Corinthian II vs Endeavor vs Polar Star-any first hand knowledge?

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#1
Brookfield, Wisconsin
302 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Spouse is 46 and I'm 57. I have long been a student of polar exploration and am planning a trip to see some of Antarctica--only, not Falkland Islands. Spouse can get away for only a couple weeks, so we are looking at 15 day or shorter trips. Various options called to our attention are: Corinthian II, 114 passenger all suite ship. Online information looks pretty appealing--a smaller ship option so hopefully more personal service, a lot of valuable inclusions. Not cheap but seems good value for price. Other option is NG Endeavor. NG name carries a lot of weight, but the prices are sky high and the overall accomdations look less appealing than the Corinthian II. Polar Star looks promising as well. Spouse likes space and luxury, but does not like snobs. We both love great food and wine, and have done some soft adventure travel, plus some backpacking in the Rockies. He is a real science and nature buff and I just want to visit the "last place on earth. I'd feel better about having an MD on board, just in case, although neither of us has medical issues. I'd like to have maximum options to go ashore, even possibly camp overnight ( I know some ships offer that option at times.) Being from Wisconsin, the weather will be relatively similar to our January/February weather--cold, damp, overcast, etc.

I am reluctant to book on any Russian ship (first hand experiences with Russian business practices leave us skeptical,) and ships that don't allow you to use your credit card for the final payment (leaves you with less protection in the event of a default.)

Any feedback on any of these ships would be most appreciated!
#2
Colorado
178 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
We did the Polar Star a few years ago for a week in the Arctic (around Svalbard.) It is a refurbished icebreaker from the Swedish Navy.
The crew & the shore excursions were terrific. Because it is an icebreaker, it can go where some other ships can't. Don't know how it would be in the Drake. Whe had one of the two suites on the ship. It was not luxurious but quite spacious & comfortable. The other cabins appeared quite small.
Food was served at long tables and was not special. There were no snobs among the other passengers. I guess the very rich go on more expensive ships.
I'd be surprised if anyone allowed you to camp.
#3
3 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
I am just curious to hear if anyone else has traveled on the Polar Star or knows anything secondhand about the ship. Good, bad, or anything? I haven't found much info about the ship in the form of reviews online . Thanks!
#4
19,594 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by winegirl
Spouse is 46 and I'm 57. I have long been a student of polar exploration and am planning a trip to see some of Antarctica--only, not Falkland Islands. Spouse can get away for only a couple weeks, so we are looking at 15 day or shorter trips. Various options called to our attention are: Corinthian II, 114 passenger all suite ship. Online information looks pretty appealing--a smaller ship option so hopefully more personal service, a lot of valuable inclusions. Not cheap but seems good value for price. Other option is NG Endeavor. NG name carries a lot of weight, but the prices are sky high and the overall accomdations look less appealing than the Corinthian II. Polar Star looks promising as well. Spouse likes space and luxury, but does not like snobs. We both love great food and wine, and have done some soft adventure travel, plus some backpacking in the Rockies. He is a real science and nature buff and I just want to visit the "last place on earth. I'd feel better about having an MD on board, just in case, although neither of us has medical issues. I'd like to have maximum options to go ashore, even possibly camp overnight ( I know some ships offer that option at times.) Being from Wisconsin, the weather will be relatively similar to our January/February weather--cold, damp, overcast, etc.

I am reluctant to book on any Russian ship (first hand experiences with Russian business practices leave us skeptical,) and ships that don't allow you to use your credit card for the final payment (leaves you with less protection in the event of a default.)

Any feedback on any of these ships would be most appreciated!
WineGirl, We just went through this exact same process and also needed the shorter two week trip as well. We looked at the 3 ships you are thinking of, but in the end booked the Minerva (Explorer II) for 2009. It was the only one where we could pay by credit card.

