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37 Hurtigruten Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego) Cruise Reviews

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 February 2019
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
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
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
Sail Date December 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
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
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
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
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
Sail Date November 2018
The company is wonderfully skilled at the cruise thing. The exploration team was varied in expertise and covered every aspect of animal, mineral and social knowledge. They put safety first and we always felt in good hands. They educated us ... Read More
The company is wonderfully skilled at the cruise thing. The exploration team was varied in expertise and covered every aspect of animal, mineral and social knowledge. They put safety first and we always felt in good hands. They educated us thoroughly on our landings, what to expect and encouraged exploration. The ship is designed for beautiful flow and both social and solitary activities. The many possible sitting areas and the view from the windows and decks would satisfy anyone. This is an exploration and expedition cruise. The cruise is for people interested in learning and being actively involved. This is not a cruise for those interested in being passively entertained or have a need to be pampered and treated like royalty. On this cruise you are encouraged to learn, read, listen, question, kayak, camp, walk, sleep and eat a wonderful array of food. The bread and desserts as well as the roasted lamb was wonderful. I slept like a baby. The ship's stabilizers prevented almost all side to side movement and with seas almost without waves for the three weeks I can't speak to how the ship handles during storms. We made all landings and even an extra stop at Deception Island because of our legendary good weather. But I did hear people at Port Stanley say that the bridge crew of Hurtigruten is more skilled and confident than many other tour companies and often makes landings when other ships are afraid to do so. Besides camping and photography lessons and reading with tea and cookies in hand, I loved all the watercolor lessons we were offered. From the hotel, and back to the hotel, ships staff made everything so easy. Nothing seemed impossible. And I did not meet one grumpy or unpleasant person onboard the ship. I am currently making plans for my next Fram with my son and also another Hurtigruten voyage with my mother. My only complain is for the Hurtigruten front office. Getting responses or questions answered by them is like pulling out your own teeth one at a time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Firstly, I am not a travel writer or Author, I write as it comes to my head and this is my honest opinion. This was our first time cruising on Hurtigrutens Ms Fram. After reading all the reviews we were somewhat skeptical about our ... Read More
Firstly, I am not a travel writer or Author, I write as it comes to my head and this is my honest opinion. This was our first time cruising on Hurtigrutens Ms Fram. After reading all the reviews we were somewhat skeptical about our trip. We consider ourselves well traveled, this was our 7th Continent, 69th Country, 409th City (Ushuaia) and 14th Cruise. I cannot Thank Hurtigruten enough for providing us with a FANTASTIC experience, Fantastic Service and Unforgettable Trip. The Drake was kind to us although not the smoothest sailing but it was not hectic and with a little medication we made it with no more than a wobble here and there. WARNING - take your own Motion sickness meds and take them when boarding Fram, don't wait to you hit the Drake Passage. Our Stateroom Category M2 was very comfortable on Deck 6. The catering was very good and satisfied our pallets. Enough choice and to be honest we could have had buffet over the whole period. The bread was top class, freshly baked and such a variety. Salads great, Ice cream and desserts great. Water, coffee, tea and Hot chocolate available all day at no charge. Dining staff were very good and attentive. The Expedition team were fantastic and who needs Las Vegas entertainment when on an expedition, there was something for everyone and we learned so much about this wonderful continent thanks to the on-board team of experts in this field. There was a very entertaining evening that the staff put on toward the end of the cruise. Just love the Fram Choir. For those who need to be entertained, I would suggest you go on a Carnival Cruise or go to Las Vegas. This IS AN EXPEDITION. Our first landing went extremely well and we made every landing planned for the whole 12 days. Muck boots are very comfortable and at no charge either. Obviously changes have been made on Hurtigruten regarding charges and this did make a difference to passengers. Polar circle boats were easy to access and with experienced staff there were no problems at all. I can highly recommend Hurtigrutens Ms Fram for anyone lucky enough to be able to venture to this exclusive part of our planet. The weather was great, 3 short days of snow but this gave us the real feel of Antarctica, rest of the time was sunshine and fine days. Of course its cold but with all the correct clothing it was perfect. Read the tips on what to wear and you will be fine. Read the documents for your cruise online and you will inform yourselves about what you can expect and what is needed by the company and all should run smoothly. If you are reading this then you have access to the internet so go ahead and inform yourself. Its no good going on a trip like this and not being satisfied with only 6 flavors of Ice Cream, really!?? We were lucky to see thousands of penguins, loads of whales and seals. Many different bird species. On our way back toward the Drake Passage we encountered about 10 Orca/Killer whales attacking an elephant seal that had sort refuge on the ledge of a floating iceberg - the captain stopped the ship and encircled the iceberg for about an hour and a half - what an experience. We are back just over a week now and I am still pinching myself that what we experienced was real and experienced on this very planet Earth. Thank you Hurtigruten, Thank you Ms Fram and all those on board that made this journey/expedition so great. Here's wishing that if you are reading this that you have plans to travel to the Antarctic and that your trip will be as fantastic as ours. I can highly recommend Hurtigruten. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We, three ladies, booked the cruise with Hurtigruten through our agent in Hong Kong. So, the cost covers one night in Buenos Aires (BA) and the 14 days trip. Before the trip, I read enough review about the Fram. Of course, there are ... Read More
We, three ladies, booked the cruise with Hurtigruten through our agent in Hong Kong. So, the cost covers one night in Buenos Aires (BA) and the 14 days trip. Before the trip, I read enough review about the Fram. Of course, there are always mixed rating and comments of the same thing. So, with a little reservation, we went ahead, no choice, right! We were lucky that we get to stay in Emperor hotel in BA, a nice hotel. The register went well, only that we have to get our other information separately. It would be more efficient if all information can be given at one time and that the free wifi be given to us at the same time. Then, the arrangement for getting on board of the bus to the airport is a little low profile, we were not aware or no noticeable sign on boarding the bus. Together with the other Hurtigruten guests, we board on the plane, flew to Ushuaia, and finally on board of the ship. The guest register was a bit disorganize, may be guests can be lined up instead of a crowd jammed in front of the counter. Two major things being asked for are: to let Fram keeps the passport and how we prefer to pay our bill. I decided to make payment in cash and, thus, have to make a down payment of US$100. Then I was given a cabin access card with my name, photo and my birthday(some privacy data, no?) Ours is a standard four person cabin, though a bit crowded but still OK coz we are relatively smaller size as Asian. We wish Fram has upgraded us to a more spacious cabin especially when we heard that there are others being upgraded at the spot! Anyway, the cabin provides basic amenities. We are satisfied except that the cabin space is at least 15% smaller than expected. There are standard cruise activities that come with the fare as part of the package