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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We have just returned from a trip on the Fram. We went to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. Food was great. Expedition team delivered a smooth and safe trip for us. There were 182 passengers. We did two landings or small boat ... Read More
We have just returned from a trip on the Fram. We went to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. Food was great. Expedition team delivered a smooth and safe trip for us. There were 182 passengers. We did two landings or small boat cruises on days where the weather permitted or we were not at sea. Did some lovely scenic cruises on board the ship, which I loved. On most days, but especially on days at sea ( travelling to the Falklands or to Antarctica from South Georgia), lectures or “ science corner” sessions were given by the expedition team. Some were historical, ornithological, marine mammal or ecological. Very high quality of expedition staff. They were available during landings to answer questions and point out interesting things to see. Our Drake Passage crossing was calm, however we experienced some rough seas crossing from South Georgia to Antarctica. We dressed warmly, honestly I never felt cold. My husband and I kayaked in Antarctica which was a great experience. We were in the hands of two very experienced kayak guides. That experience was probably my top adventure experience. Highly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We are a well travelled New Zealand couple in our 60s. We did the HAL “sail by” to Antarctica over Christmas 2015 and were wowed by the scenery & wildlife, so decided to do an expedition cruise to see it closer up. Our ... Read More
We are a well travelled New Zealand couple in our 60s. We did the HAL “sail by” to Antarctica over Christmas 2015 and were wowed by the scenery & wildlife, so decided to do an expedition cruise to see it closer up. Our expedition cruise to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica (22 nights with Hurtigruten December 2018/January 2019) was three times the cost of our drive by on HAL, a 21 night cruise from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires. So it was a big investment. Hurtigruten’s pre cruise experience was a frustration. It was impossible to get information from them and anything you told them obviously went into a black hole. Our travelling companion, who lives in Australia, was sent the optional pre and post cruise excursions, but we had to request them. We asked about getting time in Ushuaia on embarkation day and were told there are 2 flights from BUE to USH, but that flights are not assigned until the night before at the hotel and we would have to talk to the Hurtigruten representative at the precruise hotel in Buenos Aires. We got there too late in the day to talk to them. And anyway, the flights are assigned well before that. The people who had booked optional Hurtigruten excursions in Ushuaia on embarkation day were the ones put on the early flight and those people had to get up at 1.30am in order to catch this first charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. They had not been told the timing prior to reaching the hotel in Buenos Aires. It would be simple for Hurtigruten to explain this procedure to all passengers, whether they are doing optional Hurtigruten excursions in Ushuaia, or if they want extra time in Ushuaia. We were put on the later charter flight, which meant leaving the hotel in Buenos Aires at 8.20am. It was a little over 3 hour flight to Ushuaia. There we were put on buses, sorted by Mandarin, German and English speakers. We were driven to a viewpoint for a photo stop, then to a car park on the waterfront. We had 15 minutes free time. This was not even long enough to go up to the main street, just have a bit of a walk along the waterfront. We then had to return to the bus, to sit there for 20 minutes before being taken to the ship, the Fram, for embarkation. We had to get a comprehensive medical form completed by our doctor at home. We were told we would have to see the ship’s doctor on embarkation, to get our medical form checked before we were accepted for passage. In fact, when we checked in with all our other paperwork, the medical forms were just taken off us and put in a pile to be given to the doctor later. We were surprised at how many passengers were travelling, despite appearing to be in poor health. Hurtigruten had the allocated boat groups up on the noticeboard when we embarked. These are the groups you go ashore in, via the polarcirkel boats. Usually no more than 100 people are allowed ashore at any one time, but in some locations the limit was 20. The groups are rotated in landing order. However, there had been no respect for people travelling together. Our group of 3 had been split across 2 boat groups and many other groups had been split up too, so a lot of people were complaining. They had to reorganise all the boat groups. Because of the number of passengers on the Fram and the limits on how many people can be ashore at any one time, you do spend quite a bit of time waiting for the call for your group to go to the polarcirkel boats for landings. The Fram was comfortable enough. We had a Polar Outside N2 cabin on deck 3. As expected, it was very small, but we did not spend much time in it. One bed was folded away during the day, giving us room to get our gear on for excursions. We were given a jacket on embarkation day. They seemed quite flimsy, but in fact did their job very well. We were also loaned a pair of muckboots, which you stored in your cabin for the duration of the journey. You had to clean the boots when returning from shore. They were warm and did a good job. The food was hit and miss. Breakfast and lunch were both buffet and had good selections. Dinner was buffet on shore days and fixed seatings on sea days. You were allocated a time slot for the fixed seating dinners, either 6pm or 8pm. Again, there was no recognition of groups travelling together and we were allocated 8pm dining while our travelling companion was given 6pm. But it was easy enough to change our time to 6pm. Generally, we found the food, particularly dinners, to be rather uninteresting. The desserts were particularly bland and invariably items such as pastry could be so hard as to be inedible. There was afternoon tea in the Observation Lounge on deck 7; other than that no extra snacks to be had. Water, tea and coffee was always available at no charge, at the drink station by the shop. We were provided with water bottles to refill. Alcohol could be purchased at dinner, or in the bar which was in the Observation Lounge. The shop had a selection of clothing, postcards, sweets etc. Everybody had one 24 hour period of internet included. As there were 3 of us we were able to share and spread our internet days across the journey. Safety was always the first priority and the crew did an excellent job at helping passengers on and off the polarcirkel boats. If they considered a landing site not to be safe then they would look elsewhere, or cancel altogether. There must have been some passengers who never went ashore, as they would have been too immobile to manage the shore landings. Sometimes we would have to jump into water from the boats, and to get back on board it could be a case of putting your knee up and basically falling into the boat. They could not always put steps out if there was swell. We were very disappointed with the lectures. We had far better lectures on our HAL sail by. The timing of the lectures was also poor. For example we had a lecture on what wildlife we might see on the Falkland Islands – the day after we left the Falklands! When we were booking they emphasized not to book a flight after the cruise leaving Buenos Aires before 20.00. Once we had booked this changed to “don’t book a flight on disembarkation day at all – book an extra night in Buenos Aires after the cruise”. I realise that weather conditions could mean a delay in returning to Ushuaia, but in our case we were early, so the ship lingered much of the night in the Beagle Channel before docking early morning in Ushuaia. There were two charter flights from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. Even though we had previously indicated we wanted time in Ushuaia we were allocated to the early flight without consultation. On board I requested a change to the later flight for the 3 in our party and they said they might not be able to change the flight we were on. However, we did get moved to the later flight. We disembarked about 8am and were dropped shortly after a couple of blocks from the centre