Choosing the right ship

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#1
NJ
22 Posts
Joined Sep 2011
Hello,

I have shortlisted the Silver Explorer and the National Geographic for the Antarctica expedition this December for my family (wife and 2 kids). Could you tell me which ship will be a better choice and any advice on the category of cabins?

Thanks in anticipation
#2
Fort Worth, Texas
551 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Unfortunately, I can't respond about either ship you are interested in because we traveled on the Fram this last December/January, which was a great ship.

I would highly recommend at least, one oceanview cabin for the family. Perhaps you and your wife in an oceanview, and the kids in an inside cabin. We sat by our window and enjoyed icebergs floating by, penguins swimming as fast as they could away from the ship, and whales coming right up to the ship. When we wanted to, we could run out on deck easily because our cabin was not too far from the outside exits which helped us get those great shots you hope for on this trip.

I have a review on cruisecritic of our cruise, which which might help you decide. Would be glad to answer any questions after you have read the review.

We loved the lectures each day, so you might want to check out that service on the two ships you are considering. It made the adventure so much more productive for us.

Happy Sails,
TXTraveler
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#3
NJ
22 Posts
Joined Sep 2011
Originally posted by TXTraveler2007
Unfortunately, I can't respond about either ship you are interested in because we traveled on the Fram this last December/January, which was a great ship.

I would highly recommend at least, one oceanview cabin for the family. Perhaps you and your wife in an oceanview, and the kids in an inside cabin. We sat by our window and enjoyed icebergs floating by, penguins swimming as fast as they could away from the ship, and whales coming right up to the ship. When we wanted to, we could run out on deck easily because our cabin was not too far from the outside exits which helped us get those great shots you hope for on this trip.

I have a review on cruisecritic of our cruise, which which might help you decide. Would be glad to answer any questions after you have read the review.

We loved the lectures each day, so you might want to check out that service on the two ships you are considering. It made the adventure so much more productive for us.

Happy Sails,
TXTraveler
Thanks TXTraveler. I enjoyed the account of your daily activities on the expedition. I hope I can reach out to you again later if I think of any more questions.
#4
NORTH EAST LOUISIANA USA
5,070 Posts
Joined Nov 2003
Originally posted by nomoss
Hello,

I have shortlisted the Silver Explorer and the National Geographic for the Antarctica expedition this December for my family (wife and 2 kids). Could you tell me which ship will be a better choice and any advice on the category of cabins?

Thanks in anticipation
I assume the Silver Explorer is the old Prince Albert II. and vs the National Geographic Explorer. It looks like these are more luxury cruises than the Russian Oceanographic ships. I haven't been on either of these. On the Professor Multanovskiy we did two landings a day and sometimes an additional zodiac cruise. Having only 25 people on board it was done quick and easy. With 140 people one wonders how they can get as much done.
I think I would pick the National Geographic Explorer between the two you are considering.
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#5
NJ
22 Posts
Joined Sep 2011
Originally posted by nomoss
Thanks TXTraveler. I enjoyed the account of your daily activities on the expedition. I hope I can reach out to you again later if I think of any more questions.
Hi again,

Do you have any opinion on Ponant L'Austral? Thanks.
#6
Atlanta, GA
313 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
We did the Silver Explorer (PAII) and loved it. Excellent ship, very attentive staff, very experienced expedition staff, excellent food, etc. I would travel to Antarctica with them again in a heartbeat!

I don't have any experience with National Geographic, so can't compare. But out of curiosity, is there a reason you aren't also considering Le Boreal with Abercrombie & Kent as well? While she is a little larger than the PAII, she looks like a beautiful ship, and A&K are also know for high quality.
#7
Fort Worth, Texas
551 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
L'Austral is the sister ship of Le Boreal. These ships cater to clientele that appreciate the French "Joie de Vivre". You won't need to worry about speaking French; this is a bilingual ship and all staff speaks English.