deal, and there are additional paid activities. We learnt about the paid activities first before getting information on the standard cruise activities. So, we booked some of the paid activities. After we've done the first standard activity, we think we better stick with the standard ones because of our energy level. All the standard activities were great, safe yet adventurous enough. We were right about our decision of just doing the standard ones, we enjoyed all of them but not feeling stressful. There were lecture, adventure stories telling and documentary film sections on the ship, so one will never feel bored. All activities were educational, a good balance of information, knowledge and fun. As we understand that Fram is an expedition ship we did not have high expectation as we do for other luxurious cruise, such as food, services, etc. And because of this, we found that all the meals were good! Lots of choices and above average quality to us as asian whose taste bud have been spoiled in our own city. We have no problem with the supply of water, tea, coffee and chocolate...which were provided in a 24 x 7 pantry or water bar. Of course, one will have to take a few steps. We did not order any alcohol drinks and have been having water only during all our meals until the last third day when all activities were done and the ship was heading back to Ushuaia. We had no worries of our health and energy condition then we started to have wine and beer every meal. Oh, even the boots were free of charge! Anyway, we brought our own. May be because we have a TV crew from Germany, and that the ship company wanted to make sure everyone is happily! But nothing is flawless, we were kept pick on using plastic bags to protect our camera by one of the expedition staff who was rude to us even in front of other guests. OK, we accept that is to protect Antarctica. BUT, we saw European and American guests using much bigger plastic bags to protect their canon like lenses!!! So large that one would not be able to not seeing these plastic bags!!! We felt being treated differently. We used the plastic bags because we read from some of reviews from different sources suggesting us using plastic bags to protect our camera. We thought that should not be a problem and we use the plastic bags in a way that it won't blow away unless together with the camera. Anyway, nothing is perfect. I suggest also put more smiles on ones face would be much better. I only see true smiling faces when we were stepping out of the ship on that last morning! Otherwise, I would definitely rate this cruise an excellent!. Last but not the least, the service crew members from Philippine were all very talented! Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This is a fantastic way to experience the Antarctic, the Falklands and South Georgia. If you want to go on an expedition to see wildlife and nature this is for you; if you want dancing girls with feathers and dinners with tuxedos and black ... Read More
This is a fantastic way to experience the Antarctic, the Falklands and South Georgia. If you want to go on an expedition to see wildlife and nature this is for you; if you want dancing girls with feathers and dinners with tuxedos and black cocktail dresses then book another sort of trip. This is a professional operation with an excellent boat and expedition crew. Personally, I pay good money to avoid dancing girls with feather but YMMV. We saw penguins unnumbered, humpback whales bubble netting, whales surfacing next to the ship (!!!), seals hunting penguins returning to the rookery, Rock Hopper penguins kamikazimg off the cliffs to avoid seals, fantastic hospitality of the Falkland Island residents, Hour Glass dolphins viewed from the observation deck, Wilson's Storm Petrels and Falkland Island Steamer Ducks doing what they do naturally, visits to British 1950s Antarctic Stations and a fascinating impromptu talk by a Norwegian ex-whaler (and I am a card carrying anti-whaler!). The only problem is should we be travelling to this delicate and fragile eco-system? We would be back again (for the third time) but for wrestling with our conscience about whether we should be travelling here at all. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
First let me say it should tell you something that I'm posting this 3 years later. That's how disappointing this cruise was. Second, Antarctica is incredible, this cruise line does get you there, and it's worth going - ... Read More
First let me say it should tell you something that I'm posting this 3 years later. That's how disappointing this cruise was. Second, Antarctica is incredible, this cruise line does get you there, and it's worth going - despite the incredible disappointment of the cruise company to deliver a quality safe experience in my opinion. And it is all about the hospitality in this case. If you want to just go on an expedition cruise and not care about food, towels, coffee, comfort... then sure. This is fine. But for the price and with just a little effort they could do so much better. People save their whole livest to get to Antarctica. Why not make an effort. The basics: The ship is fine. I am more concerned with seaworthy and safety in this case. However, the common area is pathetically sad. It's like a small bad lounge in a drab little Euro-hotel. Bad coffee. Stale cookies. It all feels like an uninviting afterthought. Just one aspect of failed hospitality effort that never really brought the cruise together nor made one feel welcomed. The food was terrible. Which at first I figured we were at the end of the world and supplies were limited. But when we explored Ushuaia we found plenty of fresh produce, good coffee, pastries... at reasonable prices. Clearly Hurtigruten could have sourced better. There were literally fights in the dining area. Over what I can't even imagine. All the food tasted like hospital food. Really sad. There is nothing that says luxury at all. The towels were small, worn, scratchy and scarce. Yes we went to an amazing place and got to go on an incredible adventure. I'll always cherish that. But they could have done so much better with the slightest awareness of hospitality. At one point, wanting to create an experience for myself and friends we made on the trip, I paid our guide to pluck a piece of calved glacier ice from the water. I created a moment in the bar where we chiseled-off a piece of that prehistoric ice that contained compressed air bubbles from millennia ago. When you poured a liquor over it you could hear those bubble effervesce. Simple. Magical. Special. Not vaguely in the awareness of our host. Lastly, be warned that if there's a medical emergency, your cruise is ruined. Too much to explain here, but research it. We were told that the cruise before ours lost 4 days for and emergency evacuation. One is supposed to have a doctor's note to go on this adventure. On several occasions we saw people put into very precarious positions by the crew. (Many of which kind of came off as junior-college level awkward dolts. The geologist was frankly weird and rude). These situations could have easily resulted in a crisis. For just one example: a clearly overweight, out of shape, knee brace person with cane teetering on the edge of a portable aluminum stair case while trying to get out of a heavily rocking raft in rubber boots onto a very slippery rocky shore with crashing waves. We actually did have a medical emergency that could have ruined our journey. A man that had several prior hip / knee surgeries fell on the boat. But thankfully there happened to be an anesthesiologist and a surgeon on board. And we were told his wife, having been through so many surgeries, provided critical assistance. Without all of that good fortune we would have ad to go to South Shetlands (if I recall) and wait for good weather and airlift. The ship is required to sit in port until weather clears enough for the plane to leave. Overall, we're thrilled we got to go. We loved it. It was worth the risk. But we make the most or any experience. The places we got to see were truly once in a lifetime. And the austere beauty of this other worldly place is unrivaled. It's just too bad that this company doesn't interested in making a sincere effort to make it special. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We started our expedition by flying from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia where we picked up Hurtigruten’s boat MS Fram. The boat is lovely, lots of pine and a fantastic observation lounge with floor to ceiling windows. Our suite was great, a ... Read More
