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September 3, 2017

Small Ship Cruise Line Review: One Ocean Expeditions

One Ocean Expeditions

Founded in 2007, One Ocean Expeditions operates expedition-style voyages to the Canadian Arctic, Eastern Canada, Greenland, and Svalbard in the summer and to the Antarctic Peninsula, Falklands, and South Georgia in the Northern Hemisphere winter/Southern Hemisphere summer. The two similar ships take less than 100 passengers, hence for Antarctica, all passengers may go ashore at one time rather than in relays with larger ships, a major plus.

Based in British Columbia, Canada, this smallish firm sets out to provide a serious appreciation of the Arctic and Antarctica using a two-ship fleet, a pair that were originally built as oceanographic research vessels.

Ship, Year Delivered & Passengers

AKADEMIK IOFFE built 1989, 96 passengers; AKADEMIK SERGEY VAVILOV built 1988, 92 passengers. In November 2018, the former Hapag-Lloyd HANSEATIC will join the fleet. To be renamed RCGS (Royal Canadian Geographic Society) RESOLUTE, the ship was originally built in 1993, takes up to 184 passengers and offers 7 decks. More information about this latter expedition vessel (presently Hapag-Lloyd’s HANSEATIC), will be forthcoming.


AKADEMIK SERGEI VAVLOV. * Photo: Mark Carwardine, One Ocean Expeditions

Passenger Decks

Both AKADEMIK ships are four deckers and have no elevator. They were built in Finland with ice-strengthened hulls for the Russians to be used as oceanographic research ships and for intelligence gathering.

Passenger Profile

Mostly English-speaking, passengers hail from Canada, the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Excursions often have decidely active content so the age range is a bit lower than with some of the other lines.


$ to $$$ (Eastern Canada itineraries are the least expensive). On polar region voyages, triple-berth cabins provide more affordability for those traveling on a budget.


June to September, the ships are based in the Arctic Region for 9-to 12-night voyages to Svalbard, Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic (Inuit/Baffin Island) and 7- to 10-night mid-summer cruises to Eastern Canada, that is the Maritime Provinces of Newfoundland, Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. The Southern Hemisphere season is unusually long, beginning in October and lasting into March. Voyages last from 10 nights for the Antarctic Peninsula to longer ones up to 21 nights that call in at the Falklands and South Georgia as well as Antarctica.

Cruising amongst the ice, One Ocean Expeditions

Cruising amongst the ice. * Photo: Ira Meyer, One Ocean Expeditions

Included Features

Expedition gear is the main inclusion and saves passengers having to lug bulky items from home and/or having to purchase them. Provided are wind- and waterproof jackets, bib pants, rubber boots, backpacks, binoculars, and trekking poles. Antarctic overnight camping is an activity on some itineraries, while sea kayaking is an extra cost and requires advance reservations.

Why Go?

Both polar regions offer outstandingly beautiful landscapes, glaciers, fjords (Arctic) and abundant wildlife on land, in the sea and air. In the Arctic, visit isolated villages, and on the Antarctic Peninsula, tour a research station. In the Falklands, visit British colonials and local birdlife in the remote Southern Hemisphere, and for South Georgia, the island provides more birds to see than anywhere else in the world. Learning about historical expedition voyages from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are also draws, and will be a contrast to yours!

Bridge, One Ocean Expeditons

The ship’s bridge provides another passenger gathering place. * Photo: One Ocean Expeditions

When to Go?

Both polar regions are summer seasonal itineraries. In Antarctica, the shoulder seasons — October and November and March — will be closer to the winter season.


Both AKADEMIK ships offer a wide variety of all-outside cabins with windows or portholes, and some can be opened. Layouts can be quite unusual as these ships were built for research, and the original “passengers” lived aboard for long periods of time. The larger cabins have work desks, a sofa, and ample wardrobe space. A few are two-room suites. As one looks at the lower-priced cabins, many will have private facilities, and some will share with an adjacent cabin, while others share showers, baths and toilets along the corridor. A shared two-berth cabin arrangement, without supplement, can be arranged for single passengers; if a second passenger does not book the available berth, you land it solo. For those on a budget, the least expensive route is to book a berth in a triple, one of which is an upper.

AKADEMIK accommodations.

The larger AKADEMIK cabins were built for scientists living aboard for many months. * Photo:: Ronald Visser, One Ocean Expeditions

Public Rooms

Both AKADEMIK ships are similar in size with slight variations in layout of the public spaces, and have a small pool and sauna. IOFFE has a small library separate from the lounge, and both vessels have good observation decks fore and aft. Top decks provide 360-degree views.


Located on the lowest passenger deck, the seating is open for all meals with buffet breakfast and lunch, hot dishes to order, and three-course dinners. Fancy preparation or gourmet-sounding menus are not part of the package. Food might be best described as satisfying, hearty fare, given the distance from food markets.

Activities & Entertainment

Off the ship, Zodiacs are used for cruising with the expedition staff close to shore, to inspect ice formations, and to approach penguins and other wildlife that live in the sea, on land or on the ice. Zodiacs also ferry passengers ashore. Activities are walking to wildlife colonies, hiking further afield, and for purposes of photography, to exercise some of the skills that the workshops aboard home in on. The naturalist staff — biologists, naturalists, adventurers, historians, and photographers give talks and shows videos. Fitness and yoga classes are also scheduled. The navigation bridge is open most of the time for passenger visitation and becomes an additional public space.

Following a whale, One Ocean Expeditions

Following a whale. * Photo: Ira Meyer, One Ocean Expeditions

Special Notes

Both ships have triple-berth cabins with shared facilities, so expeditions are a more affordable option for those on a budget.

Along the Same Lines

Numerous expedition lines reviewed on this site visit much the same regions.


USA — 1855 416 2326; Canada local — 604 390 4900; UK — 0351 962 721 836; Australia — 1300 368 123 or +61 2 9119 2228;



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Posted In:

American and Canadian Waterways, Antarctica, Arctic, Arctic Canada, Expedition Ship & Line Reviews, Falkland Islands, Greenland, Iceland, North America, North Pole, South Georgia, Spitzbergen/Svalbard

1 Comment

  1. Cathy Whitcombe - 4 months ago

    Having just returned from a beautiful Baffin cruise on the Akademik Ioffe, I’d like to add that the ship is very steady, and the meals are fresh and varied, with salads, fruits, pastries, fish, cheeses and meats to suit every diet. There is an elevator reaching decks 1-5. I’d highly recommend cruising with One Ocean!

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