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Big ship "Antarctic Experience." What exactly does this mean?


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Holland America has an interesting 22day South Am cruise from Santiago to BA. They spend about 4 days on what they call Antarctic Experience. It appears that these are  scenic sea days only. IDK. Can you get off thee ship? Do they have zodiac trips to get closer? From a big ship, penguins and such will be a speck on the horizon , wont they?

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I have not done a large ship Antarctica trip so I am criticizing from a lack of personal knowledge but I have done several smaller adventure Antarctica trip.  Personally I can't imagine that doing the big ship Antarctica trip would be a positive experience.  You don't get off the ship.  You don't do zodiac trips; can you imagine loading 2000 passengers into 8 passenger zodiacs.  All you do is to stand on the decks and wave at the penguins as you sail by.

 

One of the great experiences on a land based Antarctica trip is standing in the middle of a colony with thousands of penguins absorbing the sight, listing to the sounds of the penguins and especially experiencing the smells.  You get none of that on a HAL Antarctica Experience.  To me, calling it an Antarctica experience is false advertising.

 

Just my opinion.

 

DON

 

 

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donaldsc - We did a South America trip in February 2020.  In several of the ports we did tours that brought us to fabulous penguin spots.  So a drive-by Antarctica cruise would give several penguin opportunities.  I agree that I will not give an opportunity for boot-on-the-ground.

 

easteregg7 - We have been trying, and are still trying to do an Antarctica cruise with actual landings.  We are now rescheduled for January 2022.  If you are planning on at least a window cabin check out Hurtigruten.  Check pricing on the 12 night on the norwegian site (www.hurtigruten.no) and do the currency exchange to get the equivalent in USD.  Then call the USA office and ask them to match the pricing.

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For anyone considering an Antarctica crise after 2021, be sure to read the Polar Code thread on this ports board regarding new regulations.

If fully implemented, many ships that now cruise in the region will not be able to meet the requirements.

 

Edited by sippican
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  • 3 weeks later...

We did the HAL (Zaandam) cruise that you describe, from Santiago (San Antonio) to BA this past January. We really loved it and found Antarctica to be a magical place.  We did have close up penguin encounters in Puerto Arenas (Magdalena Island) and in Stanley, FI.   Both of those were wonderful but I really loved the scenery in Antarctica. We also saw a lot of whale activity.  I knew I wanted to go back.  

We are now booked on a 24 day Seabourn Cruise in February 2022. It also starts in San Antonio and ends in BA but includes South Georgia.

The Quest is a bigger ship (450) than a lot of the cruises with daily landings so only one landing per day, but that is fine with us.  The gearing up and down takes a lot of time and I would rather be enjoying the environment.

That said, there is a lot of discussion on whether the drive by cruises will be allowed to go below 60 degrees, after December 2021 due to the Polar Code.

Edited by ColonyGirl2
typo
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  • 5 weeks later...
On 11/12/2020 at 4:08 PM, donaldsc said:

You don't do zodiac trips; can you imagine loading 2000 passengers into 8 passenger zodiacs. 

It's not just "don't" but rather "can't." The treaty doesn't allow ships over (IIRC) 500 pax to disembark ANY. Period

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On 11/12/2020 at 8:31 PM, Heartfelttraveler said:

donaldsc - We did a South America trip in February 2020.  In several of the ports we did tours that brought us to fabulous penguin spots.  So a drive-by Antarctica cruise would give several penguin opportunities.  I agree that I will not give an opportunity for boot-on-the-ground.

 

easteregg7 - We have been trying, and are still trying to do an Antarctica cruise with actual landings.  We are now rescheduled for January 2022.  If you are planning on at least a window cabin check out Hurtigruten.  Check pricing on the 12 night on the norwegian site (www.hurtigruten.no) and do the currency exchange to get the equivalent in USD.  Then call the USA office and ask them to match the pricing.

We did Hurtigruten to Antarctica and loved it. 400 pax IIRC on the Midnatsol And the food was SUPERB.