We started our expedition by flying from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia where we picked up Hurtigruten’s boat MS Fram. The boat is lovely, lots of pine and a fantastic observation lounge with floor to ceiling windows. Our suite was great, a good size, but beware, some of the inside cabins are very small. We had an amazing holiday, we saw five different types of penguins (Gentoos, Chin-strap, Magenellic, Rockhopper and King) and lots of seals (Fur, Elephant and Leopard). We saw whales and dolphins and many different birds including albatross and caracars. The scenery is stunning, words cannot describe the sheer beauty of the magnificent icebergs against the cobalt blue skies as the sun’s rays warmed everyone and everything. We endured Force 10s crossing Drake’s Passage, about half the passengers were ill; we couldn’t put into Deception Island because of the Force 11 gale. We had fabulous days when the sun shone and the sky was blue – dips in the on-deck Jacuzzi were a must even though it was -1 C and snowing at times. We had days when the fog obstinately stuck around all day. The best bits were undoubtedly seeing this amazing continent and getting to walk on the Antarctic, South Georgia and the Falklands. It was a real privilege to be there and see the animals and birds and to walk in the footsteps of Shackleton. The staff were really good; the lectures were exceptionally good generally and helped to set the scene perfectly. Safety was paramount, especially important when the transfers to the remote islands were made by Polar Circle boats in lumpy seas. There were many long days at sea filled by lectures and film shows. You might want to take your knitting and a good supply of reading material/puzzle books. There is a supply of jig-saw puzzles on board, but there is also a limit to how many you might want to do. You might also want to take a pack of cards and/or other travel games. The food was OK, the set dinners were better than the buffets, which were the norm at other times. The food was a bit repetitive, the fish and meat often over-cooked. We were expecting something a bit better given the cost of the holiday. We were also disappointed by the penny pinching/money grabbing approach. This was an expensive holiday – the Antarctic is an expensive place to visit. We did receive ‘free’ anoraks, but had to pay to hire boots for the shore excursions – there is a big focus on ensuring that cross contamination of flora and fauna is minimised. The boot hire was only about £15 per person for the whole trip, but this was on a holiday costing £25,000. Excursions were also expensive: kayaking for less than two hours cost £100 per person; a trip in the Polar Circle boat was exciting but another £90 each. There was a queue to camp on the Antarctic, even though it cost £250 for a bottle of water and a night in a tent. Don’t even think about going on the Buenos Aires city tour, it’s only about £30 each but a complete waste of money, you can wander around BA by yourself - just be careful someone tried to rob us by claiming that we had bird mess on our backs that they would help us clean off. In truth our good Samaritan had squirted the ‘bird mess’ onto our backs hoping that the diversion would enable him to pick our pockets. It does seem that Hurtigruten take advantage of the ‘I will only do this once’ sentiment. We also don’t understand why only passengers who have booked suites are offered a glass of fizz on arrival, we stood in the same queues as passengers who hadn’t booked a suite, we were offered a drink and they were quite clearly told that it wasn’t for them – an embarrassing start to the trip. Similarly, we were given ‘free’ water, wine and beer at lunch and dinner because we were part of the ‘Suite Concept’. Everyone else was charged for water at approx £2 per person per day; you could buy a package for the whole trip that reduced the cost to about £1.50 per day. Similarly only those passengers in suites were provided with ‘smellies’ and tea/coffee making facilities in their cabins. Internet access is chargeable but rarely available; so just don’t assume that you will have access. Bar prices are also high, £4+ for a small beer, £5+ for a gin & tonic, £25 for a bottle of wine. We also had a multi-national group of about 200 passengers (the boat can hold about 300) who were interesting to meet – a special sort of person is attracted to this special holiday. We did have a large contingent of about fifty Chinese passengers on our boat – they made up about 25% of the passengers. The experience was not very positive; they frequently took over the lounge/bar area and were very noisy in the dining room. Landings were also marred by their refusal to abide by the rules. Passengers were split into six teams for landings; the first landing started with team 1 going first, followed by teams 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6. The teams were expected to return in the same order. On the second landing team 2 went first followed by teams 3, 4, 5, 6 & 1. This rotation continued so that each team was given the chance to be first on the islands or last off. However, the Chinese passengers would often refuse to leave the islands at their allotted time forcing other passengers to return early. This was the most wonderful holiday; I will long remember standing in the sea with baby seals nudging my legs in curiosity, the sight of ‘baby’ albatross as big as their rockhopper penguin neighbours and the absolutely stunningly beautiful iceberg alley. A wow holiday, it could have been perfect with a little less penny pinching and better behaviour from the Chinese passengers.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
First off, be clear about it: there is no cheap way to go to the Antarctic. We chose the Hurtigruten Fram because we had cruised with them before and had great confidence in their competence. There are more luxurious and expensive ships ... Read More
First off, be clear about it: there is no cheap way to go to the Antarctic. We chose the Hurtigruten Fram because we had cruised with them before and had great confidence in their competence. There are more luxurious and expensive ships but none that are more seaworthy. A very good value. The cruise officially began in Buenos Aires. We spent a week there on our own so had not purchased an airport transfer from Hurtigruten for the charter flight to Ushuaia. This became the source of some stress when we belatedly learned that our flight was to depart at 4:40 AM, meaning finding a cab on our own at 2:00 AM. If we had known about the ridiculously early flight in advance, we would have spent the last night in Buenos Aires with the Fram group. We were met at the airport in Ushuaia by Fram personnel. No problem with check-in on the ship, and our luggage was already in our cabin when we arrived. As been mentioned before, the standard cabin on the Fram is astonishingly tiny. There are two berths with very little space between them. During the day one berth is turned up and the other becomes a couch, to allow for more floor space. There is adequate storage space, but it is mostly in open cubbyholes. Travelers used to large cruise ships will be shocked. The "superior outside stateroom" is much larger and nicer, with a queen-sized bed and large bathroom, but is of course more expensive. We have cruised on the Fram before, and to save money had paid for an "unspecified inside cabin." After all, we never spend any time in the cabin on an expedition cruise. As it turned out, we were upgraded to a "superior" cabin, our good fortune this time. The Fram is a lovely ship, especially built for polar conditions. For this cruise it was completely booked with 224 passengers. Public rooms are very attractive. There is a large observation lounge on Deck 7 forward, a wonderful place to watch the scenery in a hostile climate. Deck 4 is the nerve center of the vessel, with the dining room with windows on three sides; two lecture halls; a cafe with drinks and snacks; a shop offering cold-weather gear and a few souvenirs and essentials; and the administrative center. There are large windows on both sides. The ship also has an outdoor hot tub and a fitness room with a sauna. Outside on Decks 5 and 8 are large observation areas. Of course, in the Antarctic these were used primarily when something especially exciting was going on, such as whale watching or threading our way through gigantic icebergs. We were generally fortunate with weather. The notorious Drake Passage was glassy smooth on the two-day cruise south, and we were able to make two landings a day in Antarctica. (On the return trip over the Drake, it blew a full gale, force 8 on the Beaufort Scale.) The temperature on the Antarctic peninsula hovered around freezing twenty-four hours a day. There is no real darkness this time of year. For shore excursions we wore layers and shed them if there was no wind and the sun was out. Then it seemed surprisingly warm. When it was