Also note that the Polar Star and Endeaver were only available for the longer trips on the dates we wanted. This is of course not first hand knowledge but I thought the Corinthian Cabins looked really nice compared to the Minerva but when I looked closer (from photos only) I thought the Minervas dining room and public areas looked better than the Corinthean. The Minerva was about $1,000pp less than the Corinthean II and they take credit cards for final payment. Bookings are mostly though Regent or A&K in North America and Swan Hellinic in Europe. The Regent dates included the Falklands and the A&K dates no Falkland but an extra day on the Pennisula. Just FYI, A&K prices are better than Regent when you subtract the airfare. Both included gratuities, pre-night hotel and some other things.
#5
Texas Gulf Coast
1,169 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
Hi Everyone:

We are in the midst of researching for our AA trip also, probably not until late 2009 or early 2010. We found this to be interesting, they take cards, but of course there are tradeoffs, but overall looks like an excellent price. If anyone has cruised on one of these ships in the AA, maybe they would comment. http://*******.com/2zv4jb

RonC
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#6
england
469 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
dpro (RonC) if you go to member reviews on this board, scroll to Hurtigruten then scroll again to Nordkapp (sister ship to Nordnorge). You will find my hopefully comprehensive review of my Antarctica cruise last December. Should answer some of your questions & contains links to my photo albums on Webshots. If you view them, I have recently added another album of Penguins,Icebergs & Scenery. You just cannot avoid taking photos down there! there is also an album of historic tall ships in BA (the 'Uruguay' is a famous Antarctic ship with memorabilia on board). I would go again anytime if my wife would let me! LOL
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#7
Los Gatos, CA
1,000 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by winegirl

I am reluctant to book on any Russian ship (first hand experiences with Russian business practices leave us skeptical,)
You don't actually deal with Russians, if that's what you mean. Quark, a US company, operates most, including the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, and they have a great reputation.
#8
Oregon
1 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
I was on a Corinthian II cruises to Antarctica in Feb 2007. We had one of the best crossings of Drakes passage (both directions), great weather and a totally wonderful trip. We had a suite near the captain's quarters. The room was large and comfortable with couch, chairs, tv and dvd player, small refrigerator and private balcony with a small table and chairs.

We made two to three landings a day for the 5 days we were physically in Antarctica. In my opinion, this is the perfect length of time for a cruise there. There were daily lectures, and naturalists were always available to answer questions. The captain and crew were very personable and helpful. A couple of times we made slight detours to observe whales. The captain was very knowledgeable about the region and I felt completely safe on his ship.

Smaller ships give you a better chance at getting more on-shore time, since the number of people who can be onshore at one time (most of the stops) is limited. On larger ships the time on shore is divided among a larger number of people, generally meaning less time ashore for each person than on smaller ships. Some ships will have access to stops that others don't, due to the limited access.

The ship was very well appointed, the food very good and the service friendly and efficient. The library had a nice selection of books and dvds.

The only problems we had on board were a couple of plugged up heads towards the end of the trip which were quickly repaired.

The doctor on the ship lived next to the clinic and was very pleasant and helpful when I was sick.

I hope you enjoy your trip as much as I did. Antarctica is a wonderful place to visit.
#9
Texas Gulf Coast
1,169 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
Originally posted by minke
dpro (RonC) if you go to member reviews on this board, scroll to Hurtigruten then scroll again to Nordkapp (sister ship to Nordnorge). You will find my hopefully comprehensive review of my Antarctica cruise last December. Should answer some of your questions & contains links to my photo albums on Webshots. If you view them, I have recently added another album of Penguins,Icebergs & Scenery. You just cannot avoid taking photos down there! there is also an album of historic tall ships in BA (the 'Uruguay' is a famous Antarctic ship with memorabilia on board). I would go again anytime if my wife would let me! LOL
Thanks for the info Minke, excellent review and information. I'm just waiting for the fall 2009 schedules to come out

