Quark Expeditions (800. 356.5699, www.quarkexpedi tions.com) is inviting 108 intrepid travelers to join its crew this winter in a quest to surpass Norwegian Roald Amundsen’s record for the most southerly position ever reached by a ship. The Great Antarctic Explorers, a voyage scheduled for January 20 through February 14, 2006, will set off from Lyttelton, New Zealand, and head toward the Ross Sea aboard the Kapitan Khlebnikov. By the eighth day, the ship should begin to encounter densely packed ice, which it will need to break through to outdistance the Fram, Amundsen’s wooden ship that reached an estimated 78 degrees 41 minutes south in 1911.
Planned stops on the Great Antarctic Explorers trip include the icebound Balleny Islands, where English whaling captain John Balleny sailed 166 years ago in search of sealskins and whale oil, and Macquarie Island, home to nearly all of the world’s Royal penguins. While on board, guests will enjoy commentary from specialists in marine biology, ornithology, and glaciation, and will hear tales of expeditions and explorers, such as that of Amundsen, who was the first person to reach the South Pole (on foot), in 1911, and Briton Robert Scott, whom Amundsen bested by just five weeks, and who later froze to death in his tent during the journey back to base camp.