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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This was our third Seabourn cruise, second on the Quest and we chose this one because we wanted to see Antarctica. Once again, we entered a world of comfort, luxury and plenty, all delivered with kindness and good humour by the hard ... Read More
This was our third Seabourn cruise, second on the Quest and we chose this one because we wanted to see Antarctica. Once again, we entered a world of comfort, luxury and plenty, all delivered with kindness and good humour by the hard working staff and crew. However unlike our previous two Seabourn cruises, we were quite disappointed by the vegetarian food on offer. Cabin Our cabin was on Deck 6,and right up the front of the ship. We had a beautiful big room with a verandah, a separate lounge room, a big comfortable bed and a big bathroom with a bath, with high quality and plentiful bath products and big, soft towels. There was plenty of storage and the view from the verandah was uninterrupted. However on the rare occasions we sailed through rough seas, we certainly rocked a lot. We will book a cabin mid ships on our next cruise. We like good air flow when we are sleeping and once again, the air conditioner did not meet our needs. The cabin was too stuffy and we had the same problem last year and on the Encore the year before. We solved this by bringing our own fan and we were very comfortable. A couple of times throughout the cruise, we had a "meet your neighbours" party. This is a great idea. Dining My husband and I are vegetarian and although there was plenty for us to eat, a lot of the dishes were mediocre. They were very bland and often stodgy and we seemed to have those bland and stodgy dishes over and over again. However we often dined with passengers who chose the meat dishes and they reported that their steaks were succulent and their chicken and pork were cooked to perfection. It's as if Seabourn are ticking a box to say they cater to vegetarians but then fail to produce fine food. However the vegetarian options on the two occasions they held a Galley Market and the special Indian buffet dinner they held one night in the Colonnade were outstanding. We also placed a special breakfast order for vegetarian congee and this dish was also outstanding. The chefs can clearly prepare beautifully spiced dishes when necessary and I only wish they could do it all the time. Vegetarians on all cruise ships seem to be treated with the same contempt as someone who asks for an overcooked steak and I don't think we deserve that. There's a whole market of cashed up vegetarians Seabourn could attract if they really tried to cater to our needs. The waiters on Seabourn are the best of the best. Incredibly inspiring people, I may be in the minority here, but I don't like or understand Seabourn's practice of having the staff offer an arm to a woman, which the woman is then under some pressure to grab while they are escorted to their table in the Restaurant. It is not a custom I am used to and the feminist in me really objects. I always feel uncomfortable and I'm sure these busy young people have better things to do. We have dined in upmarket restaurants all over the world and have not experienced this practice anywhere else. Perhaps they could have an opt in policy for those who enjoy this experience and leave the rest of us alone. Drink The wine ranged from good to acceptable and there was always plenty to choose from. There was a huge variety of cocktails and they were plentiful. The bar staff were wonderful. Public Spaces Even at full capacity, Seabourn ships never feel crowded. We could always find a quiet spot to read or simply watch the world go by. On the other hand, if we wanted company or entertainment, there was always somewhere to go. The whirlpool on deck 6 was a haven for us and we usually had it to ourselves. It was the place to be when sailing away. . Fitness Centre My husband attended the complimentary stretch and exercise classes each day and found them excellent. The instructor was very capable and he gave my husband lots of advice on how to continue the program once he came home. Entertainment We were on the Quest last year, so this time when we went to the shows put on by the extremely talented Seabourn singers and dancers, we were surprised to find that the shows were exactly the same as last year. Even some of the costumes were the same. Seabourn encourages us to be repeat cruisers and we are very happy to oblige, but it would be nice to see something different. The entertainment on the whole was very good but tended to be middle of the road and designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Seabourn's passengers are generally well educated and sophisticated, but most of the music would have appealed to our long deceased parents. For heaven's sake, we were alive in the sixties and went through one of the most profound musical revolutions in history. We can handle entertainment which is current and inspiring and multi-dimensional and I'm sure the talented entertainers onboard would have loved performing this type of material. On the other hand, we were huge fans of Josie and the trio in the Club and we usually ended up there every night. Now they really can handle modern music. We also enjoyed the various parties on the pool deck and in the Club. Jess, the Assistant Cruise Director is an outstanding entertainer. Staff and Crew Iggy and the expedition team were