Polar Pioneer

Polar Pioneer is one of the most popular style of vessels currently used in Antarctica and the Arctic. Originally built as an ice-strengthened research vessel in Finland in 1982, she was refurbished in 2000 and converted into a passenger ship for expeditions to the Polar Regions. Polar Pioneer’s excellent reputation for polar expedition cruising is due to her strength, manoeuvrability and size. She is small and nimble, which means she can sail up close to landing sites and venture where other, larger ships can’t. Carrying just 54 passengers, she allows us to offer you a far more personal and intimate experience of the destination we are visiting.

Ship Features

  • Ice-strengthened hull
  • Triple, twin & suite cabins
  • Spacious viewing platforms and decks
  • Fleet of inflatable Zodiacs
  • Lounge bar & two dining rooms
  • Dedicated presentation room
  • Sauna
  • Basic medical clinic
  • English-speaking doctor
  • Daily cabin cleaning service
  • Satellite phone & email access
  • Gumboots provided for landings
  • Laundry service available

Ship Specifications

  • 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
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On board you will find a range of accommodation types, including triple and twin cabins as well as larger suites, all featuring outside facing portholes or windows and ample storage space for your gear. Cabins have either shared or private bathroom facilities, whilst suites offer en suite bathrooms and lounge areas. See below for detailed cabin information and deck plan.

Captain's Suite

Private Bathroom

Polar Pioneer's most deluxe cabin, the Captain's Suite features a separate sleeping area and lounge room, a private en-suite and large windows for optimal viewing opportunities from your own cabin. Only one cabin available, so be sure to enquire early.

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Mini Suite

Private Bathroom

Only two Mini Suites offer a more spacious cabin with a separate sleeping and sitting area as well as a private en-suite and large windows to enjoy the views from the comfort of your own cabin. Perfect if you're after a bit more space and comfort.

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Twin Cabin

Private Bathroom

Twin Cabins with private bathrooms are located across two deck levels, both with easy access to outside decks. Each cabin accommodates two people and offers the convenience of private bathroom facilities.  

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Twin Cabin

Shared Bathroom

Twin Cabins with shared bathrooms are all located on Deck 3. Surprisingly spacious, each cabin comfortably sleeps two people and are only a short distance from the ship’s public bathroom facilities. Outside decks are accessible from this deck.

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Triple Cabin

Shared Bathroom

Polar Pioneer features only two Triple Cabins with shared bathrooms. Perfect for friends or families, or for solo travellers who are happy to share their space with fellow passengers. Bathrooms are located close by on the same deck.

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Deck Plan

ship deck

Ship Life


Our professional chefs present three healthy, delicious meals daily, with morning and afternoon tea available in the dining rooms in between. All of our produce is sourced locally, with fresh fruit and vegetables, and freshly baked bread and pastries, served wherever possible. We are able to cater for a range of special meal requests, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, lactose free and other allergy specific requirements – please ensure you list this on your personal details form.

Observation Decks

Our spacious observation decks provide a congenial place to watch for wildlife or follow the ship’s progress on nautical charts. Rug up for unparalleled scenery from the outer decks or flying bridge, where our naturalists help you identify wildlife.

Learning and Lectures

At sea, join our polar specialists entertain and inform us with illustrated talks, and prepare us for making shore visits with mandatory safety and environmental briefings.

Captain and Crew

Our highly experienced Russian captain and crew are among the best ice navigators in the world. Our efficient stewardesses attend to rooms and serve our meals, whilst the crew work mainly behind-the-scenes to help our expedition leader get the ship to where we want to go.

Getting Ashore

Polar Pioneer boasts a fleet of Zodiacs that transport us ashore to penguin rookeries, scientific stations and historic sites, and provide us with a platform for photography. Our small excursion crafts take us beyond the reach of giant cruisers, and our philosophy of “getting out amongst it” is put to practice.

Medical Clinic

A basic medical clinic is managed by our English-speaking Ship’s Doctor, who is available at all times to assist with bouts of sea sickness and other unexpected emergencies.

On-board Entertainment

From socialising in our fully-stocked lounge bar to enjoying Captain’s drinks, trivia nights and charity auctions, or escaping to the sauna for some R&R, our small ship offers some surprisingly fun entertainment for when we’re not out and about.

Technology and Connectivity

Polar Pioneer has communication services that are available for an additional fee. These include satellite telephone, email and fax. Please note that these services are basic and not suitable for continuous use. There is no internet access on the vessel. 

