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John Carter takes a look at the experience of a Polar Bear adventure cruise on the MS Quest in the Spitsbergen Archipelago. Hear first hand accounts from both passengers and crew as to what makes an expedition cruise so special.

The MS Quest was built in Denmark in 1992. With an ice class 1A1 rating she has an icebreaking capability of up to 70cm and is equipped with all the latest communications and safety equipment. In 2008 she was completely refurbished and has since been successfully operating as a small expedition ship.

Awareness of the environmental impact in sensitive ecosystems is a passion for the Quest team and every effort is made to minimise the carbon footprint both on board and ashore. With just 26 cabins, she carries up to 56 passengers which makes for a very inclusive and friendly atmosphere. The experience and perspective is entirely different to that of a larger ship.

Cabins, although of necessity compact, are comfortable and well equipped and come with private en suite facilities and the all important sea view. Meals are served in a single sitting for both crew and passengers in the attractive lower deck restaurant and are either buffet or table service. Weather permitting, barbecues are occasionally set up on deck. The Panorama Lounge on the upper deck is the main meeting point and the place to enjoy uninterrupted views of the passing scenery. There is also a well stocked bar and small library. Informal talks and lectures form the expedition team are held here.

Animals, weather and nature will not conform to any ‘timetable’ so flexibility is absolutely key to the getting the most from your experience. The MS Quest team are masters of this and their knowledge and expertise are unmatched. Setting off through the ice in search of polar bears is perhaps the ultimate adventure but the shores of the British Isles provides thrills of its own. MS Quest’s cruising calendar takes her to the shores of Scotland in Spring and Autumn and to Iceland and the Arctic in Summer.

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