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Sparky333

Hurtigruten's M/V Fram

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I'm doing research now for a trip - possibly January 2012. If money was no object I'd choose Lindblad/National Geographic and second choice would be Quark. However, budget is a concern. The pricing on the Fram trip I'm looking at is a good deal less.

I know that the number of passengers on the Fram versus a smaller ship means we won't get to spend as much time on shore at landings. I'm willing to compromise because of the reality of our budget. But what I'd like to get a better feel for is whether that is the main compromise or if there are other things I need to consider.

The ship itself sounds very nice and I definitely like the idea of having private bathroom facilities which, on some of the other ships, would increase the price a lot. The larger ship size sounds like it might help with the amount of motion felt through Drake's Passage. The food sounds good from other reviewers here on cc and the trips, in general, sound well-run.

But, because this would be not quite the expedition level of some of the other ships do you miss out on the level of lectures and expedition staff? Are the landings lacking in comparison? These are the things I'm trying to determine and unless someone has done more than one trip with different companies it would be impossible to know. But just from trying to read between the lines of different trip reports I'm trying to reach these conclusions and am struggling.

So I don't know if my question even makes sense but I guess the bottom line is: is the 12 day trip on the Fram going to be "serious" enough or will I end up wishing I'd done a more rigorous trip if this is a once-in-a-lifetime journey. Is the Fram too much like a bigger cruise ship that only does drive-bys except with a few landings thrown in but on a very 'soft' level?

If anyone sees what I'm getting at and has an opinion I'd really appreciate hearing it. Thanks!

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The expedition crew on Fram were very good when I was onboard. Although I've not been to Antarctic with her, they had some of the same expedition crew.

I'd say they were very serious about landings. Reading their blog, they seem to look for alternative landings if the weather prevents the planned one.

It certainly isn't a drive-by ship.

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[quote name='Sparky333']I'm doing research now for a trip - possibly January 2012. If money was no object I'd choose Lindblad/National Geographic and second choice would be Quark. However, budget is a concern. The pricing on the Fram trip I'm looking at is a good deal less.

I know that the number of passengers on the Fram versus a smaller ship means we won't get to spend as much time on shore at landings. I'm willing to compromise because of the reality of our budget. But what I'd like to get a better feel for is whether that is the main compromise or if there are other things I need to consider.

The ship itself sounds very nice and I definitely like the idea of having private bathroom facilities which, on some of the other ships, would increase the price a lot. The larger ship size sounds like it might help with the amount of motion felt through Drake's Passage. The food sounds good from other reviewers here on cc and the trips, in general, sound well-run.

But, because this would be not quite the expedition level of some of the other ships do you miss out on the level of lectures and expedition staff? Are the landings lacking in comparison? These are the things I'm trying to determine and unless someone has done more than one trip with different companies it would be impossible to know. But just from trying to read between the lines of different trip reports I'm trying to reach these conclusions and am struggling.

So I don't know if my question even makes sense but I guess the bottom line is: is the 12 day trip on the Fram going to be "serious" enough or will I end up wishing I'd done a more rigorous trip if this is a once-in-a-lifetime journey. Is the Fram too much like a bigger cruise ship that only does drive-bys except with a few landings thrown in but on a very 'soft' level?

If anyone sees what I'm getting at and has an opinion I'd really appreciate hearing it. Thanks![/quote]

We were on the Fram this past February, for the 22 day Shackleton Route, and we have booked her again for January 2012 for the Weddell Sea.

We found the ship to be very well appointed, the food was certainly adequate but not outstanding. The ship does well in rough seas, we sailed across the Drake with 50 foot seas and a few times we had hurricane force winds, around 100 mph. We never felt endangered from the rough seas.

As for excursions, the ship forms groups of pax, and do an extremely good and efficient job of getting pax onshore. What a lot of pax do not know is that while you have to get off for shore excursions in an assigned group, you do not come back that way. You are free to stay on shore pretty much as long as you want, we did not have a minder telling us our time was up. Our sailing had ~218 pax. The Captain did an excellent job of getting us ashore if the weather was spotty, and readily changed the itinerary to allow us to get the most out of our experience.

We had excellent naturalists on board, as well as world class photographers, who were always ready to help those less experienced. The lectures were done very well.

The fact that we have booked a return trip on the Fram is an indication of just how pleased we were with our experience.

FWIW, you should take the longest trip you can, since there is time needed to cross the Drake coming and going, which cuts into your time on the Continent.

You can read our trip report here with photos. Feel free to email us if you have any further questions. [EMAIL="mrqcace@yahoo.com"]mrqcace@yahoo.com[/EMAIL]

Regards,

RonC

[URL]http://opatravels.blogspot.com/2010/02/goin-south.html[/URL]
[url]http://mvfram.blogspot.com/[/url] Edited by dpro

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Thanks for the (speedy!) replies.

dpro -- your trip report is what first got me interested in the Fram (and I see that I called it M/V but should've said MS in my thread's title - oops).
The fact that you're going back & especially so soon does speak volumes!