RonC
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#10
Colorado
178 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
I now have two experiences relevant to your question - a trip around Svalbard a few years ago on the Polar Star and a trip to Antarctica last week on the National Geographic Endeavour. Both were expedition type trips and we enjoyed both very much. The ships are similar in size and I believe have similar itineraries in Antarctica.
I have done no research on this, but I am assuming the Endeavour is more expensive. The differences I noted were:
The ship:
The Polar Star is an ice breaker; the Endeavour has a reinforced hull. I cannot imagine any advantage on our trip for being on an ice breaker. We easily broke through the one year old sea ice and reached spectacular landings. The Endeavour has stabilizers; I don't believe the Polar Star does. That was a huge benefit on the Drake Passage as we encountered gale force 8 winds and heavy swelling. The stabilizers really work on open seas. I believe the Endeavour can travel a little faster on open seas. That allowed us to go south of the Antarctic Circle.
The cabins were small but comfortable on both ships.
Both ships had a lounge that was large enough for all passengers that was useful for briefings & lectures. The lounge on the Endeavour was more modern & comfortable and was equipped with lots of technology for video presentations including 4 or 5 high definition monitors. The dining room on the Endeavour was more luxurious. On the Polar Star we were seated at long tables. On the Endeavour, the dining tables were round, seating 5 - 8 passengers at each.
As I recall, it was easier to load & unload on the zodiacs on the Endeavour because of the configuration of the ship.
The Expedition Staff
We were very pleased with the staff and the zodiac landings on both ships. The Endeavour had a larger and more credentialed staff. The lectures aboard the Endeavour far exceeded my expectations for quantity and quality. In addition to naturalists specializing in birds, geology, seas & winds, and environmental issues, the Endeavour had two professional photographers (one, a National Geographic photographer) who offered workshops and were always available to assist with photography questions on an individual basis. The Endeavour also had an undersea specialist who would shoot videos of dives he made while we were making shore landings and operated a remote controlled camera at more extreme depths. His late afternoon presentations were a trip highlight. We also had a professional videographer who produced a beautiful 35 minute DVD of our trip. The two professional photographers made their shots available to all passengers. The expedition staff on the Endeavour maintained a daily expedition report on the web so that family and friends back home could track our experience.
The Ship's staff:
The staff on both ships were highly professional and very attentive to passengers needs.
Bottom line:
I am certain you will have a spectacular trip on either ship and have no regrets on your decision. Is the Endeavour worth the extra money? That is an individual decision and depends on whatever difference the extra cost would make in your life style. For us, it was worth it & I hope to do it again.
I hope I have been fair & accurate, but I didn't take time to do the research to confirm my observations. I encourage you to do your own.
#11
251 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Much appreciation for all who have contributed information on Antarctica. Considering the costs involved, choosing the correct ship is critical.
We are leaning toward the Corinthian II.
If anyone else has additional feedback, please add your voice! (btw, thanks harbor32 and please pipe in if you have further details)
We are also looking at the Polar Star.

Have past Antarctic visitors purchased MedjetAssist in addition to regular travel insurance?
Thanks all!
#12
251 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Hey there RonC
Just noticed you guys are Texans. Have you made a decision yet? We are trying to fly in and out of Buenos Aires since getting to Santiago is a royal pain from IAH. We would like to consider the Nordnorge, but all the trips are too long for our schedule. (and the Fram is too big...) I feel like Red Riding Hood
It would be great if you'd share your findings with us.
Happy Holidays!!!
#13
Danville, CA
394 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Originally posted by maztoz
Hey there RonC
Just noticed you guys are Texans. Have you made a decision yet? We are trying to fly in and out of Buenos Aires since getting to Santiago is a royal pain from IAH. We would like to consider the Nordnorge, but all the trips are too long for our schedule. (and the Fram is too big...) I feel like Red Riding Hood
It would be great if you'd share your findings with us.
Happy Holidays!!!

Howdy ... Anybody on Corinthian II 12/30/08?
Bob
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#14
251 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Hello Bob,

Your voyage precedes our January sail on Corinthian. We'd appreciate any comments and clues when you return. Have a wonderful trip.
Happy Holidays
#15
93 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Bob,
Small world. We are going on the Corinthian II 12/30/08. We are very excited. We are going to Buenos Aires a day early, living on Long Island and we can never be sure of the weather in December. We are planning on doing a little sightseeing on Wednesday. I notice that you and your wife used the same travel company that we used. We passed on the New Year's eve celebrations. I personally don't like to eat that late at night and we have to get up early the next morning. What are you doing?

Really looking forward to meeting you.

