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winegirl

Corinthian II vs Endeavor vs Polar Star-any first hand knowledge?

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Spouse is 46 and I'm 57. I have long been a student of polar exploration and am planning a trip to see some of Antarctica--only, not Falkland Islands. Spouse can get away for only a couple weeks, so we are looking at 15 day or shorter trips. Various options called to our attention are: Corinthian II, 114 passenger all suite ship. Online information looks pretty appealing--a smaller ship option so hopefully more personal service, a lot of valuable inclusions. Not cheap but seems good value for price. Other option is NG Endeavor. NG name carries a lot of weight, but the prices are sky high and the overall accomdations look less appealing than the Corinthian II. Polar Star looks promising as well. Spouse likes space and luxury, but does not like snobs. We both love great food and wine, and have done some soft adventure travel, plus some backpacking in the Rockies. He is a real science and nature buff and I just want to visit the "last place on earth. I'd feel better about having an MD on board, just in case, although neither of us has medical issues. I'd like to have maximum options to go ashore, even possibly camp overnight ( I know some ships offer that option at times.) Being from Wisconsin, the weather will be relatively similar to our January/February weather--cold, damp, overcast, etc.

 

I am reluctant to book on any Russian ship (first hand experiences with Russian business practices leave us skeptical,) and ships that don't allow you to use your credit card for the final payment (leaves you with less protection in the event of a default.)

 

Any feedback on any of these ships would be most appreciated!

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We did the Polar Star a few years ago for a week in the Arctic (around Svalbard.) It is a refurbished icebreaker from the Swedish Navy.

The crew & the shore excursions were terrific. Because it is an icebreaker, it can go where some other ships can't. Don't know how it would be in the Drake. Whe had one of the two suites on the ship. It was not luxurious but quite spacious & comfortable. The other cabins appeared quite small.

Food was served at long tables and was not special. There were no snobs among the other passengers. I guess the very rich go on more expensive ships.

I'd be surprised if anyone allowed you to camp.

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I am just curious to hear if anyone else has traveled on the Polar Star or knows anything secondhand about the ship. Good, bad, or anything? I haven't found much info about the ship in the form of reviews online . Thanks!

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Spouse is 46 and I'm 57. I have long been a student of polar exploration and am planning a trip to see some of Antarctica--only, not Falkland Islands. Spouse can get away for only a couple weeks, so we are looking at 15 day or shorter trips. Various options called to our attention are: Corinthian II, 114 passenger all suite ship. Online information looks pretty appealing--a smaller ship option so hopefully more personal service, a lot of valuable inclusions. Not cheap but seems good value for price. Other option is NG Endeavor. NG name carries a lot of weight, but the prices are sky high and the overall accomdations look less appealing than the Corinthian II. Polar Star looks promising as well. Spouse likes space and luxury, but does not like snobs. We both love great food and wine, and have done some soft adventure travel, plus some backpacking in the Rockies. He is a real science and nature buff and I just want to visit the "last place on earth. I'd feel better about having an MD on board, just in case, although neither of us has medical issues. I'd like to have maximum options to go ashore, even possibly camp overnight ( I know some ships offer that option at times.) Being from Wisconsin, the weather will be relatively similar to our January/February weather--cold, damp, overcast, etc.

 

I am reluctant to book on any Russian ship (first hand experiences with Russian business practices leave us skeptical,) and ships that don't allow you to use your credit card for the final payment (leaves you with less protection in the event of a default.)

 

Any feedback on any of these ships would be most appreciated!

 

WineGirl, We just went through this exact same process and also needed the shorter two week trip as well. We looked at the 3 ships you are thinking of, but in the end booked the Minerva (Explorer II) for 2009. It was the only one where we could pay by credit card.

 

Also note that the Polar Star and Endeaver were only available for the longer trips on the dates we wanted. This is of course not first hand knowledge but I thought the Corinthian Cabins looked really nice compared to the Minerva but when I looked closer (from photos only) I thought the Minervas dining room and public areas looked better than the Corinthean. The Minerva was about $1,000pp less than the Corinthean II and they take credit cards for final payment. Bookings are mostly though Regent or A&K in North America and Swan Hellinic in Europe. The Regent dates included the Falklands and the A&K dates no Falkland but an extra day on the Pennisula. Just FYI, A&K prices are better than Regent when you subtract the airfare. Both included gratuities, pre-night hotel and some other things.

