From 27 November 2002 to 1 February 2003 the Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov made a 66-day circumnavigation of the Antarctic. Starting at Port Lyttelton, New Zealand, the ship's 15,500-mile route took her westward around the continent. On board were 64 passengers, 60 crew, and 24 staff representing 22 nationalities. The average ticket price for the full circumnavigation was close to $48,000. Remarkably, about 90% of the passengers had made polar voyages before. In fact, 11 had been on the same vessel's first circumnavigation during the 1996-97 austral summer.
Since the early 1990s, several Russian nuclear- and diesel-powered icebreakers have been employed for expedition cruises in the polar regions, including trips to the North Pole. Quark Expeditions of Darien, Connecticut, pioneered the business and still is the major operator.