Since 2020 was a bit of a wash when it came to the “big annual vacation,” most of us are heading into 2021 with heightened expectations. One bucket list destination we’ve already received multiple inquiries about for late 2021/early 2022 is Antarctica, the iconic 7th Continent. One of the best in the business when it comes to polar adventure is Quark Expeditions. The company has been exploring the Polar Regions for over 30 years and all they do is polar travel. So the timing is perfect for a chat with Quark Expeditions Business Development manager and friend of CIRE, Chris Hanna.
CIRE: Happy New Year, Chris! Many of our clients are dreaming of that next big trip so we’re gonna cut right to the chase: Why should we book with Quark Expeditions for our clients’ Antarctic and Arctic expeditions?
CHRIS: Passion. Our expedition team is the embodiment of passion—the kind of passion that comes from having a singular focus. Quark Expeditions has specialized exclusively in the Polar Regions for three decades. As Polar Pioneers, we have led the way in exploring polar destinations where few humans have ever set foot. In 1991, we became the first-ever operator to take consumer travelers to the geographic North Pole. We did so aboard a working nuclear ice breaker (and still do today!). In 1996, Quark Expeditions was the first to bring commercial passengers on a circumnavigation of Antarctica. In 2003, Quark Expeditions passengers become the first humans to witness a Total Solar Eclipse in Antarctica. We haven’t stopped exploring since.
CIRE: We’ve been on many calls with you and your passion definitely comes through. What drives that passion? What do you love about your job?
CHRIS: I get to help open up the world for those who truly want to experience the planet in a meaningful way. I have the pleasure of establishing deep relationships with partners and helping them successfully deliver truly unforgettable experiences for our guests. I help create memories and fulfill bucket lists. I’m always learning something new and, in turn, I love sharing that knowledge with others. Every day is a great day at work for me! I’ve been fortunate to have visited some of the most incredible places on Earth, like Cape Horn and Patagonia—and to see my first polar bear in the wild in Spitsbergen.
CIRE: Those are some amazing job perks! After going to the ends of the Earth (literally!), can you share your favorite vacation destination?
CHRIS: At the risk of sounding cliché, I’m truly happy anywhere I can experience a destination for the first time with my wife, Jenn. In our 20 years as a couple, we’ve discovered many new places together and each one has become a special memory for us. My favorite vacation destination is always “the next one” as long as we are together.
CIRE: Awww! So where is “the next one?”
CHRIS: This is a tough one as we don’t currently have a trip planned. We have, however, discussed “when we can, where do we want to go next?” Aruba has been a favorite for us, so that is top on the list.
CIRE: We know you travel a lot in your job. Any tips you can share?
CHRIS: Packing cubes. If you have them, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t have them, get them! When you spend as much time on the road as I do, you’ll appreciate the benefits of compact packing and the ease of being organized. You can get so much more into a smaller bag…a blessing and a curse! Then when you get to the hotel, it is easier to see everything you have and access it all. Total game changer!
CIRE: We have them and we know what you’re talking about! When you’re not on the road, where do you call home?
CHRIS: Home for me is the community of Lake Hopatcong, NJ. Within an hour of Manhattan, Lake Hopatcong is the largest lake in New Jersey. I’ve only lived here for about five years but love the cozy, quiet atmosphere of the lake. In the summer, taking my boat out to enjoy the gorgeous sunsets and indulge in great meals at many of the restaurants are my favorite pastimes. During the winter, when the lake freezes over, there’s ice fishing, snowmobiling, and more. Originally from Manhattan, my family moved to New Jersey when my father started his bagel business. While NJ is home, NYC will always be in my heart.
CIRE: BAGELS! WE LOVE BAGELS! (New Year’s Resolution to cut down on carbs. Can you tell?) Are you a baker, too?
CHRIS: From breads to pastries, I dabble in it all but if you really want to see me in my element, ask me to make you a pizza. But don’t come too hungry, pizza is serious business with me and I won’t bake a pie unless my dough has had at least 72 hours to cold ferment!
CIRE: Will you make us a pizza??? Oh, wait, no carbs. Rain check? Sorry, food always gets us off track. Let’s bring it home… When’s the next time we can travel with Quark?
CHRIS: As a result of the pandemic, we suspended our Arctic season this past summer as well as our Antarctic season which we’d be in the midst of right now. Our next scheduled departures are in May in Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard Archipelago of Arctic Norway, aboard our brand-new ship, Ultramarine, which is a game-changer in polar exploration with its two twin-engine helicopters, 20 quick-launching Zodiacs and the most robust portfolio of off-ship adventure options in the industry. Also featured in our fleet for this upcoming Arctic season is the much-loved Ocean Adventurer. Since our last sailing in March 2020, Quark Expeditions has been hard at work helping our guests get rebooked on future trips. Travelers are responding well to our flexible cancellation and rebooking policy. Additionally, we’ve spared no expense or effort in developing our industry-leading S.A.F.E. COVID Policy—which includes the cutting-edge FRANKD rapid onsite testing kit—designed to bring much needed peace of mind and reassurance to adventurers as expedition travel resumes in the spring. It hasn’t been an easy nine months, but one thing Quark Expeditions excels at is adaptability. You need to be flexible in the Polar Regions, constantly adjusting to weather and ice conditions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our guests. This is no different.
CIRE: We’ve read all your safety protocols and they are impressive. Thank you for your time, Chris, and thank you for your unwavering passion. You always inspire us!