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Positive Polar acquiring Sunstone’s Ocean Atlantic

PHOTO: HOLLY PAYNE Positive-Polar-Seatrade.jpg
Positive Polar founders Hugo Hinrichsen and Jennifer Bonilla, and its CCO Hans Lagerweij at Seatrade Cruise Global on April 11
In a lease-purchase deal Positive Polar is acquiring Sunstone Ships’ Ocean Atlantic, which will be used to fertilise the ocean to enhance whale numbers while cruising.

The announcement was made at Seatrade Cruise Global today, shortly before the event draws to a close (April 8-11.) The start-up aims to boost the biological carbon pump, its polar voyages mimicking what whales do naturally to increase fish stocks, improve biodiversity and help to restore the climate. 

The vessel will be renamed Polar Angel and its inaugural itinerary will be designed to ‘follow the whales,’ said the start-up’s co-founder and CEO Hugo Hinrichsen, most likely comprising Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard. 

Antarctica in November

Antarctica service is expected to begin in November.

Sales are expected to open in July. 


Renovation of the vessel will be carried out in Caen, said Hinrichsen, with the aim to launch the vessel by September, before a segment of the Normandy Channel closes for development works.

The 1985-built, ice-class Ocean Atlantic will undergo significant renovations to enhance the guest experience and allow for scientific capabilities. 

With a level of manoeuvrability that permits access to secluded fjords, the 140-metre vessel comprises spacious decks, dedicated lecture halls, fine-dining restaurants, bars and observation areas. 

Post-renovation, Polar Angel will be equipped with a scientific laboratory and a luxurious ‘whaleness’ area for passengers’ relaxation, equipped with a sauna, steam room, hot tubs and a cold plunge pool.

The works will be conducted by Tomas Tillberg Design and Mäkinen, and Positive Polar has partnered with Resco for its reservation and booking system. Anglo Eastern Leisure Management is providing hotel services and crew.

Artwork from award-winning photographer

Nikki Baxendale, an award-winning international photographer and artist recognised for her environmental contributions, curated the artwork that will appear on board Polar Angel. This exclusive partnership ensures passengers and scientists alike see the artwork – blending artistry with environmental advocacy – at every corner of the ship. 

Reputable scientists

Positive Polar will make Polar Angel accessible to scientists studying drivers and barriers to whale repopulation in the southern ocean and beyond. Whale populations have not fully recovered from historical hunting, severely impacting the BCP, explained Positive Polar co-founder and President Jennifer Bonilla. She said that increasing whale populations naturally will enhance biodiversity and potentially mitigate climate change as whales sequester carbon at a significant rate, comparable to thousands of trees. 

Advisory board 

Hinrichsen, a reserve frigate captain from Chile, has experience in polar operation as a sailor and helicopter pilot. He has a passion for conservation stemming from his Danish whaler ancestors and his upbringing in southern Patagonia, he stated. 

Bonilla is an investor and experienced in translating science for global impact from decades working in highly regulated industries.

Positive Polar’s advisory team includes: Hans Lagerweij, CCO; Matthew Savoca, PhD, an ecologist and marine biologist with leading publications on how whales influence their ecosystems through prey consumption and nutrient recycling, who will lead the Positive Polar scientific advisory council; Anton Alferness, a seasoned engineer providing expertise in climate change solutions; artist Nikki Baxendale leads the creative direction; and Philip Hunter, a veteran expedition leader specialising on the guest experience in remote regions.