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Antarctica cruise question

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We are looking at doing one of the 20 or 22 day cruises that go to Antarctica, probably in 2021. The itinerary shows 4 days called Antarctic Experience. Can anyone tell me what happens on those four days? We definitely can’t afford to add the $3499 excursion I saw that actually puts you on the continent. Just wondering how close you get and what goes on during those four days.

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You get close enough to smell the penguins!

 

You sail across the Drake Passage, then wherever the ship can go along, around, and through the peninsula and islands. There is a plan of where the ship will cruise on a given day, but sometimes they have to change plans due to weather. In any case, you will cruise by various outposts from several countries. The scenery is unlike any other place I have ever been (Alaska, Norway, Svalbard, and various other exotic, extreme climates). The air is so fresh that it 'tastes good' to breathe it.


There should be several Antarctica experts aboard, who will lecture, be out on deck answering questions, give scenic cruising commentary---things like that. You will be sorry when you have to go in to eat or sleep, because you know you are missing something.

The flight to land on the continent is as likely as not to be canceled, so don't worry about not planning to go. No plan means no disappointment.

You will LOVE your time there. It is an experience not to be missed, if you have the opportunity to go.

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Yes, you will spent 4 days in the ice, you'll see icebergs right in your face, lots of penguins, whales right next to ship, Palmer station scientists will come on board and you get to see Cape Hoorn, there will be an ice pilot on board; now Drake passage can be nice or nasty....

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You will see A LOT.  No, you won't actually set foot on Antarctica.  I don't really recommend that expensive excursion as it often gets cancelled due to weather enroute and then will be an expensive disappointment.  If actually setting foot on Antarctica you would almost certainly be better off to bite the bullet right away and book an expedition ship where you WILL set foot on the continent (or if all else fails a nearby island; kind of like landing in Manhattan instead of the continent itself)  Here's a link to the appropriate pages from my Grand South America this year.  each blue link will lead to a photo.  4 or more separate posts as we had 4 days there as well.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2612773-around-the-horn-in-80-days/page/13/

 

Roy

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, School library lady said:

We are looking at doing one of the 20 or 22 day cruises that go to Antarctica, probably in 2021. The itinerary shows 4 days called Antarctic Experience. Can anyone tell me what happens on those four days? We definitely can’t afford to add the $3499 excursion I saw that actually puts you on the continent. Just wondering how close you get and what goes on during those four days.

 

We got pretty close sometimes last December

 

IMG_8974%201_zpsyu8nlirb.jpg

 

The 22 day goes to Puerto Madryn where use can get close to penguins and chicks and Guanaco while the 20 day doesn't

 

IMG_7388_zpsczl1d8i9.jpg

 

IMG_7451_zpscuveq4vp.jpg

 

You can see a lot more photos and videos here :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by scubacruiserx2

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I second everything that has been said!  Cruising Antarctica is an unworldly, unbelievable experience!!  We had 2 picture perfect days and are booked to return for the Westerdam Solar Eclipse/Antarctica 22 day cruise in Nov. 2020...can't wait!

Karen 

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We did Antarctica in 2007 on the Prinsendam and then again this past January on the Seabourn Quest where we had zodiac landings on six days.  We chose Seabourn this time as we wanted to try the zodiac landings. 

 

When it was over, DH and I discussed the two experiences and each has pros and cons.  Not sure which way was best. On both trips we had excursion folks on board who shared lots of information.  Both trips were spectacular in their own way. 

 

On the Prinsendam we had non-stop scenery - absolutely breath taking - penguins right up close and next to the ship on bergie bits and swimming in the water.  Non-stop views.  It was difficult to even take a break for meals.  Absolutely spectacular. And, as mentioned earlier we also had the Palmer Station folks visit. 

 

On Seabourn we had a lot of the breath taking scenery, including some incredible moments such as floating in the Lemaire Channel at sunset ... but during the day, due to the landings, the ship was anchored off shore of some bit of land that was full of penguins and easy to walk on but not necessarily spectacular to look at.  Everyone had a chance to go ashore (about an hour or so each day) and the rest of the time you were on board looking at the often gravel covered beach. While on shore there were penguins and birds galore and we were really up close and personal with them. So ... less scenery, more penguins. And, of course, the whole dressing in many layers to go ashore ritual, and the daily required briefings.  Each stop seemed to have a different species of penguin.

 

Not sure which way is best - but you can’t go wrong doing it either way as Antarctica is incredible. Incredible enough for us to repeat the experience. 

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Thank you for asking this question and for the detailed responses.  It is very much appreciated.

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Book a cruise to Antarctica as soon as you can, as in late 2021, none of the current ships from any line will be allowed south of 60* south (about 80 miles north of the northernmost point of the peninsula).  Very few new cruise ships will be Polar Classed, so these cruises will get very expensive.

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2 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

Book a cruise to Antarctica as soon as you can, as in late 2021, none of the current ships from any line will be allowed south of 60* south (about 80 miles north of the northernmost point of the peninsula).  Very few new cruise ships will be Polar Classed, so these cruises will get very expensive.

 

Thank you for that information, Chief.  I was unable to locate whose certifications were expiring when.  I am guessing that Greenland is also out in late 2021.  Sad to say that I probably won’t be able to check that off my bucket list in time.

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1 hour ago, *Miss G* said:

 

Thank you for that information, Chief.  I was unable to locate whose certifications were expiring when.  I am guessing that Greenland is also out in late 2021.  Sad to say that I probably won’t be able to check that off my bucket list in time.

I believe there is a thread here on the HAL board "New Polar Class", and SeaDog46 has some ships listed.  They expire at the next scheduled drydocking.  Yes, Greenland is in the "Arctic waters", but Iceland and all of Norway are not.  Northwest passage cruises will also be affected.

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23 hours ago, RuthC said:

You get close enough to smell the penguins!

 

You sail across the Drake Passage, then wherever the ship can go along, around, and through the peninsula and islands. There is a plan of where the ship will cruise on a given day, but sometimes they have to change plans due to weather. In any case, you will cruise by various outposts from several countries. The scenery is unlike any other place I have ever been (Alaska, Norway, Svalbard, and various other exotic, extreme climates). The air is so fresh that it 'tastes good' to breathe it.


There should be several Antarctica experts aboard, who will lecture, be out on deck answering questions, give scenic cruising commentary---things like that. You will be sorry when you have to go in to eat or sleep, because you know you are missing something.

The flight to land on the continent is as likely as not to be canceled, so don't worry about not planning to go. No plan means no disappointment.

You will LOVE your time there. It is an experience not to be missed, if you have the opportunity to go.

 

You even get to sail past Elephant Island, where a fellow passenger once asked: "I can't see the elephants, where are they?" to which my dear Ruth sang (almost under her breath): "that's the place the Teddy Bears have their picnic."  LOL

 

I'll never forget that.  It was the best come-back I've ever heard!

One of my favorite memories ... ever.

 

Mine ("They're sliding down the other side on their trunks") was weak by comparison.

 

 

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Such a cruise is an unforgettable experience with scenery and wildlife with commentary from the on-board experts that makes what one sees more significant and appreciated.  Each day's itinerary is based upon the ice conditions in consultation with the ship's Master.  We lost one-half day of our experience because a very severe storm was transiting Drake Passage at the time we were to be doing so as well.  Captain Norman placed the Zaandam in a "race track pattern" in the lee of some islands just North of Cape Horn.  Never felt a thing from the storm, but exiting that area once the storm had passed, we were off Cape Horn and for a few hours to our West, the sky was very black/stormy and the seas made us aware that we were not at a  land-based resort, but not for long.

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The "Antarctic Experience" is amazing even though you do not get to step foot on the continent.  You get to cruise past huge icebergs and floating pieces of ice as well as seeing lots of wildlife.  

 

I was glad I did not spend the $3500 for the landing because, as is true over 50% of the time, it was cancelled.  If the Antarctic excursion does not go, you automatically go on a plane ride to Torres del Paine National Forest (2019 cost $2000) and have the other $1500 credited back to you.

 

I have a number of pictures on my blog.  The link goes to the first page of the "Experience" and then you can go on to the next 3 days.

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My only contribution to this thread would be that if you can afford the cost and are mobile you should consider one of the cruise lines that will take you onto the continent.  Looking at places from a ship is a completely different experience then being on land....up close and personal.  There are several other cruise lines such as Seabourn, Ponent, Hurtigruten, etc. that will land you on Antarctica with Zodiacs.  These lines also have special staff (often Marine Biologists) who will be with the groups to give professional explanations and ensure that all goes well.

 

The new International agreement on Antarctica will soon prohibit larger cruise ships (including those of HAL) from going to Antarctica.  The ships will need to meet new safety standards (such as having hulls designed for ice) and will generally be quite small.  Seabourn is actually building two new ships that meet these standards (264 passengers) that will even carry their own submarines for those willing to pay for that expensive excursion.  These ships will meet the new PC6 Polar Standards required by the treaty.

 

Hank

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9 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

I believe there is a thread here on the HAL board "New Polar Class", and SeaDog46 has some ships listed.  They expire at the next scheduled drydocking.  Yes, Greenland is in the "Arctic waters", but Iceland and all of Norway are not.  Northwest passage cruises will also be affected.

Will we still be able to visit Greenland in summer  2021? And will Ny Alesund also be off limits due to the new rules.

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3 hours ago, Storylady said:

Will we still be able to visit Greenland in summer  2021? And will Ny Alesund also be off limits due to the new rules.

That depends on which ships are sailing there.  The regulations took effect last year, but ships have been grandfathered in until they reach their next statutory dry docking after the regulations went into effect.  I'm not sure which ships lose their certification when.  Svalbad island is within the Polar region, so it will be limited to Polar Class vessels.

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11 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

That depends on which ships are sailing there.  The regulations took effect last year, but ships have been grandfathered in until they reach their next statutory dry docking after the regulations went into effect.  I'm not sure which ships lose their certification when.  Svalbad island is within the Polar region, so it will be limited to Polar Class vessels.

Thanks for the information. Fortunately, we have been to Greenland and also Ny Alesund, but we had thought about revisiting someday. Sounds like someday had arrived too quickly!

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46 minutes ago, Storylady said:

Thanks for the information. Fortunately, we have been to Greenland and also Ny Alesund, but we had thought about revisiting someday. Sounds like someday had arrived too quickly!

Oh, new ships are being built to Polar Class, and who knows how many will eventually be built, but they will tend to be smaller, expedition type ships where the line can justify the expense of the Polar Class requirements, where other lines that only do one or two a year couldn't.

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Posted (edited)

I am curious if there is a preferred direction on this route, or any of the other SA itineraries that travel Argentina-Chile route. 

 

Good to know that the new new laws will go into effect late 2021. We have been contemplating whether to take the traditional SA routing or adding on the Antarctica piece, and whether to do Antarctica on HAL or expedition. This does make for a greater sense of urgency in the decision, so I appreciate the information 

 

in just looking at 2021 itineraries I noticed that the Westerdam vs Veendam will be sailing the route, and only in Nov/Dec will the 22 day sail. I would much prefer the smaller Veendam. 

Edited by Vineyard View

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, Vineyard View said:

I am curious if there is a preferred direction on this route, or any of the other SA itineraries that travel Argentina-Chile route. 

 I asked that question a while ago and will have to find the link to the discussion but the overwhelming response was to transit from Santiago to Buenos Aires.  

 

I found the old post:

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2664695-hal-antarctic-experience-which-direction/

Edited by I like vacation
add info

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Thank you I Like Vacation. That link is very helpful! 

 

We are already booked up for 2020. I guess we would need to decide if we want to experience Antarctica on the Westerdam size. That is a significant difference from the  Veendam. On the other hand there are Balcony cabins rather than jumping to a suite for your own outdoor space.  Not sure how much that would matter in Antarctica. 

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