One Ocean Expeditions Opens Punta Arenas To Antarctica Fly/Cruise Departures From the Falklands and King George Island

One Ocean Expeditions’ Akademik Sergey Vavilov will source most of her 2015-16 Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia passengers from Punta Arenas, Chile, with one direct sailing and half a dozen fly/cruises from Punta Arenas airport.

One Ocean Expeditions’ Akademik Sergey Vavilov will source most of her 2015-16 Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia passengers from Punta Arenas, Chile, with one direct sailing and half a dozen fly/cruises from Punta Arenas airport.

Many years ago, Punta Arenas was used as an important setting off point for cruises to Antarctica. In more recent years, however, it has become more of a wayport for cruise ships running between Brazil and Argentina and Chile’s west coast port of Valparaiso. Ushuaia, meanwhile, in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego, has picked up the lion’s share of Antarctic departures.

Last month, however, One Ocean Expeditions announced its itineraries and fares for its 2015-16 Antarctica season for voyages on board the Akademik Ioffe and Akademik Sergey Vavilov.

In addition to its regular departures from Ushuaia, One Ocean will introduce a new program of expedition fly/cruises starting in Punta Arenas. The Punta Arenas fly/cruise program will be undertaken by the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, while the Akademik Ioffe carries on with its usual direct departures from Ushuaia.

Only the first voyage, on December 8, 2015, will involve boarding at Punta Arenas, as none of the subsequent Vavilov voyages will sail from the Chilean port. Instead, One Ocean will use scheduled flights between Punta Arenas and Stanley in the Falkland Islands, and flights that operate between Punta Arenas and the Chilean Antarctic base on King George Island, to get their passengers to and from the ship, which will sail between Stanley and King George Island. There are of course no flights between Argentina and the Falklands.

In addition to the direct departure from Punta Arenas, three Vavilov departures will be made from Stanley and three more from King Edward Island, where passengers will board or disembark by Zodiac. The resulting 10- and 11-night itineraries have been designed to allow passengers more time in Antarctica – with the added bonus of seeing the king penguins of the Falkland Islands on most departures.

Port Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands

Port Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands

After the Vavilov’s December 8 sailing from Punta Arenas, subsequent fly/cruise departures through to February 2016, will leave from Punta Arenas airport for either Stanley or King George Island and return to Punta Arenas airport at the end of the voyage.

All flights between Punta Arenas and the ship will be included in the fare. The Akademik Sergey Vavilov will then complete her season in March with two 10-night voyages from Ushuaia.

One Ocean customers have also frequently asked the company to offer a South Georgia-only voyage. In response to these requests, the Vavilov will now offer a 14-night South Georgia-only departure, sailing from Stanley on October 17, 2015, and ending in Ushuaia.  This will be followed by two chartered departures, after which the ship will position round to Punta Arenas to start the new program out of Chile.

In order to provide additional space, One Ocean will also bring the passenger capacity on both ships down from 96 to around 70 per voyage, and this on ships that used to carry 110.

One Ocean also has in place an Early Booking Offer of $750 per person off the cruise fare for all departures, subject to availability and withdrawal at any time.

The 210-berth Stella Australis

As well as the Vavilov’s single season-opening sailing, One Ocean will be bringing some new hotel, tour and flights business to Punta Arenas.

But it will not be the only operator there. For twenty-three years now Cruceros Australis, South America’s only local cruise line, has been operating 3-, 4- and 7-night voyages through the Chilean fjords between Punta Arenas and Ushuaia.
Its present fleet consists of the 210-berth Stella Australis, built in 2010, and the 136-berth Via Australis, built in 2005.

For details of the 2015-16 Punta Arenas departures and other polar cruise adventures please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America please call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Growth Of Major World Cruise Markets – A Revival Of Sorts At Punta Arenas – North Pole Icebreaker Cruises To Continue Into 2018

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 6th October 2014... …

The Mariner of the Seas, right, one of the Voyager-class vessels

Hong Kong’s new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal opened in 2013 on the site of its old international airport. Seen here is Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, one of two sister ships that now sail in Chinese waters.

Today we look at comparative growth in different cruise markets and the expected impact of the addition of the Asian market, particularly China, to these figures. While China, Australia, Brazil, Germany and Scandinavia are growing much faster than other markets, Canada seems to be frozen in time, with no growth in five years. Elsewhere, Punta Arenas in Chile is seeing a bit of a revival as a setting off point for fly/cruises to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. One Ocean Expeditions’ Akademik Sergey Vavilov will source most of her 2015-16 Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia passengers from Punta Arenas’s port and airport. And icebreaker cruises from Murmansk to the North Pole have been granted a reprieve until 2018.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                                 (See previous columns)

Thirty Years Of Northwest Passage Cruises – TUI Cruises Places Options For Two More Ships – New Ship Names For Royal Caribbean

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 22nd September 2014... ..

