Antarctica is a very special place. We very much wanted to go, but as someone who does not cruise we were a little ?? about having to take a cruise to do it.
Note: there are other options, but they are extraordinarily expensive, one lives in tents and there is no wildlife to speak of.
Anyway, I cannot give any kind of comparisons to other ships, so I will just give you our view from that perspective.
The expedition staff was incredible and I cannot imagine a better run expedition with more qualified staff. The landings, the side trips, the zodiac cruises - just AWESOME!! I must include the personalities of the expedition crew really added to the fun.
In some ways it was a little like camp and these were the camp counselors... way more serious and professional, but since us guest are such noobs - well we have to be shown the ropes, and they did a terrific job of breaking us in.
The ship - We felt the size was about right, and due to the nature of the trip we decided to spend the extra cash to get one of the larger suites. Ours was the Expedition suite mid ship on the 4th deck. It was really nice and we enjoyed the extra space. I sort of wish I had spent a little more for the Silver Suite since one can open the doors and get fresh air.
The food was quite good, not the best in the world, but heck - were provisioned for 10 days Once. Our butler was very nice and all the little things were done to make us comfortable.
Heck, the staff even help "dig in" so we could get the Super Bowl live on the ship. I am quite sure we were one of, if not the only ship to get the game. The staff even put out chips, burger and dogs(and they are all European and still made it work).
Parts of the ship are getting a little tired, namely the Observation Lounge - to me it seemed like a complete waste of space - renovate it and put a bar up there - after 10 days we got tired of the same "go to" lounge.
Fitness center is way too small - the people who take this trip are a generally active group and a decent fitness center is needed.
All in all - go to Antarctica - spend the extra coin to go on a nice ship like the Explorer and enjoy an unbelievable experience.