurbishment and be renamed Ocean Diamond. The ship will begin service in November 2012 for the Antarctic 2012-2013 season.

The Ocean Diamond will be one of the fastest in the Quark Expeditions fleet. Able to cruise at 15.5 knots, she will reduce the ocean travel time, providing passengers an additional 12 hours to spend accessing all of the wildlife, rugged beauty, and adventure activities an Antarctic expedition has to offer.
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Former Cruise West Ships – Where are they now?

Cruise WestBack in the 90’s and into most of the 2000’s, Cruise West was a major player in the small ship cruising niche industry. Many of our clients fell in love with their Alaska experience and the ships. With the one-year anniversary of the Cruise West’s demise approaching, we like to check in on the former Cruise West ships to see where they are now.

Spirit of Oceanus

Spirit of Oceanus / Sea SpiritThe one time 120-passenger flagship of the line was the most luxurious ship in the fleet, and sailed grand Alaska and Asia itineraries. The Spirit of Oceanus was in the midst of sailing a world cruise when Cruise West halted operations. The ship terminated its sailing in Newfoundland, Canada and was immediately sold to TN Cruise K/S, who now charters the ship to other cruise lines.

Today, the ship, renamed Sea Spirit, is now chartered to several expedition lines, including Quark Expeditions and Zegrahm Expeditions, sailing the Antarctic.

Sea Spirit Itineraries

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Antarctica Express

Is Antarctica on your “Bucket List” but heard horror stories of the rough waters crossing the Drake Passage or just don’t have a lot of time to cruise. Have we got the itinerary for you.

Quark Expeditions offers an Antarctica Fly & Cruise itinerary. This is the perfect expedition for people short of time and reluctant to cross the Drake on a ship. The Drake Passage crossing is reduced to two hours by flying from Punta Arenas, Chile, to King George Island in the South Shetlands. You save 100 hours of sailing time, when compared to traditional Antarctic Peninsula cruises.

A quick crossing doesn’t reduce the time you spend in Antarctica. The ship explores the Peninsula for 5-days, the same amount of time as any other expedition.

For more information on this and other Antarctic cruises, visit our website.

Where are the small ships on Christmas Day?

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. And a good movie and chinese food to those who celebrate Hanukkah

We have done some fun research as to where some of my favorite small ships are sailing on Christmas Day. To the best of my knowledge, every one of these ships were sold out, sailing at 100% occupancy. We have Christmas bookings for 2011 and 2011. It is not to early to start planning.

American Glory – Lake George, Ocala National Forest, Florida

American Safari Explorer- Kona Big Island, for Christmas 2011
American Safari Quest – whale watching, Baja

Cruceros Australis – Stella Australis – Punta Arenas – Chile
Cruceros Australis – Via Australis = Cape Horn – Argentina
Cruceros Australis – Mare Australlis – Patagonia – Argentina

I.E. Evolution – Espanola Islands, sea lions, Galapagos

Le Diamant – sailing Vietnam, South East Asia
Le Levant – sailing Trinidad
Le Ponet – sailing Persian Gulf

Lindblad Expeditions Salacia – sailing Egypt

National Geographic Endeavour – Santa Cruz Charles Darwin Station Galapagos
National Geographic Explorer – sailing Antarctica
National Geographic Islander – Seymour Island, Galapagos
National Geographic Sea Bird – day at sea whale watching, Baja
National Geographic Sea Lion – sailing Panama Canal Transit, Costa Rica

Paul Gauguin Cruises m/s Paul Gauguin—Moorea, Society Islands (French Polynesia)

Regent Seven Seas Navigator—sea day; from Cabo San Lucas to Zihuatanejo, Mexico

SeaDream Yacht Club SeaDream I—Jost van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
SeaDream Yacht Club SeaDream II—Coconut Grove, Nevis

Silversea Prince Albert II—South Georgia, Antarctica

Travel Dynamics Clelia damaged by wave in Drake Passage, Antarctica

News on Clelia II owned by Travel Dynamics.

Lets hope she is not more damaged than expected. She is a lovely ship that is finishing her winter season and then will move to another company called Orion Cruises. She is to be called the Orion II and will have a new life in fablulous sailings in Asia starting in spring of 2011.

Clelia 11 Cancels Next Cruise
The ship is now operating at normal speed on its way back to Ushuaia. The next cruise was cancelled to allow for a technical assessment. The ship will resume its normal sailings on December 22. A strong wave in the Drake Passage broke a window on the bridge, damaging electrical circuitry and injuring one crew member. The storm produced waves of six to seven metres with winds up to 45 knots. The damage to the electrical circuitry caused a loss of communications and affected engine performance. The National Geographic Explorer, operated by Lindblad Expeditions, was nearby. It accompanied Clelia II for much of the day and provided assistance in restoring Clelia II’s communications. Late Tuesday, Chilean authorities provided clearance for the National Geographic Explorer to resume speed, and for Clelia II to continue north
to Ushuaia under its own power. Speed was gradually increased during the night. A Lloyd’s surveyor will meet and inspect the ship which is expected tomorrow morning. The current cruise was to have ended today. The ship’s last Antarctica season was cut short for a propeller replacement. On Dec. 26, 2009, a strong current near Petermann Island pushed Clelia II against rocks, damaging the starboard propeller. There were no injuries, and the ship made its way back to Ushuaia under its own power.

Cruise West Spirit of Oceanus/Sea Spirit will sail again

Cruise West Spirit of Oceanus gets new life…Sea Spirit

 Cruise West, Spirit of Oceanus sold to a charter company who re named her Sea Spirit is going to get a new life and sail again.

Quark will charter her to temporarily take the place of their present charter which is in dry dock being repaired.

She will replace the Clipper Adventurer who ran around during her Arctic 2010 season. That incident led to the cancellation of  first three scheduled voyages of the 2010-11 Antarctic season. The repairs to Clipper Adventurer will take longer than previously expected. As a result,  Sea Spirit, formerly known as Spirit of Oceanus, for the Antarctic 2010-2011 season. Sea Spirit will be used instead of Clipper Adventurer, taking over Clipper Adventurer’s scheduled voyages.

Her first voyage as a Quark Expeditions vessel will be the 20-day Explorers’ Quest .  Sea Spirit will carry a maximum of 120 passengers. She is equipped with rigid inflatable boats – RIBs – for shore transfers and cruising. The RIB fleet is comprised of Achilles and Zodiac boats.  

Once the Clipper Adventurer is repaired the Sea Spirit will be sent home for a new company to use her.

Quark’s Quality Adventure Coupled with Unsurpassed Comfort and Style

Sea Spirit guests sail in the most spacious cabins in our fleet and have a choice of one King Size bed or two twin beds. All 57 cabins have private facilities and exterior views. Fifteen of the cabins have private balconies for viewing the extraordinary Antarctic icescape. While enjoying the excitement of Quark’s 20-day Explorers’ Quest, your clients can phone home on the in-room phone with satellite access. Every cabin has individual temperature controls, a sitting area, refrigerator and in-room safe.

Sea Spirit has 7 cabin categories, including triple cabins and the very spacious Owner’s Suite.