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What to see in Falkland Islands/South Georgia besides king penguins?


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We're planning to book a cruise to Antarctica in 2023. We've narrowed it down to two possible cruises, but having a difficult time making the final decision.

 

We're considering the following two:

 

21-day Hapag-Lloyd Hanseatic Inspiration cruise that includes Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Antarctic Peninsula, and Antarctic Circle.

 

13-day Viking Octantis or Polaris cruise that includes just Antarctic Peninsula.

 

This will probably be our one and only cruise to Antarctica, so the Hapag-Lloyd cruise that includes everything would be preferable, but it would add $20K (for two) and an extra week off from work to the Viking one.

 

I know Falkland Islands and South Georgia are highly recommended, and I would LOVE to see the king penguins, but I'm not quite sure if it's worth the extra expense and time to see one (or two?) beach full of king penguins.

 

Are there any other must see things in Falkland Islands and South Georgia?

 

I'm also feeling a bit nervous about Hapag-Lloyd, as I know very little about them.

 

Any advice would be appreciated!
Thank you

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How many days each do you spend on the Falklands, S Georgia and Antarctica and how many of your 21 days are sea days.  That would affect my answer to your question.  I have been to all 3 places but not on one cruise.

 

DON

Edited by donaldsc
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There may be still be a tour in Stanley that visits the battle sites from the Falklands War, and there is a stature of Margaret Thatcher right on the main road.  The tour was led by a Falklands resident who was injured during that war, and I enjoyed that tour very much.  I also enjoyed the Normandy Beach Landing tour when I was docked at Le Havre, and the same for the battle tours in Okinawa, Saipan, Manila, Da Nang, El Alamein, Granada, Singapore, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and others.  If you like history more than penguins, you might enjoy the Falklands Battle tour it if is still offered..

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1 hour ago, donaldsc said:

How many days each do you spend on the Falklands, S Georgia and Antarctica and how many of your 21 days are sea days.  That would affect my answer to your question.  I have been to all 3 places but not on one cruise.

 

DON

 

I should have also added the question - what places do you visit in the Falklands - just port Stanley or also the outer islands.  The best wildlife is on the outer islands.

 

DON

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3 hours ago, donaldsc said:

How many days each do you spend on the Falklands, S Georgia and Antarctica and how many of your 21 days are sea days.  That would affect my answer to your question.  I have been to all 3 places but not on one cruise.

 

DON

 

It'll be just one day in Stanley, 2 days in South Georgia, 9 days in Antarctica, and 6 sea days.

 

The itinerary shows "at anchor" for Stanley and South Georgia, so it's possible that we'd just have zodiac rides to the landing sites of their choice...?

 

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10 minutes ago, crunchii said:

 

It'll be just one day in Stanley, 2 days in South Georgia, 9 days in Antarctica, and 6 sea days.

 

The itinerary shows "at anchor" for Stanley and South Georgia, so it's possible that we'd just have zodiac rides to the landing sites of their choice...?

 

I can't imagine using a zodiac to get ashore in Port Stanley if the cruise line wants its passengers to have a reasonable chance of living though the experience. I assume they use the ship's tenders .

When we were there the seas were too rough and the port call was cancelled...something that happens fairly often as I understand it.

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1 hour ago, crunchii said:

 

It'll be just one day in Stanley, 2 days in South Georgia, 9 days in Antarctica, and 6 sea days.

 

The itinerary shows "at anchor" for Stanley and South Georgia, so it's possible that we'd just have zodiac rides to the landing sites of their choice...?

 

 

I assume that if you do the Antarctica cruise of 13 days, you spend maybe 8 days in Antarctica.  If that is true, although I love the Falklands and S. Georgia, you don't get enough time in those places so I would recommend the Viking cruise.  When I did my solo visit to the Falklands / S. Georgia cruise w/o my wife, we spent 3 days in the Falklands including 2 on the outer islands where all the interesting wildlife stuff is.  Port Stanley is cute but the outer islands are much more spectacular. 

 

We also spent I think 8 or 10 days in S. Georgia.  Just spending 2 days on S. Georgia just isn't worth it considering the number of sea days it adds to the voyage.  Look at the map.  If you do just Antarctica, you head due south directly to Antarctica.  If you do the 3 stop option, you head east from Ushuaia to the Falklands, further east from the Falklands to S. Georgia and finally southwest from S. Georgia to Antarctica.  This probably doubles the number of sea days that you have.  It just doesn't make sense.