windy, or when we were in the 8-passenger "Polar Zirkel" boats, we needed all our cold-weather gear, including waterproof parkas (a gift from Hurtigruten) and pants. We also wore study rubber boots for all excursions. These were available for rent from the ship at a reasonable cost. It's hard to describe the eight days we actually spent in the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctica is not a place, it's an experience. Twice-daily excursions brought us into close contact with three species of nesting penguins, who have no fear of humans and will walk right up to you. We also had close encounters with seals on land and on icebergs. The scenery is beyond spectacular. We've all seen pictures and videos of glaciers and icebergs, but no pictures can capture the reality of being there. We visited a couple of inhabited islands and got a change to understand what it's like to live there. Some historic sites were included, such as a former whalers' processing station, and Elephant Island, where Shackleton's crew managed to survive for 4 1/2 months awaiting rescue. Lectures on the wildlife, geology, and history of the region by members of the outstanding Expedition Team put things in context. In addition to the included daily shore excursions, there were optional kayaking trips and "boat cruising" in the small boats. There was also one long guided hike, and the chance to spend a night ashore in a tent. These optional excursions cost extra but provided an even more intimate experience with this unique environment. There was no evening entertainment per se: a "Crew's Show," a Tango demonstration, some relevant movies, etc. We were too tired after the busy days to have any interest in evening activities, and I never heard anyone complain about the lack of entertainment. Breakfast and lunch were always buffets; there were two official dinner seatings, but because of the extensive shore excursions, all but three dinners were buffets. Service was excellent throughout. I have read complaints elsewhere about food aboard the Fram. It certainly does not measure up to the standards of a traditional cruise ship. However, we found that there were plenty of options, including lactose-free and gluten-free. The beef was not great, and vegetables tended to be overcooked, but the fish, cheeses, salads, breads, and desserts were outstanding. And does anyone expect meals on an expedition cruise to play the important role that they do on, say, a Mediterranean cruise? We were quite satisfied. Passengers were a diverse group. Probably more than half were American, but there were large contingents from Germany and France, and we also met South Africans, Australians, Japanese, and Indians, to name a few. This was a very well-traveled assortment of lively, adventurous people, as you would expect on a cruise to the Antarctic. We've been on many cruises, including some to rather exotic places (Greenland, Svalbard, Galapagos, Amazon), but Antarctica will always stand out in my mind. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity of experiencing it. It is totally unlike anywhere else on earth, absolutely indescribable. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We have recently returned from an Antarctic cruise on the Fram. This is sold as a 19 day cruise but although day one starts by having to be at the local airport in Buenos Aires at 3 a.m. you don't actually get onto the ship until 4 ... Read More
We have recently returned from an Antarctic cruise on the Fram. This is sold as a 19 day cruise but although day one starts by having to be at the local airport in Buenos Aires at 3 a.m. you don't actually get onto the ship until 4 p.m. and on day 19 you are going to be leaving the ship at about 7.30 a.m. So, effectively it is a 17 day cruise. The Fram is an excellent ship for the job, being large enough to be comfortable but small enough to get into places that bigger liners would never get to or be allowed to go to, South Georgia for instance has a limit of 100 people ashore at any one time at most of the places we stopped at. Try that on a 2 - 3000 passenger liner. We were blessed with good weather and we landed at almost all of the places intended, however, Hurtigriten do like to make the most of a 'captive audience'. They offered us organised trips at Ushuaia and on the Falklands. All of them seemed quite expensive for what they were so we only pre-booked one which was at Port Stanley. It was fairly interesting, a visit to a penguin colony, but given that we visited numerous others for no extra cost on South Georgia and the Antarctic Islands subsequently this trip was a waste of money, and time as you don't get long in Stanley. Other extras were offered once on board: snowshoeing, kayaking, trips in the Polarcircle RIBs and several hikes. All of these were quite expensive for what they were for instance about £75 for a 2 hour cruise in the RIBs just to see the sights along the shore, almost £100 each for two and a half hours kayaking which, with 5 two-man kayaks earned the line about £1000 for the use of the boats plus two guides. Even the hikes which usually have over 50 people on them will cost you around £25 per person when you might think that they could throw in a guided walk of a few miles free of extra cost especially when you consider that the 'trainee' members of the Expedition Crew are not even being paid by the Line but are doing their jobs unsalaried just to gain experience. They rely, of course on the "well, I'll only be here once" thought that goes through our minds and makes us pay these silly extra costs. Then there's the bar prices. I didn't want a 'booze cruise' but it would have been nice to have a beer at the end of an active day or a bottle of wine with dinner but with Carlsberg lager (the only beer they had and one that I don't like) costing almost £7 per pint and Chilean 'plonk' that sells in Buenos Aires supermarkets for about £5 a bottle being priced at around £25 per bottle on the ship I had a very 'dry' holiday. Obviously it is not that people who can afford the cruise can't afford the drinks but I object to being 'milked' in this way especially when the Line presumably buys the stuff as 'Bonded Stores', that is to say, without having to pay duty on it. They also x-ray your cases when you come aboard, including hand-luggage. This is not as you might think to protect you from guns and bombs. It is to protect their bar profits by spotting and removing any alcohol you may have brought with you. To add insult to injury they also charge for water to drink in the restaurant but they offer a 'deal' whereby you can pay about £20 per head for the privilege of having a carafe of 'mineral' water on your table every evening. This deal is supposed to be per person whereas, of course, it should be per couple but having had a very early start (up at 01.45 a.m.) to catch the flight to Ushuaia I allowed myself to be bounced into agreeing to it for each of us so we paid almost £40 in total. It is a real shame that Hurtugruten feel the need to rip-off their clients in these petty ways as the cruise itself was everything we could have hoped for but the constant feeling that you are being 'milked' leaves a nasty taste that even their very expensive water cannot wash away. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Going to Antartcica is expensive. Hurtigruten is a good lower budget alternative Main complaint: Land services. We, and others in the ship, had bad experiences with the flights from BA to Ushuaia and their associated ... Read More
