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10 Antarctica Family Cruise Reviews

We got on this cruise initially because it fitted into our schedule and offered all the attractions. How lucky were we! We had an adventure that you dream about. The ship, the crew, the expedition staff and the organisation were all ... Read More
We got on this cruise initially because it fitted into our schedule and offered all the attractions. How lucky were we! We had an adventure that you dream about. The ship, the crew, the expedition staff and the organisation were all nothing short of excellent. Leaving from Ushuaia the day after our arrival gave us the chance to have a trip to the National Park as well as a look around this little town at the end of the world. Very pretty with plenty of restaurants to eat the local crab delicacy as well as shops for the last minute gear. The cabin was quite roomy with the en-suite bathroom more than adequate for the two of us. Stewards saw to our every need while the food was varied, very tasty and in no short supply. Two expeditions per day was the plan and we made it every day and there were usually options to do Zodiac explorations before landing. Abundant wildlife and stunning scenery was just an everyday event! The expedition Staff were all highly qualified and experienced giving presentations on history, wildlife, geography etc each day we were at sea, Always interesting and informative with no question going unanswered. Very strong health and safety instruction and practice made for a safe holiday especially when zodiac landings were on the agenda. I have no hesitation in recommending this cruise/ship to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
While Lindblad/National Geographic may be a little more expensive than competitors, you really do get what you pay for - excellent ship and crew, expedition leader and staff, food, services, and above all naturalists and researchers who ... Read More
While Lindblad/National Geographic may be a little more expensive than competitors, you really do get what you pay for - excellent ship and crew, expedition leader and staff, food, services, and above all naturalists and researchers who are at the top of their own professions and more than willing to share their knowledge and excitement. Through no fault of L/NG, we lost our half day cruise on the Beagle Channel because of an airline short strike; that also meant missing time in Ushuaia before boarding. But once we pulled away, the magic began - starting with some rocking and rolling on the Drake Passage. Going ashore each day, sea kayaking and catching a glacier calving, zodiac rides through icebergs with seals, penguins and whales nearby, and polar plunges by many brave souls provided memories not to be forgotten. Hiking among busy penguin highways, experiencing the birds' curiosity, inhaling the fragrance of their rookeries, being a kid again and sliding down nice hills on our butts, breathing fresh air, watching waves crashing over the bow, and best of all being 'off the grid' in another beautiful world did wonders for the mind and for the soul. A visit to an abandoned research station starkly illustrated the challenges of early temporary inhabitants of this remote continent (and our 7th!) and the privations they confronted. Aboard ship on 'travel' days (and we got well below the Antarctic Circle on this expedition) we had the opportunity to hear illustrated talks by most of the 'experts' accompanying us, and a couple of special presentations by our Global Explorer, Jamling Tenzing Norgay. Each provided lots of information and often new insights into a variety of natural history subject matter, including stark and blunt assessments of what mankind is doing to planet earth. Food and accommodations were excellent. Always too much tempting food to consume, a great variety of meals for all (international) tastes, and all well prepared; service was a mix of buffet and table service. The lounge was well stocked with a variety of beverages to suit all reasonable demands, all included. 'Entertainment' was minimal, but educational seminars were abundant. Would I go again? In a heartbeat given the opportunity. But there are still many other parts of the world to be investigated while I still can do it. Some of the trips will definitely be with Lihndblad/National Geographic. A caution: One must have infinite patience and not be prone to frustration as one works through airports in South America. Count on frustrating hours in each one! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Having already done a Hurtigruten Norway expedition hiking cruise (and loved it) I didn't hesitate to travel with Hurtigruten again when it came to going to Antarctica. I knew they would offer a more authentic experience, which is ... Read More
Having already done a Hurtigruten Norway expedition hiking cruise (and loved it) I didn't hesitate to travel with Hurtigruten again when it came to going to Antarctica. I knew they would offer a more authentic experience, which is what I wanted. From start to finish it was an awesome voyage. It began with a one-night stay in Buenos Aires in a very well and centrally located hotel. Then the next morning we flew to Ushuaia - known as the southernmost city in the world. The transfers from the hotel to the airport were smooth and in Ushuaia we were given an included free tour and then had free time before we boarded the ship, which I really enjoyed/appreciated. Midnatsol was much smarter than the ship I sailed on in Norway. Although Midnatsol is an expedition ship, it has an atrium with an elevator like the bigger liners - the Hurtigruten ship I sailed on in Norway wasn't comparable. My cabin was fine - it was a polar outside for two people. It was perfectly comfortable/functional - it is NOT posh - The first two days were spent at sea, crossing the infamous Drake Passage - the sea which separates