 

I agree w NJHorseman that you probably use the tenders for Port Stanley.   We used the tenders on my recent cruise w my wife where we had a 1 day Falklands stop to just Port Stanley.  We did get in although the seas were marginal but they got everyone back to the ship early which cut our penguin tour short because the weather turned bad.  It was interesting getting on and off the tenders returning to the ship.  The captain said that he almost had to leave us on shore and take the ship out - a scenario that has actually happened on some cruises.  In fact, once a ship had to strand the passengers on land overnight before they could return to pick them up.  The local islanders put up the passengers so that they had a place to sleep.  The 2 times that I was at the Falklands, I was on smaller ships.  I have a friend who has been on cruises that included the Falklands and they didn't get in either time but they were on larger ships.  

 

Hope that this helps.

 

DON

Edited by donaldsc
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Just my two cents, but I just looked at the Antarctica cruise on Viking. It's seven days in Antarctica and maybe six since the itinerary shows only one day on the Drake, which seems unlikely. Also, are they sailing at full capacity? If so, a bottom price of $15,000/person seems like a lot of money for 6/7 days in Antarctica with one landing a day, 100 going ashore at a time. Am I missing something?

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51 minutes ago, Bella0714 said:

Just my two cents, but I just looked at the Antarctica cruise on Viking. It's seven days in Antarctica and maybe six since the itinerary shows only one day on the Drake, which seems unlikely. Also, are they sailing at full capacity? If so, a bottom price of $15,000/person seems like a lot of money for 6/7 days in Antarctica with one landing a day, 100 going ashore at a time. Am I missing something?

 

Yes.  You are missing something.

 

1.  When we did Antarctica, we typically did 2 landings per day.  We never felt rushed.

 

2. Why did you pick Viking?  Any cruise that you take on Viking will be expensive but if you insist on a higher level ship to Antarctica it will always be expensive.  When you do Antarctica, you are interested in what is outside of the ship and not the facilities inside the ship.  We are not allowed to mention TAs on CC but find yourself a TA that specializes only in Arctic and Antarctica cruise and you can find lots of good alternative ships with less than 100 passengers that are a lot cheaper.  I found one through one of the agencies and got a good deal on my recent 20+ day Falklands and S. Georgia trip on a ship that held about 98 passengers.  Good food.  Very excellent tour staff.  Cabin was OK but all I did was sleep in it so I didn't need fancy.  All you need is a bed, a toilet and a place to keep all your stuff.

 

DON

Edited by donaldsc
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35 minutes ago, donaldsc said:

 

Yes.  You are missing something.

 

1.  When we did Antarctica, we typically did 2 landings per day.  We never felt rushed.

 

2. Why did you pick Viking?  Any cruise that you take on Viking will be expensive but if you insist on a higher level ship to Antarctica it will always be expensive.  When you do Antarctica, you are interested in what is outside of the ship and not the facilities inside the ship.  We are not allowed to mention TAs on CC but find yourself a TA that specializes only in Arctic and Antarctica cruise and you can find lots of good alternative ships with less than 100 passengers that are a lot cheaper.  I found one through one of the agencies and got a good deal on my recent 20+ day Falklands and S. Georgia trip on a ship that held about 98 passengers.  Good food.  Very excellent tour staff.  Cabin was OK but all I did was sleep in it so I didn't need fancy.  All you need is a bed, a toilet and a place to keep all your stuff.

 

DON

I didn't mean for me. I meant for the OP. 🙂 I was wondering if Viking sails with less than full capacity (maybe under 200 passengers) and that's why it's so expensive. Even under 200 passengers would be a lot better. We went to Antarctica on a ship that ended up having about 400 passengers and did so only because the price was so right (under $5,000/pp for Hurtigruten Roald Amundsen) for seven days in Antarctica (it turned out to be eight). We had a great time, but I don't think I'd pay much more than that for a one-landing-a-day cruise, and we're planning to go back on a much smaller ship to Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica (still not for $15,000/pp). Regarding that RA cruise, there were people who had spent two or three times as much as we had and I remember saying to my wife, "If we had spent that much, I wouldn't be happy."