Going to Antartcica is expensive. Hurtigruten is a good lower budget alternative Main complaint: Land services. We, and others in the ship, had bad experiences with the flights from BA to Ushuaia and their associated 'excursions'. Getting information out of Hurtigruten and their local land operator was virtually impossible. We found out our Ushuaia departure flight time less than 10 hours before we left - at 2:30 in the morning! Wouldn't have been a problem if we had been prepared and not booked a tango show for that night. Just be decent and give people the information and then then can be prepared or make alternative arrangements themselves. My advice is to get to Ushuaia on your own and don't book with the cruise. Also, the Escondido Lake 'excursion' was an absolute rip off. The bus drove out to a roadside outlook of a lake and returned. That was it. Avoid any land segments- badly organized and no value for money. There are also plenty of nice hotels in BA and there is no need to stay at the Emperador. Cabin: It was small but ok. We had a large window to look out to on deck 6 which made watching the scenery easy. The bathroom is quite small and there is limited storage. The good news is that you don't need any fancy clothing. Jeans and fleeces are fine at any time. Take quick dry fabrics because they will get wet during landing and there is much space to dry clothes. Thankfully items dried very quickly. Food: It was fine, nothing special. Don't expect fancy cruise food. Service was OK but there are a lot of rules which the staff will remind you of readily. We had to pay for drinks including water. We did buy a water package which meant that we got a carafe of the same water that came out of the tap. It was conveniently if you are a big water drinker but totally unnecessary. I eat mostly vegitarian and didn't have trouble finding things to eat. Remember that you will be in the middle of nowhere and expecting fresh fruits and veggies is not that realistic Entertainment: It was mostly lectures which were good. The big problem was that they were so well attended it was difficult to find a seat. This is really and educational style trip and so don't expect a lot of entertainment. Cruise Excursions: Amazing and made the trip worth while. We felt completely safe with the expedition staff. We also paid a number of extras including kayaking, which was so worth while. This is where to spend a little extra money, rather than on drinks! Getting geared up to go on the excursion can be a little frenzied because people are anxious to get on land. Definitely rent boots, they were comfortable and good quality. As a tip, leave your life jacket with your boots on the drying rack, that way you don't have to adjust a new life vest each trip. It was a great trip - just keep your expectations of the ship low, make your own travel arrangements to Ushuaia, and let the scenery, wildlife and history make the trip fantastic !   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We sailed from Ushuaia on the 13th January not knowing what to expect!!!! Various cruise reviews had described very different experiences of cruising with Hurtigruten and we sailed very much hoping for the best!!! The Fram left port later ... Read More
We sailed from Ushuaia on the 13th January not knowing what to expect!!!! Various cruise reviews had described very different experiences of cruising with Hurtigruten and we sailed very much hoping for the best!!! The Fram left port later than expected and we thought ...here we go....is this a sign that the cruise will not go well!!!! However our concerns were ill founded and the cruise delivered an experience we shall never forget. The scenery, wildlife and the wonder of nature that unfolded before our eyes was awesome!!!! Magnificent icebergs ,stunning glaciers , vast wilderness, fascinating penguins,frolicking whales and sleek , sleepy seals were some of the sights that we were privileged to experience. The Fram certainly delivered all we could have wished for. I feel though that I should point out that this is an expedition voyage , catering for passengers who are keen to learn about the Antarctic environment and who are flexible , adaptable travellers. We quickly learnt that the Antarctic is unpredictable and on several occasions our itinerary was adapted, changing by the day!!! The expedition team on board were very professional. Their in depth knowledge of Antarctica was amazing . They presented as a very dedicated team, keen to share their knowledge and their experiences. Our expeditions from the ship were well prepared and they went that extra mile in making sure that we made the most of every minute spent in Antarctica. Life on board was informal . Sea days went quickly, relaxing, listening to briefings from the expedition team about penguins, seals, history of Antartica and it's origins, or simply watching the scenery from the many large viewing windows on board. Mealtimes were informal with 3 set dining evenings . There was no dress code and people wore anything from casual wear to smart casual . There were many different nationalities which led to many an interesting conversation at mealtimes or when relaxing with a drink in the bar. The food as you would expect had a distinctly Norwegian flavour. The buffet menus had plenty of choice with some interesting fish dishes !!! The staff on board were polite and helpful. They always had a smile to share with you and gave an excellent variety show towards the end of the cruise. Clothes wise we did bring too much!!! The ship,is very warm and one layer of thermal wear , plus waterproofs is fine for outdoors!! You are given a waterproof jacket on board and you can take this home with you. The ship also hires rubber boots for wearing on shore excursions and these were excellent, gripping the ice/snow .there is also a small shop on board so if you do forget anything it's not a problem!! There is 24 hour tea& coffee and very yummy home made cookies available . Bring a thermal mug with a lid or buy one onboard.......very useful when the ship is lurching through Drakes passage!!! Photo opportunities abound and the ships photographer led some very useful sessions. At the end of the voyage we were given a CD which included the daily programme, blog and a map showing where our ship had travelled. This plus our photographs &memories will be treasured by us for years to come. Journey to Antarctica with Hurtigruten aboard the Fram if you want to set foot &experience Antarctica's wilderness . Journey on board a large cruise ship should you wish to gaze from afar. The choice is yours. I know which I would choose ........   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
My husband and I were very pleased with our cruise to Antarctica aboard the Fram. The expedition staff is great and our suite (634) was spacious and comfortable. I recommend you make your own arrangements for hotel and transportation in ... Read More
My husband and I were very pleased with our cruise to Antarctica aboard the Fram. The expedition staff is great and our suite (634) was spacious and comfortable. I recommend you make your own arrangements for hotel and transportation in Buenos Aries. Hurtigruten wanted $500 per person for transportation between airports and to book a room at the Emperador Hotel for the first and last nights of our trip. I booked the hotel online myself for $125 plus taxes per night. Cabs are easy to get on your own. This saved us approximately $650. I do recommend you book at the Emperador because it's a very good hotel and Hurtigruten uses it for their hospitality base in Buenos Aries so you can talk to one of their representatives in person once you arrive. We booked a day trip to Tierra del Fuego upon arrival to Ushuaia. I paid a bit more to book it through Hurtigruten because I didn't want to take a chance that another tour provider would not get us back in time for final boarding. The park tour was very good and well worth the time and money. It turns out I didn't need to worry about the ship sailing without us. Our scheduled 6:00 p.m. departure was delayed until 1:00 a.m. because a customs issue between Hurtigruten and the Argentine government. I'm not sure who was at fault but another passenger told me the same thing happened to them on another cruise line in Ushuaia two years ago. I recommend you bring something for sea sickness with you. The Drake passage can be very rough or very calm. Our southern crossing was pretty rough with 60+ knot winds and 20 foot seas. I used to live on a sailboat and had never been sea sick before but I would have had a miserable crossing without the patch. If you use a patch for sea sickness make sure you keep a bottle of water next to your bed. Most people experience significant dry mouth with the patch. We thought the food and service in the dining hall was fine. Not gourmet but not bad at all. I wish they had offered more than one brand of beer and a few more vegetarian choices but I had plenty at every meal. My omnivore husband enjoyed almost everything he tried. My only complaint about this aspect of the cruise is that Hurtigruten charges for water at the table. We had a suite so it was included for us but most of the passengers were taken aback that something as basic as water was not complementary. It really doesn't make sense when you can get cookies, tea and coffee free all day near the lecture hall but have to pay for water at your meals. The expedition staff was terrific. They provided a full schedule of interesting lectures between landings and did a fantastic job when we were ashore. The crew that gets passengers ready to go to shore and drives the Polarcirkles were very good and absolutely safety conscious. Speaking of the Polarcirkles, they are really nice with high sides to help keep passengers dry and have good, sturdy rails to hold on. The boots they provide for going ashore are very good. But, like the tap water, use of the boots should be included in the price of the cruise. I would rather they charge a little more up-front so