I think the perma-smile I had on that trip is finally starting to fade so of course I’m busy looking into other possible itineraries for a return trip. My assumption was this would be a once-in-a-lifetime journey but I would definitely go back in a heartbeat -- and I really hate cold weather so that’s saying something!
What follows was meant to be a short trip report but it got a bit out of hand. I apologize. There could be spoilers ahead if you are already booked for this trip and want to be surprised along the way. I didn’t go into too much detail on the wildlife we saw - or individual landing locations because everyone’s trip will be different and you can’t get your heart set on hitting any particular island. Here is a link to some pictures (not too many compared to how many were taken!).
When I first started researching Antarctic cruises I fell in love with the Quark trips - a friend had gone with them and raved and there are several lengthy trip reports on fodors that made them sound unbeatable. However when I got down to the nitty gritty of pricing and cabins I couldn’t bring myself to pay that much -- the base price was not so crazy but that was for 3 in a cabin and no bathroom. So...the search continued and I read several good reviews of trips on the Fram and gradually shifted gears to choosing Hurtigruten.
When we booked I felt a wee bit that I was compromising a ‘real’ adventure on a small ship for something less authentic -- too many passengers, not enough time on shore, more of a cruise than an expedition if you know what I mean. Having only done the one version I obviously can’t compare and don’t know what, if anything, I missed. BUT, I can honestly say I felt completely satisfied - beyond satisfied, thrilled - with our trip with Hurtigruten.
I booked directly through Hurtigruten by phone. No problems with that. I considered having them also book our air from home to Buenos Aires in case there was a change in the sailing for any reason and we had to reschedule our flight but ended up doing our own flights. We flew in a day early to BA & I did have Hurt. book an extra night at the hotel for us which also got us the transfer from the airport to hotel through them.
Don’t forget to have your $140 entry fee ready when you land and make sure if you’re using cash you have very clean, unwrinkled bills. I had to provide an alternate $20 because one of mine had a little ink on one edge.
The Hotel Emperador is a very nice hotel in a good location. There are several restaurants in walking distance and ATMs. The Recoleta cemetery is a 15 minute walk away (which we visited twice -- it was quite interesting). The buffet breakfast was good. I would stay there again.