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Sorting Through Various Cruises

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We've decided to cruise to Antarctica for milestone birthdays in 2021. (Yes, I know it's pretty far off, but it seems to be a trip that requires a lot of research and planning.)

 

We have looked at a number of ships and cruise tour providers, and have become more confused than clear.

 

I'm hoping that some who have cruised Antarctica in the past can provide some feedback. Here's what we want, and we are looking for providers that can deliver it.

 

Cabins don't need balcony but must have a window or porthole.

 

We want to put our feet on the ice. No "drive by's."

 

Must be a luxury or luxury-lite ship.

 

Prefer a ship with 100 passengers (ie no taking turns going to the ice)

 

Quality of food and service levels are important.

 

Quality of lectures and any "extras" such as a visit to a research station will be considered.

 

Cabins must have queen beds or twins which can be pushed together. No fixed twins or bunks.

 

Prefer 10-14 day max cruise length.

 

Need fully stabilized ship. (I am prone to seasickness and already expect to be in bed trying to keep down ginger ale the entire way back and forth across the Drake)

 

Budget up to $11K per person (today's dollars), not including tips, airfare, hotels, alcohol, etc.

 

Whether they provide or rent boots and parkas will also factor into our decision. The thought of trying to pack those in a suitcase with a 50 pound limit makes me shudder--and I'm a light packer.

 

Availability of guest laundry or laundry packages will be a factor.

 

No formal, semi-formal, theme nights. Dinner dress code along the lines of slacks (not jeans) and a sweater/turtleneck or collared shirt.

 

Anything else you felt was important in your decision and how well the ship or provider delivered would be appreciated as well.

 

Thanks!

Edited by ducklite

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I have not gone yet, but am booked for 2016. I made a comparison chart and found some compromises had to be made. I also got help from several tour companies who listed the possibilities.

 

The more luxurious ships are the larger ones. Some of the smaller ships were more expensive and the other small ones were very spartan.

 

We ended up choosing G Adventures Expedition. It is comfortable, and you can get a queen bed though you will pay more. However it has more than 100 passengers.

 

We are in a twin room with a window. There are good reports of lecturers and there is a resident photographer. The restaurant and lounge area have windows. Another feature is its mudroom which many of the ships do not have. As for laundry we will handwash and dry in our room. Apparently it is very dry there so things dry quickly. I cannot remember if the expedition has a laundry.

 

Some people will be kayaking which will give more shore time to the rest of us. They lend boots and give you parkas.

 

If you are interested you can find me on Trip Advisor (Nova Scotia forum), send me a message with your email and I will send the chart. You can edit it for your criteria as you continue your research.

Edited by maryann ns

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The more luxurious ships are the larger ones. Some of the smaller ships were more expensive and the other small ones were very spartan.

Exactly what I was going to say. I think a compromise may have to be found between size, degree of luxury and budget.

Ponant might cover all your requirements except number of passengers.

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We are willing to up the budget to get the sleeping accommodations and level of luxury we seek.

 

Have any of you done Lindblad/NatGeo to Antarctica? In looking at the various options, and realizing we'll need to make some choices, the Explorer looks like it might be a good choice for us.

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Have any of you done Lindblad/NatGeo to Antarctica? In looking at the various options, and realizing we'll need to make some choices, the Explorer looks like it might be a good choice for us.

 

I have, with my spouse, Jan/Feb. 2013. Absolutely extraordinary, I can't say enough good things about our expedition. You can find my very detailed journal at the link in my signature below. I started keeping it when we began preparing for the trip (more than a year out), so there's a great deal of info that I hope will be helpful, regardless of who you eventually decide to go with.

 

There are 148 pax on board the Explorer, divided into 6 landing groups. When it's not your turn to go ashore, you are typically out on a zodiac cruise, which was just about as phenomenal as being ashore (sometimes more so). On a few occasions, you could also kayak.

 

At the time we booked, you had to bring your own boots, but you can rent them now. And they "give" you the parka. (Most expensive "free" piece of clothing I've ever received! :)

 

Very comfortable cabin with a huge window, queen sized bed.

 

Happy to answer any specific questions you may have, if I can.

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I have, with my spouse, Jan/Feb. 2013. Absolutely extraordinary, I can't say enough good things about our expedition. You can find my very detailed journal at the link in my signature below. I started keeping it when we began preparing for the trip (more than a year out), so there's a great deal of info that I hope will be helpful, regardless of who you eventually decide to go with.

 

There are 148 pax on board the Explorer, divided into 6 landing groups. When it's not your turn to go ashore, you are typically out on a zodiac cruise, which was just about as phenomenal as being ashore (sometimes more so). On a few occasions, you could also kayak.

 

At the time we booked, you had to bring your own boots, but you can rent them now. And they "give" you the parka. (Most expensive "free" piece of clothing I've ever received! :)

 

Very comfortable cabin with a huge window, queen sized bed.

 

Happy to answer any specific questions you may have, if I can.

 

Wonderful--thank you!!

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After years of research, I found you have to compromise. First, we had to find a suitable cruise in December, when my daughter had holidays.

 

She had already been on a basic small expedition cruise to the Falkland and South Georgia Islands and Antarctica, so she knew the advantages of cruising on a small expedition ship. She also wanted to include the Falkland and South Georgia Islands again and go kayaking.

 

As a senior, I wanted more comfort, such as an inside observation lounge and polar circle boats, with rigid hulls, and handles for ease of transfer to the boat and wet landings. Having cruised on Norwegian Coastal Voyage, I trust the safety of Hurtigruten. Hurtigruten carries over 200 passengers, divided into 8 groups, I believe.

 

We have just booked a 19 day cruise on Hurtigruten's Fram to the Falkland and South Georgia Islands and Antarctica, departing 1st December. If you google the ship you will see how comfortable it is and you can follow its daily blog. It offers camping, kayaking, snow shoeing and small boat cruising, depending on the weather.

 

Fram is now on its way to Buenos Aires to start the 2014/2015 Antarctica season.

 

Of course, no-one knows which ships will be cruising to Antarctica in 2021.

Edited by MMDown Under

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Of course, no-one knows which ships will be cruising to Antarctica in 2021.

 

Exactly.

 

Ships move from operator to operator, charter to charter. They get refurbished, renamed, recalled to Russia - anything. Fuel laws changed recently - they could well change again - reducing the amount or the size of vessels in the region. 7 years is eons in the travel industry - even more so in the polar world.

 

Planning to book 2 years to 18 months out is practical. I would simply start your savings program now and when you have enough - go on the voyage of your choosing. Dont put it off for "milestones" - people that do that rarely make it to the milestone event because so much emphasis is placed on a date so far in the future.

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We have just booked a 19 day cruise on Hurtigruten's Fram to the Falkland and South Georgia Islands and Antarctica, departing 1st December. If you google the ship you will see how comfortable it is and you can follow its daily blog. It offers camping, kayaking, snow shoeing and small boat cruising, depending on the weather.

Having been twice to Antarctica with MS Fram, I couldn't agree more that she is a great ship (with a great crew) for this destination, and I would go with her again in a heartbeat. However I thought it wouldn't suit ducklite's request for several reasons : too many passengers, no queen beds in the cabin (although, maybe in the suites?) and while the crew is friendly and very helpful and the food is perfectly adequate, it is not maybe the level of luxury service and refined food that ducklite is looking for.

This being said, I hadn't noticed the timeline, and fully agree that it is way too soon now to single out a ship for a 2021 cruise. So much can change until then, so I would follow PerfectlyPerth advice and just start saving up.

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We have been to Antarctica (twice), Spitzbergen and, in eleven months time, we will be gong to Greenland, all on Hurtigruten's Fram. It's comfortable, reasonable on price and, most importantly, has a great crew with highly qualified and experienced expedition staff who go out of their way to make sure everyone has the best possible time. That she carries around 200 passengers is not the problem it may sound to be. With the limit of 100 ashore at any one time, half of the passengers can be ashore with the other half either preparing to go or changing after returning. Any 'downtime' is easily eaten up on deck soaking up the truly incredible surroundings. We have never found ourselves short of time or rushed when ashore, or bored or looking for something to do when onboard.

 

As to some of your other 'requirements':

- boots are good and can be rented

 

- a windproof and waterproof jacket is provided 'free', ie included in the price

 

- research station visits can happen but are not regularly scheduled. We visited Almirante Brown, an Argentinian manned station, on our most recent trip but the staff there were 'otherwise busy'. The one time we did visit a research station was as a result of a passenger falling ill and having to be medivaced out. This involved sailing to Frei base overnight and most of the next morning. Once there, we were able to wander around Frei and Bellingshausen and to talk to some of the Chilean staff

 

- Fram was purpose built for the arctic regions so is stabilised (though any expedition-sized ship will 'move' when the Southern Ocean and Antarctica become restless) and has an ice-hardened hull (1B?) which enabled us to spend several hours on our last trip pushing our way through metre-thick sea ice: an experience we'll not forget!

 

- beds, as opposed to 'bunks' (convertible seating), are available in the superior level cabins and suites though, typically on such ships, these are on the higher decks and anyone using them may regret their decision to pay to sway, especially if the Drake lives up to its reputation. We found that we spent minimal time in our cabin: just sleeping, bathing and changing. The rest of the time we were either on shore, in lectures, eating or on deck being mesmerised

 

- dress code is casual. Some wore jeans in the dining room, the majority didn't. You should be aware that the odd 'item of interest', live or landscape, doesn't have a list of onboard events or mealtimes and so you need to be ready (camera under the table!) to get out on deck, reasonably suitably clothed, at no, or very short, notice

 

Anything else that's important? The itinerary! If you're going to make this trip just the once you should seriously consider an itinerary which includes South Georgia and the Falklands. They are simply amazing and offer a different, but complimentary, experience to Antarctica. With just 10-14 days you would struggle to find such an itinerary (Fram, from memory, needs 19 days) but I would urge you to see if you are able to find the extra days.

 

I would also urge you to bear in mind MMDown Under's and PerfectlyPerth's observations: now is much to soon to choose a ship for 2021. 18 months before, or when the appropriate brochure is released, are probably optimal. And don't wait any longer than you need to: we have missed 'events' that we were waiting for because, when the time came, the event was no longer available. Friends have also missed milestone events because they didn't make the milestone or became too unfit. Save up and go!

 

I hope that has helped but the one word that is cropping up in responses so far is 'compromise' and that is almost certainly what you will have to do.

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We will still be employed at the time we cruise. Considering the time it takes to get there and back, we will not have time to extend to the Falklands. If we can extend, Easter Island would be more to our interests anyhow.

 

We don't need to save, we have the funds now. However we have other travel plans already in place (or soon to be) for the next 3-5 years. As we are only in our early 50's, we aren't all that concerned about making it to 2021. Of course anything could happen, but you can't live your life waiting for a shoe to drop.

 

I realize that ships change, but we wanted to start looking at cruise lines and providers so that in a few years when it's time to book, we will be ready. We also want to research getting there and back. Does anyone know if the LAN charter has first class's eating available?

 

We would rather have a lower category cabin on a luxury ship than a suite on a non-luxury vessel. Convertible beds/bunks are a show stopper. Game over. Same with a non-luxury/luxury-lite ship. Our best cruise ever was a lower cat cabin in the WindSurf, worst cruise ever was the Royal Suite on Royal Caribbean. As they say, you can't put lipstick on a pig.

 

We considered L'Boreal, but after a poor experience on a "French" ship earlier this year, we lost interest. It's also too big.

 

At this point I think we are leaning towards Linblad/National Geographic. They seems to offer what we are looking for, albeit at a slightly higher price, but we would rather spend an extra $5K for a couple weeks and be happy than be disappointed with the service, accommodations, and food on a different ship. As I said, these are things that are important to us. We wouldn't be good candidates for freighter travel, LOL!

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I'd like to thank everyone for their very wise answers.

 

Just like ducklite I'm planning way in advance for a 2020 'milestone' event. The reason being, I will need 6 years to save for it. I want to include South Georgia and the Falklands, ideally I'd also like to cross the circle (although I understand that it's only a marker). Getting an idea of what's possible now will help me motivate myself to putting away in the region of €500 per month ($650) that it will cost for a couple including flights. And just like others have said, sometimes we may not make those milestones so if some 'grave' news comes my way I'll at have a little research under my belt to make a good decision, not a rush one.

 

Here's to dreams and good health for us all :)

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A further thought, which may be obvious to some but not to others, do fly in a couple of days early. This is one cruise that you can't join at 'one of the other ports'. There are no other ports!

Edited by digitl

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A further thought, which may be obvious to some but not others, do fly in a couple of days early. This is one cruise that you can't join at 'one of the other ports'. There are no others!

 

 

Definitely! This is one reason that we can't afford the time to add in the Falklands, etc. We figure it will take a full day to get to BA, and would like to arrive there 2-3 days before we have to take the charter to Uruaisha for the ship. 10-12 days on board, a day to get back to BA and another day to fly home. Then hopefully a day at home to sleep and catch up on laundry before we return to work. That's almost three weeks, and we can't take more than that until we retire--and we don't want to wait that long as we might work until 67 as we both enjoy what we do.

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I realize that ships change, but we wanted to start looking at cruise lines and providers so that in a few years when it's time to book, we will be ready. We also want to research getting there and back. Does anyone know if the LAN charter has first class's eating available?

 

:):eek::)

 

At this point I think we are leaning towards Linblad/National Geographic. They seems to offer what we are looking for, albeit at a slightly higher price, but we would rather spend an extra $5K for a couple weeks and be happy than be disappointed with the service, accommodations, and food on a different ship. As I said, these are things that are important to us. We wouldn't be good candidates for freighter travel, LOL!

 

Nat Geo/Lindblad provide an amazing, first rate Antarctic adventure. But first rate adventure should not be confused with "luxury" in the way you seem to be using that term. E.g., on my blog about our extraordinary expedition on the Explorer, I mentioned the food. What I wrote was: "What can I say, except that you don’t go on a trip to Antarctica for the food, and that the food on board the Explorer was adequate. We were never hungry, and meals weren’t about the dining but about sharing amazing experiences with new friends."

 

Nat Geo/Lindblad in Antarctica is about the experience, not the food or first class cabins on a charter flight. And they knock it out of the park. But perhaps it will not be "luxury" enough for you. Given your focus there, have you considered Silversea? I know little about them,but don't they bill themselves as "luxury"?

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:):eek::)

 

Sorry, I was having coffee with my iPad, which sometimes has a mind of it's own. I meant first class seating (or business, or even premium economy.)

 

Nat Geo/Lindblad provide an amazing, first rate Antarctic adventure. But first rate adventure should not be confused with "luxury" in the way you seem to be using that term. E.g., on my blog about our extraordinary expedition on the Explorer, I mentioned the food. What I wrote was: "What can I say, except that you don’t go on a trip to Antarctica for the food, and that the food on board the Explorer was adequate. We were never hungry, and meals weren’t about the dining but about sharing amazing experiences with new friends."

 

Nat Geo/Lindblad in Antarctica is about the experience, not the food or first class cabins on a charter flight. And they knock it out of the park. But perhaps it will not be "luxury" enough for you. Given your focus there, have you considered Silversea? I know little about them,but don't they bill themselves as "luxury"?

 

Hmm, I hadn't thought of them, but yes, they are a luxury ship and might be a great choice for us. I still appreciate the information in your blog, as much of it would be useful regardless of which Antarctica cruise one is on. :)

 

Thanks!

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Just posting to subscribe. I'm also looking at Antarctica as a retirement present to myself (in 16 years :eek: ) but have done a little web browsing just to see what's out there and what the cost is :eek: :eek:

 

By the time I retire, Antarctica will be the only continent I haven't visited. I have five now, and will get to South America in 2017 (I don't count my stop at Margarita Island, even though it belongs to Venezuela).

 

I'm very interested in the responses to this thread, even though Ducklite and I have different requirements. All links to anything having to do with Antarctica cruises will be much appreciated.

 

P.S. I wanted to respond to the OP on another (closed) thread (she knows which one ;) :rolleyes: ) to say thanks for the info on travel to Cuba - it's also something I'm considering post-retirement.

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Definitely! This is one reason that we can't afford the time to add in the Falklands, etc. We figure it will take a full day to get to BA, and would like to arrive there 2-3 days before we have to take the charter to Uruaisha for the ship. 10-12 days on board, a day to get back to BA and another day to fly home. Then hopefully a day at home to sleep and catch up on laundry before we return to work. That's almost three weeks, and we can't take more than that until we retire--and we don't want to wait that long as we might work until 67 as we both enjoy what we do.

 

As you have said you already have the money, why is not possible for you to take more than three weeks' leave?

 

When I read comments such as this, I'm reminded how fortunate we are to be living in Australia, where it is common to work to live, not live to work. During my career, I took several lots of a year off with no pay (to have children and to travel). My daughters have followed my lead, by taking leave without pay to follow their passions.

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As you have said you already have the money, why is not possible for you to take more than three weeks' leave?

 

My husband probably could. I'm in sales. No work means no sales means no income. Add to that once you lose a customer to someone else because you aren't there for them when they need you, you don't get them back.

 

When I read comments such as this, I'm reminded how fortunate we are to be living in Australia, where it is common to work to live, not live to work. During my career, I took several lots of a year off with no pay (to have children and to travel). My daughters have followed my lead, by taking leave without pay to follow their passions.

 

That's all well and good, and if I were a typical corporate wage slave I'm sure it would be easier. When you are in sales in a highly competitive field, not being there could have long term implications and mean the loss of tens of thousands of dollars or more.

 

Additionally I have an elderly mother with a serious illness which will likely take her life within the next 2-4 years and three large dogs who don't react well to strangers. There are very limited people who can enter my home to care for them, so that is an issue as well.

 

It's not always so easy as just picking up and leaving, regardless of what country one lives in.

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As you have said you already have the money, why is not possible for you to take more than three weeks' leave?

 

When I read comments such as this, I'm reminded how fortunate we are to be living in Australia, where it is common to work to live, not live to work. During my career, I took several lots of a year off with no pay (to have children and to travel). My daughters have followed my lead, by taking leave without pay to follow their passions.

 

I'm very happy for you, but many people work in places where they just cannot be away for nearly a month at a time. And many others cannot afford to take "several lots of a year off" without pay.

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You should try the Silversea Explorer. We did and it fit the Luxury bill on the service, food and expedition side.

 

A "VIEW" room with a window was quite adequate (same size the Veranda). It is all inclusive. The only adder is the flight from BA to Ushuaia. Food and drink were excellent and staff knew everyone's name by end of day 2.

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I'm very happy for you, but many people work in places where they just cannot be away for nearly a month at a time. And many others cannot afford to take "several lots of a year off" without pay.

 

I only made the comment because ducklite said they already had the money, so money wasn't an issue for them.

 

BTW I had to make sacrifices and save money to be able to take several lots of a year off. I understand that Australians are fortunate, because we receive four weeks' paid leave a year (5 weeks for shift workers). In addition for lengthy service, we receive paid long service leave.

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I only made the comment because ducklite said they already had the money, so money wasn't an issue for them.

 

BTW I had to make sacrifices and save money to be able to take several lots of a year off. I understand that Australians are fortunate, because we receive four weeks' paid leave a year (5 weeks for shift workers). In addition for lengthy service, we receive paid long service leave.

 

Again in sales I highly doubt any of them are taking their time all at once. Even in Australia.

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You should try the Silversea Explorer. We did and it fit the Luxury bill on the service, food and expedition side.

 

A "VIEW" room with a window was quite adequate (same size the Veranda). It is all inclusive. The only adder is the flight from BA to Ushuaia. Food and drink were excellent and staff knew everyone's name by end of day 2.

 

Paul, I've spent part of the afternoon looking a them and they seem to fit the bill perfectly.

 

Do you recall how much the airfare was on the charter?

 

I was surprised playing with it earlier that we can fly AA non-stop from MIA to Buenos Aries in business for only ~$3500 pp r/t. I paid half that in fees and fuel surcharges on my "free" BA flights next year to London. :eek:

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My husband probably could. I'm in sales. No work means no sales means no income. Add to that once you lose a customer to someone else because you aren't there for them when they need you, you don't get them back.

 

That's all well and good, and if I were a typical corporate wage slave I'm sure it would be easier. When you are in sales in a highly competitive field, not being there could have long term implications and mean the loss of tens of thousands of dollars or more.

 

Additionally I have an elderly mother with a serious illness which will likely take her life within the next 2-4 years and three large dogs who don't react well to strangers. There are very limited people who can enter my home to care for them, so that is an issue as well.

 

It's not always so easy as just picking up and leaving, regardless of what country one lives in.

 

I understand that it is difficult to take leave when you work in sales or own a small business yourself. In addition, I understand family commitments.

 

However, because I have to travel long haul to get anywhere overseas, I'd prefer to travel at home, rather than travel overseas, for a rushed visit, which didn't meet my expectations. Some people are happy with shorter holidays and that is fine for them.

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I understand that it is difficult to take leave when you work in sales or own a small business yourself. In addition, I understand family commitments.

 

However, because I have to travel long haul to get anywhere overseas, I'd prefer to travel at home, rather than travel overseas, for a rushed visit, which didn't meet my expectations. Some people are happy with shorter holidays and that is fine for them.

 

What the heck is your problem?

 

I have no reason for a longer visit. I want to spend a few days in Buenoa Aires and then cruise then go home.

 

You make a lot of assumptions, none of which are true.

 

I was specific about the type of cruise I wanted and your only advice was not even close to the type of ship I was looking for and then to try to knock on Americans about what you assumed was our leave--when you had no idea what our situation is. We get as much leave as you do--my husband actually gets seven weeks a year. It's impossible for me to take mine all at once--nor do I want to. I prefer to travel 2-3 times a year rather than once.

 

By the way, I'd stay home if Hurtigruten was the only option. Nasty looking cabins and ship.

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There was absolutely nothing about the LAN Charter we took that could remotely be described as luxury. (Internal charter air was about $600 return in 2012.) Our seats were ordered by surname. I posted a review over in the Lindblad forum and the LAN flights were the only horrid part of the trip.

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There was absolutely nothing about the LAN Charter we took that could remotely be described as luxury. (Internal charter air was about $600 return in 2012.) Our seats were ordered by surname. I posted a review over in the Lindblad forum and the LAN flights were the only horrid part of the trip.

 

My husband and I have different last names. Are you telling me we wouldn't be seated together?

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What the heck is your problem?

 

I have no reason for a longer visit. I want to spend a few days in Buenoa Aires and then cruise then go home.

 

You make a lot of assumptions, none of which are true.

 

I was specific about the type of cruise I wanted and your only advice was not even close to the type of ship I was looking for and then to try to knock on Americans about what you assumed was our leave--when you had no idea what our situation is. We get as much leave as you do--my husband actually gets seven weeks a year. It's impossible for me to take mine all at once--nor do I want to. I prefer to travel 2-3 times a year rather than once.

 

By the way, I'd stay home if Hurtigruten was the only option. Nasty looking cabins and ship.

 

I am sorry you were offended by my comments. Please accept my apologies.

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My husband and I have different last names. Are you telling me we wouldn't be seated together?

 

On our LAN charter, people who were traveling together were seated together. My spouse and I have different last names, and our seats were together. I can't speak to other flights, obviously.

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By the way, I'd stay home if Hurtigruten was the only option. Nasty looking cabins and ship.

 

Then you would miss a great trip.

 

Apologies if my suggestion fell so short but, as Turtles06 observed, ' first rate adventure should not be confused with "luxury" in the way you seem to be using that term ... Antarctica is about the experience, not the food or first class cabins on a charter flight'.

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Then you would miss a great trip.

 

Apologies if my suggestion fell so short but, as Turtles06 observed, ' first rate adventure should not be confused with "luxury" in the way you seem to be using that term ... Antarctica is about the experience, not the food or first class cabins on a charter flight'.

 

Which is why we are strongly looking at SilverSea which will provide the expedition style cruise we seek with the level of comfort we need. I appreciate Turtle's candor in suggesting it. You don't need to travel in what looks like a floating 1970's Holiday Inn to visit Antarctica.

Edited by ducklite

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On our LAN charter, people who were traveling together were seated together. My spouse and I have different last names, and our seats were together. I can't speak to other flights, obviously.

 

Thanks, that makes sense. In many cases you could have four people traveling together all with different last names, and it wouldn't make sense to scatter them about.

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My husband and I have different last names. Are you telling me we wouldn't be seated together?

 

Don't quote me on that. It was likely done by the lead name on the reservation and the party was seated together. What we weren't permitted to do was sit with our newfound friends as our surnames are at opposite ends of the alphabet--even though we had chartered the whole plane.

 

As explained by Turtles, Lindblad certainly took care of us every step of the way but it was by no means at all the traditional definition of luxury. It's airline quality food because it has to be. The ship is perfectly suited to Antarctic ice but that's because it's a purposely modified car ferry.

 

The one time Lindblad had no control, that is the LAN charter, was complete chaos. We were packed in like sardines on the tarmac for a couple hours, at times denied the right to use the bathroom. Under ordinary circumstances I would have given the crew a piece of my mind but the risk of getting thrown off the plane and missing Antarctica couldn't be weighed. Our seats were next to Filipino Lindblad crew and they assured us that the LAN charter was almost always the trip's weakest link.

 

Turtles or Parischris or one of the other regular contributors on the Lindblad forums has mentioned that LAN's "regular" flights aren't that bad. That's entirely possible. This trip to Antarctica was part of a larger piece of business for us in S. America, and the other Latin American airlines we flew (Copa, TAM, Avianca, AeroGal) were of very high standard. On these charter legs, the LAN crew just seemed to know they had no reason to treat us like human beings.

Edited by Shawnino

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Which is why we are strongly looking at SilverSea which will provide the expedition style cruise we seek with the level of comfort we need. I appreciate Turtle's candor in suggesting it. You don't need to travel in what looks like a floating 1970's Holiday Inn to visit Antarctica.

 

That does depend on the type of experience you seek.

 

I have relatives who think they've been to Antarctica because they cruised past it on their balcony. Look. There's Antarctica.

 

I know somebody else because they took an excursion off a (HAL?) ship that saw them stand on Antarctica for over an hour.

 

I spent six days walking around onshore looking at penguins and bouncing around in Zodiacs chasing whales chasing seals. Most nights, once we got back and ate, I was too tired to notice if it was the Holiday Inn or the Ritz. But my room was clean, the bed was freshly made, and the biggest job I had was to back up my photos because tomorrow was a brand new day.

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That does depend on the type of experience you seek.

 

I have relatives who think they've been to Antarctica because they cruised past it on their balcony. Look. There's Antarctica.

 

I know somebody else because they took an excursion off a (HAL?) ship that saw them stand on Antarctica for over an hour.

 

I spent six days walking around onshore looking at penguins and bouncing around in Zodiacs chasing whales chasing seals. Most nights, once we got back and ate, I was too tired to notice if it was the Holiday Inn or the Ritz. But my room was clean, the bed was freshly made, and the biggest job I had was to back up my photos because tomorrow was a brand new day.

 

Maybe you think that SilverSea is a "drive by." It is not. They have a purpose built expedition ship, the Explorer, five days of ice landings and as you put it, "bouncing around in Zodiacs chasing whales chasing seals," a full expedition team including biologists and geologists, lecture staff including an Ornithologist, historian, etc. They offer the same as the other expedition cruises to Antarctica and the Arctic do, only with more creature comforts.

 

Perhaps you don't care about food, it is important to us, as are comfortable surroundings. To each their own, but to criticize my choice when you don't even have a clue of the type of cruise they offer is just lame.

Edited by ducklite

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I'm also joining this thread to read through your experiences. We are looking at doing Antarctica in 2016. It is overwhelming digging through everything. I know we (DH & I) want to cross below the Antarctic Circle and travel probably Jan or Feb (to see the penguins).

 

I have looked at various lines; National Geographic, Quark Expeditions and Hurtigruten. I don't need a luxury cruise line, just something safe and will allow us a lot of time to go ashore. That is the most important thing. I don't care about eating fancy dinners each night, but I don't want just a hot dog. I don't care about nightly entertainment. I hope to spend each night exhausted and ready to go to sleep after looking through my pictures from the day.

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I'm also joining this thread to read through your experiences. We are looking at doing Antarctica in 2016. It is overwhelming digging through everything. I know we (DH & I) want to cross below the Antarctic Circle and travel probably Jan or Feb (to see the penguins).

 

 

May I suggest that you not put too much emphasis on that goal, as nothing can be promised when it comes to travel around Antarctica. Even when a travel company includes crossing the Circle in the hoped-for itinerary, conditions (ice, wind, storms, etc.) may prevent this. Indeed, the uncertainties of weather, etc. are a big reason why Antarctic expeditions have no fixed itineraries. (So even if you find a company that meets your criteria, please keep in mind that you still may not cross the Circle.)

 

We visited in late Jan/early Feb 2013, and that year it was a time of great activity in the penguin rookeries, as the hatched chicks were running around and being fed by their parents. But you'd see penguins earlier in the season as well, just in different stages of their life cycle.

 

Have fun planning, it's quite exciting. :)

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