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Thank you all for your suggestions and advices!

 

We're not that active, so I think we'll be fine with just one landing per day. We would prefer a bigger ship (but not too big) with more creature comfort and stability. 🙂

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In that case, you can get 11 actual days in Antarctica on Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen starting at $10,000 pp. It’s a ship that just started sailing in 2019 and the rooms are big.

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Roald Amundsen was actually our third choice. We dropped it for various reasons (500 passenger ship was a tad too big even for us), but we'll take another look. Thank you for the recommendation!

 

So you mentioned that you did a cruise on Roald Amundsen? Can I ask you a question? Does that giant screen in the atrium have speakers? If so, how loud are they? We were considering one of the rooms near that thing, and I was wondering if there would be a noise problem.

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Visit Shackletons grave  in South Georgia, the cute little post office and the whaling stations.

 

and the globe pub in standly if you like military pubs! There used to be amazing fish restaurant too called the brassiere

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34 minutes ago, crunchii said:

Roald Amundsen was actually our third choice. We dropped it for various reasons (500 passenger ship was a tad too big even for us), but we'll take another look. Thank you for the recommendation!

 

So you mentioned that you did a cruise on Roald Amundsen? Can I ask you a question? Does that giant screen in the atrium have speakers? If so, how loud are they? We were considering one of the rooms near that thing, and I was wondering if there would be a noise problem.

There were just under 400 passengers when we went, although capacity is 500. I’m not sure there’s much of a difference between 500 and 378 in Antarctica. Both ships would be restricted to the same landing sites (neither can go to the sub-200 or sub-100 passenger sites) and neither is going to have time for more than one landing per day. My only question to Viking would be how much zodiac cruising they do; Roald Amundsen did very little (which is odd because Midnatsol last winter seemed to be doing a lot).

 

The giant screen did not have speakers when we went.

 

If you’re looking at Hurtigruten, prices are considerably cheaper on their Norway site. Just go to Hurtigruten.no and use a browser, like Google, that translates into English. Some people have also reported having success by calling the U.S. customer service number and asking them to price match the Norway site’s prices.

 

That RA Antarctic Circle trip with 11 days in Antarctica looks very nice. We’re booked for Fram in 2023 with three days in Falklands, five days in South Georgia and five days in Antarctica.

 

Dave

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Good to know that the screen didn't have speakers! And thank you for the great tip about going to their Norway site!

 

Your Fram trip would be a great second trip, if we end up doing just Antarctic Peninsula this time. (If I can convince my husband to do the second trip...)

 

Thanks again for all your tips and suggestions!

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28 minutes ago, crunchii said:

Good to know that the screen didn't have speakers! And thank you for the great tip about going to their Norway site!

 

Your Fram trip would be a great second trip, if we end up doing just Antarctic Peninsula this time. (If I can convince my husband to do the second trip...)

 

Thanks again for all your tips and suggestions!

 

Your next trip should be JUST the Falklands and S Georgia.  However those trips are hard to find and I don't think that any of the mass market lines do it.  You will have to work w a TA that does just Antarctica and Arctic trips for that one.  The Falklands / S. Georgia experience is totally different from the Antarctica experience but both of them are great.

 

DON

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On 4/10/2021 at 5:16 PM, Bella0714 said:

That RA Antarctic Circle trip with 11 days in Antarctica looks very nice. We’re booked for Fram in 2023 with three days in Falklands, five days in South Georgia and five days in Antarctica.

 

Dave

 

We are booked for the RA Atlantic Circle trip for 2023.  We did Chilean Fjords, Antarctic and Falklands on RA in February 2020, including a landing on Cape Horn, and thought we got a good price via our TA. The number of landings and inflatable cruising were OK for us, we are not  energetic outdoors people, and we appreciated having the extra level of comfort for the time we did spend in the cabin. We wouldn't have gone if we had needed to share the cabin or toilet and washroom facilities.

 

We docked at Port Stanley, and got an interesting talk about the war and life on the Falklands generally on our excursion down to see the penguins, and as Brits were glad to have been able to visit Stanley, but I found the two days on the other islands more interesting in terms of the overall expedition.

 

We didn't notice any speakers with the giant screen, and though we were fairly close to the elevators and restaurant didn't notice any noise issues at any time during the trip.