It does kill me to not be able to take more time to do the longer trip - maybe there's a way we can make the 15 day Polar Circle Quest or Weddell Sea Adventure work. What made you choose the Weddell Sea for your next trip?

It's so good to hear that there is not a strict timeline on returning to the ship when doing landings. Thank you for that information - I was not at all imagining that to be the case. Also I'm glad to hear the naturalists and photographers on board are first class.

When I read about your last trip getting rescheduled it made me think that having Hurtigruten book our international flights might be a good idea - then I wouldn't need to worry about any changes on their part or the airlines. Would (did) you do that or do you always book your own flights?
I wonder if the extra fee you'd pay for Hurtigruten to handle it would be worth it for peace of mind. They can't tell me the Jan 2012 airfare yet so I'd have to wait on making that decision.

They did recommend that I go ahead and book now (of course!) and then I can add the air portion later when the rates are out. I've no idea how fast the trips fill up or if they end up offering good deals as the sail date approaches. The early booking rates apply until March 31, 2011 but since getting the cheapest cabin would be necessary for us I'd hate to wait too long and lose that option.

One last question for now -- the boots they provide -- did you find them to be warm enough? Were they the Bogs brand by any chance? And were there enough in all sizes, did it seem? I've read others' reports that said even though boots would be provided on their ship they chose to take their own anyway. Seems like a heavy and probably messy thing to have to transport.

Thanks again -
Leslie

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[quote name='Sparky333']Thanks for the (speedy!) replies.

dpro -- your trip report is what first got me interested in the Fram (and I see that I called it M/V but should've said MS in my thread's title - oops).
The fact that you're going back & especially so soon does speak volumes!

It does kill me to not be able to take more time to do the longer trip - maybe there's a way we can make the 15 day Polar Circle Quest or Weddell Sea Adventure work. What made you choose the Weddell Sea for your next trip?

[COLOR=DarkRed]The Weddell Sea cruise goes to more places on the Continent. We loved the wildlife on S. Georgia and the Falklands, but at the same time we want more ice, icebergs, and stops that most other ships do not do.[/COLOR]

It's so good to hear that there is not a strict timeline on returning to the ship when doing landings. Thank you for that information - I was not at all imagining that to be the case. Also I'm glad to hear the naturalists and photographers on board are first class.

When I read about your last trip getting rescheduled it made me think that having Hurtigruten book our international flights might be a good idea - then I wouldn't need to worry about any changes on their part or the airlines. Would (did) you do that or do you always book your own flights?
I wonder if the extra fee you'd pay for Hurtigruten to handle it would be worth it for peace of mind. They can't tell me the Jan 2012 airfare yet so I'd have to wait on making that decision.

[COLOR=DarkRed]We always do our own air, since we like to go early/stay late depending on the trip. For us having someone else handle our air is just never an option.[/COLOR]

They did recommend that I go ahead and book now (of course!) and then I can add the air portion later when the rates are out. I've no idea how fast the trips fill up or if they end up offering good deals as the sail date approaches. The early booking rates apply until March 31, 2011 but since getting the cheapest cabin would be necessary for us I'd hate to wait too long and lose that option.

[COLOR=Blue][COLOR=DarkRed]Don't know what category cabin you want, but I do know the least expensive cabins fill up very quick. We were able to get our choice for the 2012 Weddell Sea cruise but our agent also told us they were filling up fast. Our agent also was able to get us a group rate that was substantially below the early booking rate, and he is working to get us a "repeater" discount. (Not sure that is going to happen but we are hoping for it)[/COLOR]
[/COLOR]
One last question for now -- the boots they provide -- did you find them to be warm enough? Were they the Bogs brand by any chance? And were there enough in all sizes, did it seem? I've read others' reports that said even though boots would be provided on their ship they chose to take their own anyway. Seems like a heavy and probably messy thing to have to transport.

[COLOR=DarkRed]The boots were plenty warm and there were enough of them, I don't know the brand. However, my wife is taking her own boots on this next trip, she has a foot problem so her own boots fit better. We also wore sealskin (waterproof) socks that did an incredible job of keeping our feet warm, along with a nylon sock liner and a thicker wool sock. Our feet never got cold, the stiff wind on our faces was more the problem.

[/COLOR] [COLOR=DarkRed]Hope you will let us know what you decide, it is an awesome experience and one not to be missed if you like the nature aspect. On these cruises, everyone is there for the same reason, which makes for a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Expect pax from all over the world.[/COLOR]

Thanks again -
Leslie[/quote]

[COLOR=DarkRed]Hi Again:

See our comments above and thanks for the note about our blog.[/COLOR] [COLOR=DarkRed]

Ron & Barbara[/COLOR]

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