PONANT’s Arctic Expeditions Now On Sale

By Staff Writer

Guests are now able to book their cruises for PONANT’s Arctic 2021 tour on polar exploration vessel Le Commandant-Charcot. The hybrid electric ship will be the first to bring guests to the geographic North Pole at 90 degrees latitude north.

Continuing to the eastern coast of Greenland, the Northwest Passage, the Ross Sea, the Charcot and Peter I islands, the revolutionary vessel will treat guests to brand new itineraries in regions usually inaccessible to classically-designed ships. Innovative routing software makes it possible for Le Commandant-Charcot to slip through the naturally-created channels in the ice, while the ship’s powerful engines allow it to free itself, if necessary, from denser sea ice.

It has additionally been designed to minimise its environmental impact and will also host a scientific research laboratory to study the ecosystems and the biodiversity of these polar settings. This PONANT addition is the first exploration vessel to surpass the ecological standards set out by international regulations.

Itineraries include the “In the Wake of Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot” Expedition, which commences in Le Havre, France for a 14-night voyage through the Alftanes Peninsular in Iceland, the ice floes of Greenland and more; the “Geographic North Pole” Expedition which goes from Reykjavik, Iceland to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen and follows the direction of the North Pole; and the “Discovering the Northeast Greenland National Park” Expedition, a trek in partnership with National Geographic Expeditions, that traces the nordic landscape for 13 days starting in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Additional itineraries, pricing and sales for PONANT’s Arctic 2021 tour are open now.

 

ponant.com/arctic

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Reveals Spas on Board New Expedition Ships

By Staff Writer

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has revealed details of the spa and fitness facilities that will be onboard the cruise line’s three new expedition ships. HANSEATIC nature, HANSEATIC inspiration – the company’s international expedition ship – and HANSEATIC spirit will all feature a ‘wellness deck’ on Deck 8 with an extensive Ocean Spa conveying the company’s wellness philosophy, “Inspired by nature”.

The 235-metres spa will focus on nature in everything from the ingredients used in treatments to the design of the treatment rooms. Floor-to-ceiling windows will give guests access to a spectacular, constantly changing landscape, which in turn will be reflected by the colours, tones and shapes used in each space. The spa will feature an outdoor area for relaxing, a Finnish sauna, a steam sauna, hydrotherapy shower and ice fountain as well as a hairdressing salon.

When it comes to treatments, the spa will only utilise sustainable products incorporating natural ingredients produced by Vinoble, Hyapur, John Masters Organics and Nailberry. The “Inspired by nature” philosophy will also be mirrored in the vegan formulas and the use of local produce, with no chemical or synthetics added to any products.

Next door to Ocean Spa will be a 100 metre-squared fitness area featuring state-of-the-art equipment and a fitness studio with a glass front which can be fully opened out on to its own outdoor area. Floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows throughout ensure nature is always on display while cruising through the icy scenery of the polar regions or the warmer waters of the Amazon.

A fitness trainer is also on hand on each ship for personal training classes, pilates and Antarctic sun salutation sessions. The sports facilities on board are based on the three pillars of relaxation, balance and strength.

Continuing on past the fitness area guests will find the spacious Sun Deck with the pool area covering about 630 m2 and a flexible canopy ensuring the area can be used come rain, show or shine.

HANSEATIC nature will be the first of the three, new Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ expedition ships to set sail on its maiden cruise on 13 April 2019, and will be aimed exclusively at the German-speaking market. In October it will be followed by the launch of its international, bilingual sister ship, the HANSEATIC inspiration and then by the HANSEATIC spirit in 2021, which will also be aimed exclusively at the German-speaking market.

These small, first-class expedition ships will feature cutting-edge technology and the highest ice class for passenger ships (PC6). They can accommodate up to 230 guests, or 199 guests on Antarctic cruises.

Retractable glass balconies on the Sun Deck give guests the feeling of hovering directly above the water and guests can stand on the foredeck of the ship to be closer to the action – even closer than the captain.

For bookings, enquiries or to request a brochure, click here.

