The Quark Canadian Arctic 2022 Expedition will operate with the m/v Ultramarine, carrying a maximum of 199 passengers and a minimum of 32 staff, which includes an ornithologist, a marine biologist, and a doctor. On this expedition, our staff to passenger ratio of 1:6.2. Many of our staff have 20-years, or more, experience working in the Canadian Arctic and other sensitive wildlife areas.
In addition to the ice-worthiness of our ships, seasoned captains, expedition teams and crew, Quark’s safety standards, training and equipment protocols are of utmost importance and in many cases set the standard for the industry. Quark is the only expedition cruise company awarded British Standard BS 8848.
Our own internal accreditation training programs cover Zodiac driving, navigation, VHF radio operation, operating in polar bear country and managing and handling lethal (firearms) and non-lethal deterrents to protect against dangerous animals.
Passengers will use the ship as a floating platform to enjoy the scenery of the area. Once or twice per day the passengers will disembark the ship by Zodiacs or Helicopters to go ashore in wilderness areas or communities. Alternatively, they may join a Zodiac cruise, helicopter sightseeing flight, or participate in a kayaking activity.
All Zodiacs will be equipped with emergency/safety kits and will be paired with another Zodiac. If there is a plan to go ashore, a landing barrel full of emergency supplies will be placed at the landing site. At least 1 of the paired Zodiacs will have a firearm handler, who has completed all modules and levels of our internal accreditation courses. Helicopters will be equipped with emergency/safety kits, and will not land without a firearm bearer on board or already ashore. All staff, including the Zodiac drivers will have VHF radios to stay in contact with each other as well as the ship. However, nobody will go ashore if a bear is seen.
When cruising bird cliffs, all Zodiac drivers will follow AECO guidelines, CWS Guidelines for Seabird Viewing by Cruise Ships and CWS Guidelines for Visiting Seabird Colonies in Canada.
To prepare passengers for landings, printed AECO Guidelines are mailed to the passengers before leaving home. We review these general guidelines on ship before our first landing. In addition, prior to a particular landing or Zodiac cruise we always have two briefings, one on ship and one on shore or in the Zodiacs to explain the limits of the area and the guidelines for visiting a particular area (e.g. being quiet around bird cliffs).
If marine mammals are encountered by the ship or by Zodiac, we’ll follow the IAATO Marine Wildlife Watching Guidelines (Whales & Dolphins, Seals and Seabirds) For Vessel & Zodiac Operations. All activities will be conducted in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act which states: “Do not use aircraft, vessels, small boats or other means of transport in ways that disturb wildlife, either at sea or on land”. Quark is an American company so we are aware of and follow the US Marine Mammal Protection act. Additionally, we are aware of and follow the guideline document; NOAA Whale Watching and Viewing Other Marine Mammals in Alaska.