Cruise Review by Ms Understood: Antarctica with Regent
Member Since 2005
Antarctica with Regent
Our trip started off splendidly when we departed on Delta from LAX and sat in the first class cabin with Hank Aaron. "We" is me, my husband and 2 of our nephews, both 18 years old, cousins, not brothers. We started out from LA with one of them and picked the other up when we changed planes in Atlanta. (He was coming from NY). Anyway Hank Aaron was quite a thrill for the baseball fans amongst us.
We left Atlanta and flew to Santiago Chile. On arrival, The Regent representative was there but we had made our own arrangements to be picked up and taken on a tour of the City. It was early Sunday morning. Our guide took us to the Grand Hyatt and even though it was only about 10 am we were able to check in and freshen up a bit before heading out to Santiago. Our guide was interesting, having been actually brought up in Germany when his parents fled Chile after Pinochet took over the government. Unfortunately we were not very impressed with Santiago. Possibly because it was Sunday More and not much was open. Anyway we roamed about the city, had a wonderful lunch of King crab at the fish market and were taken back to the Grand Hyatt.
The hotel was provided by Regent and was quite nice. Again, unfortunately and presumably because it was Sunday, what looked like a very nice gift shop was not open. We sat on a terrace near the pool and had a drink before calling it a day.
Our wake up call was very early and when we arrived in the lobby ready to go we were faced with utter chaos. The hotel was clearly not set up to handle quite that many people showing up for breakfast at the same time. Although it was set up as a buffet, one could not get a cup of coffee w/o finding a table to sit at and these were hard to come by. The buses arrived to transport everyone to the airport for the charter flight to Ushuaia Argentina and all went reasonably well from that point.
When we arrived in Argentina, we were taken by the bus load to an Argentine BBQ/gaucho show. This was pretty entertaining and a nice way for Regent to keep us occupied while they readied our ship.
Once aboard, we were in SP08 on the Promenade deck with a large picture window and the boys were in B35 with a porthole. Our parkas were waiting for us. They are bright red and very warm. We were never uncomfortably cold while wearing them. Altho when you are waiting on the ship to board the Zodiacs they were a little toasty! The boys' porthole was closed with "hurricane" type shutters when the Captain anticipated tough seas. The cabins are pretty basic. The beds have side rails like a hospital bed to keep one from rolling out! Most of the days aboard the seas rolled and rolled. Drawers would fly open and then slam closed on the backward roll. Taking a shower was quite a challenge. However the Veranda (buffet) and the creatively named "Restaurant" were always full at meal times. Presumably very few, if any, were bothered by the constant motion. I think it is hardy group that venture on this trip. Probably not a good idea for anyone who is especially prone to motion sickness.
The food was always excellent. Regent puts their own chef on board. Several times there was a BBQ on the pool deck, when weather permitted. Once we had chili, another time mussels fresh from the Falklands, another time Bouillabaisse and the grand finale was BBQ'd lobster tails and sausages, mmm. Dinner in the restaurant was usually excellent. We never had breakfast or lunch there, preferring to grab a quick bite in the Veranda instead.
I cannot say enough about how lovely the crew/staff of the Explorer II are. Within a day we were always greeted by name and welcomed to where ever it was we were. The ladies who served the drinks knew what you wanted before you asked and were always pleasant and friendly. The waiters in the Veranda and the restaurant were the same, I guess they rotated around? They all knew that one nephew could not abide sparkling water and that I like an extra lime in my Cosmo. Most of them had been making this trip for several years.
We had a few disappointments with regard to landings that could not be made because of weather conditions but the ones we were able to get to were astonishing. No words can do justice to the sights you see on a trip to Antarctica. Huge ice bergs and hundreds, if not thousands of the cutest penguins. We saw dozens of seals and a number of whales. We heard a glacier calving but didn't actually see it. The trips in the Zodiacs were so much fun. We climbed up a hill and slid down on our butts among much shrieking and laughing. We gave chase to a whale in our Zodiac but were not able to catch up. We saw a leopard seal lounging on an ice berg. We saw dozens of penguins dive into the water and then immediately jump back out as a seal popped his head up from the water. We were not able to make it into Deception Bay with its thermal waters and swimming opportunity but by then we were so enthralled by all of the beauty around us we didn't care.
The Captain got us back to Ushuaia in the early evening hours rather than in the morning so we were able to go ashore for a bit. Oddly Ushuaia which bills itself as "El Fin Del Mundo" [the end of the world] and is a pretty isolated place, has a couple of Irish pubs so we went there to get out of the rain. I have been on three other Regent cruises so I was not surprised when the cabin attendants went around and offered ponchos to anyone planning on going ashore. In my opinion, nobody does it better than Regent as far as making the small but meaningful gesture. We were each also given a "ship's log" of our trip. After disembarking, we were taken by bus to Tierra Del Fuego National Park and took a ride on a narrow gauge steam engine though the park before being bussed back to the airport for our return flight to Santiago. And even though our trip as over by then, Regent provided us all with dinner at the Santiago airport.
This was truly the trip of a lifetime. We loved every minute of it. Less
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