it doesn't feel like I'm being nickled and dimed. Okay, I'm done complaining because those really are only two things I didn't like. They have a small but well equipped gym that we used almost every day. Random magic moment: I was in the gym one morning listening to my iPod while using the treadmill. Just as "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" started playing we motored by an ice floe covered with penguins and then a humpback whale breached right in front of me. There are two heated jacuzzis and a sauna right outside the gym. The planned itinerary had to be changed a couple of times during our cruise but the staff chose alternatives that had to be every bit as good as the original plans and I didn't hear any complaints. The first change was because our planned landing site was iced in but the back up site was fabulous. The second change was more substantial because of a health crisis aboard the ship. We had to abruptly head to the South Shetland Islands to get a crew member who had suffered a stroke to an island with an air strip so he could be evacuated to a hospital in Chile. Even then, our alternative landings at Half Moon Bay and Admiralty Bay in the South Shetlands were wonderful. In fact, if we hadn't gone to Half Moon we would not have gotten to see a Macaroni penguin at all. One of the reviews here mentioned a charge for seeing the ship's doctor. I fell and needed to get patched up for a minor injury. The doctor and her assistant were very nice and took good care of me. The provided a brace, analgesic cream, and ibuprofen at no charge. We have done expedition cruises in the Galapagos, the Amazon, and the Seychelles as well as safaris in Kenya and South Africa. This Antarctic cruise ranks close to the top for me. It is absolutely thrilling to see so many penguins, whales and seals up close. We also enjoyed getting to know our fellow passengers as most were incredibly well traveled and had great stories to tell. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Let's start with the bottom line: A+ for the adventure/education experience and C- for amenities and even basic courtesy Flight arrangements. Getting basic information from Hurtigruten's flight team would challenge the CIA. ... Read More
Let's start with the bottom line: A+ for the adventure/education experience and C- for amenities and even basic courtesy Flight arrangements. Getting basic information from Hurtigruten's flight team would challenge the CIA. Something as simple as baggage limitations required faxes that went unanswered and a series of e-mails that produced absolutely contradictory information. Although I began my quest for answers almost two weeks before departure, it was not until we left the U.S. that I was able to determine that the ONE 8-kg "personal item" that LAN will permit is actually the "carry-on" limit, and that a "personal item" (purse, laptop, etc.) is indeed permitted in addition. I urge potential passengers to arrange their own travel to Ushuaia. LAN flies Fram passengers from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia in an Airbus 320, which was evidently designed by the same folks who learned their ergonomics from the manufacturers of sardine cans. I am only 5 feet 7 inches tall, and I sat with my knees against my chest for three and a half hours. I have flown in military cargo planes that were more comfortable. The cafeteria quality food: Most lunches and dinners were buffet style with quality equivalent to U.S. family restaurant chains, such as Cracker Barrel or Country Buffet (exception: Cracker Barrel does NOT include reindeer stew on its menus). On one of two nights when we had a sit-down meal instead of a buffet, the pork schnitzel was so dry and hard (not tough, brittle-hard) that the cutlets could not be cut with flatware—one of our table companions demonstrated that he could take it his two hands and break it like a thin piece of wood. Can’t seem even to get the good things right. Smoked salmon available at almost every meal . . . lox, but not a spoonful of cream cheese within 500 miles. Mayonnaise? Yes. Mustard? Yes. Butter? Yes. Cream cheese? Blank stares or, to be more accurate, hostile glares, which is what one gets when he asks anything the least out of the ordinary from the Filipino hotel staff. The breakfast buffet is better, or at least more varied, than the complimentary breakfasts one gets at Comfort Inn or Motel 6, and one can actually order a breakfast from the kitchen instead of eating from the buffet, but we timed it. More than 30 minutes to arrive—with the very likely result of missing one’s scheduled landing. Regimentation of services. One cannot take a glass of wine back to one’s cabin. Fear of liability should a passenger fall and break a glass. And, room service available only to passengers who book suites. The very(!) poor service by the serving staff (The "Ugly"): They spend more time chatting, laughing, and flirting among themselves then they do waiting on passengers. And they have the audacity to scold passengers who finally, in desperation, get up help themselves. One got in my wife's face and told her that getting coffee was HIS job. She told him that she wouldn’t have to do it herself if he’d get himself over to the table and actually DO his job. They don’t even smile until a day or two before debarkation when everyone is being reminded about tipping. The hotel staff double as deck crew (at which they are superbly good—getting passengers in and out of boats, sometimes in very challenging conditions), so don’t expect any real competence when it comes to their serving duties. Up in the bar I ordered my usual very dry, dirty, and straight-up vodka martini . . . and was brought a glass of vodka. The rapacious nickel-and-diming passengers to death: The 10th-century Vikings made their living by raid and plunder. Their 21st-century Norwegian descendants have figured out how do the same thing without bloodshed. They run cruise lines and have you at their mercy. Examples. Do not forget any of your over-the-counter meds—aspirin, antihistamines, etc. There is nothing of the sort for sale in the minimal shop. The "Good": The store stocks excellent expedition quality outdoor gear--even better than the ski shop where we work. The "Bad": If you want so much as an antacid, much less something for sea-sickness, you need an appointment with the ship’s doctor. Minimum $150 fee. Don’t go into the bar and ask for a glass of carbonated water. They don’t even have a carbonated water fixture at the bar. They open a can of sparkling water and charge you bar fee for . . . water. And, should you want carbonated water with meals, you either pay by the pitcher or buy a subscription for . . . water. Don’t buy internet time. They sell by the minute, not by the megabyte. Our travel agent arranged a 1,000 NKr credit. We used some of it to buy an hour of internet access and then expended 45 minutes of it trying to forward the credit documentation to the reception desk 20 feet away from where we were sitting in the computer alcove. Subsequently, we exhausted a half-hour (200 NKr) sitting watching a screen say (CONNECTING TO GOOGLE). Never did get online, but the clock ran out nonetheless. If these folks sold you a house, you’d find out afterwards that there was a surcharge for plumbing. Nonetheless, we are contemplating another Hurtigruten cruise. Why? Because they go to some incredible places and because their expedition staff--leaders, ornithologists, biologist, geologist, photographer--are far better than the hotel staff is poor. They’re even better than on the Celebrity Xpedition. Every lecture was worthy of a PBS hour, and the personal photos that the staff have taken in the conduct of their research are often of the quality one expects from a David Attenborough presentation. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We sailed the Polar Circle itinerary Feb. 1 2013. The Antarctica scenery, wildlife, and landscape are spectacular and the itinerary met our every expectation and more. The ship public spaces are clean and in good repair with a very nice ... Read More
