Polar Pioneer

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The MV Polar Pioneer has been reborn and was reintroduced to polar waters during Svalbard’s 2022 season with resounding success.

The MV Polar Pioneer was built in Finland in 1982, and the ship was originally an ice-strengthened research vessel with ice class 1A Super, which is perfect for navigation in polar regions with heavy sea ice.


The Polar Pioneer is one of 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 vessels ended up as chartered polar expeditions ships.

Today, only two are still in operation in the expedition industry with Polar Pioneer being the only one in the Atlantic, Arctic and Antarctic Peninsula.

Deck Plan

A Sneak Peak of her Interior Refit


The reborn Polar Pioneer is one of the only classic expedition vessels of her kind that remain, now with a fresh new look & feel.

The upgraded bar/lounge area includes more open and comfortable seating, flat-screen TVs for ease of presentation viewing, and windows with views in three directions so that you don’t miss a thing.

All cabins have been refreshed with functional Scandinavian style in mind and a special attention to small details like extra hooks and optimized storage ideal for polar expedition cruising.

Three reasons to love her

In a growing marketplace of increasingly comparable vessels and experiences, Polar Pioneer is in a class of her own.  


Instead of a resource-heavy new build, we’ve chosen to sustainably upcycle this beloved polar vessel that comes with a rich history. We’re keeping as much of her original materials as possible, repurposing and refinishing where we can in order to minimize waste and maintain her unique character.

Moreover, all decisions about new materials brought in to the refit are through the lens of environmental sustainability. From cleaning materials that are biodegradable, to ropes made with recycled plastics, to low-impact staff clothing and an aim to reduce single-use plastics on board to zero, no stone is being left unturned.


Our passenger capacity and company ethos drive low impact ecosystem visits and wildlife encounters. 

Less feet on shore at a given time equals less impact to vegetation and less impact to tracks and paths. Smaller group size means less disruption to wildlife behaviour on shore – less noise, less movement and less space occupied as well as on water as she operates with fewer zodiacs than vessels twice her size.


From passenger capacity to itinerary-design and operational decisions, Polar Pioneer prioritizes immersive polar experiences over highlight tours and box-ticking. 

Smaller group size means less time required to complete full operations which allows for more operational flexibility including longer visits, more sites reached, and the possibility of early morning or evening operations. This also allows for development of more unique itineraries such as themed trips or South Georgia-only trips which provide a more in-depth learning experience.

Small size, great character

Small enough to feel like a true expedition.
Large enough to reach remote destinations. 

For information on chartering the Polar Pioneer, send an email to: info@polarpioneermanagement.com

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For ship images, interview requests, and anything else media-related, please get in touch by emailing info@polarpioneermanagement.com 

To download the press release announcing the Polar Pioneer’s return to expedition cruising, CLICK HERE.

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