outstanding and I can't thank them enough for the wonderful experience they arranged for us in Antarctica. We always knew exactly what we had to do and when we had to do it and all the time they shared their incredible knowledge with us. They were always true professionals while being kind and warm and funny. The Captain was also a true professional and a wonderful communicator and we always knew we were in good hands. The weather is volatile going to and from Antarctica and each day he told us what the weather was doing and how he was going to deal with it. We were very impressed. The staff in every Department were well trained and incredibly good at their jobs. Seabourn only employs the best of the best and it shows. Excursions Antarctica was the highlight of this cruise and Neko Harbour was the highlight of Antarctica. It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. We were fortunate that the weather was perfect for the 6 days we were there, so we saw everything we set out to see. Only 100 people are allowed on shore at any one time and Seabourn's expedition team organised us like a military operation. We knew exactly what we had to do and when we had to do it. They helped us on and off zodiacs, even those passengers with disabilities, and helped us once we were on shore. They laid out trails for us and kept us away from the seals basking on the beaches and the penguins' walking trails, but we were close enough to see them. The penguins were lovely. The expedition team also made sure we cleaned our boots before we returned to the ship so we didn't cross contaminate the next place we went to. Otherwise we covered a large area of the continent of South America and the excursions were really well organised and great value. The outstanding sights were the fjords in Chile, the Falkland Islands, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and everywhere in Brazil. Passengers Mostly American with a few Australians and English but quite a few other nationalities as well. Age range 60 and upwards. Mostly well educated, well travelled, lovely people who were thrilled to be on board such a lovely ship, living in the lap of luxury and having such a wonderful experience. They were a pleasure to spend time with. However it always amazes me how a small minority are constantly complaining about anything and everything and thought nothing of being very rude to the staff. They seem to get off on it. Internet Very patchy and as other reviewers have said, it should be part of the package. In summary, this was a wonderful experience and going to Antarctica was life changing. Seabourn Quest is one of only a handful of small ships that can go there and we were very fortunate to be able to take this journey. I'm sure we will now all be ambassadors to make sure this remarkable place stays as pristine as it now is. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
From the moment we arrived at the Buenos Aries airport to board our charter flight to Ushuaia , the attention to detail with this cruise line was evident. From having boarding passes ready to go, to buses in you should wear divided by ... Read More
From the moment we arrived at the Buenos Aries airport to board our charter flight to Ushuaia , the attention to detail with this cruise line was evident. From having boarding passes ready to go, to buses in you should wear divided by language, there was nothing it was left chance. The ship was immaculate and in wonderful shape, however it pale by comparison to the genuine friendliness and graciousness of the crew. They are relaxed elegant manner in meeting guest’s requests, made it an absolute delight to be on board. As Antarctica cruise, the coordination of people in and out of zodiacs was masterful and without incident. The food was wonderfully proportioned in the main dining room and for those of preferred self service, there was a buffet on the sixth deck. The lectures from the expedition crew we're insightful, pertinent pertinent, and well delivered. The trip lived up to the value proposition of a luxury cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I chose Ponant based on the dates available, as well as a lower single supplement than I saw on other cruises that I researched. Ponant alsoninvluded the flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia which was a bonus. I spent a night in Buenos ... Read More
I chose Ponant based on the dates available, as well as a lower single supplement than I saw on other cruises that I researched. Ponant alsoninvluded the flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia which was a bonus. I spent a night in Buenos Aires after my flight from JFK, and met the Ponant team at the airport the next morning. The representatives were easy to find and I was quickly waiting in line to drop of my luggage and wait for boarding. After landing in Ushuaia, Ponant offered either a trip to the national park or lunch at a beautiful hotel overlooking the city. I chose lunch. Here, I met other solo travelers who I dined with throughout the cruise. We were then taken to the ship were we began the embarkation process. There was no waiting. Walked directly from the bus up the gangway and onto the ship. We were greeted by the staff, and brought to our rooms. The room was very spacious and the bathroom had a sliding door covering a window which allowed you to watch the scenery when showering. It was very nice! Throughout the cruise, the staff kept us well informed of what the plans were for