Retracing One Family’s Explorer Roots and Legacy in Antarctica

The lure of the Poles is legendary. Especially the South Pole. Consider Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton’s third expedition between 1914 and 1916 that left his ship, Endurance, crushed by ice and his men reduced to tossing about in lifeboats on a stormy sea. Consider Rear Admiral Richard Byrd, Jr., who visited the Arctic and Antarctica. Most recently Henry Worsley, a well-connected Brit on a solo land crossing of Antarctica died in this pursuit in January.

Today expedition ships appointed for cruise travelers and offering organized on-and off-ship activities probe the allure of Antarctica.  On one Antarctica cruise in 2016, a granddaughter of the Chief Engineer of the SS Jacob Ruppert, one of Byrd’s two ships from the 1933-1934 expedition, will visit the frozen continent. She will be traveling with Seattle-based environmental crusader ExploringCircle (, a new company that combines a long adventure travel legacy with a strong sense of purpose.

“I feel that by doing this it can give my grandfather, Walter Kerr Queen, a voice,” says Marjorie Adams. “He was in the company of much better-known names. But he is the person who made sure this steamship’s engine didn’t break down.” He had made his mark and money by designing improved expansion joints for industrial steam systems, a venture begun in his garage in Needham, MA. Eventually his work was known to Byrd who personally called upon Queen to accompany his second expedition to Antarctica. Queen, who was a Lieutenant Commander in the US Naval Reserve in World War I, was assigned to SS Jacob Ruppert, a steel vessel. The other, USS Bear, a wooden vessel, would over-winter. The premise was that if disaster struck, the wooden ship might not sink but most certainly the steel vessel would. Now available in paperback through Amazon is Discovery: The story of the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition (Admiral Byrd Classics).

“The family story is that my grandfather wanted to travel as far north as he did south, after returning in 1934,” adds Adams. In 1937 her grandfather traveled on a Hudson Bay Company supply ship, SS Nascopie, into the eastern Arctic. She took a similar trip in 2009, traveling with a niece north to Elsmere Island.

“My niece and I were chatting about where we might like to go on vacation. My niece turned Grandpa’s words around: ‘I’d like to go as far south as I’ve been north.’” So she and her niece are booked on Antarctica Peninsula: Last Discovered Continent, a 12-day adventure that begins and ends in Ushuaia, Argentina after coming and going through Drake Passage to reach the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula and the Antarctic Continent. Guests tour the region through the icebergs by Zodiak and kayak and have the option also to camp. They are on M/V Sea Spirit, a classic luxury expedition ship that boasts spacious suites, two restaurants, an open-bridge policy and an elevator. The Sea Spirit’s stabilizer fins will help to make the crossing comfortable. This journey is available from November through February at a per person double rate starting at $5,995. For more information on this trip please see

With decades of experience leading Antarctica travel and helping adventurers realize their polar dreams, ExploringCircle specializes in helping clients arrange the Antarctica cruise that is the right fit for each client. Details on other cruises of this region are available at Some of these cruises offer savings of up to $4,000 on select cabin bookings on specified itineraries.

Before they travel, Adams and her niece, as with all of ExploringCircle guests, will be invited to examine ExploringCircle’s six related environmental causes, choosing one to which to pledge their support. This conversation is vital to the company’s mission. By talking about, for example, plastic detritus in oceans, young and old alike while on a cruise can wrap their minds around threats to ocean waters and to marine and wildlife. ExploringCircle in turn Pays-it-Forward by donating up to five percent of client fee to the environmental cause chosen.

“We listen to our guests and use decades of experience to help them realize their travel dreams. In doing so, we fund hope,” says Kristy Royce, founder.  “Leave No Trace Behind is no longer enough.”


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