Ice & Isolation: Exploring the Arctic

By Kerry van ver Jagt

It is past midnight, yet the sun is still hanging high above the horizon, its rays illuminating every strand of hair on the polar bear below us. As we lean over the bow the huge male raises his head, sniffing the array of scents coming from our expedition ship National Geographic Explorer.

I’m in Arctic Svalbard, one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas and one of the best places on the planet to see polar bears – on ice, in their natural habitat. For more than an hour we watch the King of the Arctic as he saunters about – leaping across ice floes, rolling like a labrador, standing on his hind legs and staring quizzically up at us. After only two days at sea, as part of Lindblad Expeditions’ 10-day ‘Land of the Ice Bears’ itinerary, I’m rewarded with a wildlife experience that surpasses anything I’ve seen before.

From Norway’s capital city Oslo, a three-hour charter flight brings me to Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Svalbard. Known as the world’s northernmost city, this frontier town is surrounded by two magnificent glaciers, snow-capped mountains and timber houses painted in colours that mimic the summer tundra.

It is June and the start of summer, when 148 passengers and an expedition team of National Geographic photographers, naturalists and ice experts board the National Geographic Explorer for a seven-night expedition cruise. Since 2004, Lindblad Expeditions has partnered with National Geographic, an alliance that is a bonus for the environment and passengers.

Finding luxury on an expedition ship is also a bonus. My elegant cabin boasts a queen-size bed, two large windows, spacious bathroom, desk, flat-panel TV and plenty of storage space. Thirteen of Explorer’s cabins feature private balconies with large sliding glass doors; several offer living room-style areas. Staff are warm and attentive, happily taking care of every wish, while a spa and fitness centre take care of the body and a well-stocked Global Gallery (part shop, part gallery) takes care of retail therapy requirements.

But for me the greatest luxury is travelling with highly-trained naturalist guides, each experts in their own fields; improving my photography skills alongside National Geographic photographers; and spending time in the bridge (which is always open), chatting to the captain about receding glaciers, changing sea ice and the latest national soccer results.

On our first day we explore Krossfjorden, skimming over sea ice in zodiacs before going ashore at Stephan’s Garden. I join the fast walkers (slow and medium hikes are also offered) with naturalist guide Doug Gualtier. Like all of the naturalists, Doug has a university degree (and a Masters in conservation biology) and loves nothing more than sharing his knowledge with guests – pointing out anything from clumps of 200-year-old mosses to pods of beluga whales.

As if white beluga whales aren’t enough, the delights continue as we push further north – kayaking through a slushy of ice, marvelling at icebergs, riding in zodiacs alongside cliffs engulfed by a blizzard of birds. We see walruses swimming – their twin tusks looking like giant toothpicks – watch arctic foxes slinking across the tundra and listen to ‘white thunder’, the sound glaciers make as they calve and topple into the sea.

Meals are a highlight, with menus designed in collaboration with chef Serge Dansereau, owner of Sydney’s ever-popular The Bathers’ Pavilion at Balmoral Beach. While lunches include casual buffets, light meals in the library or impromptu barbecues on the back deck, dinners are more elaborate. The à la carte menus range from baked fillet of Arctic charr to seared duck breast, pan-seared king salmon to grilled lamb racks. Afternoon tea is served daily at 4:00pm and the evening talks kick off with cocktails and canapés in the spacious lounge.

Even though there’s no set itinerary – cruising on the whim of the ice and weather – the daily operations are seamless. Each evening we are given an outline of what might unfold the following day, while updates are posted on the in-room television or broadcast throughout the ship.

It’s 9:30pm and I’m just finishing dinner when I hear the update I’ve been waiting for: “We have a bear, make your way to the bow. Quietly”. Pulling on my boots and beanie I dash outside, where I spot my first polar bear ambling towards us across the ice floes. “They might be ferocious predators, but they are as inquisitive as children,” whispers Doug.

It’s 9:30pm and I’m just finishing dinner when I hear the update I’ve been waiting for: “We have a bear, make your way to the bow. Quietly”. Pulling on my boots and beanie I dash outside, where I spot my first polar bear ambling towards us across the ice floes. “They might be ferocious predators, but they are as inquisitive as children,” whispers Doug.

