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An active polar research vessel, Akademik Ioffe has been kitted out to become one of the finest expedition boats in the Antarctic, combining sturdy stability and comfort.
Ollie is here to help give you the inside track.
There is room for 98 guests on board, looked after by 60-something crew and staff - one of the best ratios in the business - and guests can choose from a number of upgraded cabin options, from shared bunk rooms (for those wanting to experience Antarctica on a smaller budget) through to the Skackleton Suites with their double berths, separate sleeping quarters and external opening windows.
The dining room is spacious enough for the culinary team of four chefs to serve all guests on board in a single sitting, and the recently renovated bar - located aft of the lobby - is a nice place to enjoy a coffee, smoothie or cocktail, with access straight on to the main deck. On clear calm days, the top deck also has 360 degree views and a small observatory fitted with a telescope, and guests are given blankets and constantly refilled hot drinks.
There are also several other well-appointed public spaces on board, including the library, with its polar reference books and lovely forward-facing views, and the lounge area next to the bar, complete with a piano, TV and a selection of board games and puzzles and even a fireplace. Additional facilities include a presentation room for talks on the Antarctic region, a multimedia room, a gym and a spa complete with a massage therapist and yoga instructor, plunge pool and sauna.
But enough about the boat - you've come to Antarctica to experience the place first hand, and that's where the activity programme comes into its own. Guests can enjoy cruises in the ship's zodiac inflatable boats, kayaking expeditions and even overnight camping trips, all in the company of expert guides. There are even voyages designed specifically for clients interested in expedition photography. Please ask the team for more details on the set departure voyages.
The Akademik Ioffe is also avaliable for expeditions in the Canadian Arctic.
Why we love it
Because the ship's bridge is essentially open 24 hours a day so you can pop up and see the officer on watch and the helmsman in action, sneak a peek at the charts room and use the binoculars and wildlife books to spot Antarctic birds and beasties in the company of one of the expedition guides.
Will, Original Traveller