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3 hours ago, Paul S said:

 

 

We are booked for the RA Atlantic Circle trip for 2023.  We did Chilean Fjords, Antarctic and Falklands on RA in February 2020, including a landing on Cape Horn, and thought we got a good price via our TA. The number of landings and inflatable cruising were OK for us, we are not  energetic outdoors people, and we appreciated having the extra level of comfort for the time we did spend in the cabin. We wouldn't have gone if we had needed to share the cabin or toilet and washroom facilities.

 

We docked at Port Stanley, and got an interesting talk about the war and life on the Falklands generally on our excursion down to see the penguins, and as Brits were glad to have been able to visit Stanley, but I found the two days on the other islands more interesting in terms of the overall expedition.

 

We didn't notice any speakers with the giant screen, and though we were fairly close to the elevators and restaurant didn't notice any noise issues at any time during the trip.

 

Port Stanley is the least interesting part of the Falklands.  The best parts especially if you are into wildlife are the outer small islands.  On my Falklands/S Georgia trip, we did 3 days in the Falklands - one in port Stanley and 2 on four of the other islands with  2 stops each day.

 

I do have to say that the Chilean Fjords were spectacular.  Maybe almost as great as Antarctica but of course we did not do any landings and the wildlife was minimal.

 

Finally, I did not share a cabin or toilet/washroom facilities although personally, I would be willing to share toilet/washroom if it let me get to places that I really wanted to go to.  When we did our 3 month trip in Australia, we stayed in youth hostels to save money as 3 months of hotels would start to add up pretty quickly.  We had to share facilities in some of the hostels.  We survived.

 

DON

 

DON

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Don,

 

I guess it depends on the depth of your pocket. My son is an ex-Scout used to camping and hostels, and some fifteen years on is still happy to stay in hostels. I was never a scout (stopped after Wolf Cubs), didn't enjoy the one night of camping I did, and have never stayed in a hostel. We've nevertheless done our time  on economy packages, but at our stage of life DW and I are lucky to have and enjoy budgets sufficient to let us travel in what we regard as relative comfort, though  we do manage to source good deals to keep the cost down, and generally fly using loyalty points. If our pockets were shallower I guess we would have to reconsider how we travel or stay at home.

 

Paul

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Aside from sailing yachts, I think there’s only one or two ships still sailing Antarctic tourist trips that have shared facilities for any cabins. I can’t even remember which ones they are, since they’re not sailing for any of the well-known companies. My last trip down was on the Ortelius, and she’s a pretty basic standard but even then there’s still seated dinners and en suite cabin facilities.

 

Re: South Georgia and the Falklands, we visited on Fram and had 2-3 days in each.

 

In the Falklands, we visited outer islands to see an albatross nesting site (incredible to watch them throw themselves off a cliff to get airborn) and rockhopper penguins. I was also struck by the difference in the landscape and flora of the island. In Stanley we had a local tour guide who talked about the sociopolitical history, including the war, immigration, and the islands’ plans for addressing potential mineral deposits.

 

South Georgia’s highlight is certainly the king penguins, but if you get into  St Andrews Bay, the species of penguin is far less amazing than the sheer number. Standing on the rocks overlooking hundreds of thousands of penguins is just astonishing. But even at other landing sites, the kings are so much fun because they’re quite fearless. I had kings walk right up to me to check out some of my gear!

 

South Georgia also has its fur seals and its elephant seals. I have never seen so many seals! And the little fur seal pups were too cute.

 

Lastly, South Georgia also has a lot of history. Obviously there’s the famous Shackleton arrival, and I enjoyed the famous Shackleton hike (moderate intensity) and grave. But the whaling station artifacts at Strømnes and Grytviken were also quite interesting to me.

 

the landscape in South Georgia is gorgeous with its blends of green fauna and rocky snow-capped mountains, and I enjoyed watching the views change with the weather. I love Antarctica for the ice, so I was happy that we sailed in to see some of the glaciers, and the dying icebergs beached in the shallow waters south of the island were a treat.

 

Lastly, if you’re a geology buff, the geological history of the Falklands is pretty crazy (it’s actually part of Africa), and there are some interesting quirks to South Georgia as well.

 

Believe it or not, I actually love the peninsula more, because I can sit and stair at a piece of surprisingly blue ice for ages and ignore all the penguins around me. But I can fully understand why South Georgia is the perennial favorite of most! I am very glad to have seen it, and if wildlife or history are what you’re after, it’s going to be a huge highlight.

