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The Polar Pioneer is a small and manoeuvrable ice-strengthened vessel, capable of venturing into remote corners of the world that many larger ships cannot reach.

She was originally designed and built in Finland in 1985 for polar and oceanographic research. Continually refurbished, she carries 54 passengers in comfortable twin and triple cabins, some with private facilities, all with window or porthole. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal, and you will be in the company of an experienced team of expedition experts and Russian crew who are among the best ice navigators in the world.

The Polar Pioneer operates in both Antarctica and the Arctic, with a fleet of Zodiac inflatables being used for shore excursions.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Length: 71.61 m (234.9 feet) metres
  • Passengers: 54 in 29 cabins
  • Crew and staff: 23

wildlife trips

Polar Pioneer offers the following cabin classes:

Triple with shared facilities

  • Beds: 2 lower bunks and 1 upper bunk
  • External view: Porthole
  • En suite facilities: Wash basin

Twin with shared facilities

  • Beds: 2 lower bunks
  • External view: Porthole
  • En suite facilities: Wash basin

Twin with private facilities

  • Beds: 2 lower bunks (Cabins 402 and 403 have upper and lower bunks and a couch)
  • External view: Window
  • En suite facilities: Private bathing facilities, Shower, Toilet, Wash basin

Mini suite with private facilities

  • Beds: Double bed in a separate room, and foldout couch that can be used as a single bed
  • External view: 2 windows
  • En suite facilities: Private bathing facilities, Shower, Toilet, Wash basin, Fridge, TV

Captain's suite with private facilities

  • Beds: Double bed in separate room, plus foldout couch that can be used as a single bed
  • External view: Foward and port windows
  • En suite facilities: Private bathing facilities, Shower, Toilet, Wash basin, Fridge, Lounge, TV

Wildlife trips

This cruise vessel is featured in the following itineraries:

Around Spitsbergen

Sail through a wonderland of mountain and glacial scenery and enjoy spectacular wildlife encounters in this polar bear and birdwatchers paradise. Highlights include an exhilarating ride along the spectacular 14th of July Glacier, where large numbers of kittiwakes and Brunnichs guillemots nest on the nearby cliffs.

  • When to go: May-Oct
  • Duration exc. flights: 10-11 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £4,785 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Classic Antarctica

This voyage is a perfect introduction to the Antarctic, visiting prime wildlife sites along the Peninsula and in the nearby South Shetland islands. Encounter huge rookeries of gentoo, chinstrap and Adelie penguins, beaches adorned with wallowing elephant seals, and whales and dolphins along the way.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 10-11 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £4,590 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Antarctic Odyssey Fly-Sail

This comprehensive itinerary retraces Shackleton’s voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia, and ends in the Falkland Islands. Antarctica’s scenery and ice are matched by the prolific wildlife on South Georgia, which includes 150,000 pairs of king penguins and numerous other species.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 18 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £15,415 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Classic Antarctic Fly-Sail

This trip takes the easiest way to Antarctica and flies from Punta Arenas in southern Chile, to save time and enjoy an aerial view of the Drake Passage. This active adventure involves daily landings by Zodiac inflatable, and with ever-changing ice and weather conditions, each voyage is unique.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 7-11 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £9,335 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Great Antarctic Voyage

This ultimate Antarctic experience marries the phenomenal wildlife of the sub-Antarctic islands of the Falklands and South Georgia to the pristine beauty of the Antarctic Peninsula. Explore dramatic wilderness areas and visit huge penguin colonies, all amongst hauntingly beautiful polar scenery.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 19-20 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £10,870 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Polar Circle Fly-Sail

Flying to the South Shetlands over Cape Horn and avoiding the rough waters of the Drake Passage, this itinerary offers the easiest way to travel to Antarctica. Sailing down the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, the voyage passes spectacular icebergs in the company of sea birds, penguins, seals and whales.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 9-11 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £8,500 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Scotland’s Wild Coast

From the windswept Hebrides to the intriguing diversity of the Orkney and Shetland Islands, this voyage visits remote crofting communities, picturesque villages and some of the world’s largest seabird colonies. Excursions by Zodiac allow you to get close to seals in waters patrolled by whales and dolphins.

  • When to go: Jun
  • Duration exc. flights: 11 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £4,525 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Spitsbergen, Greenland & Iceland

Sailing amid awe inspiring scenery of fjords and glaciers, this comprehensive itinerary starts in Spitsbergen, home to the world's highest population of polar bears. Continuing across the Greenland Sea, orcas and dolphins follow in your wake, and there are chances to see walrus, Arctic hare and musk ox.

  • When to go: May-Oct
  • Duration exc. flights: 13-14 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £6,345 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Weddell Sea Explorer

Take a trip to follow in the wake (and footsteps) of Sir Ernest Shackleton and travel to one of Antarctica's hidden gems, the Weddell Sea. A land of icebergs and volcanic islands, the area is a haven for birdlife and a great place to experience wildlife amid stunning scenery.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 12 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £9,000 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour