The reason, as astute avid cruisers already know, is that Seabourn Quest will be visiting Antarctica on a series of cruises beginning in November.
I spoke briefly with Seabourn Quest Captain Geir-Arne Thue-Nilson, who prefers to be called by his first name, which he says sounds like “Gear,” about some of the preparations being made for the Antarctica journeys.
As you would expect, the hull has been reinforced, not thickened but rather strengthened. It’s a complex explanation that goes into far more detail that I care to relate here. Suffice to say that the hull is now certified Ice Class.
Holding tanks were added to allow Seabourn Quest to operate for up to five days, instead of the more typical 48 hours, without having to dispose of food waste.
Heaters are being installed on some of the outer decks as is a changing station on deck 5 aft, where guests will change into boots and approved clothing before going ashore. Yes, Seabourn Quest will offer landings on the White Continent, up to 100 people at a time (as regulated by the Antarctica Treaty) on 10 Zodiacs (six Mark 5 and four Mark 6).
Tender platforms will be enhanced with ladders that will allow guests to comfortably and safely get into and out of the Zodiacs. Also, Zodiacs will be equipped with sophisticated AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) that allow navigation from Seabourn Quest if the Zodiacs lose visibility.
Lots of other safety equipment will be added, including monitors, thermal imaging, search lights and more. In addition, in the coming weeks, the captains — Captain Thue-Nilson and Danish Captain Bjarne Larsen — will participate in a 10-day ice-pilot course in Valparaiso.
See the Seabourn blog for more information.