south America from Antarctica. I'm not going to lie. There's a reason this sea is infamous. It can get choppy. Items were literally flying off the shelves onto me as I lay in bed! So if you suffer from sea sickness be sure to take with pills/bands etc - although there were pills available (and very effective too) to buy on board, and they were inexpensive too. But the expedition lectures were a great distraction and extremely enriching. I learned so much - about wildlife, geology, explorers, penguins, climate change, whales/whaling etc. Fascinating. And then as we got closer to Antarctica there were albatrosses and whales to spot from on deck - and even the occasional penguin - just awesome. During those two days everyone gets some boots to wear outside in Antarctica (compulsory as they clean them once you get back so that no germs are being taken onto the 7th continent) and picks up a red expedition jacket you get to keep - I really liked mine. You can see me wearing it in the video links below. It's waterproof and windproof and I wore my other jacket undernearth it. There are only 6 days where you actually get out on land and regulations dictate that only 100 people are allowed on land at a time, which means you have to take turns (the ship carries 500 passengers) and you're only on land for about 2 hours at a time. But then you can enjoy the scenery from on the ship - the two hot tubs on top deck are a great vantage point! And also you might be on land in the morning and then cruising in the zodiac boats (which are small inflatable crafts used to take you from Midnatsol to land) around icebergs for the afternoon. I must mention that itineraries are loose and weather dependent. The expedition team always has a plan A and if the weather (wind and ice are the biggest culprits) prevent that from happeneing they move onto plan B and so on.... This is where we stopped/ what we saw on our sailing: Day 1: Deception Island - a volcanic island - great hikes, a couple of penguins, remnants of old whaling station - scene for attempting the polar plunge challenge - Day 2: Cuverville Island - home to penguin colonies (Gentoo penguins) - just amazing. I the afternoon we went zodiac cruising around amazing icebergs. And ethere were lots of whales Day 3: Ice floe landing (this is a flat iceberg which we got out onto to walk on whilst it was drifting) Day 4. Damoy Point - excellent hikes - great penguins - some people went snow shoeing (an optional excursion)...views over Port Lockroy, home to the British post office which is open for 3 months a year. Day 5. Orne Harbour on the mainland - an awesome (and tricky) hike to the summit brought us to a Chinstrap penguin colony Day 6 - kayaking (this was an optional excursion) in Wilhelmina Bay - and it was amazing - paddling past icebergs, underneath glaciers and oars whacking into floating lumps of ice. Plus we passed a shipwreck of an old whaling ship. We also did some amazing cruising throught the Lemaire Channel and Neumayer channel - both stunning with huge cliffs. And we sailed the most far south the ship has ever sailed to a huge ice sheet which stopped us in our tracks. The light was amazing every day in Antarctica and even in November there really wasn't any proper night time. Food on Midnatsol was also excellent. It's mainly buffets due to the itinerary, but with a couple of waiter-served three-course dinners. Because they can't pick up supplies en route, the food does, naturally, become a little repetitive, but the chef was extremely inventive and I have no complaints whatsoever. Some people went camping for the night on the continent. This was also an expensive optional extra and whilst I didn't do it (it cost $500) I was jealous afterwards of those who did. They camped under canvass in a remote spot (the ship left them there) and with lots of penguins and no civilsation around them. They didn't sleep (it was too cold apparently!) but what an experience - something to say you've done. There was also some entertainement on board - a few shows - a crew talent show / a crew fashion show/a quiz and some screeenings of films about Shackleton and some David Attenbourough nature documentaries. the crew was amazing too. I don't have a bad word to say. After the voyage we flew from Ushuaia to Santiago, Chile for an overnight in another very nice, well-located hotel.... It's a long journey to get to Antarctica, but it was well broken up and helped build the anticipation. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
1. The staff didn't seem to prioritise our seeing and experiencing as much as possible. We felt that we were treated like sheep rather than sentient clients who had spent a lot of money for a unique and remote experience. While we ... Read More
1. The staff didn't seem to prioritise our seeing and experiencing as much as possible. We felt that we were treated like sheep rather than sentient clients who had spent a lot of money for a unique and remote experience. While we understand that the places we travel to are highly regulated to preserve their existence, it seemed that the staff were performing a rote exercise in getting us somewhere and aborting or shortening any visits when conditions were not near perfect. We did not trust that the staff had our interests and maximizing our time with wildlife and on land as a priority. As an example, we were supposed to have 4 days in Antarctica. Instead, we had less than 2.5. En route to Antarctica from South Georgia, we were told that there was a unique surprise opportunity to stop in the South Orkneys, a place none of the staff had ever been. We spent a day at Laurie Island (perhaps not coincidentally, the expedition leader's name was Laurie). This was described to us as a bonus or extra, but that evening, we were informed we still had a day at sea to reach Antarctica, so it meant our time there would be shortened by a day. We didn't have any