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Live from the Venture - headed back to Antarctica


markandjie
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We boarded the Venture yesterday in Ushuaia and are now powering our way through 4 meter swells in the Drake. I'll provide updates as Starlink allows throughout the voyage.

 

 

 

 

Unlike our July trip aboard Venture, this time we had no flight drama and arrived in Buenos Aires without an issue. We are squeezing this trip in over the Thanksgiving break to minimize days missed at school for our son and his friend and had a very narrow window to make it work...thankfully the stars aligned this time.

 

The hotel in BA this time was the Alvear Icon, which is located walking distance from the Pink House (Casa Rosada), which is the Presidential Palace. While I think the Park Hyatt (another hotel Seabourn frequently uses) is a slightly better hotel, I like the location of the Alvear better as it feels more lively and less residential, plus we were able to walk to the main sites. They had a good breakfast spread in the morning and the staff was very friendly. Rooms were very nice.

 

The charter flight was bright and early yesterday morning, flying an A320 provided by JetSmart Argentina. We were booked four people per row (two on each side), so there was always a seat open. The plane is older and was not super clean, but the service was good and the provided meal was solid (yogurt, muffin, fruit, ham and cheese croissant).

 

After the safety and expedition briefing yesterday we headed straight to the Club for a sushi appetizer, along with about 50 other folks who had the same idea. Before long there wasn't a single open table and a few groups queued up for the next available.

 

We dined at the restaurant and then headed for the club for the DJ-hosted opening night dance party...which wasn't much of a party. I think folks were exhausted from the early morning departure and most likely crashed early. 

 

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9 minutes ago, markandjie said:

We boarded the Venture yesterday in Ushuaia and are now powering our way through 4 meter swells in the Drake. I'll provide updates as Starlink allows throughout the voyage.

 

 

 

 

Unlike our July trip aboard Venture, this time we had no flight drama and arrived in Buenos Aires without an issue. We are squeezing this trip in over the Thanksgiving break to minimize days missed at school for our son and his friend and had a very narrow window to make it work...thankfully the stars aligned this time.

 

The hotel in BA this time was the Alvear Icon, which is located walking distance from the Pink House (Casa Rosada), which is the Presidential Palace. While I think the Park Hyatt (another hotel Seabourn frequently uses) is a slightly better hotel, I like the location of the Alvear better as it feels more lively and less residential, plus we were able to walk to the main sites. They had a good breakfast spread in the morning and the staff was very friendly. Rooms were very nice.

 

The charter flight was bright and early yesterday morning, flying an A320 provided by JetSmart Argentina. We were booked four people per row (two on each side), so there was always a seat open. The plane is older and was not super clean, but the service was good and the provided meal was solid (yogurt, muffin, fruit, ham and cheese croissant).

 

After the safety and expedition briefing yesterday we headed straight to the Club for a sushi appetizer, along with about 50 other folks who had the same idea. Before long there wasn't a single open table and a few groups queued up for the next available.

 

We dined at the restaurant and then headed for the club for the DJ-hosted opening night dance party...which wasn't much of a party. I think folks were exhausted from the early morning departure and most likely crashed early. 

 

Thanks for this as we sail on Venture next week. A question if I may: Did anyone measure your carry-on baggage on the charter flight to Ushuaia?  My partner is worried about the stated 45cm (17in) limit on the length of cabin baggage. Also, at what time did the bus leave the Alvear Icon for the airport?  Our charter next week is at 6.30am, so I guess the bus would leave around 4am???

Edited by JMB56
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No one measured or weighed our carry-ons. We each had a 22" rollaboard plus a backpack or other bag. Overhead bins were as you'd expect for an A320 (iow, big). Relatively few passengers brought carry-ons so there was plenty of overhead space.

 

We were on the second of two charter flights from what I understand, one departing at 7a and ours at 8a. We were assigned bus 8, the last one, which left the hotel at 6:30a. I think the earliest bus for the 7a flight left at 4:30a, or so we heard. Seems like they had a bus leaving every 15 minutes. Not sure how they assigned buses, but with two teenagers we were grateful for the late start.

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3 hours ago, markandjie said:

We were on the second of two charter flights from what I understand, one departing at 7a and ours at 8a. We were assigned bus 8, the last one, which left the hotel at 6:30a. 

Do you recall what time the breakfast opened? Our flight is not until 9:20am, but just in case they give us a super early bus.... And did you depart EZE or AEP?

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1 hour ago, mary_228 said:

Do you recall what time the breakfast opened? Our flight is not until 9:20am, but just in case they give us a super early bus.... And did you depart EZE or AEP?

 

Breakfast started at 4a. We flew out of AEP but will return to EZE.

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I, too, am traveling with our son, who is in his mid-20's. Wondering what sort of clothing he might need other than the expedition-style gear. Are you asking your sons to dress up a bit? What have you seen onboard with regard to attire, old and young!

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4 minutes ago, mary_228 said:

Are you asking your sons to dress up a bit? What have you seen onboard with regard to attire, old and young!

 

We're just making sure both boys wear actual pants (not sweat pants!) and collared shirts to dinner. Last night I wore slacks and a sport coat and think I was probably in the top 10% in terms of dressiness. There was a very wide variety and I wouldn't say age was very correlated with how dressed up folks were. It definitely feels more casual than our Greenland cruise this summer. Having said that, I do think most people were pretty exhausted from the early morning so perhaps this will change a bit.

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Learned today that we have 240 passengers on board, of whom a whopping 199 are first time Seabourn cruisers.

 

While the ship has definitely been moving today in 3-5 meter swells, apparently we're still making good time and are hoping to make our first landing tomorrow afternoon at 3p at Half Moon Island.