the day. We generally made 2 zodiac trips per day and most days, 2 landings. Everything was organized very well, from getting our parkas and boots to the daily educational programs (provided in French and English). Our weather was phenomenal, and Drake’s passage was like glass both directions! The expedition team was very concerned about the guests seeing as much as possible and worked very hard to ensure it. There are 2 restaurants on board and I generally chose to visit the buffet which allowed more choice than the sit down restaurant. The food was overall excellent and often had a French flair. The staff on the ship were lovely and any needs were met right away. This cruise was all inclusive and the drinks flowed freely! I did not attend any of the shows except the last one on the last night. It was cute but I’m not a show person. The WiFi was great! Free, and I was able to check email, social media, and text with family and friends (helpful since I was traveling solo). No issues with disembarkation at all. Extremely smooth and organized cruise. Loved Antarctica! I would go back and would chose Ponant again for sure!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
The cruise was amazing. These ships are superb and so smoothly do what they are designed for. Inc getting every out into the zodiacs often. The sights in Antarctica are stunning and the wildlife. Well humpbacks penguins galore and special ... Read More
The cruise was amazing. These ships are superb and so smoothly do what they are designed for. Inc getting every out into the zodiacs often. The sights in Antarctica are stunning and the wildlife. Well humpbacks penguins galore and special sights like minkes up close in a zodiac. 6am rise for a pod of orcas and to top it off a blue whale in the weddell sea. The guides and the zodiac drivers did a great job of getting you close to interesting sights and explaining everything well. On the ship the crew were great. Everything was so well taken care off. And the food well. Level 2 is Devine. I guess what you expect on a French ship! The crossing back across the Drake was windy but what's a trip to Antarctica without having to say you have endured the Drake... These Ponant ships are excellent. I would do it again in a heart beat. Maybe a tropical trip next time or Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I enjoyed everything on this cruise. Everything went really well and smoothly, from embarkation to disembarkation, there were no problems, delays or issues with anything. We choose the pre-cruise package and it was great because ... Read More
I enjoyed everything on this cruise. Everything went really well and smoothly, from embarkation to disembarkation, there were no problems, delays or issues with anything. We choose the pre-cruise package and it was great because everything was organised and we were able to meet some of the passengers the day before the cruise started. The ship is very confortable and the common areas and the cabin were in very good conditions, the decor is lovely and looks like new. The cabin was really comfortable, very warm and had everything we needed - it is not very spacious, but had everything needed - the towels were super fluffy! Food and drink were excellent, and there was a lot of variety everyday. The daily schedule was really well organised, and between landings, lectures and briefings we were kept busy. The destination is truly incredible and difficult to describe, and the captain and expedition leader took every opportunity to make the most of it. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Our travel started out very poorly, with American Airlines execution failures causing us to arrive in Buenos Aires 12 hours late with half our baggage. Bags didn't catch up to us until we returned to Ushuaia after the cruise. It was ... Read More
Our travel started out very poorly, with American Airlines execution failures causing us to arrive in Buenos Aires 12 hours late with half our baggage. Bags didn't catch up to us until we returned to Ushuaia after the cruise. It was all AA's fault,but Silversea really stepped up to make the cruise a roaring success for us. They waited for us at the EZE airport for over an hour while I argued with the baggage people. They also pitched in! We got to our hotel after midnight. I needed to run a bag to another hotel for our Iguazu falls trip at the end of the cruise. The silversea agent got in a cab with me and took me to the other hotel--way beyond the call of duty. Next day we flew to Ushuaia and confirmed we were missing half our luggage. Silversea arranged to take us shopping in Ushuaia to pickup necessary gear to enjoy the cruise. Between our shore purchases, the ship's store, and the laundry on board (gratis due to our luggage issues), we managed just fine. Once my blood pressure got back down to normal, the cruise was exceptional. We had an easy Drake passage--so fast that we were able to add a stop to Fort Point on the second day of the cruise.Captain Eric Saint Plancat was very friendly and pushed to give us the maximum experience. We went past the Antarctic Circle all the way to Stonington Island. We saw 3 kinds of penguins, 5 types of seals, and 100's of Humpback whales. The weather was in the 30's and largely sunny. JD, the expedition leader, was outstanding and really worked to maximize all the passengers experiences. Her staff was very knowledgeable about animals, birds, geology, and history. The ship itself was very nice and well maintained. Silversea likes to call the cabins suites, but in my opinion, they we pretty much cabins. That said, they were clean and very functional. We were in a Vista Suite and the shower didn't have a door--just 6 inches of plexiglass. Poor design which leaded water all over the floor. The butlers and cabin stewards provided excellent service, although there really isn't much for a butler to do on an expedition sailing. The food was very good and all the waitstaff were very friendly and helpful. We drank the included wine and found most of them to be quite drinkable. We've cruised more than 30 times and this was the best yet. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We have not done an Ocean cruise for 15 years. We have been taking land tours and River cruises instead. Before we stopped we had been on 8 Ocean cruises. I was very excited to discover this Antarctica Cruise and on a ship we had sailed ... Read More
We have not done an Ocean cruise for 15 years. We have been taking land tours and River cruises instead. Before we stopped we had been on 8 Ocean cruises. I was very excited to discover this Antarctica Cruise and on a ship we had sailed twice before (as the Royal Princess!) and had loved! The ship is a perfect size for those of us who like a smaller number of passengers. I thought the redo of the interior was fine. The "living room" is a very popular spot to hang out during the sea days with the loungers always in demand. Passengers "save" seats so I was not able to try them. The following are my impressions of the cruise: .Cabin 7100---awkward furniture, was always moving the coffee table to get to veranda or loveseat, plastic shower curtain made shower dark and liked to wrap around the body.. Ship shore excursions---too expensive. arranged tours online with private vendors for all ports. .Service--room steward great, staff friendly, buffet staff attentive, Discoveries staff needs more training (multiple use of seating charts, we were "forgotten" about during our meal several times and sat for 20+ minutes waiting to be checked on .Dinning/food---BUFFET food greatly improved, theme of buffet advertised daily in program, DISCOVERIES menu posted outside restaurant only so had to make trip to check its menu before deciding where to eat daily, menu lacking in variety and food was not outstanding, no soufflé/bananas foster/prime cuts of meat/lobster. Main dinning room has suffered from having specialty restaurants as only place to enjoy those foods. AQUALINA specialty (ate X2) no change in menu from one week to the next, soufflé outstanding but majority of food did not stand out. Two brunch meals in Discoveries were outstanding events! Chocolate buffet was crowded due to small venue area. .Activities--daily activities have not changed in 15 years. I spoke to Tony the cruise director two times about this and he was very receptive to my criticism. Enjoyed: ABBA dance night, photo contest/lectures from professional staff photographer, enrichment lectures (including NASA lecturer who hosted eclipse viewing) , movie nights, Polar club. HIGHLIGHTS Azamazing event & White night party! All in all this was an exciting itinerary! Was happy with the change of dress to "country club casual". The ship captain was very interactive with guests and went out of his way to maneuver ship for exceptional scenery viewing. Would recommend this itinerary/ship with the knowledge that dinning in Discoveries is not a highlight. I hope this review helps other cruise lovers pick their next adventure! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
I chose this trip because it offered 3 stops on South Georgia Island weather dependant and I felt there was a chance of at least getting one stop. As it happened we had five on shore excursions, one Zodiac cruise around a bay and another ... Read More
I chose this trip because it offered 3 stops on South Georgia Island weather dependant and I felt there was a chance of at least getting one stop. As it happened we had five on shore excursions, one Zodiac cruise around a bay and another ship cruise down a Fjord so that exceeded my expectations. I loved a lot of things about the ship, and the customer service was exceptionally good. However there was room for improvement and I noted a few ideas on my evaluation form. It is essential I say that the trip exceeded my expectations in more ways that I could ever have anticipated. My nit-picking centred around the following items: I expected more lectures would be scheduled and that lectures would be presented by seasoned experts; I wished for inexpensive and ‘on tap’ internet access; French food, as offered, was a limited cuisine and I wished for flavours such as those from Asia, the Middle East and Africa; occasionally foods were overcooked and inedible (but there was always more to choose from); the staff didn’t understand the difference between vegan and vegetarian; and the free Antarctic jackets were badly designed with unshielded pockets so rain soaked into them. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Ponant people were at the airport the plane to ushuaia and there for all of us on the tour to antarctica it was very easy to get where i was going not being with a group as i was a single person on the tour. Once we got on the ship the ... Read More