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2 hours ago, clo said:

We did Hurtigruten to Antarctica and loved it. 400 pax IIRC on the Midnatsol And the food was SUPERB.

 

We did it on the Nordkapp maybe 10 or 12 years ago.  They combined Antarctica w the Chilean Fjords.  One of the best cruises we have ever taken.   I did a trip that covered the Falklands and S. Georgia Islands about 2 years ago on Quark.  We had 6 days on S. Georgia and 3 days on the Falklands.  You should try to book one of those trips if you get a chance.  Most of the S. Georgia trips also do Antarctica so you only get a few days on S. Georgia.  You haven't lived until you have been on a beach w 300,000 to 400,000 nesting pairs of penguins.

 

DON

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)
On 1/3/2021 at 11:28 PM, donaldsc said:

You haven't lived until you have been on a beach w 300,000 to 400,000 nesting pairs of penguins.

 

I'm sure it's an amazing experience seeing that many, but like a few other posters indicated, the drive-by does include some nice opportunities to see penguins such as at Bluff Cove in Port Stanley and also - as was already mentioned - Puerto Madryn. What worked well for us is that we had never been to South America prior to the Celebrity drive-by, and so spent some extra time at Buenos Aires.

 

As to not "having lived" till you've seen all those penguins, I might say that you haven't really lived until you've been hoisted off the top deck of a cruise ship by helicopter winch during a bomb cyclone where the ship was potentially only 20 minutes away from crashing against a rocky coastline! 

 

In all seriousness, some of the Hurtigruten and Quark itineraries look fantastic, but we just felt it was not the best 'fit' for us, and so decided on the far more sedate drive-by. I'm happy also that we had Drake Lake both times during the crossing. I put off going down there for years for worrying about how bad the travel conditions could be in the southern ocean, never having dreamed that we'd encounter far worse conditions off the coast of Norway just 2 years later. 

Edited by OnTheJourney
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We are signed 34-days LA - BA with 4-day sail-by of Antarctica in Dec 2021 - Jan 2022 on Diamond Princess. I agree would love to actually land. But; no way it is within my budget. I can go $100 - $125 / day; but $1000/day is WAY out of my reach. Reality intrudes. 

 

Still, of folk I have spoken to who did this trip, was pretty much 100% 'trip of a lifetime' raves. The naked beauty of the place calls, and with the discussed changes it may not be available again for one of my means. So after a year hiding out for a year, I must pray for a reopened World. 

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On 3/5/2021 at 4:32 AM, generichandle said:

I can go $100 - $125 / day; but $1000/day is WAY out of my reach.

Why not just go for fewer days?

 

Also, there are plenty of trips that are under $1K/day. Especially if you’re willing to consider the larger 200-400 pax ships with shorter and less frequent landings.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We were on the same cruise as ColonyGirl and really enjoyed it.  Antarctica is unlike any place I have ever seen.  The "experience" was enough for us, as we were able to "walk with penguins"in the Falkland Islands.  We also enjoyed all of the other port stops and had some fun-filled private tours.  We chose a longer cruise that included visiting Antarctica.  Other people just want to visit Antarctica.  To each their own.

 

Either way, I would advise a side trip, on your own, to Iguazu Falls, a very beautiful place.

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On 12/4/2020 at 3:28 PM, ColonyGirl2 said:

We did the HAL (Zaandam) cruise that you describe, from Santiago (San Antonio) to BA this past January. We really loved it and found Antarctica to be a magical place.  We did have close up penguin encounters in Puerto Arenas (Magdalena Island) and in Stanley, FI.   Both of those were wonderful but I really loved the scenery in Antarctica. We also saw a lot of whale activity.  I knew I wanted to go back.  

We are now booked on a 24 day Seabourn Cruise in February 2022. It also starts in San Antonio and ends in BA but includes South Georgia.