of Ushuaia. The town itself is a bit scruffy, but there is some great souvenir shopping if you want anything to remind you of ice and penguins! Unfortunately nothing in the town opens until 9.30am, many shops not until 10am. We just managed to get some souvenirs before having to return to the bus at 10.15am, for the short trip to Ushuaia airport. We arrived back at AEP in Buenos Aires at 3.30pm and had to wait over an hour for our luggage. We did not use the Hurtigruten post cruise hotel. We stayed overnight in a hotel in Palermo that we had booked, before returning to AEP very early next morning for our flight to Santiago, on our way home to New Zealand. After we returned home we were sent access to download a log of the voyage. This was an interesting reminder of the trip, but it was disappointing to see the errors in it - days when we had landings were listed as “at sea”. This was a continuation of the errors we had while on board, in the daily programs for instance. Overall Hurtigruten gave us the impression of being enthusiastic amateurs with no attention to detail. We also felt as if they were trying to organise our holiday for us without listening to what the client wanted. If we ever do another expedition cruise we would likely be considering other operators. However we absolutely loved the wildlife and the scenery in Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands. The wildlife was absolutely amazing. The highlight was definitely South Georgia, which I consider is a must do add on to any trip to Antarctica. You do this trip for the wildlife and scenery, not the ship. And this part of the experience is something you will never forget. Our itinerary and landings were as follows: 27 December – arrival in Buenos Aires and overnight at the Emperador Hotel, the hotel Hurtigruten uses. 28 December – flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and embarkation. 29 December – at sea. 30 December - New Island, Falklands. We landed in Settlement Harbour and had 2 hours ashore to walk to a colony of rockhopper penguins, imperial cormorants and black browed albatrosses. Also visited a small museum. 30 December - West Point Island, Falklands. Had 2 hours ashore in the afternoon for a 40 minute walk to Devil’s Nose, where we were able to get stunning photos in a black browed albatross and rockhopper penguin colony. 31 December - Saunders Island, Falklands. We had 2 hours ashore walking around The Neck area to watch numerous penguin and other bird species. 31 December - Carcass Island, Falklands. We had about 1.5 hours ashore in the afternoon to see a variety of birds, plus there was an elephant seal with pup on the beach. There was the option to stay ashore longer if you wanted to do an 8km hike (each way) to another beach on the other side of the island. 1 January – Stanley, Falklands. We were docked at the commercial wharf from 8.30am to 6pm. Hurtigruten provided a shuttle service into the town. Excursions were offered by Hurtigruten but we just spent the day exploring the town. 2 & 3 January – At Sea 4 January – King Haakon Bay, South Georgia. Our first landing was at Peggotty Bluff, for an hour. There were elephant seals, fur seals with pups and king penguins. Then the ship moved to the other side of the bay, to Cape Rosa. Here we went ashore at Cave Cove, which is where Ernest Shackleton and his five companions arrived at the end of their epic voyage from Elephant Island. We only had 15 minutes ashore, which was long enough – it is a very small landing site and just a plaque on the rock to see here. 5 January – Prince Olav Harbour, South Georgia. No landing here in the morning; we cruised around the bay in the polarcirckel boats for 45 minutes. 5 January – Salisbury Plain, South Georgia. Here there is the largest penguin colony on South Georgia, with about 60,000 pairs. We were unable to land here due to swell, so moved around a headland to find a more suitable landing site. Here we were given 30 minutes ashore to view many king penguins and seals with their pups. 6 January – Fortuna Bay & Stromness Harbour, South Georgia. We were given 90 minutes ashore at Stromness Harbour. We walked about 1.5km to a king penguin colony. Then we sailed across the bay, to drop off the passengers who were walking from Fortuna Bay to Stromness, doing the “Shackleton Hike”. The ship then sailed around to Stromness Harbour, where we had 2 hours ashore. We went ashore for a walk to a waterfall, meeting the hikers coming the other way. Lots of seals and an abandoned whaling station. 7 January – Grytviken, South Georgia. In the morning when we arrived it was snowing, but shortly after our arrival the weather cleared into a gorgeous day, and the scenery was magnificent. Before we went ashore a member of the South Georgia Heritage Trust staff came onboard the Fram to give us a 30 minute talk about what they are doing on South Georgia. We only had 90 minutes ashore, which was not long enough for us. Grytviken was a highlight – the cemetery where Shackleton is buried, an abandoned whaling station, a church, museum & post office (long queues for stamps & souvenirs). 7 January – St Andrews Bay, South Georgia. Here there is the largest king penguin colony on South Georgia. Unfortunately we could not land here, due to swell. We sailed on, to Gold Harbour, which we didn’t reach until about 6pm, so it was quite late when the last rotations got ashore, for just 30 minutes. 8 January – Drygalski Fjord, South Georgia. We cruised down the fjord and back. With no landings. After that we headed for Antarctica. This was a rough stretch of sea. 9 January – At Sea. 10 January – At Sea most of the day. We reached Elephant Island at 5.40pm and were not scheduled to land, but it was decided conditions were suitable – just! They said this was the first time Hurtigruten had landed here. It is very inhospitable and it is hard to imagine those men from Shackleton’s expedition being stranded here for four and a half months! We were only given 5 minutes ashore – long enough to get a photo of the bust of the captain of the Chilean ship which rescued Shackleton’s party. They only allowed 20 ashore at any one time – it was important that we could be evacuated quickly if necessary. 11 January - Sailing through the Antarctic Sound (Iceberg Alley). We could smell Paulet Island well before we got there! There is a colony of 200,000 Adelie penguins here! We went ashore in the afternoon and were given 90 minutes to walk up to a lake, around a hill, through the penguin colony. There is also a small shag colony here. Back on the ship we had great views of the penguins “porpoising” through the water around us. I could watch them for hours! 12 January - Hannah Point, Livingston Island. We had an hour ashore; lots of gentoo and chinstrap penguins, and a single Macaroni penguin. Also many elephant seals. 12 January - Whaler’s Bay, Deception Island. Arrived about 3.30pm, sailing through Neptune’s Bellows into the caldera. We were given 90 minutes ashore and able to walk up the hill to Neptune’s Window for the views. Here there are deserted research station buildings and minimal wildlife – a few chinstrap penguins and some seals. 13 January - Orne Harbour. We had 90 minutes to climb up a very snowy hill for some magnificent views and a chinstrap penguin colony perched on top. It was hard going – both up and down – for those of us not used to walking in deep snow, but absolutely worth the effort. 13 January - Danco Island. We arrived here about 2.30pm. We had 75 minutes ashore - gorgeous scenery on a magnificent day with a few gentoo penguins and a hill to climb up. This evening we had a BBQ on the outside deck, then some passengers were returned ashore to camp overnight. The Fram moved out of sight and returned the next morning to pick up the campers. 14 January - sailed down the Gerlache Strait. We stopped to watch several Gerlache Orca, which meant we were running very late, so the planned polarcirkel cruising in the morning was cancelled. 14 January – Port Lockroy. After arrival here in the afternoon we had a member of the UKAHT team come on board the Fram to talk to us before we got to go ashore. This is a very small site; only 30 people allowed ashore at a time. We were given 40 minutes ashore. It was built as a research centre; now a post office and shop. The gentoo penguins moved in after the station was built, and they are living really close to the buildings. A delightful stop. 15 January – We were supposed to have landings at Petermann Island and another island this day, but both were cancelled because the ice was too thick for the polarcirkel boats to operate safely. We just cruised around the Lemaire Channel area for the day admiring the scenery and the wildlife. We had to change routes several times because of the ice. 16 & 17 January - At Sea. Very rough in the Drake Passage. 18 January - Disembarked in Ushuaia about 8am, flew on Hurtigruten charter flights back to Buenos Aires. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