Upcoming Expeditions

Showing: All 2016 2017 2018
  • Christmas in Antarctica

    11 DAYS from US$8,725 pp SAIL/FLY

    Celebrate Christmas Antarctica-style! Experience the best of the peninsula's wildlife and landscapes, with some time for onboard celebrations!

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  • Wild Scotland

    11 DAYS from AU$7,080 per person

    Join us on one of our wildest adventures: walk in the Vikings’ footsteps, explore fantastic sea caves, land on World-heritage listed St Kilda and observe the world’s largest seabird colonies!

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  • Spitsbergen Odyssey

    11 DAYS from AU$6,380 per person

    Circumnavigate Spitsbergen and experience a world filled with deep shimmering fjords, polar deserts, old whaling settlements and magnificent wildlife, amongst which the mighty polar bear.

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  • Jewels of the Arctic

    14 days from AU$8,450 per person

    Halfway between Spitsbergen and Iceland, East Greenland’s coastline invites you to explore its breathtaking environment made of the world’s largest icebergs, welcoming Inuit communities and diverse fauna and flora.

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  • COMBINE & SAVE IN 2017!

    Expedition - Across the Arctic Circle

    Across the Arctic Circle

    14 DAYS from AU$6,685 per person

    Sail from Scotland’s rugged northern coast through to Norway’s picturesque coastline, before crossing the Arctic Circle and reach the wildlife oasis of Spitsbergen, home to the mighty polar bear!

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  • Arctic Complete - Spitsbergen, Greenland & Iceland

    24 DAYS from AU$14,280 per person

    Combine two exciting Arctic itineraries into one 24-day adventure! From the wildlife oasis of Spitsbergen to Greenland’s iceberg fantasia, make your Arctic expedition complete (and save!).

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    Expedition - Photographer’s First Light - Antarctica & South Georgia

    Photographer’s First Light - Antarctica & South Georgia

    18 DAYS from US$14,300 pp

    No matter what your level of photography is, join our internationally-renowned expert photography guides on this exclusive expedition and capture Antarctica & South Georgia's springtime beauty.

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  • Spirit of Antarctica

    12 DAYS from US$8,500 pp

    Get ready for an early-summer adventure to Antarctica, jam-packed with pristine icy landscapes, busy wildlife and many daily excursions and activities!

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  • SALE

    Expedition - New Year in Antarctica

    New Year in Antarctica

    11 DAYS from US$8,725 pp FLY/SAIL

    Ring in the New Year and make new resolutions as you journey onboard Polar Pioneer through the life-bustling Antarctic Peninsula.

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  • South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey

    18 DAYS from US$14,300 pp

    Throughout long summer days, discover wildlife-rich South Georgia, step foot on the magnificent Antarctic Peninsula and retrace Ernest Shackleton's epic journey from Elephant Island.

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    Expedition - Weddell Sea & Antarctic Explorer

    Weddell Sea & Antarctic Explorer

    12 DAYS from US$8,725 pp

    One of the wildest and most isolated parts of the Antarctic Peninsula, the ice-filled Weddell Sea boasts huge tabular icebergs, fossil-rich islands and large penguin colonies for you to explore!

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  • Across the Antarctic Circle

    11 DAYS from US$8,725 pp FLY/SAIL

    Celebrate crossing latitude 66° 33' South in the wake of hallowed explorers and experience a world of powerful whales, shimmering mountain ranges and mesmerising icebergs.

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  • In Shackleton’s Footsteps

    18 DAYS from US$14,300 pp FLY/SAIL

    Late summer offers the best chance to chart a course through the Weddell Sea’s shifting pack ice and vast tabular bergs, where Shackleton’s ship Endurance was trapped and crushed.

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  • Sub-Antarctic Safari

    15 Days from US$10,900 pp

    NEW! Explore the wildlife sanctuaries of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas and South Georgia on this brand new sub-Antarctic sailing adventure, including exclusive photography workshops.

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  • Antarctic Explorer

    11 Days from US$9,500 pp FLY/SAIL

    With only one sea crossing this new FLY/SAIL voyage, you'll enjoy the very best of the Antarctic Peninsula and the spectacular, yet isolated Weddell Sea.

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  • Photographer’s Antarctica & South Georgia

    20 DAYS from US$14,300 pp

    Time and light, the photographer’s most treasured attributes. Capture Antarctica & South Georgia on this exquisite photography expedition.

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