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    The dorsal fin of an adult humpback whale is satellite tagged to transmit the whale’s position and behaviour for approximately one month, part of Ari Friedlander's research supported by One Ocean Expeditions. (Photo: One Ocean Expeditions)

One Ocean Expeditions has built a name in the expedition travel realm for taking passengers on epic voyages to the polar regions and Canada’s East Coast, while participating in projects of national significance, including the Parks Canada-led Victoria Strait Expedition that discovered Sir John Franklin’s lost ship, HMS Erebus, in 2014. In celebration of the Canadian cruise operator’s 10-year anniversary, managing director Andrew Prossin reflects on the company’s high points, its role in scientific research and what’s next.

On some of One Ocean Expeditions’ highlights over the past 10 years

Some of our biggest highlights involved The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, one of which is the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition to search for Franklin’s lost ship, which was highly successful. Another one is very recent with the royal designation of our new vessel, the RCGS Resolute. We’ve also been able to support cutting-edge science projects in Antarctica and the Arctic.

On the science they help support

We work with with Oceanites, an American organization that has been going to Antarctica for 25 years to record population data from all the known penguin sites on the peninsula. One Ocean Expeditions provides them with their ride to Antarctica. We carry the researchers on our tourist cruises and drop them off at all sorts of nooks and crannies around the Antarctic Peninsula. In the Arctic, we help the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre by collecting water samples wherever our ships travel for a micro-plastics monitoring project commissioned by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. We’re also helping an ecologist named Ari Friedlander based out of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and with the California Ocean Alliance to attach satellite trackers to whales and use drones to study their behavior and ecology. We’re quite excited that we found a way to do real science that’s nationally accredited, at the same time as running our cruises.

On One Ocean Expeditions' historic role in the 2014 search for Franklin’s HMS Erebus

We were tapped on the shoulder to help the Government of Canada search for and find the remains of Sir John Franklin’s ships that had disappeared more than 170 years ago. We carried the project equipment on the deck of our ship, from Halifax to the Northwest Passage, including several boats, survey equipment, plus the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) owned by Defense Research and Development Canada that was designed to search the ocean floor. There was a whole range of equipment that we delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy’s ship for this project. We volunteered our ship, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, for about a month to be at the disposal of the project. It was beyond the thrill of a lifetime. There’s nothing we could have dreamed of doing that contributed more to a body of knowledge and also to our country.

Andrew Prossin (left) is presented with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society's Lawrence J. Burpee Medal by Ontario Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Alex Trebek at the RCGS' annual College of Fellows dinner in November 2017. (Photo: Ben Powless/Canadian Geographic)

On One Ocean Expeditions' partnership with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society

We’ve been developing this partnership for a number of years, and it involves more than just a travel program. We’ve got an exploration program, a science program and an education program that we’re developing to bring high school students on tourist cruises in the North each summer. We’ll set aside some berths across our entire fleet and create unique educational opportunities for those students.

On the company's responsibilities beyond great travel experiences

We’ve set out to prove that a company can actually add some value to the world aside from just making profit, in terms of sustainability, cultural contributions in northern communities, and also scientific research. We’re very proud of our Canadian roots and the fact that we have this unique opportunity to give back. And now that we have the royal designation of one of our ships, it’s our responsibility to keep doing things right.

On what’s in store for the next ten years

We’re moving into the East Coast and growing that business. We’ve now got five departures this summer, and we’ll have even more in 2019. There’s no question that the East Coast, with the tremendous wildlife there, is a hidden gem. I’m from Cape Breton, and we’re operating out of my hometown of Sydney, N.S. We’re the only cruises that have ever started or ended in Cape Breton. We’re showing that bigger isn’t necessarily better, and that we can be very successful operating out of a small city.