To visit Antarctica and see penguins in their natural habitat. We saw all this and more... Several species of penguin, whales, seals, various seabirds; majestic landscapes of snow-covered mountains and icebergs from small to one that ... Read More
To visit Antarctica and see penguins in their natural habitat. We saw all this and more... Several species of penguin, whales, seals, various seabirds; majestic landscapes of snow-covered mountains and icebergs from small to one that was over 1km long. From arriving at the ship the service was excellent. The crew in all departments are fantastic. Checking in, being fitted for the rubber boots needed for landing, receiving a jacket and re-usable water bottle - which were ours to keep at the end of the cruise. Daily sheets posted the night before giving all the details you needed about what time your landings or cruising would be, the timings of other activities such as the lectures. The variety and interest of these were excellent. There were regular updates and time reminders over the tannoy system. We were very fortunate with the weather, the Drake Passage was pretty calm in both directions and we had sunshine and relatively mild temperatures and could fully appreciate the beauty and splendour of this remarkable place. All landings and cruisings were included, these were well-organised and managed efficiently and with our safety in mind. There were some optional activities available such as, kayaking, snowshoeing and a night under canvas Amundsen-style. These, as with all the outdoor activities, were weather and sea ice dependent. There were extra excursions available pre- and post- cruise. This cruise ran over Christmas and New Year and there was charming entertainment provided by several of the guests as well as the crew, every evening the resident entertainer sang and played the piano in the bar. Please note: this is not a "holiday" cruise, so people shouldn't go thinking there'll be partying and lots of entertainment. This is an Adventure. The joy was going out on deck at sunrise, sunset and throughout the day and taking in the wonder of this majestic place. Sitting with your travel companions and other passengers and marvelling at what we'd been so fortunate to see that day. The ship was kept clean and tidy in all areas, quite a challenge with the kit that we had to wear. The dining choices were excellent at all meals, hot beverages and drinking water were available at any hour from the beverage stations. Hot tea and drinking water was set up for us to have when we came in from the landings and cruisings - perfect to warm and rehydrate. Many thanks to the whole crew of MS Midnatsol and my fellow passengers. This cruise not only met but exceeded ten-fold all hopes and expectations. If I could I would definitely go to Antarctica again, and certainly travel with Hurtigruten. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Wanted a smaller and affordable trip to Antarctica. It was important to be able to hike on the islands and mainland continent and to go on zodiac rides to see wildlife and icebergs! We took can from airpory, easy to do, We met up with ... Read More
Wanted a smaller and affordable trip to Antarctica. It was important to be able to hike on the islands and mainland continent and to go on zodiac rides to see wildlife and icebergs! We took can from airpory, easy to do, We met up with staff at hotel in Buenos Aires to get flight information to Ushuaia, early breakfast and bus ride to airport, thank goodness there was Hurtigruten staff guiding us though airport. Flying into Terre del Fuego was beautiful! So glad we had some time in Ushuaia, it is a really quaint place, worth taking a stroll around. We settled into our interior room easily, nothing fancy but clean, neat, and all we needed cause we planned on being outside as much as possible! Rubber boots, parkas, water bottles distributed, by group we were divided into! Easy to follow instructions! The scenery was amazing, crossing The Drake was fairly calm and we had a lot of sunny days and only one day where we just weathered out a storm! We had zodiac landings 5 different places and zodiac cruising also. We were on land usually 1 1/2 hrs at a time. The crew would go first and mark a trail and flag areas that we needed to avoid. They provided hiking poles and we trekked to penguin rookeries! Every landing was fun, penguins, skuas, the scenery was breathing minute by minute! This is what we were here to experience! Polar Plunge at Deception Island! They provided towels and put you on next zodiac for the boat! This is a must do experience! Captain and crew did a great job, keeping us safe in a bad weather day and ensuring we put our feet on mainland Antarctica! Expedition team great! we didn't do any kayaking or snowshoe excursions! Our room steward Clarence, took great care of us, dining room staff was great. Food was good and a different variety, enjoyed trying new dishes. You won't see the variety or quantity that is on larger ships but it was good. Lots of fish and more lamb dishes than I'm used to. The best dessert was a fruit crumble! I had read some reviews and was very pleased with The Midnastol, she is lovely, light and bright! Lots of public areas to sit and watch scenery. Coffee, teas and snacks always available! Great walking deck, we spent a lot of time out here!! Disembark was also easy. We got the early flight back to Buenos Aires since we had a 9 on flight home and took a cab to the international airport, we had plenty of time. It was everything I wanted it to be with a cherry on top! Absolutely amazing journey, unforgettable trip of a lifetime. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Great trip to Antartica. Lots of landings, and during travel lots of lectures to fill time. All the staff was super friendly and knowledgeable and went above and beyond to be helpful and make sure everyone's needs were met! The ... Read More
Great trip to Antartica. Lots of landings, and during travel lots of lectures to fill time. All the staff was super friendly and knowledgeable and went above and beyond to be helpful and make sure everyone's needs were met! The food was excellent, mostly buffet style with a few seated dinners. Although there were few vegetarian options. This is not a "normal" cruise. No pool (although a "polar" hot tub and indoor sauna and small fitness room) or bingo nights, people were there to see Antartica and learn about Antartica. Due to the weather in Antartica, the excursions and landings can be unpredictable and the schedule changes a lot, but the crew worked really hard to make sure that we did some incredible things and saw lots of penguins and other wildlife. The cabin was tiny, but there was so much to see that I didn't want to spend a lot of time in there anyway. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Finally I got to meet penguins!! The ultimate cruise experience have to be withHurtigruten to Antarctica. MS Midnatsol is a cozy small ship that really fits in this area. All the staff onboard are very service minded and the Explorer ... Read More
Finally I got to meet penguins!! The ultimate cruise experience have to be withHurtigruten to Antarctica. MS Midnatsol is a cozy small ship that really fits in this area. All the staff onboard are very service minded and the Explorer team are just fantastic! Even the ship is getting a bit old, the atmosphere is great. Excellent food and service. Even the passengers are from all over the world, you can feel the Norwegian spirit. Most of the shore excursions are included, but if you want to do something extra, you can go kayaking and overnight tenting. I do recommend both! Before the cruise, you can stay in Buenos Aires for one or more nights. It is a beautiful city. Then you fly to Ushuaia.It takes 3,5 hours down from Buenes Aires. After cruising all over the world with different cruiseliners, I will say this is so far no 1 cruise!! Thank you MS Midnatsol and Hurtigruten! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
This is a science cruise not a booze or casino cruise. The ship is well equipped for Southern Ocean sailing. Cabins are good and food excellent. The science crew offer landings, lectures and science experiments. Catering and hotel staff ... Read More