 

And finally, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset this evening, hopefully a harbinger of better weather to come!

 

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Aloha.  Looking forward to your posts and hope you have a fantastic voyage.  We loved our Antartica cruise and sailing through the Drake was very memorable as was the Bay of Biscay and Transatlantic. Our daughter thought she was at Disney World lol.  All the best!

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22 minutes ago, cubancruiser37 said:

What would you say the generational distribution is on-board?

 

We seem to cover the range from 10-100. Exaggerating a little, but there are a handful of kids all the way up to the usual older cruisers.

 

4 minutes ago, SLSD said:

Does having so many first time Seabourn cruisers make a difference in the experience for the crew?  for other guests

 

Well, for one thing we were one of the only trivia teams to know that you serve caviar with a mother of pearl spoon. I guess most folks aren't getting a daily caviar order!

 

More broadly, I haven't noticed much difference yet in cruiser behavior. Plenty of people don't seem to know their way around the ship, but it's a new ship so that's not overly unusual I don't think. 

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5 hours ago, markandjie said:

I haven't noticed much difference yet in cruiser behavior.

 

Well, one thing...there's an awful lot of people who are recreating the "on top of the world!" scene...perhaps not realizing they are broadcasting on the bridge cam TV channel... 😆

 

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We woke this morning to MUCH calmer seas as we approached the South Shetland Islands and our first real sighting of icebergs and Antarctica! 

 

 

One our way in to Half Moon Island we came close enough to the Pursuit to get a photo as she navigated away from us on her way to her next stop.

 

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We then unloaded zodiacs and the expedition team got to work setting up. If you look closely at the below you can see them walking along and setting up the flags to mark the path from the landing to the chinstrap penguin colony (on the left out of the frame).

 

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Unfortunately, as they were doing so the winds shifted and picked up considerably, exceeding 40 knots. The zodiacs struggled to make forward progress and it rapidly became clear we would have to scrub the landing, which was confirmed a short while later by the cruise director, Olivia.

 

 

Fortunately, the ship is equipped with a crazy powerful GSS Cineflex mast camera, capable of something like a 1000x zoom. Thus we all decamped to the Discovery Center where Mr. Penguins himself, Brent Houston, narrated the footage coming in from the camera, complete with imitation penguin calls and all.

 

 

We're now headed to Mikkelson Harbor where we'll hopefully make a landing tomorrow morning. It's apparently also a great spot for seeing whales, so keeping fingers crossed for whales and good weather!

 

In the meantime, the views are spectacular and the dinner menu looks divine. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love this, thank you for reporting on the trip and please keep those updates coming! We are on the Dec 10 sailing and as an Antarctica and Seabourn newbie really appreciate the info. Have been on expedition cruises before and think I overdressed in the evenings so especially interested in any packing tips.

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4 hours ago, KathyL2537 said:

Love this, thank you for reporting on the trip and please keep those updates coming! We are on the Dec 10 sailing and as an Antarctica and Seabourn newbie really appreciate the info. Have been on expedition cruises before and think I overdressed in the evenings so especially interested in any packing tips.

I am curious about evening dress as well.  I know there are no formal nights on the Expedition ships, but as we are on over Christmas and N.Y.E. I am wondering if it's Ugly Christmas Sweaters or something more formal?????

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8 hours ago, KathyL2537 said:

Have been on expedition cruises before and think I overdressed in the evenings so especially interested in any packing tips.

 

I feel very comfortable in slacks and a sport coat. My wife is not wearing gowns or anything super formal, but she does wear evening attire. Again, this is much nicer than the average, but to each their own. Last night we both wore jeans (hopefully @SLSD would approve our designers 😜), and felt right in line with the crowd.

 

4 hours ago, Laylam said:

I am wondering if it's Ugly Christmas Sweaters or something more formal?????

 

When we took the Quest years ago on the holiday Antarctica cruise there were still formal nights. These days I think you could show up in a tux or an ugly Christmas sweater and people would appreciate either one.

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Quick update today as I'm spent after a wonderful day of activity and a frustrating evening dining experience.

 

We landed today at Mikkelsen Harbor, the home of a gentoo penguin colony. We were blessed with insanely good weather. Per the expedition team this is not only the first true sunny day of this season for the Venture, it's also the clearest they've seen it at Mikkelsen in many years. Indeed, if we were skiing in Colorado we would've called this a bluebird day.

 

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The landing was well run and went smoothly, and the penguins were entertaining as usual. They're still waiting for snow to melt to build proper nests, and so mating season has apparently been delayed a bit. We also saw a Weddell seal hanging out near the landing zone, and it helpfully sat up a few times to gaze at us and we got some great shots.

 

 

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In the afternoon while most guests enjoyed a zodiac ride we kayaked in the same general area. It was a beautiful and serene experience, with more ground covered and a bit more exercise than we had in Greenland. This was much better, as we'd found kayaking in Greenland to be disappointing.

 

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We arrived at dinner a little later than normal, and I think the dining room filled early as we have an early morning tomorrow at Neko Harbor (Orange color group at 6:30a...and we're in Orange 😪 ). We were seated in a section we had not sat in before and scarcely got any attention from the waitstaff. Eventually the Assistant Maitre'D supported us, but even then the service was slow and uneven. It was very disappointing after an otherwise amazing day. 

 

 

 

Edited by markandjie
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5 hours ago, JMB56 said:

Another question if I may: My spouse would like to know if the water in the swimming pool is heated and warm enough for her to swim (say 75F)?

 

It is heated, though it's a small pool. It's been far less popular than the four hot tubs...

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