input into this decision, which meant that we missed out on must-see highlights of Antarctica, like the Lemaire Channel or Port Lockroy. We will have to go back to experience Antarctica. Moreover, our final day in Antarctica was shortened to finish by 11am due to an impending storm in the Drake Passage. We were told avoiding the storm would lengthen our route and this was a necessary change. We were thus surprised when we reached the entrance of the Beagle channel (just over 5 hours from Ushuaia) nearly 24 hours before we were due in Ushuaia. The ship slowed noticeably from the typical speed of 13 knots to 3-4 knots, as we would be well ahead of time to meet the pilot who would navigate us through the channel. That evening, we circled the port of Ushuaia all night. It seems that we missed our day in Antarctica for no discernible reason. We also did not have our second planned day in the Falklands (Stanley). Laurie explained it was due to high winds, but the next day we learned that one of the staff was able to go ashore for a baptism. Also, even though we didn't spend a day in Stanley, we didn’t get to South Georgia early or get to spend more time elsewhere. With all the above, it felt like the ship and trip were to serve the staff more than the passengers. 2. In a related matter, it became clear that staff were incentivized for the extra activities, like cross-country skiing, based on the number of passengers who went/paid. As you know, we had both prebooked the skiing. Iris pulled out due to a prior issue, but Vanessa remained signed up. There were two ski guides, Pete and Chris, and Pete told us he was typically able to take passengers out skiing ~3 times. On our trip, we were told each day that the conditions were not right for skiing up until the very last morning of the trip, before we sailed back to Ushuaia. The activity for the remaining passengers was to visit a chinstrap penguin colony on the same island. I told Pete I would go skiing only if I could also see the penguin colony, as that was my priority given the limited time we had had on land. I told him that otherwise, I would go with the regular groups visiting the penguin colony. He told me we would find a way to do both, and encouraged me to join. On the zodiac on the way to skiing, he mentioned to the rest of the skiiers that I had expressed interest in the penguin colony and asked for input to see what other skiiers wanted to do. No one spoke up, so I said to the whole group, "If no one else is interested in the penguins, I don't have to come skiing, and I can join the other groups going to see the penguins." Pete again told me we would visit the colony, and told me to stay with the skiiers. About 1.5 hours into the skiing activity, he announced to the group that we had a decision point: we could either go see the penguins, or continue higher up the mountain, but not both. Most of the others in the group wanted to go higher up the mountain, with one other skiier wanting to descend. I thus suggested we split up the groups, but Pete refused. I saw a group of snowshoers from the trip (a last-minute scheduled activity that was free and went along much the same route as the paid skiing activity) passing us at that moment, and suggested I could descend with them to catch a zodiac to the penguin colony. Pete again refused, and told me, that is the consensus, and skiied away and up the mountain. I had to turn to Chris, the other guide, who after a 10 minute radio call with Pete, was able to resolve the situation. All of this was unnecessary drama and stress, and it could easily have been avoided if the staff had passenger interests as a priority. (Note: I spoke about this issue directly with Ryan, the guest services director on the ship, as I was quite upset. He handled it well and assured me Quark would be issuing me a full refund for the ski activity). 3. The jacuzzi and pool are advertised as part of the ship's amenities. When we asked for them to be filled on the second day, we were told that they would not be filled until we reached Antarctica, which was the last leg of our trip. It is strange to advertise something and then not be willing to offer it. When we reached Antarctica, we again asked for the jacuzzi and/or pool to be filled. This time, we were told that they were broken. No apologies or offers to make it up to us were offered. That is not acceptable. 4. The first day, we were informed that the bridge had an 'always open' policy, with some exceptions, like when navigating the Beagle channel. However, over the course of 5-6 visits, we only found the bridge open once. During that one visit, we were totally ignored by the crew and staff there, and no one seemed interested in engaging us. 5. There were also minor issues, like mold and leaking in our room, which destroyed two pairs of shoes, leaving water stains. One afternoon we did not have hot water for our showers. Several of the zodiacs had problems on our cruises, with engines breaking. On one occasion, we had to tow another zodiac, causing us to miss viewing a penguin colony. On another, our zodiac broke, and the replacement one was also faulty. We had to wait for a third zodiac to continue our cruise. There were several broken chairs in the main lounges, and it did not appear there was any attempt to fix them. In general, we saw a theme of overpromising and underdelivering. When we are paying over $15,000 each for a trip, we expect Quark to deliver on their offering, and we do not think that was the case here. Broke my luggage during disembarkation. and then lied about it. Then continue to lie about many items when we reached out to them for resolution. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose Silver Sea's trip to Antarctica on the Silver Cloud, as we researched the various ways to go see Antarctica, and even the more austere trips will cost around $10,000 per person with nowhere near the beautiful accommodations, ... Read More