After watching the bear for an hour, Captain Kruess pushes on through the ice, eventually taking us beyond 81°. Over the course of the week, the tally on the whiteboard grows to eight polar bears, including a huge male with a fresh kill, a female swimming and a mother bear playing on the ice with her cub.

During it all, our knowledge of sea ice and climate change grows. A talk by polar ecologist Andrew Clarke teaches us about the domino effect of increased temperatures – when spring melt is hastened and winter freeze delayed, bears remained land-locked (and hungry) for longer during the summer months.

To complete our circumnavigation of Svalbard, the last two days are spent cruising alongside the Austfonna ice-shelf, hiking through a narrow canyon at Diskobukta, watching walruses at Kapp Lee and taking to kayaks and zodiacs in Hornsund fjord. On our return leg to Longyearbyen, we are followed by a platoon of humpback whales.

Standing on the deck, I realise it doesn’t matter how many National Geographic documentaries I’ve watched, nothing beats seeing this fragile environment for myself. In the end we only protect what we love, and we only love what we understand.

Hapag Lloyd Announces New Expedition Cruises to Arctic, North East Passage and Antarctica

German cruise line Hapag-Lloyd has recently unveiled five English speaking international expedition cruises through Antarctica, the Arctic and the North East Passage set to launch in 2018/2019. Two of the new routes will be aboard the 5-star rated Hanseatic and three on the Bremen, with the line’s new expedition ship Hanseatic inspiration set to take over the Bremen’s routes when it is launched in October 2019.

 

Summer 2018 – Arctic and North East Passage

During summer of 2018 (June – September in the Northern Hemisphere), the Hanseatic will sail the North Pole from Kangerlussuaq, taking in the West coast of Greenland, the Northern Canadian Arctic, the Nares Strait and the Northwest Coast of Greenland.

The expedition will run from 7 – 25 August 2018 (18 days) and will be priced from €14,421 (about A$21, 607) per person.

The Bremen will be taking guests on a rare and exciting journey traversing the Northeast Passage from Tromsø to Nome, taking in Murmansk, Nowaja Semlja, Franz Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya, Cape Chelyuskin, New Siberian Islands, Wrangel Islands, Kolyuchin Island and Chukchi Peninsula. Hapag-Lloyd expedition ships are the only non-Russian passenger ships allowed to travel this route, making it an exclusive experience for intrepid travellers to tick off their bucket list.

The expedition will run from 11 August – 7 September 2018 (28 days) and will be priced from €21,632 (about A$32, 411) per person.

 

Winter 2019 – Antarctica

The Bremen will sail two Antarctica Expeditions in 2019 from Ushuaia to Ushuaia, taking in Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Orkney Islands, Weddell Sea, South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. These trips will include unique immersive experiences such as camping ashore for the night and sleeping amid the Antarctic ice.

The 19 day expedition will run from 22 January – 10 February and from 10 Feburary to 1 March and will be priced from €13,690 (about A$20, 511)

hl-cruises.com

 

 

 

 

Ice & Isolation: Cruising the Arctic with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

It is past midnight, yet the sun is still hanging high above the horizon, its rays illuminating every strand of hair on the polar bear below us. As we lean over the bow the huge male raises his head, sniffing the array of scents coming from our expedition ship National Geographic Explorer.

I’m in Arctic Svalbard, one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas and one of the best places on the planet to see polar bears – on ice, in their natural habitat. For more than hour we watch the King of the Arctic as he saunters about – leaping across ice floes, rolling like a labrador, standing on his hind legs and staring quizzically up at us. After only two days at sea, as part of Lindblad Expeditions’ 10-day ‘Land of the Ice Bears’ itinerary, I’m rewarded with a wildlife experience that surpasses anything I’ve seen before.

LONGYEARBYEN

From Norway’s capital city Oslo, a three-hour charter flight brings me to Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Svalbard. Known as the world’s northernmost city, this frontier town is surrounded by two magnificent glaciers, snow-capped mountains and timber houses painted in colours that mimic the summer tundra.

