- year built
- crew members
- 342 feet
- 17.3 feet
- cruising speed
- 16.5 knots
- ice class
- 1A, PC6
The 138-passenger Ocean Explorer cruise ship is the newest vessel in a purpose-built polar fleet, and also the smallest ship offered by Quark Expeditions. Arctic and Antarctic travelers choosing Ocean Explorer are treated to a modern and refined atmosphere, excellent sightlines and outdoor access, top-notch guides, and smooth sailing due to the ship’s inverted bow. The Ocean Explorer ship was built in 2021 by Ulstein; she’s part of the SunStone Infinity series and will launch in Antarctic waters in late 2024.
Ocean Explorer Review
AdventureSmith Explorations’ Ocean Explorer review includes a detailed description of the small ship including deck plans and a photo gallery. Our experts have been aboard nearly every small expedition ship in the polar regions. Please read our Ocean Explorer ship review below then contact our polar cruise experts to compare the Ocean Explorer with Antarctica ships and expedition ships that offer Antarctica cruises and Arctic cruises.
Choose the Ocean Explorer for her superior comfort and modern feel. With a leading ice class rating and inverted Ulstein X-Bow, the Ocean Explorer offers a smoother ride and faster transits. Nearly every cabin offers a walkout balcony, with various solo traveler options. Add top-trained, loyal guides, thoughtful amenities and sweeping sightlines with views directly into the sea, and Ocean Explorer becomes a leader in polar vessels.
Design, Sustainability & Accessibility
For guest comfort and aesthetics, Ocean Explorer offers bespoke Scandinavian interiors with grand fixtures and luxe furnishings throughout. Spaces blend the outdoors with the indoors via features including floor-to-ceiling glass library walls. The ship’s ample observation decks create opportunities for photographs with a variety of vantages, plus increased opportunities to capture wildlife on the move. An elevator accesses all decks of the ship, however accessible cabins are not available.
Ocean Explorer’s Micro Auto Gasification System incinerates waste that then creates stored energy for use on board, making her a leader in state-of-the-art waste handling. Her X-Bow increases efficiency while underway, reducing fuel consumption. Rolls Royce zero-speed stabilizers help ensure smooth sailing and steadiness when at rest. Finally, Ocean Explorer’s Safe Return to Port system maintains power even in cases of engine failure.
The Ocean Explorer cruise ship offers upscale, inviting spaces and amenities aimed at ultimate guest comfort in demanding polar climates. The ship touts unbelievable viewing areas, including a dramatic two-story forward lounge and the well-stocked library’s floor-to-ceiling glass refuge, with views straight down into the sea. Complimentary basic WiFi is offered throughout the ship, with a premium option available. Finally, a medical clinic offers peace of mind during remote polar travel.
Lecture Theater & Observation Decks
The Explorer Lecture Lounge seats all guests at the same time, for informative talks on polar wildlife, history, geology and more. With TVs strategically placed around the room and clean sightlines, every guest is guaranteed a front-row seat.
Ocean Explorer’s Deck 8 features 360-degree opportunities to view and photograph passing wildlife and scenery, away from sea spray; an interior Observation Lounge (seating 63 guests at a time) adds a heated space from which to soak in the ship’s surrounds. And Deck 7 features a special forward-facing Observation Deck, just below the Bridge (guests can also enjoy the open Bridge policy for sheltered forward viewing on Deck 7).
Dining & Bars
The Ocean Explorer cruise ship offers her guests numerous daily dining options. The Main Dining Room seats up to 144 guests at a time for buffet-style breakfast and lunch, in a modern, bright, stylish setting. This dining room also features a nightly 5-course dinner, for an elegant 3-hour affair. For groups, a private dining room accommodates up to 36 guests with buffet-style service; reserve on board (no additional fee).
Deck 8’s Compass Restaurant (the Observation Bistro) provides a streamlined alternative to the full-course dinner in the Main Dining Room. Buffet-style options enable guests to eat a lighter meal, or save time for relaxing. Seating is unassigned for all meals in all dining areas.
Ocean Explorer features two bars: the al fresco Sun Deck Bar and the lecture-lounge-adjacent Latitude Bar (the latter seating up to 46 guests at once). Enjoy lush sofas and chairs, faux marble-topped tables and a convivial atmosphere.
Jacuzzis, Sauna & Gym
A dry sauna (accommodating up to 15 guests at a time) and two upper deck, outdoor Jacuzzis invite guests to unwind after an exciting day exploring in the polar wilds. A fitness center ensures guests can maintain routines, with machines such as treadmills, a spin bike and an elliptical machine—all beside floor-to-ceiling windows for wildlife sighting.
The onboard Library accommodates up to 47 guests with comfortable seating, accent lighting, view windows and reference materials. The Ocean Explorer ship’s library seamlessly transitions into the 2-story glass atrium for forward viewing off the bow.
Ocean Explorer’s Deck 3 Mudroom optimizes the process for polar excursions. Each guest is assigned an open storage locker for life jackets, coats, and waterproof pants and boots throughout the voyage. With thoughtful locker assignments and ample benches, no one is cramped while preparing or ending an off-ship excursion.
Activities & Expeditions
For expedition operations, 15 Zodiacs deployed via four separate sea-level embarkation points get guests out into the environment faster. Also on board are 16 sea kayaks for long outings, 16 inflatable kayaks for one-time paddle excursions, 16 stand-up paddleboards, full dry suits, gloves and life jackets, plus camping gear.
Crew, Guides & Expedition Leaders
The 105 crew members aboard work to ensure a seamless guest experience, where lifelong memories are made. And the 22-26 onboard Quark Expeditions guides (some with over 20 years of experience) are eager to base their expeditions from this purpose-built, comfortable small ship. These elite guides are trained above and beyond every standard imaginable for safety and preparedness in the Polar Regions. Guests’ experience on board the Ocean Explorer ship will be enriched by lectures and interactions with professionals from various knowledge bases: paddle guides, photography guides, geologists, ornithologists, historians, penguin scientists, marine biologists and other experts relevant to each specific polar destination.
Cabins & Ocean Explorer Deck Plan
With 12 cabin categories, Ocean Explorer offers the optimal space for every polar traveler. Each luxurious cabin features calm polar tones, plenty of space (meaning reduced noise from neighbors), and a private bathroom with shower, hair dryer, vanity, bathrobes, slippers and heated floors. Most cabins feature a balcony for outdoor viewing. And all cabins offer seating, a desk and chair, minifridge and modern infotainment system. Some 42 cabins offer a sofa bed that can accommodate triple occupancy for families or three adults.