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Lindblad Explorer

Lindblad Explorer transited the Northwest Passage in 1984

northwest_passageThis month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the first full transit of Canada’s Northwest Passage by a commercial passenger vessel, with the Lindblad Explorer arriving in Yokohama on September 29, 1984. The 43-day voyage had departed St John’s, Newfoundland, on August 20. But things are now accelerating in the Northwest Passage. Last year saw the first commercial cargo, 73,000 tons of coal, move from Vancouver to Finland in the Nordic Orion, and this year the first westbound cargo, 25,000 tons of nickel concentrate, moving from Quebec to China in Fednav’s Nunavik. In 2015, Abercrombie & Kent will become the seventh company operating expedition ships through the Northwest Passage by chartering Ponant’s Le Boréal, and in 2016 Crystal Cruises plans to carry 900 passengers from Seward, Alaska, through the Northwest Passage to New York in the 68,870-ton Crystal Serenity.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                                 (See previous columns)

Quark Expeditions Makes Plans For Its Latest Ships: Ocean Diamond and Sea Spirit Join Clipper Adventurer and Kapitan Dranitsyn

In the past couple of years, Toronto-based TUI-owned Quark Expeditions has gone from using largely Russian-supplied tonnage to working more closely with International Shipping Partners of Miami as its main supplier of ships. Starting with the 4,200-ton 114-berth Sea Spirit, which was acquired from Cruise West as the Spirit of Oceanus just before that company’s bankruptcy, Quark has now taken on the 8,282-ton 189-berth Ocean Diamond, more recently acquired by ISP, which is being chartered back to her previous owners, Compagnie du Ponant, for whom she operated as Le Diamant, for the summer of 2012.

Both Sea Spirit and Ocean Diamond will be used in Antarctica, together with a third ISP fleetmate, the 4,376-ton 122-berth Clipper Adventurer, all of which will sail from Quark’s usual base port of Ushuaia, Argentina.

In the meantime, two of Quark’s previous mainstays, the 110-berth Russian-owned 6,450-ton Akademik Ioffe and 6,344-ton Akademik Sergey Vavilov, are moving over one at a time to be operated by Vancouver-based independent One Ocean Expeditions.

In her first season with Quark, from November 2012 to March 2013, Ocean Diamond will perform two 19-night cruises to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia, from $9,695 per person on November 3 or $12,795 on December 26, and eight departures to the Antarctic Peninsula, from $4,295 for 9 nights or $4,795 for 11 nights.

As part of her introductory season, Quark is offering a 25% early booking reduction on all Ocean Diamond departures booked by 30th April 2012. Savings of up to $7,000 can be applied to upgrades to larger cabins or shore excursions or simply remain in your bank account.

Sea Spirit will undertake nine cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula and a cruise to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia, at the same starting fares as Ocean Diamond, plus a 13-night departure to the Weddell Sea, from $11,995, and a 14-night cruise to the Peninsula that will cross of the Antarctic Circle, starting at $12,795, and a 15-night early season cruise on October 28 that will concentrate on South Georgia, from $10,295 per person.

Clipper Adventurer, meanwhile, will perform two new expedition voyages for Quark. Known as the “Antarctic Express,” this will involve two charter aircraft flying the Drake Passage to King Edward Island, where passengers will join ship, 7 nights from $7,995 per person. At the beginning of these cruises, the option will be to sail south and fly north, from $9,995 for 9 nights, and at the end fly south and sail north, from $6,395 for 8 nights, for a total of four shorter cruises that will avoid a double crossing of the Drake Passage.

Clipper Adventurer will kick off the season with a single Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia voyage and will also perform nine Antarctic Peninsula voyages from Ushuaia, with fares similar to Ocean Diamond and Sea Spirit.

Various ships will be chosen to perform different cruises in the Arctic thereafter. For this summer, these will be offered by the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, in her final Quark season, and the chartered Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, which will be offering two cruises from Murmansk, one to Franz Josef Land, 12 nights from $12,995 per person, and one to both Novaia Zemlia and Franz Josef Land, 14 nights from $15,995. Either the Sea Spirit or Ocean Diamond will be used in the Arctic and Spitsbergen in 2013.

And speaking of Russian icebreakers, efforts are apparently also being made to bring back the Kapitan Khlebnikov for further Antarctic departures in the future as well. While we await further news from Quark, it is quite clear that they are in the course of upgrading their fleet to a higher level of comfort than in past years, with ice-strengthened cruise ships replacing the chartered scientific research vessels used in the past. Both the Sea Spirit and Ocean Diamond are known for having worked for more upmarket concerns during their own past careers.

For further details on any Quark Expeditions departure please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

One Ocean Expeditions Doubles Its Polar Adventure Fleet

One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) has announced that the highly regarded Akademik Sergey Vavilov will join her sister ship Akademik Ioffe as its second polar expedition vessel with effect from November 2012.

The Akademik Sergey Vavilov, seen here in icy Antarctic waters

Both ships were built  in Finland in the late 1980’s for the Russian Academy of Sciences.  They undertook hydro-acoustic research and are consequently extremely quiet, fast and stable ships, widely acknowledged as among the the best expedition vessels for difficult polar waters.

Andrew Prossin, who founded OOE in 2006, is a twenty-year veteran of both Antarctic and Arctic expeditions and has worked extensively with both vessels.

“This addition to our fleet was both necessary and timely for OOE. It is necessary because our 2011/12 season has almost completely sold out and we definitely need a second vessel. It is timely because the opportunity to take the Vavilov now puts us in a leading position with the two best expedition vessels in the world,” said Prossin.

With berths for 105 passengers, (but limited by OOE to 92) the Vavilov will initially be deployed in Antarctica, followed by the 2013 Arctic season. But first, the ship will be extensively refurbished. “The Vavilov is a great ship, and with the forthcoming improvement program we will have no trouble bringing her up to the high expectations of One Ocean Expeditions’ clients”, said Prossin.

Partial view of a typical twin cabin on the Akademik Sergey Vailov

“This is a terrific platform where we can offer an innovative expedition product and continue to hone the high levels of onboard guest services our clients have come to expect from us.” A major renovation is planned, including redecorated cabins, enhanced, modernised public areas and a wellness centre.

For further details of Arctic and Antarctic expeditions with One Ocean please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.