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6 hours ago, kaisatsu said:

Aside from sailing yachts, I think there’s only one or two ships still sailing Antarctic tourist trips that have shared facilities for any cabins. I can’t even remember which ones they are, since they’re not sailing for any of the well-known companies. My last trip down was on the Ortelius, and she’s a pretty basic standard but even then there’s still seated dinners and en suite cabin facilities.

 

Re: South Georgia and the Falklands, we visited on Fram and had 2-3 days in each.

 

In the Falklands, we visited outer islands to see an albatross nesting site (incredible to watch them throw themselves off a cliff to get airborn) and rockhopper penguins. I was also struck by the difference in the landscape and flora of the island. In Stanley we had a local tour guide who talked about the sociopolitical history, including the war, immigration, and the islands’ plans for addressing potential mineral deposits.

 

South Georgia’s highlight is certainly the king penguins, but if you get into  St Andrews Bay, the species of penguin is far less amazing than the sheer number. Standing on the rocks overlooking hundreds of thousands of penguins is just astonishing. But even at other landing sites, the kings are so much fun because they’re quite fearless. I had kings walk right up to me to check out some of my gear!

 

South Georgia also has its fur seals and its elephant seals. I have never seen so many seals! And the little fur seal pups were too cute.

 

Lastly, South Georgia also has a lot of history. Obviously there’s the famous Shackleton arrival, and I enjoyed the famous Shackleton hike (moderate intensity) and grave. But the whaling station artifacts at Strømnes and Grytviken were also quite interesting to me.

 

the landscape in South Georgia is gorgeous with its blends of green fauna and rocky snow-capped mountains, and I enjoyed watching the views change with the weather. I love Antarctica for the ice, so I was happy that we sailed in to see some of the glaciers, and the dying icebergs beached in the shallow waters south of the island were a treat.

 

Lastly, if you’re a geology buff, the geological history of the Falklands is pretty crazy (it’s actually part of Africa), and there are some interesting quirks to South Georgia as well.

 

Believe it or not, I actually love the peninsula more, because I can sit and stair at a piece of surprisingly blue ice for ages and ignore all the penguins around me. But I can fully understand why South Georgia is the perennial favorite of most! I am very glad to have seen it, and if wildlife or history are what you’re after, it’s going to be a huge highlight.

 

I have been to both Falklands/S Georgia on one trip and Antarctica on another trip.  I couldn't have said it better than you have.  They are both wonderful but also very different. 

 

I would just emphasize that you don't want to take one of the trips that combines all 3 locations as you won't have enough time at any of them especially considering the number of sea days you will have on the cruise.  It would be a long slog from S Georgia to Antarctica.  Just look at a map.

 

DON

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OP....Did you check out Ponant? We used them for S Georgia and Antarctica combined. Personally, too many sea days when doing both. If I had to choose again, I would just opt for the Antarctica cruise.

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1 hour ago, TrulyBlonde said:

OP....Did you check out Ponant? We used them for S Georgia and Antarctica combined. Personally, too many sea days when doing both. If I had to choose again, I would just opt for the Antarctica cruise.

 

Looking at a map, the reason for the large number of sea days is obvious.  If you cruise back and forth from Ushuaia to Antarctica, you have 2434 km of cruising.  If you cruise from Ushuaia to S. Georgia to Antarctica and then back to Ushuaia, you have a total of 6031 km of cruising.  Including S. Georgia makes the sea day cruising distance 2.4 times greater.  Having done Antarctica on one trip and the Falklands / S. Georgia on another trip, I would never recommend doing Antarctica and S. Georgia on a single trip.  

 

DON

 

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7 hours ago, TrulyBlonde said:

OP....Did you check out Ponant? We used them for S Georgia and Antarctica combined. Personally, too many sea days when doing both. If I had to choose again, I would just opt for the Antarctica cruise.

 

Yep, we've been looking at Ponant too, waiting for them to publish their 2023 itineraries...

 

Thanks to everyone's tips and suggestions posted here, we decided to do just Antarctica this time and hope to do S. Georgia and Falklands some other time. When we do, we'll be sure to look for itineraries that spend more than a day in each place. Thanks all!

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