Yes there are different zodiac rides. There are ones where its simply a "taxi" getting you to a shore landing. Others where is nice and slow 3 or 4 hours cruising around the icebergs and checking out the seals and penguins resting on top. Or others where you might spend several hours with whales surfacing just inches away from you.

Given that people aged 13 to 100 have been able to manage the zodiacs I am pretty sure your girlfriend could cope. I have travelled in Antarctica with quite a few adventurous types in the mid 90s and they managed just fine.

I think I was imagining AA to be a big block of ice.
Definitely do some more research. Antarctica is a giant land based continent - with ice on top. It is one of the most volcanic regions in the world with more active volcanos than anywhere else in the world. It has many many millions of penguins of many breeds, seals galore, whale sanctuaries and more. Then there is the amazing history of the grand explorers from 100 years ago (or further if you stretch back to Captain Cook in the 1770s), and the scientific bases where environment research is done - where you might be lucky to actually visit.

When on board during at sea days you are getting all your familiarisation and safety talks and instructions on how to ensure you do not contaminate landing sites etc. Then you are attending fascinating lectures from your expedition team who are experts in biology, glaciology, volcanology, mammals, birds, whales, penguins, geology and history and more. You come away with a brain full of new facts that enable you to respect the region even more.

As you will see from the Trip Advisor FAQs there are many expedition companies and ships that are based down there for the summer season. So it does take a bit of research to choose the ship that suits you. My suggestion is to get on the mailing lists for as many as possible to ensure you are being advised of their new itineraries and sales.

Pricewise you will generally find there are early bird sales around September for the itineraries for the following season (so Sept 2016 for the voyages in Oct 2017 to March 2018). They can be around 25 - 35% off full price.
In the US there is generally a November (Black friday or whatever it is over there) sale as well.

Just before a season starts there are also all the last minute deals where ships are selling off their remaining berths or re-advertising where they have had some cancellations. So if you are flexible you can get good deals for trips that a just a few weeks away. So through Oct/Nov you see sales for the next months itineraries.
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Kapitan Khlebnikov Nov 2010 (West Antarctica, Weddell Sea, Riser Laarsen Coast, Sth Sandwhich & Sth Georgia Islands)
Kapitan Khlebnikov Dec 2011 (Final voyage - East Antarctica & Heard Island)
Sea Adventurer: Feb 2014 (East side of Antarctica Peninsular, South Georgia Is, Falkland Is).

Ortelius: Feb 2014 Bluff NZ, Ross Sea, West Antarctica, Peninsula, Peter 1st Island, Ushuaia
Other regions: too many to list so just the highlights:
P&O Oriana 1984 (Indian Ocean) and 1986 (Pacific Ocean), Superstar Virgo 2003 (Indian Ocean),
Radiance of the Seas: Nov 2014 Bravo Theatre Opera cruise - Noumea.