This is a science cruise not a booze or casino cruise. The ship is well equipped for Southern Ocean sailing. Cabins are good and food excellent. The science crew offer landings, lectures and science experiments. Catering and hotel staff excellent. It is strenuous. Don't go if you are not mobile and can't get in and out of ribs. There are no landing stages; your stepping onto ice, or sliding over the side of the ribs. It can be cold so take several layers. Drakes passage can be rough. If you suffer from severe seasickness, think twice about this trip. BUT, it is amazing and unforgettable.. Get a good camera with v. fast shutter speed. Listen to the photographers on board; go to the lecture. The whole trip went very smoothly. The company are moving about 500 people for embarkation so be patient; it all works. I travelled alone but met a whole bunch of friends and we shared experiences and drinks together. I wouldn't go again. Not because it wasn't fantastic. I'd be afraid at being disappointed Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Vantage Adventures booked it for me as a part on an Antarctica adventure. I have always wanted to see Antarctica and I didn't know anything about the Midnatsol before booking with Vantage. I looked the ship up on the internet and ... Read More
Vantage Adventures booked it for me as a part on an Antarctica adventure. I have always wanted to see Antarctica and I didn't know anything about the Midnatsol before booking with Vantage. I looked the ship up on the internet and downloaded the ship's passenger manual, which was very helpful in packing and planning my trip. The crew on the Midnatsol was attentive and did everything they could to make our adventure a wonderful experience. They familiarize themselves with the adventurers and attempted to meet all of our individual preferences in our cabins, the dining rooms, and the bars. The guides learned the adventurer's strengths and weaknesses and catered to our individual needs. We had 348 Adventurers on board and only 100 could be onshore at one time. They did a spectacular job of traffic control. Everyone got the shore time that they wanted, including the campers and swimmers. Excellent job Midnatsol! Our Vantage Adventures guide, Valerie Martin, from Buenos Aires, provided additional services to the 37 Vantage Advrnturers which enhanced our experience even more and personalized our experience because of her 16 previous trips to Antarctica! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Going to Antarctica was top on our bucket list so we were expecting great things. The itinerary was excellent and the ship's crew were concerned at all times for our safety, which was excellent. The itinerary was good and we were ... Read More
Going to Antarctica was top on our bucket list so we were expecting great things. The itinerary was excellent and the ship's crew were concerned at all times for our safety, which was excellent. The itinerary was good and we were excited to meet the penguins. At embarkation we should have had our medical forms taken off us as we checked in, however this was not done but we were asked to deliver them to a different place the same day. However, we did as requested but the ship mislaid our forms. Having told us that they hadn't received them on the first sea day, and we told them that we had handed them in as requested we heard nothing until the ship was about to sail from Stanley to Antarctica a number of days later when it was insisted upon that we had a medical from the ship's doctor. We were given no apology. The ship itself is comfortable with plenty of pleasant spaces to sit and read or just take in the sites. The cabins are rather compact and the beds not as comfortable as we hoped. The evening dinners were too fancy, no one would go on this trip for the food but would expect good wholesome food. Some of the meat was uneatable. The expedition team were excellent with exceptional knowledge especially in giving their lectures and were always available to answer any questions passengers may have had. The ports of call were good and the shore excursions on the whole were good, but some were very expensive for what you received. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Have always wanted to experience Antarctica, but hesitated due to the cost. However, when we found Hurtigruten, we decided to go for it. We were able to book an expedition suite cabin for about the same price as a standard cabin on other ... Read More
Have always wanted to experience Antarctica, but hesitated due to the cost. However, when we found Hurtigruten, we decided to go for it. We were able to book an expedition suite cabin for about the same price as a standard cabin on other ships, and found it to be excellent value. The service on the ship was exceptional, especially the expedition crew. It was a very friendly atmosphere on the ship, and we really felt as though we were part of the "family". We felt safe every step of the way. The crew was very good at adjusting to the severe weather conditions to give us the best possible Antarctic experience possible. The days at sea were quite rough because of the small size of the ship, and we experienced a hurricane in the Drake Passage, but at no time did we feel at risk. Would highly recommend this trip if it's on your bucket list. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Road Scholar. The ship and crew were always very accommodating. The food was probably my biggest concern. I’m not a picky eater but found the dinners not very enjoyable. I tried everything to be a good sport. Everything looked good ... Read More
Road Scholar. The ship and crew were always very accommodating. The food was probably my biggest concern. I’m not a picky eater but found the dinners not very enjoyable. I tried everything to be a good sport. Everything looked good but some entres were not very good. What I found odd was that we ran out of Chilean wine on the first day even though we departed from a Chilean port. There was always plenty of food. The excursion to learn about the geology of the Falklands was too short and we learned all there was to learn at the introduction class. The drivers of the 4 wheelers were fun and informative. The penguins, the cafe, and the museum store was wonderful. We ate lunch at a local crafted beer restaurant that was really good. Also we sat with some locals and that was informative too. We also enjoyed the kayaking excursion. The kids were delightful and made sure we were very safe and that we had a good time. On our day, the ship was our support boat, meaning they came to us to pick us up. The ship was a overly warm. We got to go to the bridge and that was fun and informative. A highlight was enjoying hurricane winds and seas returning to South America. Quite an experience. I always felt safe and was never afraid. Lastly, the clinic could use some improvement. I needed my eye checked. The problem was the equipment needs new batteries or new eye equipment. Not really worth the visit. Overall I had a terrific trip of a lifetime. Thank you. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I have only positives to report on this wonderful cruise. The ship, itinerary, crew, expedition team, food, and other passengers all exceeded my expectations. If I could turn around and do it again immediately, I would. Hurtigruten ... Read More
I have only positives to report on this wonderful cruise. The ship, itinerary, crew, expedition team, food, and other passengers all exceeded my expectations. If I could turn around and do it again immediately, I would. Hurtigruten arranged my flights. I arrived in Santiago for an included hotel night. My paid airport transfer and hotel check-in were easy. The hotel (Santiago Sheraton) was comfortable and I enjoyed a nice meal. Early morning buses to the airport and flights to Punta Arenas were uneventful. We were given a tour around parts of Punta Arenas and then transferred to the Midnatsol. I had read that this can be chaotic, but it was entirely smooth and fast. Because of deteriorating weather, we weren't able to do Zodiac touring in the Chilean fjords. Instead we made our way to Antarctica, where the weather was fantastic. The Drake Passage was nauseating (there where hurricane force winds), but I was able to see wandering albatrosses following the ship, so I was content. Excursions and other scheduling were described the night before, always with weather caveats. A typical day included a Zodiac wet landing (Hurtigruten supplies muck boots) at either a natural area or near a small base. Snowshoeing and kayaking excursions were available for a fee, as were a kayak certification course and a photography course. Lectures, port talks, and relevant movies were on offer. On other days we cruised in the ship and had Zodiac