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Heritage Expeditions : Cruise to Snares, Stewart Isl, Fiordland 6 Jan 2021


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Seems like the  CC review system is broken - so I'll post my review here. This was an 8 day cruise in and out of Bluff (the port of Invercargill) 6-13 Jan 2021 

 

As the rest  of the world is in lockdown Heritage has permission to operate normally for local NZ cruises.  So  all 48 passengers were NZers (or residents) - plus the 22 Russian crew.  

With only 50 passengers we all fitted on one bus which departed from Ascot Park hotel in invercargill. For convenience we stayed the previous night - and they allowed us to leave all luggage  in a designated room. The advice re soft-sided luggage is good worth heading - the cabins are small. 

The bus takes you direct to the ship in Bluff  - its a commercial wharf - you can't just walk up.  The lifeboat drill is for real - you don't just have to put your life jackets on - you have to get in the life boat too! 

The food was pretty good all week - buffet breakfast and 3 course lunch and dinner, with meat/fish/vegetarian choices. Special diets are catered for. Alcohol  are normal bar prices. 

Its a small ship - there is a lecture theater, a bar/library and the dining room - that's it.  They have drying facilities for wet clothes - we were lucky to  have an incredible run of good weather. 

Twice a day you need to get into the zodiacs - this was done professionally and with a lot of skill by the staff - but if you think you are going to freak out stepping from one moving boat to another don't book! The ship rolls a lot - so you will certainly know if you get sea sick or not. I get badly ill normally but found the patches saved my cruise - and was pleasantly surprised. 

Fortunately most of  the open ocean stuff happens at night which is lucky because you do have to have a hand hold all the time. 

The ship is entirely open -you are allowed on the bridge and the front of the ship and most times. 

Our tour of Stewart Isl, Snares, Fiordland only came into phone range on Stewart Island - otherwise we were totally off gird. - no TV no news updates. Strange to be so far away! 

The lecturers - most of whom were also skilled zodiac drivers were true experts in their fields (geology, birds, conservation ) - and the whole  group seems to have alot of skilled scientists and technical people. It's not your usual cruise crowd at all. 

You fitness goals will be achieved by climbing in and out of zodiacs and taking the option of longer walks (there were shorter walks available too). At one point some brave people swam  off the ship - the gangway can be rigged with a swimming ladder and they put a zodiac out for safety purposes. 

There is a medical dr on board - consolations are free  - you only pay for consumables. The only additional charge activity was a helicopter ride from Doubtful Sound 

No social distancing - no masks - lots of hugs and kisses all around on disembarkation. 

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Edited by lissie
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Just now, Aus Traveller said:

Thanks for your review. It sounds like you really enjoyed the cruise.🙂

It was a bit of a contrast too Cunard!  I feel like I need a holiday to recover from the jetlag effect of not leaving my timezone - but  being up and out with penguins at 5:30am!  

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It is quite a different cruise compared with Cunard or the other cruise lines. I went on a Quark expedition to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia. I can see some similarities to your cruise - the Bridge open all the time, rather utilitarian rooms, getting in and out of zodiacs and swimming on freezing waters (not me!).

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Thanks for your review. When I saw your post on the other topic, I thought something must have happened & you didn't go on the cruise. I didn't realise you been there & back.

 

Not sure it would be something that DW & I would do, but looks interesting & it's good you enjoyed it. And I guess it's a start for cruising in this region 🙂

 

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Thanks for the review, I have been reading up on the cruise line anf it does seem they have some interesting itineraries👍 As someone who loves expedition cruises that is my type cruise 😁

Edited by ilikeanswers
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Thanks Lissie.  Glad you seemed to not suffer too much from sea sickness.  It looks like an entirely different experience from normal cruising.  Much more intimate.  Very spartan - but that was expected.  Loved the photo of penguins.  I think I would be a bit worried about the zodiacs.  Think I would prefer something with a backrest, always worried I would fall off backwards!!

 

Well you do seem to be more organised in NZ with cruises.  I was reading about some more this morning from Bluff.  Lucky girl.

 

Once again thanks for a good review.

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5 hours ago, Kiwi Kruzer said:

Welcome back Lissie and thanks for the review. Sounds like a fabulous cruise .Did you end up speaking any Russian ? 😀

Not really - the officers spoke perfect English. At one stage the captian drove our zodiac in Doubtful Sound - he was absolutely delightful - first time he'd had a chance to go onland - he kept on taking us into smaller and smaller inlets - and didn't want to go back to the ship - it was hilarious! 

