Sue Henly
Cruise Critic Contributor
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Entertainment

Akademik Ioffe Entertainment & Activities

Shore Excursions

As this is an expedition ship, shore excursions and Zodiac cruises are a key element of the experience, all of which are included in the price of the cruise.

The Akademik Ioffe cruises in the Norwegian and Canadian Arctic, along the Canadian Eastern Seaboard and goes to the Antarctic from Argentina. At all locations, there is a superb selection of guided Zodiac excursions so that passengers can get close to wildlife and, where appropriate, shore excursions where guided hikes and cultural encounters are offered as well. Guided hikes are offered at three levels of difficulty: fast hiking, moderate wildlife viewing and low-key short strolls. Hiking poles are provided for every hike, which tend to run from an hour to a half-day in duration.

Up to 16 passengers per cruise can elect to take part in a guided kayaking option and they are equipped with polar dry suits, booties and kayak skirts as well as given expert kayaking instruction and safety briefings. Kayak trips run from an hour to a half-day in duration.

Wildlife Viewing

There are ample opportunities for wildlife viewing aboard all Akademik Ioffe trips.

One Ocean Expeditions prides itself on its attention to seeking out the best wildlife viewing opportunities, whether that is polar bears, whales, walruses, reindeer, Arctic foxes and all manner of birds in the Arctic region and penguins, whales and birds in the Antarctic. Expedition staff are constantly monitoring wildlife viewing opportunities with powerful scopes from the bridge. The Akademik Ioffe is well equipped with an ice-strengthened hull and its Russian crew is highly qualified to operate in polar regions so that the ship easily maneuvers through the ice in order to get as close as possible to the wildlife. One Ocean Expeditions strictly follows wildlife viewing protocols so that animals do not undergo any stress in their natural environment.

Professional wildlife photographers are on every cruise to offer advice and assistance in taking the best wildlife images and a resident artist is on most trips to help guests explore wildlife painting.

Daytime and Evening Entertainment

Happy hour takes place every evening in the bar an hour or so before dinner, though the bar is open day and evening as a gathering place. Expedition staff offer informal and amusing fireside chats after dinner, also in the bar.

Entertainment is really focused on wildlife viewing, hiking, kayaking and cultural expeditions.


Expedition staff offer a wide range of fascinating lectures to enrich passengers' experience of the polar regions. These lectures are presented during traveling times, when the weather is inclement or in after-dinner fireside chats so that wildlife viewing opportunities are maximized.

Talks, which take place in the presentation room on Deck 2, are both informative and entertaining and include such topics as polar bears, penguins, whales, ice, birds, polar history and much more.

The resident photographer and artist offer informal camera and photo-imaging workshops as well as painting and drawing workshops. There is a fully equipped media room so that guests can download and process their images.

Fireside chats take place after dinner in the bar and are more informal, often with an amusing bent.

Akademik Ioffe Bars and Lounges

There is one cozy bar on Deck 3 and it operates as the main gathering space. It is rather small given the number of passengers catered for on the ship; often people must sit on the floor during presentations. There is a good selection of beers, wines and spirits and, during happy hour, the friendly bartender offers daily-changing happy hour cocktail, beer and wine specials.

Akademik Ioffe Outside Recreation

There is an outdoor plunge pool filled with seawater, a hot tub and dry Finnish sauna with adjacent showering facilities. Cruisers often use the plunge pool in conjunction with the hot tub going back and forth between the two. The deck space is expansive allowing for 360-degree wildlife and wilderness viewing.

Akademik Ioffe Services

The reception desk outside the restaurant is manned from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. There is a well-stocked library with natural history, nature and exploration history books for both the Arctic and Antarctic. A small shop stocks basic toiletries and gift items including T-shirts, caps, jackets and books. Polar photography and watercolors, which are for sale, are on display throughout the ship.

Passengers can purchase $30 Wi-Fi cards which last for the duration of the cruise. This offers limited email access either on the ship's guest computer or on passengers' own devices. A multimedia room has Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop and card readers for use on Mac and PC computers.

An English-speaking doctor is available around the clock with a well-stocked clinic.

Akademik Ioffe Spa & Fitness

One cabin on the ship is a dedicated massage room where an expedition staff member who is a licensed massage therapist offers treatments by appointment. Massages range from soft tissue, deep tissue, sports-style, Swedish and basic relaxation massage. Costs usually vary from about $50 to $75 per one-hour session. 

There is a small fitness center with a rowing machine, walking machine and stationary bike as well as weights.

Akademik Ioffe For Kids

One Ocean Expeditions welcomes children on all its cruises, and there is no minimum age requirement. However, these trips are generally recommended for children 10 to 12 years of age and older. One Ocean Expeditions will consider accepting younger children after consultation with prospective cruisers. It is important that parents are aware there are no child-minding facilities, kids' clubs or playgrounds. There are also a lot of hard surfaces around the ship. Well-traveled youngsters tend to fit in the best to what is very much an adult-oriented style of trip.

For families who are considering bringing their kids, there are children and youth discounts: a 25 percent discount for children younger than 18 years of age and 20 percent discount for youths aged 18 to 21 (with student ID) if traveling with a parent or direct family member (aunt, uncle, grandparent). A particularly popular time of year for family and multigenerational expedition travel is bucket-list Christmas trips to Antarctica.

If there is a sizable number of children onboard, expedition staff are happy to create special age-appropriate activities.

Akademik Ioffe Ship Stats

  • Crew: 41 crew, 23 expedition staff
  • Launched: 1989
  • Decks: 4
  • Passengers: 96
  • Registry: Russia

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