cruises. A bridge tour was available one day. Food was good, particularly the buffets. Gluten-free and vegetarian options were available or could be arranged. Drinks were somewhat expensive but not out of the range of a US restaurant. Cookies and soup were available from 3-5 PM every day. Everyone on staff was pleasant and helpful. The expedition staff were outstanding and offered both citizen science opportunities (species and nest observations ashore) and peeks through microscopes and at other materials they were sampling. The bird watching was terrific! I saw my 4 most-wanted birds for the trip: wandering albatross, Andean condor, chinstrap penguins, and Adelie penguins, plus many more. We were able to land at Cape Horn, a definite plus. Weather again precluded Zodiac cruising in the fjords. Transfer to the airport in Punta Arenas was efficient. Because of a power failure in Atlanta, a number of us had to shift flights or wait until the next day out of Santiago. I stayed at the Santiago Hilton Garden Inn, which was fine as a hotel/restaurant but located in a pretty crummy area. If I were to do it again, I'd stay at the Holiday Inn on the airport grounds. This isn't a good cruise for someone who wants magicians, room service, or a spa. It's calm and somewhat minimalist compared to the options on a larger ship. On the other hand, there's something to be said for sipping a coffee in a hot tub in a light snow while drifting past icebergs speckled with penguins. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We were particularly interested in the kayaking and camping opportunities which were heavily advertised in the brochure and a major selling point for the trip. Although these were optional activities, the wording and photographs suggested ... Read More
We were particularly interested in the kayaking and camping opportunities which were heavily advertised in the brochure and a major selling point for the trip. Although these were optional activities, the wording and photographs suggested that the only reason you might not be able to participate would be inclement weather. On the cruise, a meeting was arranged to present these activities and we were informed that only 3 groups of 12 kayakers would be organised. As the activity would obviously be oversubscribed, a list would be posted outside the meeting and a 'draw' made to select participants. There would be no camping due to 'staffing issues'. Nothing more was announced until the day before the kayaking when a list of 36 names was posted on a noticeboard. 18 of these were members of a Chinese party who, we were told, had 'special status' due to them being 'around the world' customers. The remaining 18 places were heavily oversubscribed and so many passengers did not get to kayak. With over 200 passengers on the Fram this was a very poor ratio for an activity which was so heavily promoted in the cruise brochure. I wrote to Hurtigruten regarding this issue and finally received a reply pointing out that kayaking and camping were cancelled on this trip due to bad weather. When I pointed out that the the weather had been glorious and the kayaking actually went ahead they eventually sent a very short reply stating that passenger safety was the most important consideration! I still don't know if they simply sent me a stock answer or whether the ship had given them incorrect information. Either way, the matter was dealt with in a very disappointing manner. So, Antarctica and South Georgia are wonderful destinations but if you want to kayak, camp, hike or carry out any of the advertised activities be very careful booking with Hurtigruten. There are other excellent companies out there! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
I knew this was first cruise of the season, but it was marketed to me as limited to 300-350 people. That made sense for an expedition cruise to Antarctica. Limitations on numbers of people on land at any time creates logistical issues. ... Read More
I knew this was first cruise of the season, but it was marketed to me as limited to 300-350 people. That made sense for an expedition cruise to Antarctica. Limitations on numbers of people on land at any time creates logistical issues. Add to that the early season, and it made sense to have a limitation. Unfortunately, Hurtigruten booked over 400 people on the ship. Made it into a shakedown cruise - too many people to fit in the auditorium; too many people to land efficiently; too many people who didn't fully understand the nature of landings in Antarctica. Items on schedule that then appeared to be a surprise as someone had to scramble to get them going. All expedition staff unavailable during landing days, because every single one was needed to try and get the landings and cruisings done. No one seemed to understand the logistics of moving so many people (particularly so many elderly people) on and off the ship on the zodiacs. It was simple math to figure out that the stated departure time would not sync with the landings and cruisings. Schedules when both a landing and a cruise were available sometimes ruled out lunch for certain groups. With two dinner seatings, there didn't seem to be any attempt to check on people's preferences. I actually wrote on my passenger info form (sent out very late, with an email that I had not returned -couldn't return a form that was never sent to me) that I wanted early seating, but was assigned to late (was able to change). Some tables were assigned to people to sit alone (???), others had one single man, one single women - not traveling together (???), but when it was asked it we could broadcast a meeting in the bar area for single travelers to meet each other (not for hooking up, but to simply meet others traveling on their own), was told not appropriate. A shake down cruise is the best description I can provide. Off ship excursions are substantially overpriced. If you are traveling with a group, suggest you try to book directly or accept that Hurtigruten will be charging at least double the actual cost. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
The Antartic region should be on everyone's bucket list. It is an awesome region to visit and the Midnapsol is certainly well equipped to handle the weather and the landings very effectively. The food on board was of excellent ... Read More
The Antartic region should be on everyone's bucket list. It is an awesome region to visit and the Midnapsol is certainly well equipped to handle the weather and the landings very effectively. The food on board was of excellent quality but with little daily variety, and the a la catre restaurant was worth the extra cost.The Philippino crew were very efficient and exceedlingly friendly, making it a very happy ship and happy cruise for all. The ship is in need of renovation again. Carpets in public areas near and on stairs were dirty and worn in some locations, and many of the bar chairs had also seen better days. The alcoholic drinks were very expensive and even by limiting my consumption and avoiding premium wines and spirits, my bar bill worked out at more than 30 pounds sterling each day. The Dazzler hotel in Montevideo where we stayed pre-cruise was very substandard and best avoided. The worst thing was the inexcusable mistake made by the Purser's Office in giving the Chilean immigration authorities the wrong passport number, so that the Immigration arrival form issued to me was invalid and which would have precluded my departure from Chile. I spend 16 unnecessarily stressful hours and a totally sleepless night worrying about whether this mistake could be corrected. Finally, the next morning I was issued on our arrival in Punta Arenas with a correct immigration arrival form by the Purser's Office with no apology! A great relief to me, but this sheer imcompetence on the Purser's part left a very sour note in my mouth in relation to the whole cruise experience. I still await Hurtiguten's apology and recompence for this dreadful error on their part.. Despite the above, I certainly do not regret taking the cruise and would recommend a visit to the Antartic region wholehearted to anyone with a spirit of adventure and exploration. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Always an ambition to visit Cape Horn, Antarctica and the Falkland Islands. Mission accomplished helped by extraordinary weather on Antarctica. The imagery, wildlife and "the silence" was indescribable. The Midnatsol service was ... Read More