Ponant people were at the airport the plane to ushuaia and there for all of us on the tour to antarctica it was very easy to get where i was going not being with a group as i was a single person on the tour. Once we got on the ship the cabin was great with a balcony which was great i saw many whales seals and dolphins of of my balcony . the on shore tours were great and i had a great time meeting new people and having meals in the great dining rooms on the ship.the service on the ship especially the dining rooms were excellent . The lectures were also excellent as they were given by people who were passionately and excited about telling us about what we were about to see . the drake passage was a little rough but the ships crew did a great job of keeping it to a minimum . ALL IN ALL EXCELLENT Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
I chose this cruise because I wanted to see this part of the world. A better name would have been Patagonia and Chilean Fjords. Antarctica was not really covered. Ushuaia was a loveley port, but the ship did not provide an overnight or ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to see this part of the world. A better name would have been Patagonia and Chilean Fjords. Antarctica was not really covered. Ushuaia was a loveley port, but the ship did not provide an overnight or even an option to discover Antarctica. Luckily I decided to stay an extra day and forgo the charter flight from BA on the same day. Silversea provided an excellent lunch and a great checkin option in Ushuaia and I had no problem joining the ship there. Embarkation was quick and efficient. My cabin was a Vista Suite and I had much space and lots of storage. The bathroom was good, except for the smell of urine....they changed my room within a few days of embarkation... a little late but it seemed to have been a known problem. The ship is lovely for a purpose-built ship and the staff was excellent. Initially, they did not exceed expectations, but during the course of the cruise I came to the realization that they were excellent, if not low key, and came to appreciate the service. I had no real complaints. Hilman and Elisa did a wonderful job of caring for me. Reception exceeded expectations, handling everything from any issues to room service, Maria stands out and Carlos was also excellent. Dining staff were wonderful ... Robert and his team are so professional and fun.... bar staff.... thank you Shannah Kay et al for your attention every day with a smile! The Expedition Team were amazing....Luke was superb at keeping everything on time and everyone in the know. While some who had been on expeditions before thought this was "Expedition Lite", I didn't have much frame of reference and thought things were good. I could have used a little more "action" but overall was happy with what I learned ... or DIDN'T learn ... sorry Luke.... about flora and fauna .... that's what google is for! LOL Chef Ross tried hard but the food choices didn't provide a lot of "local" stuff even though it was snow crab season. Everything was tasty and we spent a few nights braving the environs upstairs in the Grill! I am not a "sheeple" tour person and some stuff was a little too much herding about for me. Loved the recap nightly and info next day. Captain Piers was approachable, fun, present and informative always. After hundreds of cruises, it was amazing to see a Captain so inclusive and approachable. And interesting, LOL The public rooms are spacious and accommodating. Dining rooms are lovely. Room service always whenever, wherever and attention to detail on every level exceeding expectations.... including martini service in laundrette and morning green smoothie service following me wherever I went to get away from it! Thank you Zoran! What a team. Ports were interesting....saw amazing things. Attention to time on deck looking for things to see .... excellent. I can make my own fun wherever I go....but I was really happy to have been looked after so well from a personal standpoint and was appreciative for the Captains constant attention to advise us of everything! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We wanted a more luxurious cruise than a standard converted ice breaker could offer and we were not disappointed. We were also attracted to the follow on cruise offered by Ponant from Ushuaia to Cape Town via the Falkland Islands, South ... Read More
We wanted a more luxurious cruise than a standard converted ice breaker could offer and we were not disappointed. We were also attracted to the follow on cruise offered by Ponant from Ushuaia to Cape Town via the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Tristan da Cunha archipelago. To say it in a few short words, just outstanding! One factor on our cruise needs a special mention that has contributed a great deal to this outstanding success: our Capt Etienne Garcia. Being in charge of both Cruises he showed an enthusiastism and eagerness to inform us about wildlife sightings which was electrifying to the entire ship and crew. The policy of an open bridge for all in times of simple cruising created an atmosphere of one happy group of lucky people being able and privileged to experience such a unique landscape first hand. Well done and a big thank you to all Crew and expedition members for an excellent job done in a professional and caring manner. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We chose Silver Sea's trip to Antarctica on the Silver Cloud, as we researched the various ways to go see Antarctica, and even the more austere trips will cost around $10,000 per person with nowhere near the beautiful accommodations, ... Read More