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4 hours ago, Ondine said:

Thanks Lissie.  Glad you seemed to not suffer too much from sea sickness.  It looks like an entirely different experience from normal cruising.  Much more intimate.  Very spartan - but that was expected.  Loved the photo of penguins.  I think I would be a bit worried about the zodiacs.  Think I would prefer something with a backrest, always worried I would fall off backwards!!

 

Well you do seem to be more organised in NZ with cruises.  I was reading about some more this morning from Bluff.  Lucky girl.

 

Once again thanks for a good review.

Ponant has now been approved to sail similar itineraries.  I don't know if they use zodiacs - the zodiacs are critical - they allow you to actually get close. We had 5  zodiacs so everyone could go out at one time. 

The zodaics were quite comfortable - you don't fall backwards and you can hold onto the topes around the outside for when they open up the throttle! 

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13 hours ago, lissie said:

Not really - the officers spoke perfect English. At one stage the captian drove our zodiac in Doubtful Sound - he was absolutely delightful - first time he'd had a chance to go onland - he kept on taking us into smaller and smaller inlets - and didn't want to go back to the ship - it was hilarious! 

That would have been wonderful. A small boat trip to Doubtful Sound has been on my bucket list for years but probably won't be something I'll ever get to do now. At least I've been able to get some sense of its pristine beauty from cruising through there but, of course, that only goes through a small part of that sound.

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Thanks for reporting back to us about your cruise.

The interior photos were interesting to see how big the cabin and public rooms were but the photo of the penguins was just delightful.

Glad that you had a great time and experienced no seasickness. I remember you were worried about this before the cruise.

Lissie are the patches available over the counter in New Zealand? I'm interested to know as I too suffer from seasickness and my favourite seasick tablet is no longer available.

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16 hours ago, sewgood said:

Thanks for reporting back to us about your cruise.

The interior photos were interesting to see how big the cabin and public rooms were but the photo of the penguins was just delightful.

Glad that you had a great time and experienced no seasickness. I remember you were worried about this before the cruise.

Lissie are the patches available over the counter in New Zealand? I'm interested to know as I too suffer from seasickness and my favourite seasick tablet is no longer available.

 

The penguins were a definite highlight!  Worth getting up at 5:30am and jumping in a zodiac for  and I don't say that lightly! 

 

The patches are available over the counter (or even online) - I used these ones https://www.chemistwarehouse.co.nz/buy/97349/scopoderm-motion-sickness-1-5mg-2-patches - the Dr on board was handing them out too - but work best if you put one on a few hours before you need it. They last 3 days and stayed on through showering.  I did still throw up a couple of times - but that's a minor inconvenience - the patches remove the hours of nausea which normally precedes that bit!  My only side effect was a dry mouth - if  Iused them again I'd take some barley sugars or similar with me to counteract that. I didn't get sleepy which is a big plus over the Sea Legs type drugs. 

 

I just put a picture book together https://www.mixbook.com/photo-books/interests/2021-spirit-of-enderby-24394225?vk=1Cv46LmaOYdPKBD92PH8 

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18 minutes ago, lissie said:

 

 

 

The patches are available over the counter (or even online) - I used these ones https://www.chemistwarehouse.co.nz/buy/97349/scopoderm-motion-sickness-1-5mg-2-patches -  I didn't get sleepy which is a big plus over the Sea Legs type drugs. 

 

I just put a picture book together https://www.mixbook.com/photo-books/interests/2021-spirit-of-enderby-24394225?vk=1Cv46LmaOYdPKBD92PH8 

Thanks Lissie for the links and your personal account of using the patches.

I usually get a dry mouth from seasick tablets anyway so no problem there and great that you didn't get tired from them.

Loved your mixbook photos, woo whoo more penguin shots and a terrific one of the seal. You really did get close up and personal with the flora and fauna.

Looks like a wonderful cruise!

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1 hour ago, lissie said:


Many thanks for the great pictures .What an adventure ,

The penguins tracking up the rock face is awesome .Do the penguins nest in the bush ?

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31 minutes ago, Kiwi Kruzer said:


Many thanks for the great pictures .What an adventure ,

The penguins tracking up the rock face is awesome .Do the penguins nest in the bush ?

Yes they actually next in a clearing right at the top of the rock face! Its like 300m pretyt much straight up!  No pics of the actual nesting site as no one except researchers are actually allowed to land on the Snares. 

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