Barbara (dh - Ron)
#16
Nashville, TN (we moved, again)
20,577 Posts
Joined Dec 2003
We are starting to look at this area for a trip. How about Silverseas Prince Albert II - did not see it mentioned as an option.
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#17
19,594 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by winegirl

I am reluctant to book on any Russian ship (first hand experiences with Russian business practices leave us skeptical,) and ships that don't allow you to use your credit card for the final payment (leaves you with less protection in the event of a default.)

Any feedback on any of these ships would be most appreciated!
Ok, well, I looked at all those and decided on the Minerva (with A&K, Regent also has dates) because I could pay with a credit card and besides the prices were about the same. And guess what? A week after we made our final payment our TA closed their doors. Fortunately we demanded payment be made directly to the supplier. BUT, what if money went to the TA who was supposed to wire to the supplier AND I wasn't reading cruise critic? Well, I would be out of lots of money as well as our trip. Btw, Regent is the only cruise line/supplier letting CVC clients on their ships without receiving any money once they show they paid the TA....

So, take a look at Minerva. Also, I booked in 2007 but now SilverSeas Prince Albert II and Hurtigrutin's Fram are in the area and both take final payments with credit card.

I won't be going anywhere soon with anyone who only takes Cashier Checks or wired money for payments. I see what can happen.

I just realized this thread is about 1.5 years old and that I responded a long time ago. But my reasoning is still the same.
#18
Danville, CA
394 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Hi again, especially to Barbara and Ron --

We are leaving on Tuesday for Buenos Aires. We considered leaving on Monday, but our daughter is home for a week and we didn't want to miss a day with her. (She teaches in Serbia.) Nine years ago in January we were in Buenos Aires, at the end of a round-the-Horn cruise from Santiago to BA, so we've experienced a lot of it before...and Ushuaia, as well. (Having played in the pit orchestra for a Bay Area production of Evita, we hit Eva Peron's grave first.) We, too, passed on the New Year's Eve activities, especially when we discovered we had a 7:15 a.m. departure to Ushuaia on New Year's Day! We'll order room service...at the least.

We've been making our lists of gear and checking it twice. There's one more thing to pick up before we leave. We're still trying to figure out if we really have a charter flight down from Buenos Aires or if it's a regularly scheduled carrier. We've gotten two different answers, in addition to varying answers on baggage weight limits once in Argentina. We're trying to pack light, but it's not really a "light" trip! But, we're excited and eager to set foot on the "last continent." Hopefully, that will happen!

My husband really appreciated working with Expedition Trips in Seattle. He found them to be exceptionally knowledgeable in helping us choose exactly the right cruise for our travel style and needs. And, the woman who owns Ship to Shore Traveler (also Seattle) did an incredible job in outfitting us. She's been down to Antarctica 64 times and really knows what one needs!!!!!

Have a safe trip! We'll see you in Argentina.

Blessings --

Cathy (and Bob)
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...and some prior, some others, and certainly more to follow!
(#Pacific, #Golden, and #Royal...the originals)

Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember and remember more than I have seen. --- Benjamin Disraeli
#19
19,594 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by havepassportwilltravel

We've been making our lists of gear and checking it twice. There's one more thing to pick up before we leave. We're still trying to figure out if we really have a charter flight down from Buenos Aires or if it's a regularly scheduled carrier. We've gotten two different answers, in addition to varying answers on baggage weight limits once in Argentina. We're trying to pack light, but it's not really a "light" trip! But, we're excited and eager to set foot on the "last continent." Hopefully, that will happen!



Blessings --

Cathy (and Bob)
What Airline are you on? You can most likely tell you have a charter if you look up the flight (if LAN than on LAN (dot) com) and there is no flight listed.

We will be on a charter scheduled for 5:30am in Feb and it is not a listed flight on the airlines web site.
#20
Irving TX
2,019 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
To "Havepassportwilltravel" and "surething" - how was your CII trip? I will be going on that ship as a solo passenger next January and would appreciate hearing any comments you may have.

It is my understanding that the ship interior is quite warm and that meals are seated by waitstaff service - not a cafeteria line or buffet-style. Give or take breakfast, is that correct?

Did you see "fluffy chicks" onshore?

I would rather wear my Eddie Bauer parka onshore rather than the red jackets. Is that allowed? I am short and stout and want to be assured that my jacket fits!

Thanks,
Ruby