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Hi Everyone:

 

We are in the midst of researching for our AA trip also, probably not until late 2009 or early 2010. We found this to be interesting, they take cards, but of course there are tradeoffs, but overall looks like an excellent price. If anyone has cruised on one of these ships in the AA, maybe they would comment. http://*****.com/2zv4jb

 

RonC

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dpro (RonC) if you go to member reviews on this board, scroll to Hurtigruten then scroll again to Nordkapp (sister ship to Nordnorge). You will find my hopefully comprehensive review of my Antarctica cruise last December. Should answer some of your questions & contains links to my photo albums on Webshots. If you view them, I have recently added another album of Penguins,Icebergs & Scenery. You just cannot avoid taking photos down there! there is also an album of historic tall ships in BA (the 'Uruguay' is a famous Antarctic ship with memorabilia on board). I would go again anytime if my wife would let me! LOL

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I am reluctant to book on any Russian ship (first hand experiences with Russian business practices leave us skeptical,)

 

You don't actually deal with Russians, if that's what you mean. Quark, a US company, operates most, including the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, and they have a great reputation.

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I was on a Corinthian II cruises to Antarctica in Feb 2007. We had one of the best crossings of Drakes passage (both directions), great weather and a totally wonderful trip. We had a suite near the captain's quarters. The room was large and comfortable with couch, chairs, tv and dvd player, small refrigerator and private balcony with a small table and chairs.

 

We made two to three landings a day for the 5 days we were physically in Antarctica. In my opinion, this is the perfect length of time for a cruise there. There were daily lectures, and naturalists were always available to answer questions. The captain and crew were very personable and helpful. A couple of times we made slight detours to observe whales. The captain was very knowledgeable about the region and I felt completely safe on his ship.

 

Smaller ships give you a better chance at getting more on-shore time, since the number of people who can be onshore at one time (most of the stops) is limited. On larger ships the time on shore is divided among a larger number of people, generally meaning less time ashore for each person than on smaller ships. Some ships will have access to stops that others don't, due to the limited access.

 

The ship was very well appointed, the food very good and the service friendly and efficient. The library had a nice selection of books and dvds.

 

The only problems we had on board were a couple of plugged up heads towards the end of the trip which were quickly repaired.

 

The doctor on the ship lived next to the clinic and was very pleasant and helpful when I was sick.

 

I hope you enjoy your trip as much as I did. Antarctica is a wonderful place to visit.

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dpro (RonC) if you go to member reviews on this board, scroll to Hurtigruten then scroll again to Nordkapp (sister ship to Nordnorge). You will find my hopefully comprehensive review of my Antarctica cruise last December. Should answer some of your questions & contains links to my photo albums on Webshots. If you view them, I have recently added another album of Penguins,Icebergs & Scenery. You just cannot avoid taking photos down there! there is also an album of historic tall ships in BA (the 'Uruguay' is a famous Antarctic ship with memorabilia on board). I would go again anytime if my wife would let me! LOL

 

Thanks for the info Minke, excellent review and information. I'm just waiting for the fall 2009 schedules to come out :D

 

RonC

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I now have two experiences relevant to your question - a trip around Svalbard a few years ago on the Polar Star and a trip to Antarctica last week on the National Geographic Endeavour. Both were expedition type trips and we enjoyed both very much. The ships are similar in size and I believe have similar itineraries in Antarctica.

I have done no research on this, but I am assuming the Endeavour is more expensive. The differences I noted were:

The ship:

The Polar Star is an ice breaker; the Endeavour has a reinforced hull. I cannot imagine any advantage on our trip for being on an ice breaker. We easily broke through the one year old sea ice and reached spectacular landings. The Endeavour has stabilizers; I don't believe the Polar Star does. That was a huge benefit on the Drake Passage as we encountered gale force 8 winds and heavy swelling. The stabilizers really work on open seas. I believe the Endeavour can travel a little faster on open seas. That allowed us to go south of the Antarctic Circle.

The cabins were small but comfortable on both ships.

Both ships had a lounge that was large enough for all passengers that was useful for briefings & lectures. The lounge on the Endeavour was more modern & comfortable and was equipped with lots of technology for video presentations including 4 or 5 high definition monitors. The dining room on the Endeavour was more luxurious. On the Polar Star we were seated at long tables. On the Endeavour, the dining tables were round, seating 5 - 8 passengers at each.

As I recall, it was easier to load & unload on the zodiacs on the Endeavour because of the configuration of the ship.