Always an ambition to visit Cape Horn, Antarctica and the Falkland Islands. Mission accomplished helped by extraordinary weather on Antarctica. The imagery, wildlife and "the silence" was indescribable. The Midnatsol service was outstanding and the specialist team knew their stuff and shared their knowledge and experience brilliantly. Difficult decisions had to be made in the Falklands due to worsening weather. The Captain made the correct decision to head north early.If you are insistent on a full itinerary being completed then avoid an expedition cruise to extreme parts of the planet!! An unexpected but much welcomed personal service was an interest I have in a sunken vessel in the estuary of the River Plate. The Captain, together with the port authority, located the position of the vessel. We sailed past the buoy marking the position. Mission accomplished. All transfers were well organised. The Sheraton Santiago Hotel was excellent. The Montevidao Colombia left much to be desired!!! Thank you. Read Less
54 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
A trip to Antarctica If you are looking for a 4000-passenger pleasure boat cruise that has floor shows every night, a casino, midnight buffet, and bus trips off the pier at ports of call then DO NOT TAKE THIS CRUISE. This cruise is an ... Read More
A trip to Antarctica If you are looking for a 4000-passenger pleasure boat cruise that has floor shows every night, a casino, midnight buffet, and bus trips off the pier at ports of call then DO NOT TAKE THIS CRUISE. This cruise is an exploration and adventure like no other… to a part of the world seldom visited. Our trip to the southernmost Antarctic locations was aboard the Midnatsol, a Norwegian ship well suited to cruising fjords and locations where there are icebergs. The cruise line is Hurtigruten. These Norwegians do a great job! We flew from the USA to Santiago Chile and stayed at the Sheraton Hotel on Santa Maria St. (That’s another story not worth mentioning here). The next day, we were bused to the airport and flew by chartered air to Punta Arenas where we boarded the ship. There was a three hour bus tour of the Punta Arenas city that kept the ship from having a deluge of 400 passengers all at once. We set sail and headed for the Drake Passage, a 500-mile-wide channel of ocean famous for its rough weather. We tried to make a landing at Cape Horn but were not successful. Take motion sickness pills. We had 40 foot seas and 70 knot winds. This qualified as a hurricane. We have a certificate from the ship to prove it. I never felt unsafe but stayed off the open decks. The Drake passage does not take long and soon you will be on the Antarctica Peninsula. Each day we made forays onto landing sites transported ashore on Zodiaks which dropped us right on the beach. There are no piers at the locations we visited. The ship provides boots suitable for making wet landings. Everyone gets a complimentary parka. Each day we went cruising on the Zodiaks to see whales, seals, etc. The wildlife defies description. Mary had a young Gentoo penguin try to eat the zipper on her pants leg. When not out on the water or land, there are lectures about Antarctica. Note that while landings are scheduled, it is notalways possible due to weather conditions. The on-board experts (more like a university faculty; they all have PhDs) give lectures on cogent topics. Dining is first class. If you like fish, you’ll be in heaven. There are other choices as well. The ship has saunas and hot tubs. Internet service was relatively inexpensive, reliable, quite fast and available about 95% of the time. So, if you want a vacation like no other, go to Antarctica. Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Antarctica and do some landings. All guests gathered in Santiago, Chile at a nice Sheraton so we could take two chartered flights to the departure city Punta Arenas the next morning ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Antarctica and do some landings. All guests gathered in Santiago, Chile at a nice Sheraton so we could take two chartered flights to the departure city Punta Arenas the next morning "early", we had 380 passengers. We did get a tour of Punta Arenas when we landed Museum, town square, etc, just killing time before registering. The embarkation was a little slow as some of the card printing machines had issues but all in all went well, it was done on the ship by workers on the ship. The ship is bigger than most you see on the tour, which is good when crossing the Drake Passage. It takes about 36 hours each way to cross. The ship was built in 2003 and appeared to be maintained very well. All of the common areas are quite nice, although this is not a typical cruise ship, more like a nice ferry boat (in the north summer it is used as a ferry boat). Dinning is usually in the main dinning hall, breakfast and lunch are always buffet. Dinner is about 50/50 buffet and served. The food is good not gourmet, but adequate. This is a Norwegian ship so there is a lot of fish served, when buffet there is always a meat option and when severed you can sub out to the alternate, need to notify at lunch. Near the end there are some very good served meals (Cod and Chateaubriand) all very good. The deserts and bread are all fresh made and very good. After 14 days the choices of fresh fruit are limited, but, that is to be expected. There is a separate Dinning option, a tapas like restaurant. We did it once and it was nice and not too much of an up charge. There is not much to do on the ship, be sure to bring some good books, plural. There are two Jacuzzi's and a library and that is about it. The guides do some presentations that are nice, not many, and not too long. If we are getting off The boat there is a presentation of were we are scheduled to go, some will change. Service was good at all points, the crew are all experienced cruise workers. The landings are what we all came for. On those 6 days it is very busy getting all 380 people ashore and back then usually small boat cursing the same day. This is organised very well and seems to work smoothly. The animals, the views are all outstanding! Final points. There is a lot of Penguin Guano on shore, they loan you boots and give you a nice coat. when you get back on ship there is a Guano-matic that cleans your boots (keep your pants rolled up or tucked). The water, coffee, and tea are free, all else has a cost not cheap but reasonable. I looked at it as part of the experience, not like you have a choice. Read Less
41 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We just returned from the Hurtigruten Midnatsol Chilean Fjords and Antarctica cruise, February 3 to 17, 2017. We had a fantastic time and were completely glad that, after a lot of research and planning, we chose this ship and itinerary. ... Read More
We just returned from the Hurtigruten Midnatsol Chilean Fjords and Antarctica cruise, February 3 to 17, 2017. We had a fantastic time and were completely glad that, after a lot of research and planning, we chose this ship and itinerary. Hurtigruten does an outstanding job with the excursions, cruisings, landings, destination information and safety. Some other specifics could use more organization. But it was Antarctica that we came for and we got it beyond expectations. We flew to Santiago and were given one night at the Sheraton by the cruise line as well as transfers and charter flight to and from Punta Arenas, Chile. The hotel, while adequate, was not one we would choose again as it needs updating and the air conditioning does not work well. However, it sufficed before the journey. There were 384 passengers onboard, a mix of Americans, Germans, French, Japanese and a few Australians and Canadians. We each were assigned into groups and busses for the two charter flights to Punta Arenas. We were advised that, because the ship had arrived late, boarding would be delayed by 4 hours. The flight was uneventful and we had beautiful views of the snow capped mountains in Patagonia. One point though, seat assignments were not negotiable and couples were not seated together. Due to the ship’s delay, the cruiseline hired a company that took us all on a 4 hour tour of the city and provided a box lunch. This was unfortunate as we spent almost two hours walking in a cemetery and two hours on the bus waiting to board. Boarding was chaotic and time consuming, but once aboard, it was obvious that things would get under control. We had been extremely fortunate to be notified of a 24-hour sale Hurtigruten was holding which offered 50% off cabins for this sailing. We were able to get one of the two Owners Suites on the ship for an outstanding price which included the flights in Chile and the hotel night. We checked in on the 8th deck for our suite while sipping a glass of complementary champagne. We then handed in our mandatory doctor’s certification and health survey to the medics and soon were