Lagerweij: Positive Polar to Focus on Real Science

Hans Lagerweij

One of the new players joining the expedition market in the near future, Positive Polar, is planning to offer a unique product that focuses on both leisure and science.

According to the brand’s Board Advisor, Hans Lagerweij, the strategy is part of a creative approach to cruising.

The new brand announced last week it had acquired the former Ocean Atlantic.

Lagerweij said he sees a changing market for cruising in polar and remote regions, with elements such as capacity and itineraries in the spotlight.

Talking about the demand and potential oversaturation of the polar regions, he highlighted the actual size of the Antarctica continent.

“It’s as big as the United States and Mexico together. Roughly, you have 100,000 visitors a year there. Imagine that number only in the U.S. and Mexico. That’s nothing,” he explained, noting that cruise lines should be able to manage more future growth in Antarctica.

At the same time, operators have been driving demand to the destination with marketing initiatives, he said.

“Fifteen years ago, people didn’t know why they should travel to Antarctica, so we started giving them reasons to go there,” Lagerweij continued, noting that part of the strategy was to highlight places and activities in the region.

“Now, the truth is that only two ships can visit a place a day, so we can no longer guarantee one site. We have to be more creative and, unfortunately, a little less specific in our itineraries,” he added.

Positive Polar is following a distinct path to attract guests, using a strategy that involves differentiating itself through science and sustainability.

“(Our founders) have a really different vision, a different mindset. They want to perform active science onboard, not just some entertaining science for guests but real science with real scientists that they have relationships with,” Lagerweij explained.

The professionals will be focusing on climate restoration initiatives, which is a “very important science,” he noted.

According to Lagerweij, the new brand is also planning deployment outside of Antarctica.

“We’ll also be looking at any areas in-between that have high whale populations, because they have a very important role in keeping our seas healthy,” he said.

Positive Polar’s initial focus will be on whale restoration as part of a plan to boost the natural cycle through the Biological Carbon Pump (BCP).

According to the company, the planned actions are intended to improve biomass and biodiversity while aiding in climate restoration.

“With that, we’ll also do some expeditions that visit communities and local ports along the way,” Lagerweij explained.

He also believes that the cruise industry can regulate itself in most cases, with the help of member associations such as AECO and IAATO.

“Last season, we had an actual example of how self-regulation actually works much better than regulations from authorities,” he said, mentioning a bird flu outbreak in Antarctica.

IAATO immediately submitted new rules to prevent close contact with wildlife and prevent the spreading of the disease.

“You could see that self-regulation is actually way more agile than regular regulations. It was a tremendous job.”

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