We chose Silver Sea's trip to Antarctica on the Silver Cloud, as we researched the various ways to go see Antarctica, and even the more austere trips will cost around $10,000 per person with nowhere near the beautiful accommodations, expertise of the expedition team, or the ability to go safely ashore nearly every day. We cannot recommend this cruise more highly, and fear we have now set a very high bar of expectation as this has been our one and only cruise! We contacted Silver Seas directly for the cruise and used their agent for all of our booking and travel, including flights, hotel before the trip, transfers, etc. Had a perfect experience with all detail managed well. We laughed at the airport management because it felt like we could not go ten feet without seeing somebody holding a Silver Sea sign, smiling and telling us where to go next. Most welcome. The ship has just been renovated as an ice rated ship, and she is beautiful and felt very safe and secure. For sure we got to experience the shake of the Drake and even moreso during a windstorm in Bransfield Strait, but the captain and crew were excellent navigators, and the ship's crew in the restaurants and rooms just took the swells in stride with relaxing smiles, so we did too. But anti-nausea patches HIGHLY recommended across the passages...which are just gorgeous to cross...the birds and sea life and the sea itself are just remarkable and incomparable, really. We had daily intercom greetings in the morning, and boarded Zodiak rafts according to assigned group once or twice daily for excursions onto land or around the water and icebergs. Plus daily lectures about the history, wildlife, geography of the area. We cannot say enough about the excellent expedition team - about 22 members of the team from all over the world, and highly knowledgeable and excellent presenters in the auditorium and during excursions. We travelled with two of our grown children, and just loved being able to meet daily for meals, cocktail hour, cards, and even an evening of scotch and cigars in a little lounge provided for such an evening. Both piano players played every night in different venues and they know all songs and sing beautifully. Best possible evening entertainment, in our book. Our room was wonderful - highly recommend the terrace - and the butler team amazing. We felt overly pampered. If you are considering a trip to Antarctica, bravo, and absolutely do it! We recommend the Silverseas Silver Cloud cruise without reservation. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
I would like to describe our (my wife and me) cruise experience in some details. I hope it helps people to select, or not, this specific cruise itinerary, cruise ship and even the cruise line for future trips. Just a trip overview, we ... Read More
I would like to describe our (my wife and me) cruise experience in some details. I hope it helps people to select, or not, this specific cruise itinerary, cruise ship and even the cruise line for future trips. Just a trip overview, we booked a veranda cabin, deck 8, in the Celebrity Infinity, for the Buenos Aires > Puerto Madryn > Ushuaia > Antartica (Paradise Bay and Elephant Island) > Falkland Island > Montevideo > Buenos Aires itinerary. It was a somewhat expensive itinerary if compared to other cruises in the region, so our expectations were high. We planned this trip for almost a year. The cruise left Buenos Aires on 21th Jan 2018. About a week before the departure date we received an email from Celebrity Cruises informing the Puerto Madryn stop was canceled. Copy and pasting their own email message: "Due to a technical issue with the ship’s propulsion system, as a precaution, we will have to reduce our maximum speed by a few knots. We assure you, there is no safety issue with the vessel; however, due to the speed reduction, we have to modify our itinerary. Some ports of call will have shortened visit times, while some will have more time. We also had to remove our visit to Puerto Madryn, Argentina from the itinerary. Due to the cancellation of this port of call, we are issuing each guest a refund in the amount equal to one day of your vacation." My wife and I planned to dive in Puerto Madryn with the sea lions. All our scuba gear was already packed to go and the dive package reserved at a local PADI agent. You can imagine our frustration... We embarked on the 21th as planned. About Celebrity Infinity, despite some review we read, it is not falling apart. It is indeed an old ship, somewhat worn out. Stained carpets, peeling paint, scratches here and there are visible, but we consider those minor things. I noticed, however, some other not so minor problems, like leaking plumbing in several places (that left wet spots on the carpets), air conditioning failures (that left some friends in internal rooms overheating), external doors hard to open/close, and massive temperature changes in the hot/cold water supplies. There were also some smaller annoyances in our stateroom, like loose tiles in the bathroom floor and leaks in the shower hoses. We usually ignore these small things, but as you see ahead, events stack up. About the food, it was nice and plentiful. All restaurants we went to were nice. Particularly I would say that some dish on the main dining room, Trelis, was somewhat small (especially the ones with expensive ingredients) and with unexpected component mixes, but this is a matter of taste. The buffet on Deck 11 always had food for any taste. About the entertaining, it was ok. Some shows were really nice while some other were somewhere below passable. The daily activities were plenty, somewhat focused on luxury activities (like art auctions, jewelry sales, Fabergé egg showcase and sales, liquor tastings, and so one). It perhaps makes sense for the overall target audience, mostly senior guests. One of the highlights of this cruise was the