Polar Pioneer was built in Finland in 1982 as an ice-strengthened research ship, and for many years she plied the treacherous waters of the USSR's northern coast. In 2000 she was refurbished in St Petersburg to provide comfortable accommodation for 54 passengers.
A combined bar/lounge/library area (stocked with a good collection of polar books) was also created by simple internal restructuring.
This class of vessel has a fine reputation for polar expedition cruising, due to its strength, manoeuvrability and small number of cabins. All cabins have outside portholes plus ample storage space. The Russian captain and crew are among the most experienced ice-navigators in the world and their enthusiasm is legendary.
The spacious bridge is always open to us and the decks are ideal for viewing. The chefs are European, and the dining room is attended by Russian stewardesses.
Polar Pioneer is not a luxury vessel as such, but this is our most popular ship for travel to the Polar regions. The accommodation is simple yet comfortable, and the meals are wholesome and uncomplicated. A small fleet of inflatable Zodiacs with outboard motors enable us to travel from ship to shore.
* Passengers: 54
* Staff: 10-12
* Crew: 23
* Cabins: 26
* Decks: 3
* Built: 1982
* Refurbished: 2000
* Length: 71.6m
* Beam: 12.8 metres
* Draft: 4.5m
* Cruising Speed: 10 knots
* Gross tonnage: 1753
* Registry: Russian
* Voltage: 220v. European round, two pin plug
* All the months of planning, preparation and travel come down to the moment you clear security and make your way along the bustling wharf in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego. Built for exploration, our trusty ship Polar Pioneer appears dwarfed by massive cruise ships. As you step aboard to a warm welcome from our expedition staff and Russian crew, you’ll appreciate the camaraderie and the relaxed, exciting atmosphere.
* After our welcome aboard briefings, we gather on the flying bridge as the ship’s lines are cast off, and with a blast of the horn, our ship sets sail down the Beagle Channel. Evening sunlight breaks through the clouds, petrels and prions fly past and dolphins lead the way.
* Once the pilot disembarks, we are free to visit the bridge. Thanks to our captain’s 'open bridge policy' it becomes a congenial place to watch for seabirds, whales and icebergs. The outside decks provide great viewing platforms.
*At sea our expert polar naturalists entertain and inform us with illustrated talks in the lecture room. They help us identify majestic seabirds and prepare us for the landings ahead. Excitement builds as we approach land.
* Zodiacs whisk us to penguin rookeries, historic sites or simply ashore to stretch our legs. Polar Pioneer takes us to places beyond the reach of bigger ships and over the ensuing days, our philosophy of making the most of every opportunity to explore Antarctica is put to practice.
* Our sauna is especially loved after a polar plunge, a day’s climbing, kayaking, diving or a brisk Zodiac cruise through grounded icebergs. Our resident medical officer is on hand throughout every voyage.
* A perfect Antarctic evening to end the day – what more could one wish for? Our chefs and hotel manager believe that the success of an expedition relies on delicious, wholesome food and a convivial atmosphere. We head to our cosy cabins for a good night’s rest, ready to do more exploring tomorrow.
Two lower bunks and one upper bunk, a desk, a small washbasin, ample storage and hanging space and portholes. Showers and toilets are very close by and are shared with other Main Deck cabins.
Twin Share Cabin
Two lower bunks, a desk, small washbasin, ample storage and hanging space, a couch and a porthole. Showers and toilets are very close by and are shared with other Main Deck cabins.
Two lower bunks, a desk, windows and private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. #402 and #403 have upper and lower bunks and a couch.
Double bed in a separate room, foldout couch that can be used as a single bed, TV, video player, windows, desk, table area, fridge, and private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin.
Double bed in separate room, plus foldout couch that can be used as a single bed, forward and port windows, lounge and table area, fridge, TV, video player, and private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin.