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Quark Expeditions was founded in 1991 by Lars Wikander and Mike McDowell, specializing in expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic aboard purpose-built expedition vessels. In 1998, Lars Wikander became the majority owner of the company.
Three years later Lars became Chairman of the Board, when Patrick Shaw joined the company as President and Chief Executive Officer. On May 1, 2007, Quark Expeditions became part of the UK-based TUI Travel PLC Group of Companies. Hans Lagerweij is the current President and CEO of Quark Expeditions.
Quark's Arctic fleet includes the polar-class icebreaker: the nuclear-powered 50 Years of Victory. purpose-built to navigate the frozen waters of the Russian Arctic. The icebreaker is equipped with helicopters and Zodiacs, enabling travel to remote locations that other vessels in the Arctic cannot, including the North Pole.
Quark has the largest and most diverse fleet of passenger vessels in the Antarctic, including the Sea Spirit, an all-suite ship, and the Ocean Diamond offering the first carbon neutral voyages in polar travel history.
The fleet enables Quark to operate the widest variety of polar itineraries of any other adventure company in the world, and the greatest number of departures to Antarctica.
August 1991 First-ever tourism transit of the Northeast Passage, the historic route across the Russian Arctic
November 1992 Quark offers first non-scientific visits to emperor penguin rookeries
November 1997 First circumnavigation of Antarctica for commercial passengers completed
July 1999 First circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean
April 2011 Three Arctic Islands trip voted one of National Geographic Traveler's 50 Tours of a Lifetime
November 2012 Quark launches first-ever CarbonNeutral® voyages to Antarctica aboard Ocean Diamond 
- 2013 – World Travel Awards: World’s Leading Polar Expedition Operator
- 2013 – Amadeus and World Travel Market Travel Experience Awards: Blow the Budget 
- 2013 – Travel Weekly’s Magellan Award: Eco-Friendly Cruise Ship for the Carbon Neutral program aboard all of the Ocean Diamond’s Antarctic voyages 
- 2013 – Travel Weekly’s Magellan Award: Tour Operator Advertising/Marketing Campaign
- 2013 – Travel Weekly’s Magellan Award: Tour Operator Promotional Marketing Video
- 2013 – Wanderlust’s 50 Best Trips of 2013: Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica via Buenos Aires: Explorers and Kings voyage 
- 2012 – Travel Weekly’s Magellan Award: Tour Operator Promotional Marketing Video 
- 2011 – National Geographic Traveler (U.S.) 50 Tours of a Lifetime: Three Arctic Islands: Iceland, Greenland, Spitsbergen voyage 
In the March 2006 edition, Outside Magazine named the “Emperor Penguin Safari” as one of the New Trips of a Lifetime.