The Quest is a bigger ship (450) than a lot of the cruises with daily landings so only one landing per day, but that is fine with us.  The gearing up and down takes a lot of time and I would rather be enjoying the environment.

That said, there is a lot of discussion on whether the drive by cruises will be allowed to go below 60 degrees, after December 2021 due to the Polar Code.

 

If the ship really has 450 passengers, remember that they are allowed to put only 100 passengers at a time on the continent.  This will significantly limit your land time as they will have to break up the passengers into groups of 100 people for landing purposes. Current regulations are -

 

"Only one ship may visit a site at any one time. Vessels with more than 500 passengers shall not make landings in Antarctica. A maximum of 100 passengers may be ashore from a vessel at any one time, unless site specific advice requires fewer passengers."

 

DON

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Posted (edited)

We went with Seabourn on the Quest when they first started sailing to Antarctica

This groups of 100 ashore is a bit misleading. What Seabourn do is have Zodiacs continually running from the ship to the shore bringing people backwards and forwards. So at any one time there wouldnt be more than 100 ashore at any one time. People just kinda came back, 1 hour? when they were ready I dont remember hearing of anybody complaining They dont take 100 ashore in a group. Then another group of 100. The Zodiac ride was the coldest part due to the wind chill of the whole cruise

Also when we went Seabourn didnt load the ship to the so it was full, maybe a 100 or so less but that might have changed.

Still the bestest cruise we have done and would love to do it again. The only thing putting me off is that if the weather wasnt as perfect as our cruise I might be upset. At the moment we have very fond memories  and dont want those ruined by having bad weather

Edited by Thecat123
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We were on Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen last year, with around 400 passengers. It was highly organised, with polarcirkels (like Zodiacs) constantly going backwards and forwards, overlapping so there were never more than 100 ashore at a time. This gave us up to 2 hours ashore depending on what else was planned for the day. There were also non landing rides, with no maximum number off the ship at any one time.

 

Adding in the time spent standing in line to leave the ship, leave the shore and that spent in the polarcirkel shuttling back and forth, meant the total length needed for the excursion was considerably more than just the time on land.

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  • 2 months later...
36 minutes ago, Ofmyheart said:

Which side of the ship is better?  Trying to choose cabin, thx in advance

 

Makes no difference.

 

DON

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If the ship is leaving from Ushuaia, then no difference. If it is leaving from Santiago (San Antonio) then you want port side for the Chilean fjords.

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On 6/3/2021 at 11:25 PM, Ofmyheart said:

Which side of the ship is better?

Outside

 

 

Seriously. Aside from eating and sleeping, I've spent the vast majority of my time out on deck.

 

When crossing the Drake, petrels and albatross tend to follow the ship, so I've spent a lot of time on the aft decks getting up close looks at the seabirds. Not sure what the experience would be like on a huge ship, but maybe an aft balcony would give some sea-day birdwatching opportunities? Assuming, of course, that you don't have to deal with especially rough seas.

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On 6/9/2021 at 10:35 AM, kaisatsu said:

Not sure what the experience would be like on a huge ship

We were on the Celebrity Infinity and had a veranda room - really nice to be able to go in and out of the room to get warm; however, I found myself going out on deck alot of time - to get the view from both sides of the ship. Only thing with being out there is that, of course, the decks and railings were really crowded most of the time - so then a retreat back to our private balcony was nice. 

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On 6/9/2021 at 10:35 AM, kaisatsu said:

When crossing the Drake, petrels and albatross tend to follow the ship,

Absolutely!  That was so much fun seeing them. Our onboard ranger used to come into the dining room and announce what sort of birds, etc. were near the ship. I loved that trip, especially having had such calm crossing of the Drake...BOTH ways. 

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I want to add a question to this. We are thinking of a Antarctic Cruise in 2023 or 2024. We can't afford the $10,000 + cruises but could do something in the $4,000-$5,000 range. What would be companies to look at, and do you think the new Polar Code will allow less expensive cruises.

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