It is June and the start of summer, when 148 passengers and an expedition team of National Geographic photographers, naturalists and ice experts board the National Geographic Explorer for a seven-night expedition cruise. Since 2004, Lindblad Expeditions has partnered with National Geographic, an alliance that is a bonus for the environment and passengers.

Finding luxury on an expedition ship is also a bonus. My elegant cabin boasts a queen-size bed, two large windows, spacious bathroom, desk, flat-panel TV and plenty of storage space. Thirteen of Explorer’s cabins feature private balconies with large sliding glass doors; several offer living room-style areas. Staff are warm and attentive, happily taking care of every wish, while a spa and fitness centre take care of the body and a well-stocked Global Gallery (part shop, part gallery) takes care of retail therapy requirements.

But for me the greatest luxury is travelling with highly-trained naturalist guides, each experts in their own fields; improving my photography skills alongside National Geographic photographers; and spending time in the bridge (which is always open), chatting to the captain about receding glaciers, changing sea ice and the latest national soccer results.

SPITSBERGEN

On our first day we explore Krossfjorden, skimming over sea ice in zodiacs before going ashore at Stephan’s Garden. I join the fast walkers (slow and medium hikes are also offered) with naturalist guide Doug Gualtier. Like all of the naturalists, Doug has a university degree (and a Masters in conservation biology) and loves nothing more than sharing his knowledge with guests – pointing out anything from clumps of 200-year-old mosses to pods of beluga whales.

As if white beluga whales aren’t enough, the delights continue as we push further north – kayaking through a slushy of ice, marvelling at icebergs, riding in zodiacs alongside cliffs engulfed by a blizzard of birds. We see walruses swimming – their twin tusks looking like giant toothpicks – watch arctic foxes slinking across the tundra and listen to ‘white thunder’, the sound glaciers make as they calve and topple into the sea.

Meals are a highlight, with menus designed in collaboration with chef Serge Dansereau, owner of Sydney’s ever-popular The Bathers’ Pavilion at Balmoral Beach. While lunches include casual buffets, light meals in the library or impromptu barbecues on the back deck, dinners are more elaborate. The à la carte menus range from baked fillet of Arctic charr to seared duck breast, pan-seared king salmon to grilled lamb racks. Afternoon tea is served daily at 4:00pm and the evening talks kick off with cocktails and canapés in the spacious lounge.

Even though there’s no set itinerary – cruising on the whim of the ice and weather – the daily operations are seamless. Each evening we are given an outline of what might unfold the following day, while updates are posted on the in-room television or broadcast throughout the ship.

THE FAR NORTH

It’s 9:30pm and I’m just finishing dinner when I hear the update I’ve been waiting for: “We have a bear, make your way to the bow. Quietly”. Pulling on my boots and beanie I dash outside, where I spot my first polar bear ambling towards us across the ice floes. “They might be ferocious predators, but they are as inquisitive as children,” whispers Doug.

After watching the bear for an hour, Captain Kruess pushes on through the ice, eventually taking us beyond 81°. Over the course of the week, the tally on the whiteboard grows to eight polar bears, including a huge male with a fresh kill, a female swimming and a mother bear playing on the ice with her cub.

During it all, our knowledge of sea ice and climate change grows. A talk by polar ecologist Andrew Clarke teaches us about the domino effect of increased temperatures – when spring melt is hastened and winter freeze delayed, bears remained land-locked (and hungry) for longer during the summer months.

WESTERN EDGEØYA ISLAND

To complete our circumnavigation of Svalbard, the last two days are spent cruising alongside the Austfonna ice-shelf, hiking through a narrow canyon at Diskobukta, watching walruses at Kapp Lee and taking to kayaks and zodiacs in Hornsund fjord. On our return leg to Longyearbyen, we are followed by a platoon of humpback whales.

Standing on the deck, I realise it doesn’t matter how many National Geographic documentaries I’ve watched, nothing beats seeing this fragile environment for myself. In the end we only protect what we love, and we only love what we understand.