The Expedition Staff

We were very pleased with the staff and the zodiac landings on both ships. The Endeavour had a larger and more credentialed staff. The lectures aboard the Endeavour far exceeded my expectations for quantity and quality. In addition to naturalists specializing in birds, geology, seas & winds, and environmental issues, the Endeavour had two professional photographers (one, a National Geographic photographer) who offered workshops and were always available to assist with photography questions on an individual basis. The Endeavour also had an undersea specialist who would shoot videos of dives he made while we were making shore landings and operated a remote controlled camera at more extreme depths. His late afternoon presentations were a trip highlight. We also had a professional videographer who produced a beautiful 35 minute DVD of our trip. The two professional photographers made their shots available to all passengers. The expedition staff on the Endeavour maintained a daily expedition report on the web so that family and friends back home could track our experience.

The Ship's staff:

The staff on both ships were highly professional and very attentive to passengers needs.

Bottom line:

I am certain you will have a spectacular trip on either ship and have no regrets on your decision. Is the Endeavour worth the extra money? That is an individual decision and depends on whatever difference the extra cost would make in your life style. For us, it was worth it & I hope to do it again.

I hope I have been fair & accurate, but I didn't take time to do the research to confirm my observations. I encourage you to do your own.

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Much appreciation for all who have contributed information on Antarctica. Considering the costs involved, choosing the correct ship is critical.

We are leaning toward the Corinthian II.

If anyone else has additional feedback, please add your voice! (btw, thanks harbor32 and please pipe in if you have further details)

We are also looking at the Polar Star.

 

Have past Antarctic visitors purchased MedjetAssist in addition to regular travel insurance?

Thanks all!

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Hey there RonC

Just noticed you guys are Texans. Have you made a decision yet? We are trying to fly in and out of Buenos Aires since getting to Santiago is a royal pain from IAH. We would like to consider the Nordnorge, but all the trips are too long for our schedule. (and the Fram is too big...) I feel like Red Riding Hood :rolleyes:

It would be great if you'd share your findings with us.

Happy Holidays!!!

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Hey there RonC

Just noticed you guys are Texans. Have you made a decision yet? We are trying to fly in and out of Buenos Aires since getting to Santiago is a royal pain from IAH. We would like to consider the Nordnorge, but all the trips are too long for our schedule. (and the Fram is too big...) I feel like Red Riding Hood :rolleyes:

It would be great if you'd share your findings with us.

Happy Holidays!!!

 

 

Howdy ... Anybody on Corinthian II 12/30/08?

Bob

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Hello Bob,

 

Your voyage precedes our January sail on Corinthian. We'd appreciate any comments and clues when you return. Have a wonderful trip.

Happy Holidays

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Bob,

Small world. We are going on the Corinthian II 12/30/08. We are very excited. We are going to Buenos Aires a day early, living on Long Island and we can never be sure of the weather in December. We are planning on doing a little sightseeing on Wednesday. I notice that you and your wife used the same travel company that we used. We passed on the New Year's eve celebrations. I personally don't like to eat that late at night and we have to get up early the next morning. What are you doing?

 

Really looking forward to meeting you.

 

Barbara (dh - Ron)

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We are starting to look at this area for a trip. How about Silverseas Prince Albert II - did not see it mentioned as an option.

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I am reluctant to book on any Russian ship (first hand experiences with Russian business practices leave us skeptical,) and ships that don't allow you to use your credit card for the final payment (leaves you with less protection in the event of a default.)

 

Any feedback on any of these ships would be most appreciated!

 

Ok, well, I looked at all those and decided on the Minerva (with A&K, Regent also has dates) because I could pay with a credit card and besides the prices were about the same. And guess what? A week after we made our final payment our TA closed their doors. Fortunately we demanded payment be made directly to the supplier. BUT, what if money went to the TA who was supposed to wire to the supplier AND I wasn't reading cruise critic? Well, I would be out of lots of money as well as our trip. Btw, Regent is the only cruise line/supplier letting CVC clients on their ships without receiving any money once they show they paid the TA....

 

So, take a look at Minerva. Also, I booked in 2007 but now SilverSeas Prince Albert II and Hurtigrutin's Fram are in the area and both take final payments with credit card.

 

I won't be going anywhere soon with anyone who only takes Cashier Checks or wired money for payments. I see what can happen.

 

I just realized this thread is about 1.5 years old and that I responded a long time ago. But my reasoning is still the same.

