The cruise was from Ushuaia to Antarctica and back. Charter flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and back with LAN Airlines and two nights hotel in Buenos Aires were included in the package. We paid EUR 6000 for it based on two persons in a cabin. Everything on board is included except for the drinks.
Antarctic cruises are pretty expensive, so I was lucky that one of my friends wanted to join, so we could share the cost of the cabin. Based on one person in a cabin the cruise would have been almost twice as expensive.
The two person cabin was pretty small. We had two beds with about 40 cm in between. The cabin was about 2 by 4 m, including a little shower/toilet. It was just enough but not more then that.
For the rest, the ship was very comfortable and everything was arranged very well. Food on board was excellent. Amusement on board were just lectures, but they we very interesting. On deck 7 there was a very nice viewing lounche with a bar.
The ship was fully booked carrying around 230 passengers, 10 expedition staff and 70 crew. The languages spoken on board were German, English and Scandinavian. The capacity of the ship is actually less then the advertised 318 passengers because the expedition staff used passenger cabins as well and 4 person cabins are often used by couples.
Landings in Antactica were done in two shifts to comply with international rules that not more then 100 passengers would be ashore at any single time. But at each landing point everybody could get ashore. Time ashore was typically 1.5 hour. Usually this was enough to see what there was to see. The landings were done using polar circle boars that could carry 8 passengers. During the landings these boats were continuously shuttling between the ship and the shore.
We left Ushuaia at 18:00 on Friday. The next one and a half day we were in the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica. We were entertained with lectures.
On Sunday afternoon we arrived in Antarctica, where we made our first landing at Half Moon Island. We did see our first penguins.
On Monday we had bad luck. We had to evacuate an ill passenger so we sailed North instead of South to the not so interesting King George Island which has an air strip. We visited the Chilean Frei Base and the Russian Bellingshausen Station next to it. For the rest there was not to much to see here. In the afternoon we made a landing on Ardley Island where we did see more penguins.
On Tuesday we sailed South again and made two landings at Deception Island.
On Wednesday morning we visited Neko Harbour. This was our first Antarctic mainland landing. The scenery here is much more spectacular then at the places we visited earlier. And again lots of penguins. In the afternoon we landed Cuverville Island, which was very spectacular as well.
On Thursday we finally headed for the polar circle. We sailed across it and immediately turned North again. Ice conditions where not allowing any landings South of the polar circle. So it was just for the feeling to have crossed the polar circle. In the afternoon we made a landing at Fish Islands just North of the polar circle. Again lots of penguins and very spectacular scenery with lots of ice.
On Friday we landed at Petermann Island and sailed through the Lemaire Channel which has very spectacular scenery. Instead of an afternoon landing sailed with the polar circle boats through the Lemaire channel giving us an opportunity to see the iceberg at close range.
On Saturday we visited Port Lockroy, a small British museum.
On Sunday morning we visited Brown Bluff, our second mainland landing. In the afternoon we sailed through the Antarctic Sound into the Weddell Sea where there are huge tabular icebergs.
On Monday and Tuesday we were in the Drake Passage sailing North again. We arrived on Wednesday morning back in Ushuaia where we had to disembark at 8:00 in the morning.