enjoying the beautiful facilities. The suite had a living room, dining area, separate bedroom, one full bath and one half bath, walk in closet, and walls of windows and a door out to the 40 foot balcony across half the back of the ship. It was magnificent and we were thrilled. Our room stewards, Rodney and Cyrus were first class and kept the suite spotless and made us feel extremely welcome. We also were pleased to find out that, with the suite, we had privileges for a separate breakfast venue in Pampas restaurant with cooked to order breakfast. We received free WIFI for the entire trip, a bottle of wine with dinner each evening, wine, beer, soft drinks and water with lunch, free laundry, binoculars, a bathrobe and slippers, a fruit basket, and a full mini-bar. There was a coffeemaker and tea making amenities. These suite perks definitely came in handy. The one odd thing was that we had to pay for bottled water at $2 per bottle. Hurtigruten also provided a great waterproof jacket for us to keep, and boots to use for the entire cruise. Each excursion on Antarctica required that the boots be cleaned and disinfected when reboarding the ship. The boots were warm and comfortable and easy to walk in. Temperatures were routinely in the mid 30s, although it was windy at times. But we never were cold. We were assigned to groups for all the landings and the cruisings. Since only 100 people can land on Antarctica at a time, the 384 passengers were divided up into groupings. While some groups were landing, others went cruising and then vice versa. It was a great use of our time and gave us different perspectives of each site. We were able to do 13 zodiac excursions, which we thought was great. The expedition crew was extremely professional, zodiac drivers informative and keeping safety in mind while showing us the beautiful landscape and wildlife. We had a briefing before each site to help us understand the history and geography as well as logistics. Our program included cruising Garibaldi Fjord and Glacier with condor sightings, and the rest of the Chilean Fjord glaciers which are simply breathtaking. We did a landing on Cape Horn and climbed the 176 steps up to the top on the way to the lighthouse and memorial. We met the lighthouse family and saw the albatross memorial to lost sailors. Then it was on to the Drake Passage, which was smooth as could be. We were amazed at the calm and beautiful weather conditions. We then arrived at Half Moon Island and did landings with many chinstrap penguins and fur seals. In the afternoon, we cruised the area and its icebergs and mountains. The next day was Damoy Point with landings, cruising and a snowshoe hike for those who wished. Gentoo penguins and icebergs abounded. Next day Neko Harbor provided humpback whale sightings, minke whales, leopard seals, crabeater seals, and gentoos. Later we cruised the beautiful Lemaire Channel and reached 65 degrees 5 South. Next day we arrived at Gonzalez Videla Chilean Navy site and were welcomed by officers and many Gentoo penguins. We were able to tour the buildings and have our passports stamped “Antarctica.” In the afternoon, we arrived in Port Lockroy and members of the research team there came aboard and sold some souvenirs and spoke about their station. Next day was Orne Harbour where a beautiful rainbow welcomed us to the foggy and snowy landscape. The terrain was steep but held chinstrap penguins and a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. We were met by the Seabourn Quest and the captain, a friend of our captain, requested some special Norwegian sweet goat cheese, which was delivered by tender to him. We sailed to Wilhemina Bay in the afternoon but, since the wind and waves were too high, we cruised in the ship and not the zodiacs. The 6th and last day in Antarctica took us to haunting Whalers Bay, Deception Island. This caldera holds the remains of the whaling and fur seal trade, as well a past Chilean research facilities, destroyed by volcanic eruptions. The rusting buildings are a stark reminder of nature’s hold on this continent. We were met in the Bay by the Fram, our sister ship and exchanged ship’s horn greetings. Our trip back up the Drake Passage was an adventure like no other. We had been warned that the seas would be high, but we had 36 straight hours of high wind and seas. When we awoke following the Passage, we found a Storm Certificate at our door stating that we had been on board during a hurricane with gusts of over 73.8 mph and waves of 12-15 meters (36-45 feet). We did not leave the cabin during the storm except to find apples and crackers, and taking a shower was a real feat! But, we were fine and have to admit, relieved, when the seas calmed down. It was part of our Antarctic experience! We resumed sailing up the Beagle Channel and stopped for a few hours to walk the small quaint town of Puerto Williams, Chile. On our last day, we cruised Isla Tucker in the zodiacs and saw many cormorants, Gentoo penguins, flightless steamer ducks, Kelp gulls, skuas, The fjords and mountains are breathtaking along the route. We arrived in Punta Arenas and were bussed to the airport for our flight to Santiago. Once again, things were chaotic and we all were sent to the wrong gate and had to scramble to board our charter plane. One really bothersome point was the young man Hurtigruten sent to accompany the first flight, which we were on. Shortly after takeoff, he grabbed the microphone and basically spoke gibberish for 15 minutes. He kept saying, “who am I” “what am I doing here” and giggling. Extremely unprofessional. He gave no relevant information and frankly was a bit disturbing. We think it would be wise to check out who is sent to accompany passengers. The Midnatsol itself is a beautiful vessel with lots of lovely contemporary artwork. There are soaring two-story windows in the forward observation lounge. The theater is comfortable and accommodates lectures and movies well. The ship only felt crowded when passengers were lining up for the buffet meals. There is a small café which sells snacks like candy and chips, a store, a number of bars, a sauna and hot tubs on the 9th deck. Breakfast and lunch were always buffet in the main dining room. Dinner was buffet except for 6 set meals that were scattered throughout the cruise. For that we were assigned tables. There was a set menu with the choice of a substitute entrée if one preferred and told the dining room manager before 2:30 on the day. We found the food good to excellent and the variety was large. The first evening was impressive with beef tenderloin and king crab legs among the buffet offerings. Overall, the soups were outstanding, fresh bread plentiful and a variety of desserts to suit everyone. There always were vegetables and some fruit, although fresh fruit was the one thing we wished more of. We tried reindeer carpaccio which was great, fantastic arctic char, lamb and pork in many varieties. There were always smoked fish, salmon, cheese and cold cuts. We did not go hungry. Our breakfast was usually taken in Pampas Restaurant, and we ordered off the menu for a la minute cooked food. Breakfast was complimentary to suite guests and the fruit boards, meat and cheese boards and eggs cooked to order were always good. The highlight of eating in Pampas was to be served by Gracie, “Amazing Gracie” we called her. She provided the best service of any employee on any cruiseline we have taken (70 cruises). She was always cheerful, anticipated our orders, gave us a hand made Valentine bouquet, and watched over us in the dining room as well. Gracie basically ran Pampas restaurant single handedly. This specialty restaurant also served a three course dinner for $20 pp. We had dinner there three evenings and it was amazing. The restaurant has one entrée called “Asado” which is a large board which consists of a thick, beautifully grilled Porterhouse, chorizo, grilled vegetables and potatoes. Along with an appetizer and dessert, it was a very satisfying meal. We went with friends two nights and by ourselves one night. Gracie kept the entire restaurant going and everything came out perfectly. She always had the bottle of our complementary wine waiting on our table for us. We wish we could say the same for the service in the main dining room. On most every occasion with the set meals, we were ignored by the wait staff for upwards of 30 minutes, without offer of water or other service. On one occasion where we ate with friends at the set dinner, three of the people at our table were served and the fourth was left with an empty plate and no food for three courses. One night one dessert was brought for the whole table. We consistently had to go to the restaurant manager to get service while tables next to us were served by the staff. We thought it was a fluke the first night, but after 6 nights of the same service, we were quite upset. The staff always apologized, but then ignored us the next night. We still do not know what happened. Our table was in the middle of the dining room by a window and not easy to miss. We have never had such bad restaurant service. But we took the ship for the itinerary, not the restaurant and it did deliver on Antarctica. Overall, we loved our Hurtigruten Midnatsol cruise and the wonders of Antarctica and the Chilean Fjords. We would highly recommend this ship if you are considering an expedition ship. The officers and expedition staff were friendly, outgoing, approachable and knowledgeable. We also really felt that safety was a top priority and, despite the high seas, never once had an inkling of concern. We loved the zodiac cruising and will treasure the photos and memories. Antarctica is a dream destination with unbelievable wildlife, landscapes, sunsets, rainbows, glaciers mountain peaks and icebergs. We spent a great deal of our time just amazed by our surroundings and the beauty and harshness rolled into one spectacular place. We are fortunate to have experienced it. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
A wonderful experience more than meeting expectations. Land excursions well organised and full of interest. The Chilean Fjords were spectacular and the landing and excursions at Puerto Williams an added bonus. We were unable to land on ... Read More
A wonderful experience more than meeting expectations. Land excursions well organised and full of interest. The Chilean Fjords were spectacular and the landing and excursions at Puerto Williams an added bonus. We were unable to land on Cape Horn due to weather conditions but instead did a complete circumnavigation of the island affording fine views and truly 'rounding the Horn'. Antarctica was majestic with excellent opportunities for viewing 2 species of penguins, 3 species of seals and 2 species of whales not to mention fantastic icebergs, magnificent sunsets and the fascinating industrial archaeology of a former whaling station. The Falkland Islands provided additional very different experiences including the recent history of Port Stanley, traditional farming and nature reserves with 2 more species of penguin and 2 more species of seal. Staff and crew always professional and helpful. Food good, varied and catered to international tastes. Expedition staff knowledgeable and gave excellent on board lectures and presentations. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We chose this voyage because we had always wanted to visit the Chilean fiords and Antarctica. Going by ship is realistically the only way to do this. I have only been on one cruise before (the Canberra in 1997) and was put off cruising ... Read More
We chose this voyage because we had always wanted to visit the Chilean fiords and Antarctica. Going by ship is realistically the only way to do this. I have only been on one cruise before (the Canberra in 1997) and was put off cruising when I discovered that it seemed to be more about the journey than the destination. But Antactica is all about the destination as well as being made comfortable and kept well informed and entertained along the way. The ship is well suited for this voyage with excellent crew who were all approachable, freindly and helpful including the captain and other officers who were always visible on decks and in the restaurant. The hotel staff were unfailingly helpful and attentive and would always try to accomodate any personal preferences. The 17-strong expedition team included experts on Antarctica, wildlife, adventures, photography, kayaking, biology, environment and a translator. They led all the shore excursions and zodiac cruises and provided many lectures in the amphitheatre which were all well attended, informative, educational and enjoyable. The restaurant was spacious and well appointed, the quality of catering was high and the variey of cooking wide. The breakfasts may seem repetitive to some people but there was a huge variety of choice. The head chef was regularly on duty in the restaurant and would always try and cater for any special requests if available. We were lucky to have made all our scheduled cruises and landings including Cape Horn. In all we were off the ship 14 times (11 landings and three cruises). This really was an adventure. We had close up experiences of many types of penguins, seals and sea birds as well as fantastic scenery, massive icebergs, fabulous sunsets and historical research stations. There was no time for boredom as we seemed to be in and out of boats all the time or simply gazing at the scenery as we sailed through the spectacular channels and bays. So don't be put off by the Jarno48 review who seems not to understand the difference between a Mediteranean cruise and this Antarctic Adventure. One key message on this voyage is to listen to the announcements from the expedition leader so you don't walk double the distance on Carcass Island. And read the daily bulletin sheet posted in every cabin which gives clear daily timetables. It all worked brilliantly for us. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Chose the cruise due to a special offer. Food was boring and bland and we were unlucky enough to be put in the late sitting dinner. One night didn't get to eat until 9pm and as it was a set menu meal didn't finish until almost ... Read More
Chose the cruise due to a special offer. Food was boring and bland and we were unlucky enough to be put in the late sitting dinner. One night didn't get to eat until 9pm and as it was a set menu meal didn't finish until almost 11. There should have been a rotation system! Buffets were boring and bland and breakfast was basically the same every day. Fresh fruit was in short supply and limited variety. Zodiac drivers seemed to be uninterested in finding the best wildlife and catering to all on board by turning the boat to allow everyone access to good photos. Guides did not seem to be knowledgeable about the area and wildlife. For most of our trips no one even spoke! Misinformation given regularly ended up walking 14kms after being told it was 7k round trip...it was in fact 7k each way big difference when you're plodding along with heavy rubber boots etc. There were no on board activities except for a few presentations by the expedition team but the language barrier made this excruciating to sit through. A couple of films on appropriate subjects would have been welcome. Hygiene wasn't adhered to with many people entering the dining area without hand sanitizer so subsequently half the ship ended up with cough, colds etc which made sitting the auditorium even more unattractive. No movies in the cabin unless you paid extra, no internet without paying extra. Have decided I'm not cut out for cruises as I thought the inactivity between landings would bore me to death. The only thing that saved this trip from being an absolute disaster was the perfect weather and conditions and that certainly wasn't down to Hurtigruten. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We enjoyed an amazing experience with Hurtigruten on their MS Midnatsol ship sailing from Punta Arenas, travelling along the Chilean Fjords to Antarctica Peninsula and back. The view was breathtaking throughout. When we cruised on smaller ... Read More
We enjoyed an amazing experience with Hurtigruten on their MS Midnatsol ship sailing from Punta Arenas, travelling along the Chilean Fjords to Antarctica Peninsula and back. The view was breathtaking throughout. When we cruised on smaller boats to look at glaciers and icebergs was incredible and satisfying. Accommodation was very good and comfortable. Food was varied and very good too. Expeditions and on board lectures from experts were excellent. It was an educational and adventurous cruise. Hurtigruten did an excellent job getting us from London through Madrid to Santiago then Punta Arenas and back without a single hitch! It was impressive and I will use them again. The staff were excellent and friendly especially those in the reception, restaurant, bar, cleaning and the expedition team. The expedition team members were all graduates and experts in their field. We had excellent lectures which were very informative and we had the first explorer to trek the Arctic and Antarctica in the same year. Every passenger on board seemed to be delighted with the cruise. The expedition team made every effort to ensure we were able to cruise or land at every convenient location Read Less
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