1. Akademik Ioffe and its sister ship Akademik Sergey Vavilov are considered to be among the finest of the expedition class vessels, for their ability to go into the highest latitudes (both Arctic and Antarctic) and for the scientific and exploration facilities provided. Accommodations may be somewhat spartan compared to hi-luxe ships, but they nevertheless have proven very popular over the years. The Vavilov works out of Spitsbergen in the eastern arctic, and Ioffe works in the Canadian arctic.
This year, as in past years, Akademik Ioffe received a coasting license for a cruise from Resolute to Kugluktuk and a return cruise from Kugluktuk to Iqaluit starting August 3. These cruises took the ship deep into what is known as the Northwest Passage.
Built in Finland in 1989, Akademik Ioffe is ice capable, stabilized, and designed for quiet running. It was built as a research ship, with passenger work an afterthought, and thus does not have the appearance of a typical cruise ship.
2. By contrast Le Boréal looks every inch the luxury cruise ship that it is. As mentioned in the post below it goes to out of the way ports that larger ships do not visit, and it is equipped with small boats for expedition type experiences. However it provides all the luxuries too.