Quark Expeditions has just announced that the ship 50 Years of Victory, which sails its North Pole voyages, will retire as an expedition vessel after the 2015 Arctic season. This "End of an Era" will be marked by Quark with three final voyages to the North Pole departing in June 2015. Quark has been offering expeditions aboard 50 Years of Victory since 2009, and has taken more than 1,150 passengers to 90° North. After completing the 2015 season, Quark will have successfully taken almost 1,800 passengers from countries all over world to the highest point on Earth.
“It is with great reluctance that we announce the retirement of Victory as a passenger expedition vessel in 2015. Victory has become part of the Quark Expeditions’ family,” said Hans Lagerweij, president of Quark Expeditions. “Despite the fact that the ship’s retirement is less than two years away, travellers who hesitate to reserve a cabin may find they have missed the boat – or in this case – the icebreaker.”
Quark is the first and only North American operator to offer trips to the North Pole aboard 50 Years of Victory. Only 128 lucky people will have the opportunity to join each of these three final voyages.
Quark is the first and only North American operator to offer trips to the North Pole aboard 50 Years of Victory. Only 128 lucky people will have the opportunity to join each of these three final voyages as Quark marks the "End of an Era" for this expedition vessel.
To meet demand for the final year, Quark has added a third voyage at the start of the season. Departing on June 3, this first voyage will be 15 days in length, one day longer given the heavy ice conditions Victory will crush through in early season on its way to the top of the world. The other two departures, June 15 and June 26, will be 14-day voyages. Quark is also the only tour operator to offer hot air ballooning at the top of the world.
About the Icebreaker 50 Years of Victory
50 Years of Victory is a Russian Arktika-class nuclear-powered icebreaker. Arktika-class icebreakers are the largest and most powerful nuclear icebreakers ever constructed. With an ice-class LL1, Victory is designed to continuously break through ice up to 9.19 feet thick. The icebreaker is equipped with a basketball court, indoor lap pool, two saunas, a Polar library and lounge, a gym with windows and an onboard helicopter for aerial sightseeing and landings. Victory launched her maiden voyage to the North Pole with Quark Expeditions on June 14, 2009, and in honor of the Sochi games, carried the Olympic flame to the North Pole in October 2013. This legendary icebreaker will retire as an expedition vessel in August 2015, returning to duty as an escort ship in the Russian Arctic.
Victory is owned by Atomflot, a Russian government-owned company based in Murmansk that maintains the world’s only fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers, including Quark’s former nuclear-powered icebreaker for North Pole, the Yamal. Nine months of the year, Victory is a working vessel keeping shipping lanes open for other ships. As of 2016, Atomflot’s nuclear icebreaker fleet will no longer be available for passenger voyages due to the heavy increase in shipping traffic in the Russian Arctic waters.
Photos by John Weller