It flies the French flag, is about 10,700 tons with 260 guests in 132 cabins and suites, all with a sea view and 94 percent with a private balcony. Equipped to reduce environmental impact, L’Austral is able to reach ports and destinations, which are inaccessible to larger ships.

However, I have heard that there will be few if any children, and that the clientele is mainly over 50. I would check on the passenger mix just for curiosity's sake. On the Fram, there were few children, but there was a wide range in the passenger ages. Since you are not there for the camaraderie, just gorgeous scenery and wildlife, the age mix may not be important.

The Le Boreal was in port for parts replacement earlier this year. They had had to cancel one cruise due to the unspecified wear on parts. This was a fairly new ship at that time. The safety issue was not considered to be major, but I found no word on what was the exact problem for the Le Boreal.

Hope this little tidbit helps. I would do a lot reading up on both ships to get a feel for the experience. I know there are some good and poor reviews of the ships. I actually considered going on the Le Boreal last year, but I believe I had read that we had to provide our own "Wellies". I would definitely check out that idea. It is bad enough to have to pack all of the cold weather gear, but to have to bring your own "Wellies" would be a bit much for me. Also, we found a great sale on the Fram at the last minute, and that made our decision.

Happy Sail!
TXTraveler
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#8
Atlanta, GA
313 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
As a side note, we ordered the "get outfitted" package (including wellies) from the company recommended by Silversea. Everything was exactly what we needed, the clothes and boots fit and worked perfectly. They were delivered directly to our stateroom from the company, and everything was waiting for us when we got there. So no packing required. And although many on the PAII do re-use boots left by prior guests, I preferred buying my own to ensure I had a boot that fit. They weren't prohibitively expensive, and I knew I would be able to walk and climb uphill comfortably in my own, well-fitting boots. And one does do hours of walking in them, so it was worth it to me.
#9
NJ
22 Posts
Joined Sep 2011
Originally posted by pke-atlanta
As a side note, we ordered the "get outfitted" package (including wellies) from the company recommended by Silversea. Everything was exactly what we needed, the clothes and boots fit and worked perfectly. They were delivered directly to our stateroom from the company, and everything was waiting for us when we got there. So no packing required. And although many on the PAII do re-use boots left by prior guests, I preferred buying my own to ensure I had a boot that fit. They weren't prohibitively expensive, and I knew I would be able to walk and climb uphill comfortably in my own, well-fitting boots. And one does do hours of walking in them, so it was worth it to me.
Thanks pke-atlanta and TXTraveller. We finally booked with L'Austral (Silver Explorer and Nat. Geo were sold out). Hope it will work out fine. Do you have any advice on a good link to have a comprehensive list of items (primarily gear) to have?

Thanks in anticipation,
#10
Atlanta, GA
313 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
nomoss, here is a link with a packing list for Antarctica. These items are available for purchase at the site as well, but even if you don't buy from them, it's a good checklist. As information, we bought all of our outdoor clothes from them for the trip and were quite pleased with the quality and their level of service. The only thing we didn't get from them was the parka, which was provided by Silversea. One item I wished I had brought was a ski mask. We had some days of 40mph winds and driving snow, and a mask would have helped with visibility.

http://www.shiptoshoretraveler.com/r.../pack2011-ant/

You will love this trip. I found Antarctica just stunning and am already dying to go back.
#11
San Diego, CA
4,703 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Originally posted by nomoss
Thanks pke-atlanta and TXTraveller. We finally booked with L'Austral (Silver Explorer and Nat. Geo were sold out). Hope it will work out fine. Do you have any advice on a good link to have a comprehensive list of items (primarily gear) to have?

Thanks in anticipation,
Check with you cruise company to see what they provide esp Wellies and parka. Dress in layers - socks, pants and tops. Fleece works much better than wool. You will need good gloves too. A water resistant back pack for landings.

I am not surprised that some of the ships were sold out. We were on the Minerva which was served by A&K. If your ship also has A&K service you will have a great time.