presentations from the destination experts. The presentations were really interesting and made de experience must more enjoyable and immersive. The presentation themes included wildlife identification and behavior, destination highlights, geographic features, historical events and even a recent rescue mission to Antartica from the Argentinian navy. There was much effort to provide the same presentations in English and Spanish, so most people would benefit and enjoy all given information. It is also important to note the crew was always friendly and eager to help. Our stateroom attendant and some other personnel we had more contact with during the cruise were very professional and cordial. After few days on the sea, we reached Ushuaia. We visited Escondido/Fasano lake and the experience was really memorable. Since we did not stop at Puerto Madryn we were able to stay in Ushuaia for a few more hours. We headed to Antartica, our main and most anticipated destination. The weather was really good during our stay and the visibility was great. We had the luck to get some snow while entering Paradise Bay. It was quite a spectacle. It is really difficult to describe in words the beauty we saw. While it looks a desolated region, it is full of life. We could see whales, penguins, many different types of birds. The icebergs are also a show apart, featuring beautiful shapes, textures, and colors. We also stopped at Elephant Island, the second sightseeing place. After Elephant Island, when heading back to Falkland Island, a major storm formed in our way and the captain had to deviate our corse, missing Falkland port of call. His decision was the correct one due to the bad weather, however, no one was able to explain why the next port of call wasn't changed to Puerto Madryn. Apparently, the route would be even safer than going straight to Montevideo and, we had the time since Falkland stop was completely skipped. It was really strange and until now I got no answer from Celebrity guest relations about this. On the memo we received in our stateroom: "We would like to inform you that our call to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, has been canceled, due to adverse weather and high winds. (...) Tomorrow, January 31th, the Celebrity Infinity will be at sea, since weather conditions and distance to alternative ports will not allow us to call an alternative port. In an effort to avoid the rough seas, we are traveling directly to Montevideo through an alternative route, as your safety is our top priority. We will be arriving in Montevideo at 6:00 am on February 3rd" We understood the situation and weather changes are a risk involved in all Cruises, however, this port miss and strange deviation from Puerto Madryn just stacked up on our frustration pile. We then faced many days at sea, finally arriving at Montevideo. It was a nice stop, however, I (and many other guests I spoke with) would rather stop in other ports then in Montevideo. Montevideo is really close to Buenos Aires and you can easily go by car, bus or even boat in a couple hours. Puerto Madryn and Falkland Island, on another hand, are much harder and expensive to get to. In the end, the trip left really good memories about Antartica sightseeing experience and a bitter taste for itinerary changes and other smaller annoyances. We felt only half of the trip was actually delivered since we could not stop at Puerto Madryn and Falkland Island. Looking in retrospect, if we could changes things, we would rather flight straight to Ushuaia and book a cruise on a smaller ship just to experience Antartica. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We do not typically cruise, but chose this vacation SOLELY because of the itinerary. The Good: The staff are amazing. Food and drinks are excellent and plentiful. Antarctica is absolutely spectacular. The Juanico ... Read More
We do not typically cruise, but chose this vacation SOLELY because of the itinerary. The Good: The staff are amazing. Food and drinks are excellent and plentiful. Antarctica is absolutely spectacular. The Juanico Winery excursion in Montevideo was phenomenal (Karla our guide was amazing). I can't really comment on the other excursions because it is really the only full port of call we had. The Bad: The itinerary that was advertised was: Buenos Aires - Ushuaia - Cape Horn - Antarctica - Falklands - Puerto Maderyn - Montevideo. The main reasons we chose this cruise were to see Ushuaia, Antarctica and penguins. A few days before we were set to sail, we received an email from Celebrity stating that the ship had propulsion system issues and would have to travel at a lower speed and they were removing Puerto Maderyn (best place to see penguins) from the itinerary, and arriving in Ushuaia 5 hours late. This affected 2 of the reasons for going but we figured we would go because seeing antarctica was too important. The ship moved so slow that at times it felt like you could swim faster. We ended up arriving in Ushuaia at 5pm instead of 9am, effectively completely ruining all excursions and plans. To make up for this the crew stated we would be staying there until 2am (instead of 9pm) as if that is some sort of advantage. They cancelled the stop at Port Stanley because of weather. Several passengers inquired why we could reroute to Puerto Maderyn as originally planned since we were missing the Falklands. Guest relations were arrogant and unhelpful and just stated they weren't navigational experts. They ignored everything you were saying and just something about weather. There went our last chance to see penguins. Essentially we spent about 5 hours on land (Ushuaia) in 13 days. It was terrible. While the visit to Montevideo winery was nice, if they were adjusting the itinerary it would have been a much better option to remove than Puerto Maderyn or shortening our visit to Ushuaia. The Ugly The attitudes of the guest relations manager and Director were awful. They were condescending and disrespectful. The propulsion system had broken weeks before our cruise and they informed us a few days before to ensure that they made their sales with the full itinerary shown. We found out on the ship that the Montevideo port was left in because it was significantly cheaper to restock and refuel in Uruguay than Buenos Aires. We also found out that the decision to remove Port Stanley was made far earlier than any weather set in. Overall we would never sail Celebrity again. The company clearly has a pattern of calculated theft. They knew they couldn't make all the ports, they knew that the chances of going to Port Stanley were low and did not care whatsoever. If you want to be treated like a moron and cheated like a fool book a vacation with Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
