MV Polar Pioneer

MV Polar Pioneer Review and Specifications

Specifications of MV Polar Pioneer

Year built1985  /  Age : 33
Flag state Russia
BuilderLaivateollisuus Oy (Meyer Turku, Finland)
Classice-strengthened expedition ship
OwnerPolar Expedition
OperatorAurora Expeditions Australia
Speed14 kn / 26 kph / 16 mph
Length (LOA)71 m / 233 ft
Beam (width)13 m / 43 ft
Gross Tonnage1753 gt
Passengers52 - 56
Crew23
Passengers-to-space ratio31
Decks4
Cabins26
Decks with cabins3
Last Refurbishment2009
Former namesAkademik Schuleykin

Review of MV Polar Pioneer

MV Polar Pioneer cruise ship is among the most popular Arctic and Antarctica-based tourist vessels. It was originally built as an ice-strengthened research vessel (named Akademik Schuleykin). In 2010, it was fully refitted, refurbished and converted into passenger ship. Its sistership by design (MV Spirit of Enderby) is also part of the chartered fleet of Aurora Expeditions (Australian company specializing in Arctic and Antarctic cruises).

MV Polar Pioneer cruise ship, Antarctica

The ship's low draft (4,5 m / 15 ft) allows it to easily navigate near landing sites. Carrying just 54 passengers, Polar Pioneer currently cruises in Antarctica, South Georgia Island (British Antarctica) and also in Northern Europe and the Arctic, visiting ports in Spitsbergen (Norway), Iceland, Greenland, UK (Scotland).

Polar Pioneer was is one of all 10 Akademik Shuleykin-class Russian ships built in the mid-1980s in Finland for the Soviet Union's oceanographic research purposes. Around half of these ended up as chartered for polar cruise tours ships.

Aurora Expeditions is among the true pioneers of expedition cruising and adventure travel in the Australian marketplace. The company has been one of the first to introduce passengers to a number of remote destinations over more than two decades. Established in 1991 by mountaineer Greg Mortimer and his partner Margaret Werner, in 2008 Aurora was sold and the new owners remained true to the original expedition spirit. Initially offering small group cruises to Antarctica, Aurora Expeditions has since operated expedition cruises in Norway's Svalbard Islands, Russia's Far East, East Greenland, Papua New Guinea and Amazon River. In 2014 it began cruising in Alaska's Inside Passage and launching land, river and sea Ecuador expeditions. In 2015 the line finished its first Africa expedition with a luxury safari cruise along Chobe River in Botswana. For polar operations, Aurora Expeditions uses the ice-strengthened MV Polar Pioneer.

MV Polar Pioneer cruise ship, Antarctica

All cabins on MV Polar Pioneer have outside portholes and ample storage space. The bridge is spacious and always open to passengers. There is a combined bar, lounge and library area stocked with a good polar books' collection. The chefs onboard are European, and ship's dining room is served by Russian stewardesses. The meals are uncomplicated and wholesome.

MV Polar Pioneer is not a luxury ship but has been extremely popular among travel afficionados to Polar regions. A fleet of inflatable Zodiacs with outboard motors enable easy travelling from ship to shore. The enthusiasm of the Russian captain and crew, who are among the world's most experienced ice-navigators, is legendary. Optional adventure activities like kayaking and camping are offered on many of Polar Pioneer voyages.

Note: In case of poor AIS coverage, tracking the vessel's current location will be impossible. You can see the CruiseMapper's list of all icebreakers and ice-breaking research ships in the "itinerary" section of our Icebreakers hub. All states and their fleets are listed there.

MV Polar Pioneer wiki

  • The ship-charterer Aurora Expeditions contracted "CMI Leisure Management" (Miami-based company) for the Polar Pioneer ship management. The deal included staffing, hotel services, housekeeping, onboard food and beverages, purchasing supplies, logistics.  CMI Leisure is among the world's leading companies providing small-ship management services. The company was also contracted by Aurora Expeditions for managing the SunStone-owned ship MS Greg Mortimer (new-class expedition vessel).
  • In June 2018, Aurora Expeditions announced that this is Polar Pioneer's final season (2018-2019) as the boat will be replaced by the newbuild Greg Mortimer.

Photos of MV Polar Pioneer

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