We sailed the Polar Circle itinerary Feb. 1 2013. The Antarctica scenery, wildlife, and landscape are spectacular and the itinerary met our every expectation and more. The ship public spaces are clean and in good repair with a very nice observation lounge/bar on Deck 5, good space around the lecture rooms and coffee bar on Deck 4, and good outside space for observation when weather permits. There are very nice saunas for men and women and two outdoor hottubs. There is a small but adequate fitness area with treadmills and and weight equipment. It is usually not crowded and easy to access but there is no drinking water and towels are on a different floor. We purchased return air from Buenos Aries to Ushuaia embarkation point and airport transfers in Ushuaia. The flight down and embarkation was without incident but the dis-embarkation and return flight were poorly handled. We were told to board a bus at 7:45 am for a two hour city tour and transfer to the airport. We got on the bus, it drove to a parking lot at the end of the pier, parked, and we were told we had 2 hours free time for whatever we wanted to do. The ship told us nothing about walking around the town and few were prepared for a walking tour. We were fortunate that the weather turned out well or it would have been two hours sitting on the bus. The return flight was scheduled for 12:30 pm and was delayed an hour. It is 3 1/2 hours. Hurtigruten made no provision for lunch and told us nothing about the lack of lunch. Communications from Hurtigruten before the cruise were limited and terse. Our final cruise documents had to be emailed because we still had not received them a week before our flight departed. We received a notice that a tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park, which was included in the package that we purchased, would no longer be included and we would have to pay an extra $105 pp to take it. We got this straightened out but the messages from Hurtigruten were flip to terse and showed little respect for us. This lack of communication continued throughout the trip. Ships officers dined in the dining room but seldom said hello or engaged with passengers. The expedition leader was not visible on the ship at all. Expedition team members seldom interacted with passengers on board outside of their lectures. Daily programs were fragmentary and not very descriptive of what shore excursions would be. The shore excursions are included in the price and there were about a dozen in different places. Most were short walks, some difficult, with good views of penguin colonies and landscape. Safety during landings in the Polarcircle boats were a priority for the expedition team and were conducted safely under sometimes difficult conditions. We had suite 638, one of the highest category suites on the ship. There was a spacious balcony. The suite itself was very spacious but not as conveniently appointed as we have seen on other lines. There was not much storage for this size cabin and the bathroom was very small and without the finishes and amenities that we have seen in suites on other lines. This is an expedition ship and you are constantly changing into and out of shore landing gear but there was no accommodation in the room for the gear or for drying wet landing apparel. Amenities were better than other cabins on board but much less than we have seen in lower category suites on other lines. The restaurant and hotel staff were friendly and helpful but there did not seem to be enough staff to meet needs in a timely fashion. The waiters started clearing tables well before people were finished and once they started clearing it was difficult to get service. Eight of our 12 evening meals were buffet. The served dinners were fixed menu with one option for the entree. Lunch and dinner buffets were heavy on starches and pasta. Salads were available but vegetables were limited. We found the food quality to be mediocre and often less than well prepared. Wine and beer are available for meals but expensive. Our cabin rate included wine and beer with meals and the servers were trained to recognize this without issues about charges. There is coffee, tea, and some pastries available at no charge during the day but no other food available between meals. The crew did two evening talent shows that were fun. Movies were available some nights but no other entertainment. There are limited itineraries that sail below the Antarctic Circle and MV Fram will have to be considered if you want that itinerary but be aware of the shortcomings of this company and vessel. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We were on the Hurtigruten Polar Expedition leaving Ushuaia on 1st February 2013, having been inspired to go on it by a group tour of the Fram when she was docked in Portsmouth in 2011. Our favourable impressions of the boat and its cruise ... Read More
We were on the Hurtigruten Polar Expedition leaving Ushuaia on 1st February 2013, having been inspired to go on it by a group tour of the Fram when she was docked in Portsmouth in 2011. Our favourable impressions of the boat and its cruise programme were fully borne out by our experience on this vacation. Good intentions to write a review upon return were finally spurred into action upon reading the largely negative Cruise Critic review for the same cruise. Our review offers a more positive perspective which was shared by all the other English-speaking passengers with whom we socialised. The ethos and purpose of this Hurtigruten Expedition are rewardingly different from the 5-star luxury and pampering to which the writer of the previous review is perhaps more accustomed. The pre-trip information provided was comprehensive; we did need to phone about certain details which were unclear, and our queries were dealt with efficiently albeit somewhat brusquely. Our flight from Heathrow was smooth and reception at Buenos Aires welcoming but somewhat chaotic. From the comfortable Emperador Hotel we had a whistle-stop coach tour of BA which gave a good overview of the city. The transfer to Ushuaia was well-managed and smooth (notwithstanding the rather shockingly early 3.30am start from the hotel to the domestic airport). Upon arrival in Ushuaia, the coach trip/visits within the Tierra del Fuego National Park were informative and interesting. Embarkation was smoothly handled. Over the next 48 hours of navigation down the Beagle Channel and across the Drake Passage one became aware of the enormity of the task of registering, preparing, orienting and briefing 240 passengers with regard to the on-board regime, the landings which we would be experiencing, the potentially dangerous polar environment, and the international 'code of conduct' for Antarctica. It was also a chance to relax after the tiring travel to embarkation, and to become acquainted with the ship. The Fram is modern, spotlessly clean, comfortable, and well-appointed with some lovely decorative touches and artwork throughout. The panoramic observation lounge with bar offers fantastic vistas of the awesome scenery and wildlife. Other seating areas also provide places to relax, read or chat. Most of the meals were buffet-style, with set-menu table service on a few special occasions. The food was generally of good quality, with lots of fish and seafood, and the most superb desserts. The salads did get a bit samey; but any criticism of on-board cuisine must take into account the fact that there is no opportunity for re-provisioning on an Antarctic cruise!!! The cost of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is high (in Norwegian waters, Norwegian taxes will apply; but surely the Antarctic is a duty-free area?!). The largely Philippine restaurant staff were charming, courteous, helpful and for the most part efficient, although frequently too rushed off their feet to respond as quickly to requests as one would hope. The iceberg shaped Plexiglas dividers between joined tables were an unfortunate touch which impeded conversation and in our view should be done away with. Our cabin (307) was compact but comfortable with fold-away twin beds (one to give a sofa), plenty of storage space, tv screen, desk (but the chairs which block access to the cabin and ensuite shower-room need replacing with less bulky ones!), and a large porthole. Brilliant showers, shelves for toiletries; our loo did block a couple of times but was rapidly and effectively fixed. The Bridge visit and explanations from the Captain on the construction, technology and operation of the Fram gave insight into the state-of-the-art design of the vessel for polar navigation. Many cruise boats ply to and from Ushuaia and the northern reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula, but very few venture as far as Latitude 68o14'S (our southernmost destination), or are equipped to offer such an extensive opportunity for landings (of which we had 13, over 8 days). Impressively coordinated teamwork is required to launch the 8-person RIBS, land a recce party, organise groups for disembarkation, manage safe movement of passengers ashore plus enabling them to have an enjoyable and informed experience, and then to bring everyone back to the mother ship. We saw an amazing range of wildlife at close quarters, and had many fascinating visits to historical bases both manned and deserted. The expedition team comprises an international group of 9 all of whom are experts in their fields (geology, exploration, biology, photography, flora, ornithology), and they were frequently available to answer questions and give guidance (and, I have a photograph of the Team Leader chatting on-board with a passenger.) Any criticism of their unavailability at certain times should be viewed in light of the fact that there can be no fixed itinerary, and in the context of the need for quick and flexible planning responses to prevailing weather and landing conditions. Their on-board lectures / slideshows were well presented and interesting; there were also some films. 