I received the following e-mail from Quark Expeditions recently:
If you've been promising yourself that one day you will explore the polar regions in an icebreaker, delay no longer. Our flagship, Kapitan Khlebnikov, will end her career as an expedition vessel in March 2012, returning to escort duties in the Russian Arctic.
The End of an Era expeditions begin with Khlebnikov's final west to east transit of the Northwest Passage, from July 18 to August 5, 2010, and end with an exploration of Antarctica's Far East, December 6, 2011 to January 5, 2012. In between, the icebreaker will return to the High Arctic, Ellesmere Island, and Snow Hill Island, home to Emperor Penguins.
Now is the time to sightsee in helicopters. Cruise bird cliffs in Zodiacs. Savor meals as tasty as any served in a fine restaurant. Now is the time to treat yourself to the ultimate polar adventure aboard the legendary Kapitan Khlebnikov.
We have invited a number of special guests to mark the End of an Era. Each is passionate about the polar regions and looking forward to sharing their expertise with you.
Since polar exploration is high on my list of unfulfilled and exotic travel experiences, I was curious to see what such an adventure would run me. Greenland is fairly close to the East Coast of the US, so I clicked on the Ellesmere Island and Greenland: The High Arctic trip.
And that's when the sticker shock turned my icebreaking explorations into a pipe dream for the foreseeable future.
The price range for a 16-day expedition aboard the mighty, nay, legendary Khlebnikov is $13,990 to $23,990.