Antarctica is a once in a lifetime experience. Having read the critiques preceding ours we expected much more from Prince Albert II. Yes, Antarctica is breathtaking, a natural wonder affordable only to a minuscule percentage of the world's population but this natural wander is free. What you pay for is getting there + the guidance & explanations.
Our disappointment was immediate. Having boarded a very tired looking ship with stained carpets, we entered our suite to find our own carpet stained, a plate of semi rotten fresh fruits, stained bed covering, old bathtub with 2 dirty towels. We could not believe the poor condition of our cabin, even our window had salt stains obscuring the view.
When we mentioned these shortcomings to the Hotel Mgr. Martin, his arrogant & condescending comment was that "this is an expedition ship and expected... you did not do your homework". Having paid $20,000 for 10 days accommodations we certainly expected more. My reply was that there's no excuse for the dirty bathtub, rotten fruits and since the ship was in port, windows should be cleaned. Although following our complaint, the room steward did the best he could I can honestly state that if I was to rate Prince Albert II as a hotel, giving it 2** would be generous.
Regarding the "gourmet cuisine" offered on board I can only say it was hit or miss. Food was mostly good but far from superb. Selection of desserts was very limited and on several days the cakes were bad and almost uneatable. Having a sweet tooth, I appreciated the upshot that here's a cruise that I will not gain weight on.
On the plus side, the guides & lectures were excellent as were all landings. We lucked into some great weather and managed 2 outings/day. The gifted Parka provided by PA II, is warm; a secondary warm jacket is not required but do make sure you order it at least 1 week prior to departure as they may not have your size on board. Boots were plentiful and I certainly don't recommend you purchase your own unless you have special needs. Lack of entertainment (piano man only) was not a significant factor since we were tired from the daily expeditions. Informative lectures filled in voids. Lack of entertainment will be relevant if weather does not permit landings.
Finally the 2 day Drake passage crossing (both directions) had many passengers succumbing to sea sickness so be prepared even if you've been on rough seas. This ship is only 30,000 tons
If I am to do Antarctica again, I would choose National Geographic's Explorer expedition ship. You certainly get more value for your money. Other passengers felt the same way.