'Entertainment' is NOT the focus of this cruise, and does not purport to be. With only one notable exception (regarding the aborted Lemaire Channel RIB expedition), the announcements were clear and provided necessary information. Given how many were necessary, it would have been inappropriate and confusing for them to be more 'chatty.' Each evening, there were group briefings (in German and in English) for the next day's planned itinerary and landings. As for the criticism that "ships officers dined in the dining room but seldom said hello or engaged with passengers:" their responsibility lay in navigating and operating the ship, which was underway for 18-24 hours every day, and with maintaining the safety of passengers rather than socialising with them. Passenger were aged 40's upwards, most being well-travelled people of retirement age. Germans constituted the largest proportion, then many English-speaking nationalities, with smaller numbers of Europeans of other nationalities. The atmosphere on board was a relaxed, convivial, and informal. Upon return to Ushuaia, disembarkation was efficient. A coach transported us to the starting point for a trek through the scenic Tierra del Fuego National Park, with well-informed guides who provided information about its history, ecology, flora and fauna. The flight to Buenos Aires was delayed by an hour and Ushuaia airport was crowded and chaotic, but this was not Hurtigruten's fault. The evening of our return to Buenos Aires, we learned by chance from companions with wifi connection of the anticipated several-hour delay for our next day's flight (due to technical fault with a BA plane). However the Hurtigruten rep failed to systematically contact all affected clients, and at least one couple were unaware of the delay until they appeared next morning at the originally planned time for the coach. We were booked for an excursion on this last day which clashed with the original departure time; Hurtigruten should have spotted this anomaly and cancelled the booking earlier. A refund was forthcoming only after we wrote to Hurtigruten requesting it after our return. In summary: any criticisms centre mainly on administrative shortcomings and poor communication around the 'fringes' of the cruise, but overall our feedback on this once-in-a-lifetime experience is overwhelmingly positive, and compliments are due to the ship's crew as a whole for their excellent teamwork, professionalism, and cheerful friendliness. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We had always wanted to visit Antarctica and we are so glad we chose the Fram. Everything was exceptionally well organised - we were most impressed by the attention to detail and safety. The ship was very comfortable -even in a force ... Read More
We had always wanted to visit Antarctica and we are so glad we chose the Fram. Everything was exceptionally well organised - we were most impressed by the attention to detail and safety. The ship was very comfortable -even in a force 11 storm we didn't feel ill!!. All the cabins were well apponted, clean and tidy. The food was excellent. Although there was not always a hugh choice, there was always a meat, fish and vegetarian option. On one occasion we didn't like any of the options so the chef did us steak instead. The crew were fantastic - very friendly and couldn't do enough to help you. This was ALL the crew - from the Captian downwards! The visits ashore were made using the Polarcirkel boats - great fun. We were lucky to make 5 landings in Antarctica itself. When chosing an Antrctic voyage - be aware that a lot of the cruises don't actually allow you to land - you just sail the Antrctic waters. If you are looking for a cruise with lots of entertainment, then this s not for you. ther were talks about the wildlife and what we would see but this is very mush an 'Expedition/Explorer' cruise so there is no entertainment as you would get on a large cruise ship. Howver, you are with people who are all really keen to experience the Antarctic. Throughtly recommended - we are looking to go on the Fram again!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Hurtigruten's Classic Antarctica Voyage on the MS Fram (January 11-20, 2013) exceeded my expectations in all regards. I had read most of the reviews I could find online in the process of researching our planned Antarctica trip. ... Read More
Hurtigruten's Classic Antarctica Voyage on the MS Fram (January 11-20, 2013) exceeded my expectations in all regards. I had read most of the reviews I could find online in the process of researching our planned Antarctica trip. Because there were so many choices and I had never heard of Hurtigruten, I was unsure about whether or not the Fram was the right choice. I made the booking through a travel agency, after a number of phone conversations. Their agent was most helpful; however, we got off to a bit of a rocky start when a Hurtigruten USA agent promised an accommodation that it turned out after we had paid our deposit they could not promise. Instead of a guaranteed small suite for the price we were paying, we were offered an onboard credit, and so agreed to finalize our payment. In the end, the Cruise Norway staff and the Hurtigruten USA management did intervene on our behalf, and we were given the small suite we had initially been promised. Our private room and the overall space on the Fram were wonderful... clean, comfortable, spacious indoor and outdoor areas with fabulous views from most of the public areas on the boat. The atmosphere was generally very informal and relaxed. One of the things I personally liked about the overall experience was that out of two hundred guests onboard, approximately one hundred were Americans, about 50 were from Germany, and the other 50 represented a large number of other countries. Likewise, the ten expedition staff represented eight countries. The entire ship's staff were great: cheerful,professional, helpful, efficient, and the whole experience was well managed and executed from start to finish. The Fram is bright and shiny and relatively new, with lots of floor to ceiling windows, and it was kept spotless. For my taste, the food offerings were perfect.... almost all buffet-style, with only four dinners in nine days served with set menus and pre-assigned tables. There was always a great variety of fresh salads and vegetables, along with seafood offerings most days, in addition to a variety of meats, appetizers, great breads and desserts. I can't imagine that you could not find something to please nearly everyone's tastes at every meal. All food, including coffee, tea, hot chocolate and very good tap water were included in the trip price; all other drinks were charged to your credit card account for settlement at the end of the trip. Drinks were relatively expensive (about US$5.50 for a beer, US$7.00 for a glass of house wine, mixed drinks US$8-12). Of the nine days onboard, four were spent crossing the Drake Passage, and five were in the islands and Antarctic Peninsula area, where we made two landings nearly every day. We were blessed with near-perfect weather while in Antarctica... sunny and calm most days, with temperatures in the 40's (F). Penguins were in their rookeries with babies of various sizes at most of the landings, and there was almost always some kind of a hike to a viewpoint or other point of interest. There were lots of seals, and we had plenty of whale sightings. Expedition staff who managed the landing experiences were knowledgeable and helpful in all cases. On the way home, the Captain made a detour so that we had a chance to see Cape Horn, which was not a part of the scheduled itinerary. Most other people I talked with onboard were more than pleased with the overall experience. By choice, I have not been on other cruise ships, so I can't offer comparisons. This is not a big flashy entertainment boat... we had a staff show one night, and there were movies and lectures, but mostly it was a quiet, pleasant, relaxing experience. Antarctic expeditions are all expensive, but for my taste, Hurtigruten offered great value for money, and I cannot imagine having a better overall experience than we did on the Fram. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
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