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Hi again, especially to Barbara and Ron --

 

We are leaving on Tuesday for Buenos Aires. We considered leaving on Monday, but our daughter is home for a week and we didn't want to miss a day with her. (She teaches in Serbia.) Nine years ago in January we were in Buenos Aires, at the end of a round-the-Horn cruise from Santiago to BA, so we've experienced a lot of it before...and Ushuaia, as well. (Having played in the pit orchestra for a Bay Area production of Evita, we hit Eva Peron's grave first.) We, too, passed on the New Year's Eve activities, especially when we discovered we had a 7:15 a.m. departure to Ushuaia on New Year's Day! We'll order room service...at the least.

 

We've been making our lists of gear and checking it twice. There's one more thing to pick up before we leave. We're still trying to figure out if we really have a charter flight down from Buenos Aires or if it's a regularly scheduled carrier. We've gotten two different answers, in addition to varying answers on baggage weight limits once in Argentina. We're trying to pack light, but it's not really a "light" trip! But, we're excited and eager to set foot on the "last continent." Hopefully, that will happen!

 

My husband really appreciated working with Expedition Trips in Seattle. He found them to be exceptionally knowledgeable in helping us choose exactly the right cruise for our travel style and needs. And, the woman who owns Ship to Shore Traveler (also Seattle) did an incredible job in outfitting us. She's been down to Antarctica 64 times and really knows what one needs!!!!!

 

Have a safe trip! We'll see you in Argentina.

 

Blessings --

 

Cathy (and Bob)

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We've been making our lists of gear and checking it twice. There's one more thing to pick up before we leave. We're still trying to figure out if we really have a charter flight down from Buenos Aires or if it's a regularly scheduled carrier. We've gotten two different answers, in addition to varying answers on baggage weight limits once in Argentina. We're trying to pack light, but it's not really a "light" trip! But, we're excited and eager to set foot on the "last continent." Hopefully, that will happen!

 

 

 

Blessings --

 

Cathy (and Bob)

 

What Airline are you on? You can most likely tell you have a charter if you look up the flight (if LAN than on LAN (dot) com) and there is no flight listed.

 

We will be on a charter scheduled for 5:30am in Feb and it is not a listed flight on the airlines web site.

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To "Havepassportwilltravel" and "surething" - how was your CII trip? I will be going on that ship as a solo passenger next January and would appreciate hearing any comments you may have.

 

It is my understanding that the ship interior is quite warm and that meals are seated by waitstaff service - not a cafeteria line or buffet-style. Give or take breakfast, is that correct?

 

Did you see "fluffy chicks" onshore?

 

I would rather wear my Eddie Bauer parka onshore rather than the red jackets. Is that allowed? I am short and stout and want to be assured that my jacket fits!

 

Thanks,

Ruby

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Ruby,

Our trip on the Corinthian II was great. Wonderful naturalists, pleasant crew, and fantastic scenery. We felt the trip lived up to our expectations.

 

Dinner is served by waitstaff. Breakfast and lunch was buffet. Eggs, fried tomatoes, and mushrooms were made to order for breakfast. Probably could get anything you wanted, but I couldn't think of anything else to order. Waitstaff delievered soups and plates (if you needed help) to your table and brought drinks. They kept our glasses full and were very helpful if you wanted something else.

 

Best dinners were lamb and beef fillet. Some meals were better than others, but we never went hungry.

 

As a solo passenger I don't think you will ever feel odd man out. Everyone seemed to mix and mingle so you got to meet a variety of people and the naturalists were very good at popping up to keep people company.

 

A couple of people wore thier own jackets and it wasn't a problem. I believe the bright red jacket makes it easy to spot people on shore, but the ship relied on a tag board to keep track of passengers.

 

Lots of fluffy chicks on shore. Lots of animals. We got to see everything we expected to see and for as long as we were interested in watching. We didn't feel rushed. We had 5 full days in Antarctica and 11 shore excursions.

 

We felt we chose the right ship for us and are greatful that we went. The ship was warm, but I wore long sleeved silk underwear under my tee shirts and sweater. My husband was never cold. I would say to take a fleece, but my husband would say that is silly. I would not be too concerned about the weight of your bags. We packed very carefully, but most people didn't and weren't charged for the extra bag weight. But that was this year and maybe they will charge next year.

 

Hope you have a great trip also. Wonderful memories. It was a trip of a lifetime for us.