Have a great trip!
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Emerald Princess: Western Caribbean - 21 Dec 2014 http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...ghlight=dileep
Ocean Nova in Antarctica Dec 2012: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1739893
Egypt Land Trip Review http://www.independenttraveler.com/t...-all-one-world
Swan Hellenic Minerva Antarctica - January 2010 http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1083945
Galapagos http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...ight=galapagos
Star Princess - Greek Isles: Rome to Venice - 28 October 2007 http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=665634
Celebrity Millennium - South America, 22 January 2006. Review at http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=293376
Celebrity Constellation - Baltics, 21 May 2005. Notes at http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showp...3&postcount=11
Celebrity Infinity - Alaska, July 2004
Radisson Diamond - Mediterranean, Oct 2000
#12
NJ
22 Posts
Joined Sep 2011
Originally posted by dileep
Check with you cruise company to see what they provide esp Wellies and parka. Dress in layers - socks, pants and tops. Fleece works much better than wool. You will need good gloves too. A water resistant back pack for landings.

I am not surprised that some of the ships were sold out. We were on the Minerva which was served by A&K. If your ship also has A&K service you will have a great time.

Have a great trip!
Thank you pke-atlanta and dileep,

The Ponant is providing parkas and having us rent the "Wellies" from ShipToShore. Per pke-atlanta's advice, we will buy gear from shiptoshore. I am tempted to buy from the local Dick's Sporting Goods to save money, but my wife is insistent that we should not take a risk and should by proven gear.

Aside for that, we have to buy our trip insurance and a good camera. Any tips?

Thanks in advance.
#13
201 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
We used Medjets and you can get a family plan and than a cheaper cancellation type policy for the trip. Re clothes - using these boards we got many suggestions and ended up getting most of our clothes from LL Bean and Lands End - and used some old ski clothes as well. Make sure to bring layers that is the key with gloves (light liner plus waterproof glove) and for your feet as well - liner than warm socks and for your body as well. Also make sure to bring waterproof pants, long underwear and plenty of sun screen and sun glasses. It is truly the trip of a life time and we would go back tomorrow sine now we have all the gear!! By the way one note the hat with the brim that most places sell in the package deal I found too cold so I wore a headband underneath it to cover my ears but I needed the hat brim because we have almost all sunny days when we were there and the sun is very bright.
#14
San Diego, CA
4,703 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Originally posted by nomoss
Thank you pke-atlanta and dileep,

The Ponant is providing parkas and having us rent the "Wellies" from ShipToShore. Per pke-atlanta's advice, we will buy gear from shiptoshore. I am tempted to buy from the local Dick's Sporting Goods to save money, but my wife is insistent that we should not take a risk and should by proven gear.

Aside for that, we have to buy our trip insurance and a good camera. Any tips?

Thanks in advance.
We bought our clothes from Columbia, REI, and Eddie Bauer. Even some from Costco. We used foot warmers too. I forget the brand name. I had a Panasonic Lumix FX28 which has been supeceded by newer models. It is light, inexpensive ($300), has a long zoom, and can take HD videos. Look at the new FZ150 which is about $400. I also had a small pocket sized Canon to use on the zodiacs sometimes. For long zodiac rides I used my Panasonic. You can check out my photos and videos. I bought trip insurance from one of the providers on insuremy trip.
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++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Photos: https://skydrive-df.live.com/?sc=photos#sc=photos
Videos: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=DileepB#g/u
Emerald Princess: Western Caribbean - 21 Dec 2014 http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...ghlight=dileep
Ocean Nova in Antarctica Dec 2012: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1739893
Egypt Land Trip Review http://www.independenttraveler.com/t...-all-one-world
Swan Hellenic Minerva Antarctica - January 2010 http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1083945
Galapagos http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...ight=galapagos
Star Princess - Greek Isles: Rome to Venice - 28 October 2007 http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=665634
Celebrity Millennium - South America, 22 January 2006. Review at http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=293376
Celebrity Constellation - Baltics, 21 May 2005. Notes at http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showp...3&postcount=11
Celebrity Infinity - Alaska, July 2004
Radisson Diamond - Mediterranean, Oct 2000