ANTARCTICA  CHIMU ADVENTURES /OCEANWIDE EXPEDITIONS REVIEW Antarctica will never disappoint and that’s clear from the moment you being your voyage. HOW you get there and WHO facilitates your journey is a massive decision and, ... Read More
ANTARCTICA  CHIMU ADVENTURES /OCEANWIDE EXPEDITIONS REVIEW Antarctica will never disappoint and that’s clear from the moment you being your voyage. HOW you get there and WHO facilitates your journey is a massive decision and, unfortunately, I think that Chimu and Oceanwide (M/V Plancius) fell well short of reasonable expectations throughout the trip. The booking process was fairly straight forward in that I had already done so much research that I didn’t need to spend a lot of time with them going back and forth about ships, cabins, budgets, etc. The “Basecamp” cruise sounded intriguing and I, foolishly, didn’t ask a lot of questions BUT they also didn’t offer a lot of information beyond the basic information. I’d like to think that Chimu would not sell this cruise based on my comments, later in this document, because the cruise itself was so poor that they should be weary of referring clients. Overall, Chimu do not provide any real level of nuanced customer service. They sign you up and take the money. Other guests on the same cruise were sent hats, packing cubes, customized fleece, etc. – not with Chimu. There is no “we’re happy to have you as a client and want repeat business” attitude with Chimu. I asked about Patagonia extensions, etc. and those questions were never met. Apparently you can go and select your cabin on a website- again this was never articulated by Chimu nor was I ever asked where I’d like to be located within my cabin category. The bare bones nature of this cruise (again captured in this document) was never expressed and that was hugely disappointing and frustrating. Having to drop my luggage (vs. the ship picking from the hotel), loading and unloading kayaks, packing and drying the ship’s camping kit, etc. were all elements that should have been fully revealed. I did not sign up for nor did I pay for a “DIY” cruise but that’s exactly what I got and I hold Chimu wholly responsible for that as it’s their job to know the details of every package they sell. The ship is older (and I knew that) but older doesn’t have to mean worn down and tatty. I read online that the food was “good” and ample – nothing extraordinary and that was fine with me. I knew I was sacrificing the “sexy” part of a cruise by not booking with Heb Sky and/or Ocean Diamond (for example) in exchange for some activities and more time on shore but by no means was I prepared for the wholly poor food served—(and if you’re a vegetarian or vegan you should forget this cruise and cruise line entirely). Overboiled vegetables (the same ones over and over again) and overcooked meat do not begin to address the unlimited culinary choices in today’s food market. This cruise is “physical” and demanding to an extent and lunch will almost never address the high caloric protein-centric intake (not just carbs/sugar) that one would expect. Ocean Diamond and Heb Sky are slightly more expensive ships – and I knew that – but if I knew that paying an addiitonal $1500US was going to exponentially improve my experience beyond activities I would have never booked Plancius. The crew are worn thin and haggard on this cruise. The expedition guides, save for just two or three, are not professional guides in that they were almost all on the cruise on their own “working holidays” to get a chance to come to Antarctica and that meant that their lack of professional, cruise guiding experience became a very glaring component to all days as they simply do not have the skills to communicate, direct, and engage guests. They often kept to themselves, rather than socialize with the guests which is very strange, and were, at times, understandably grouchy. Again, this was another area where this cruise felt very “bare bones”—woefully understaffed and the guides that were on board lacked experience and that was palpable from the on-shore experience to even their very dismal presentations. “Crew  could  have  been  much  more  informative  –  I  found  that  the  briefings  once  on  shore weere  limited  if  not  totally  non-existent.  When  you  get  off  the  zodiac,  you  are  told  where to  walk  and  what  to  see  and  that’s  about  it.  It  would  have  been  really  great  if  there  had been  a  “walking  tour”  of  each  site  and  if  you  were  notified  by  the  crew  if  there  was anything  of  interest  to  see  (chicks,  whale  bones,  seals,  etc.).  I  found  myself overhearing  most  of  the  information  I  wanted  or  needed  from  one  of  the  crew  walkie talkies  –  so  imagine  if  you’re  not  listening,  don’t  speak  English,  or  didn’t  know  to  listen  to “walkie  chatter”.  It  really  felt  as  though  these  guides  didn’t  know  how  to  be  with  guests beyond  their  specialty  –  so  if  you’re  the  mountaineering  guide,  you  don’t  actually  have the  skills  to  guide  people  on  shore,  etc.  –  you  only  speak  mountaineering.  And  that would  be  okay  if  there  were  other  crew  for  the  onshore  part  of  the  journey.  But  they don’t  and/or  aren’t  paying  attention  as  they  all  have  their  own  personal  agendas  (some expedition  crew  were  very  busy  with  their  cameras  and  not  paying  attention  to  guests). The  expedition  crew  are  friendly  but  they  lack  fundamental  people  skills  and  experience and  it’s  palpable  on  the  cruise. There  were  multiple  moments  missed  because  this  crew  didn’t  communicate  properly  – we  all  missed  wildlife,  whale  bones,  etc.  because  they  simply  didn’t  know  how  to communicate,  want  to  communicate  or  apparently  don’t  have  the  crew  numbers  to make  that  communication  meaningful  and  that  is  my  biggest  complaint  of  this  cruise  and I’ll  keep  going  back  to  it  –  it’s  woefully  understaffed.  You  will  get  no  personal  attention to  detail  and  you  will  miss  many  things  because  they  were  not  communicated  in  a  way that  works  for  tourists  standing  on  shore  of  an  island.  And  this  is  the  massive  departure between  this  cruise  and  what  I  imagine  a  Nat  Geo  (or  other  more  expensive  cruise)  to be  and  it’s  a  massive  learning  curve.  I  did  not  understand  that  “older  ship  and  perhaps a  bit  less  luxurious”  meant  that  they  would  skimp  on  the  crew  –  but  they  did.  This cruise,  I  would  estimate,  runs  at  an  enormous  margin  as  a  lot,  if  not  all,  of  the  expedition crew  were  on  their  own  holiday  and  “working  the  trip”  to  get  to  Antarctica  and  you  can feel  it  in  the  way  they  do  their  work,  relate  to  guests,  etc.  –  they  are  not  professional cruise  guides.  Quite  a  few  have  their  own  companies  and  they  took  the  work,  absent any  real  pay,  to  gain  experience  to  further  their  own  businesses  which  doesn’t  sit  well with  me  –  I  felt  like  I  was  “investing”  in  someone  else’s  future  earnings.” New Headings were an excellent company for gear rental and I would never purchase the same items I could rent from them in the future. In all, any company can take your money and place a booking – or you can just go direct to the company that controls the ship in this case with Oceanwide. But a true travel company/agent/consultant invests time to make sure that you are fully aware of all facets of a package before you commit – Chimu in no way met that standard. This cruise feels like a money earner – crew come and work for free, the rest of the crew no doubt work for bare wages, and guests “chip in” to make activities happen. The food is below average and the ship is poorly maintained so much so that even the linens and pillows are in dire need of replacing. This is Oceanwide’s “money maker” and you’ll feel it every day. M/V Plancius 18-29 December 2017 This ship is older and that's okay - I knew I was going to forgo some of the "sexy ship" bits in order to take a smaller ship and optimize time ashore. However, this cruise felt "DIY" in many ways, had okay to terrible food, and just felt like a cruise company trying to maximize their net margin in lieu of taking care of guests. Expedition guides (mountaineering, kayaking, etc.) were friendly - but they are not experienced cruise guides and you can tell - they don't communicate well and cannot speak beyond their speciality much less present engaging, coherent information. The "activities" part of the "Basecamp" cruise are fun but I'm not sure that I would have ever chosen this cruise if I understood the truly "bare bones" nature of it all - forget the ship - they literally just don't have enough experienced staff to make it all engaging and special. Antarctica is brilliant - by all means go - but find another ship/program. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We choose this 10 nights cruise with an early December departure (06 - 16 December), so we could do some awesome snowshoeing. The snowshoes were free to use, which was a nice bonus. We found that the hikes were really good organized to be ... Read More
We choose this 10 nights cruise with an early December departure (06 - 16 December), so we could do some awesome snowshoeing. The snowshoes were free to use, which was a nice bonus. We found that the hikes were really good organized to be able to choose for easy or moderate snowshoe hikes. We even used the boots provided by the ship. Penguins galore, wow, We saw all the cute waddling Gentoo penguins and even chinstrap penguins. Arriving by Zodiac on the rocky beaches, you could just sit there and take in the breathtaking scenery and silence, watching the penguins walking back and forth. Even humpback whales, and orca we saw from the Zodiac during our Zodiac cruises and from 'our' ship Ortelius,Magnificent. Some Leopard seals here and there on ice floes. Then the lemarie channel. We could sail right through the channel. Bluest of blue skies and huge icebergs surrounding us. Many crabeaterseals on the ice floes. We heard only the cracking of the ice, where the bow of the ship touched the ice floes. That is a morning i will never forget. Also the ship was great. It has all the comfort that we need, small enough to remain a small passenger vessel. We felt we were the only lucky people there. Food was excellent, easily 3 to 4 star quality and service. Enough option for vegetarians. the bread was delicious. Every day again, fresh veggies and salads and fruits and more. Hotel service was above exceptional. Expedition staff, they were fantastic. Nice, kind and very social and most of all, very knowledgeable about the area, history, animals and even ice. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