 

Barbara

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A grateful thank you for your comments about CII. 99% of the Antarctica reviews talk about the natural wonders of that beautiful land and I was interested in the actual ship, so it was great to read your notes.

 

I was in far northern Greenland two years ago at the Jacobshavn Glacier, the mother of all icebergs in the Northern Hemisphere, and learned that I don't require as much "bundling up" as most people do. At the edge of the North Pole ice pack in Svalbard, I did indeed wear everything I brought for the cold with 20* and snow blowing horizontally in high winds while I watched two polar bears roaming all over Magdalenafjord. And that was in June. I will take my Eddie Bauer jacket because I trust it, but I'll bring home as a souvenir the red parka issued to passengers. What a memory for you!

 

Few returning passengers from Antarctica say much about their ships as they are over the moon from viewing the wildlife and beauty of the area. I'm keen to see what Antarctica offers over icebergs and polar bears in Far North and look forward to seeing the differences of the two areas.

 

Again, thanks so much for taking the time to talk about CII after your adventures in that beautiful world.

 

Ruby

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Barbara, what were the flight arrangements to move the CII group from BA to the port? I have been told that it is a charter flight via Aerolineas Argentina but what time did you assemble in the hotel lobby? Do we fly from BA to U then board the ship and begin our cruise that same day?

 

Did you use the Miami to BA flight connection? My intent is to fly to BA direct by AA from DFW to BA. I see no point in flying to Miami then BA due to my location in the middle of the US.

 

I haven't been in BA in decades, so I may fly down a day or two early, stay at the Park Hotel, and join the group for the charter flight. If you see any holes in my theory, feel free to give me your thoughts and many thanks.

 

Ruby

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Ruby,

We had a direct flight from JFK to BA. We went the day before, because we weren't sure what the weather would be like in NY in December. In the end we didn't need the day and all the museums were closed on New Year's Eve. We did a lot of walking in BA to fill the day.

 

We had a cocktail party the night before we left for Ushuaia and we were given the details on when to meet in the lobby the next morning. We had breakfast together and got our plane tickets then. I don't remember what time we met in the lobby - 8, 9:00?

 

Travel Dynamics is one of the most organized group you will ever find. All details are taken care of and there weren't any problems (that we were aware of). We flew from BA to Ushuaia and boarded a bus (Travel Dynamics took care of our bags from the hotel and they magically appeared in our stateroom). We were taken to a restuarant for lunch (again TD took care of the bill) and had a few hours in town to shop and explore. Because it was New Year's Day we couldn't get fuel for the ship. The next morning while the ship was fueling we had a cruise of the Beagle Channel). Around 11:00 AM we left Ushuaia for Drakes Passage. Even with the delay we didn't miss any sights and got the bonus of the Beagle Channel.

 

We stayed an extra night at the Park Hotel at the start of the trip. We hated the expense, but decided it would be easiest. Some people stayed at other nearby hotels and saved a bundle. I don't have any names of hotels to share with you. Hindsight, we should not have been so lazy and stayed somewhere else the extra night. Park Hotel is a beautiful and classy hotel, but it is super expensive and we are plain people.

 

Barbara

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We stayed an extra night at the Park Hotel at the start of the trip. We hated the expense, but decided it would be easiest. Some people stayed at other nearby hotels and saved a bundle. I don't have any names of hotels to share with you. Hindsight, we should not have been so lazy and stayed somewhere else the extra night. Park Hotel is a beautiful and classy hotel, but it is super expensive and we are plain people. Barbara

 

Thanks for the memory jog about a hotel for a day or two in BA. I'm knee-deep in making plans for a Black Sea cruise in May and yet I also should make a choice of hotel for the Antarctica trip. I used to do B&Bs a lot but aging turns me toward any hotel with working elevators.

 

I don't like super-expensive hotels because I don't use their facilities of several bars, spas, exercise rooms, whatever. I don't mind paying for what I use, but that's why I don't sail on Seabourn - I don't drink alcohol and yet drinks are "free" onboard so I would be buying rounds for everyone else for 14 days.

 

You have kindly told me more in a few paragraphs than I've been able to find anywhere else. I read somewhere that another ship's tour group for Ushuaia was due in the hotel lobby no later than 7:15am which I found slightly barbaric. Somehow 8:00am or 9:00am doesn't bother me - go fig.

 

Enjoy your memories of your fantastic trip and, again, many thanks.

 

Ruby

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