I have never been on a cruise ship before, so have nothing to compare this to. I was there for one thing; to see Antarctica. I had no other expectations, as this is an adventure cruise. We had an absolute blast on this cruise. ... Read More
I have never been on a cruise ship before, so have nothing to compare this to. I was there for one thing; to see Antarctica. I had no other expectations, as this is an adventure cruise. We had an absolute blast on this cruise. Antarctica was worth every penny. We haven't seen wildlife/scenery like that ever in our life before, and don't think we ever will again. We opted for the 11 day Antarctic Explorer cruise with Quark Expeditions aboard the Ocean Endeavour. First off, everything from Buenos Aires including the hotel and chartered flights were great. We had absolutely no problems at all and Quark were very well organised in getting us into and out of Buenos Aires. Everything was superbly organised in regards to the daily activities in Antarctica and I felt like they really made sure to maximise our time in Antarctica, which was our main objective! Of course, there is a massive emphasis on safety, making sure they knew where everyone was at all times, and making sure to leave nothing behind in Antarctica. I was very impressed with the crew's attention to detail on these matters. Yes, sometimes they have to talk to you like you are 12 years old, but unfortunately we did see some passengers do some pretty silly things - I can understand why staff need to be so regimented. The itinerary for your time in Antarctica obviously depends on the weather, but we were able to do both a landing and a zodiac cruise most mornings and afternoons. You would generally have around 1-2 hours on land and then the same on a zodiac cruise per outing. There were minimal waiting times, they certainly have it down to a fine art. Plus, there was always a cup of hot chocolate waiting for you when you boarded the ship after a long day out cruising. We felt as though we saw everything we wanted and our time there wasn't impeded by the number of people on board. The guides make a point of swinging the zodiacs around so that everyone has a chance to get a look and take their photos. On the landings it is easy to escape people and find your own quiet space. We also stopped at a Ukrainian research station and another day, we broke through some thin sea ice at the end of the Lemaire Channel - which I was not expecting. Fascinating stuff! Our expedition leader was Solan and it was obvious that he loved his job and worked 24/7 to make sure that we had a great time. The expedition team worked around him tirelessly (but happily it seemed) throughout the cruise. The expedition team was made up of scientists, historians, photographers etc which made the zodiac cruises/landings and any discussion you had with them very interesting. They were very good at mingling with the passengers and would often come and sit with us at lunch or talk to us at the bar. We even had a nobel peace prize winner on our expedition team and the BBC on board!!! During cruising days, we were given lectures by the various marine biologists, historians, glaciologists, penguinologists etc which I thoroughly enjoyed! I found the actual ship much more comfortable than expected, considering it was an adventure cruise. To me, it felt quite luxurious (although again, I have nothing to compare it to). There was drinking water available in the communal areas, so make sure you bring a drink bottle of some sort. All communal areas were quite large and comfortable. There was plenty of space for everyone. I was really impressed with the meals provided on the cruise. I was not expecting such creativity and really felt that they all did a great job with what they had. The meals were buffets for breakfast/lunch and a 4-5 course meal for dinner. The buffets had plenty of variety, with menus that changed each day and the dinners were overall fantastic. Plentiful wine was served at each dinner - dangerous just before entering the drake passage. They just keep on re-filling your glass! There are free yoga classes daily on board the Ocean Endeavour which you only need to put your name on a list for. The bar was well equipped and open every day/afternoon, a beer cost around 5-6 USD and I think the same for a glass of wine. They did have a few nights where you were given free glasses of champagne, ie. the captain's welcome etc. Hospitality was amazing at all times on this ship. Staff were extremely well-trained and were very helpful (even let me take some food down to my husband who was feeling a little under the weather). They worked the restaurant with ease, even when we were crossing the Drake and the boat was moving from side to side - I was impressed! We were always greeted with a smile. Our rooms were made everyday and beds turned down during dinner. I took my nikon SLR with a 18-110mm lense and a go-pro and was really happy with that. We did the camping and felt it was worth it - a great place to do a go-pro time lapse. In summary, the actual Antarctic experience was fantastic and well-managed. We would do it again, we felt it was great value for money. Of course, you would get a more personal experience on a smaller boat with less passengers, but that would also have cost a lot more. The amount of people didn't bother us at all, as there are plenty of communal areas to escape to and the expedition staff managed the landings so well. Entertainment on the ship was great, plenty of interesting lectures to attend. Food was great, considering the isolated place that you are travelling to. Hospitality was faultless. Rooms and facilities were comfortable and well furnished. The ship did roll a little in the drake passage and a lot of people were sick, but the doctor was very responsive and had plenty of sea sickness tablets to dish out (also free). Would I do it again? Hell, yes! If only I could afford it ;) Read Less
Sail Date January 2016

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