We chose Silver Sea's trip to Antarctica on the Silver Cloud, as we researched the various ways to go see Antarctica, and even the more austere trips will cost around $10,000 per person with nowhere near the beautiful accommodations, expertise of the expedition team, or the ability to go safely ashore nearly every day. We cannot recommend this cruise more highly, and fear we have now set a very high bar of expectation as this has been our one and only cruise! We contacted Silver Seas directly for the cruise and used their agent for all of our booking and travel, including flights, hotel before the trip, transfers, etc. Had a perfect experience with all detail managed well. We laughed at the airport management because it felt like we could not go ten feet without seeing somebody holding a Silver Sea sign, smiling and telling us where to go next. Most welcome. The ship has just been renovated as an ice rated ship, and she is beautiful and felt very safe and secure. For sure we got to experience the shake of the Drake and even moreso during a windstorm in Bransfield Strait, but the captain and crew were excellent navigators, and the ship's crew in the restaurants and rooms just took the swells in stride with relaxing smiles, so we did too. But anti-nausea patches HIGHLY recommended across the passages...which are just gorgeous to cross...the birds and sea life and the sea itself are just remarkable and incomparable, really. We had daily intercom greetings in the morning, and boarded Zodiak rafts according to assigned group once or twice daily for excursions onto land or around the water and icebergs. Plus daily lectures about the history, wildlife, geography of the area. We cannot say enough about the excellent expedition team - about 22 members of the team from all over the world, and highly knowledgeable and excellent presenters in the auditorium and during excursions. We travelled with two of our grown children, and just loved being able to meet daily for meals, cocktail hour, cards, and even an evening of scotch and cigars in a little lounge provided for such an evening. Both piano players played every night in different venues and they know all songs and sing beautifully. Best possible evening entertainment, in our book. Our room was wonderful - highly recommend the terrace - and the butler team amazing. We felt overly pampered. If you are considering a trip to Antarctica, bravo, and absolutely do it! We recommend the Silverseas Silver Cloud cruise without reservation. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
I wanted to make sure i was on the best possible ship for comfort food and experience. From meeting at the airport and flight to Ushiuia to the short sightseeing to the wonderful lunch in a fabulous hotel above the town to the smooth ... Read More
I wanted to make sure i was on the best possible ship for comfort food and experience. From meeting at the airport and flight to Ushiuia to the short sightseeing to the wonderful lunch in a fabulous hotel above the town to the smooth transition to Explorer.nothing was missing. muck room was small but worked Fabulous and stylish jacket and puffer given on first day. Food continued to be good though not fantastic always there was something to satisfy. as soon as the zodiac transfers started I realised how well run this ship is we had at least 5 people getting us on the zodiac and 4 at the arrival end to help get us off. always someones hand to help especially for a novice snow walker. always a smiling face even when we were late to the zodiac to get on from the muck room because we forgot one piece of layering/gloves or camera. the wait staff were exceptional addressing us by name from the first night-amazing!! our ever smiling cabin man and butler always there to help and keep the cabin spotless. lots of rough weather on way to and from sandwich islands and across Drake.but to be expected being at the end of the world. I could not fault the well run cruise and wonder if the other ships doing Antarctica are as well run. Disembarcation was smooth and transfer to airport easy cabin 410 Vista suite Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Everything on this cruise was very well organised and went smoothly. The excursions were well executed and going on the zodiac I felt very safe. All land excursions were well organised with lots of expedition staff to help and answer ... Read More
Everything on this cruise was very well organised and went smoothly. The excursions were well executed and going on the zodiac I felt very safe. All land excursions were well organised with lots of expedition staff to help and answer questions. The room was like a 5 star hotel room. Air con was individual which made a difference to individual room comfort. The staff were so friendly and helpful. The service in all areas of the ship was excellent. Food was very good and the bread, pastries and cheeses were excellent. There was a good selection of drinks and service at the bars was great. The cruise guests were American, French and Australians. I am glad there were about 30 Australians aboard as socially it would be different without that friendly Australian manner and there also was the language barrier. Each night there was music entertainment which was ok. The main lounge was a good place to gather for the entertainment and to also sit and have a chat. I would highly recommend this company for cruising although I would enquire about the guests nationalities. A range of different nationalities is the best. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We chose this cruise because it was an "Expedition" cruise to the Antarctic, including stops in the Falklands and South Georgia before reaching over to the Antarctic Peninsula. Everyone knows that expedition cruise might be a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was an "Expedition" cruise to the Antarctic, including stops in the Falklands and South Georgia before reaching over to the Antarctic Peninsula. Everyone knows that expedition cruise might be a little rugged, both at sea and in the landings. You don't book an expedition cruise unless you're prepared for some discomfort, including rough sea passages -- that's the price you pay to travel on a smaller boat and to get to unusual and glorious landings. The first two legs were terrific, and both the landings and the expedition team -- Apex Expeditions -- could not have been better. All landings except one were "wet" -- how could they be otherwise? -- and resources and capabilities that the Apex team provided were superb. They are stars. But the cautiousness of the captain and, presumably, the Silversea line, started to show itself as we left S Georgia for the Peninsula. There were strong-ish winds to the south west, so the ship proceeded due west to let the storm pass, then south Elephant Island. That tack meant a loss of some six or so hours, and so no chance of seeing the Shackleton site on Elephant -- we arrived at the SW part of the island for a late landing instead, then headed off to Antarctica.... We were scheduled for four full days on the Peninsula, but got an abbreviated two and half days instead. Strong winds were projected to come across the Drake Passage -- as they regularly do! -- and the captain (and Silversea?) were presumably worried about discomfort to the passengers. We were prepared! Everyone knew the Drake could be tricky, we were already 2 weeks out at sea, and everyone had their medications underway. Instead of providing the publicized expedition trip, the ship proceeded back nearly two days early "out of precaution," which meant we did not get to (for example) Paradise Bay or the Lemaire Channel even though they were almost next door. Instead we had a very sorry early morning hour at Deception and a last landing on the Shetlands before hurrying back across the Drake and arriving a day and half early in Ushuaia. We were told that other ships also decided to head back early, but that wasn't what I saw. Instead, I saw the Ponant Soleal arrive in Ushuaia in the glorious evening sun on time and unscathed and will a lot of happy passengers whose experiences on the Peninsula were much fuller then ours. Many people, including us, had paid several tens of thousands of dollars and carved out three weeks time for a unique experience. We did not get it. Never again an "expedition" cruise with Silversea for us. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We originally choose this Cruise because of the destination, which was on our bucket list, and thankfully because a friend introduced us to Ponant. The cruise was exceptional in every experience, the ship, the cabin, the Captain and ... Read More
We originally choose this Cruise because of the destination, which was on our bucket list, and thankfully because a friend introduced us to Ponant. The cruise was exceptional in every experience, the ship, the cabin, the Captain and crew, the food and beverage, the naturalists and the understated but excellent entertainment. From the time we me some of our fellow travellers at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Buenos Aires until our departure we were continually impressed by the staff management of activities and the friendly co-operation of all guests. All communication was bi-lingual, but very clear and precise. We benefitted by excellent weather which allowed us to pass the Artic/Polar Circle and land and climb Cape Horn which were added bonuses to our planned itinerary. The attention to detail in every aspect safety, service, customer satisfaction was superb. The cruise was everything we hoped for and more with the excersion experiences remaining life memories. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Aside from major customer service issues... number one complaint was the food. Many passengers complained about the food. It was truly shockingly bad. Food was under cooked, over cooked, generally inedible. They served leftover tuna ... Read More
Aside from major customer service issues... number one complaint was the food. Many passengers complained about the food. It was truly shockingly bad. Food was under cooked, over cooked, generally inedible. They served leftover tuna steaks that were shriveled and tough. They served undercooked halibut that was slimy. IT WAS BAD. Couldn't even drink the coffee. It was bitter or burnt - they could not make a proper latte - only tried that a couple times. Truly for the price which was about 43K - this company should be ashamed of themselves. Ashamed. Don't spend so much money and go on a boat that has decent food! We suffered through this for 17 days, as did our fellow passengers. Every single meal and bar conversation had a gripe and complainer about the food. This is inexcusable. I have had better meals in hospitals and airports and from street vendors. This is no exaggeration. Stay away from this boat. The captain was great. One of the naturalists was great. The waiters great. Housekeeping great. The landings were good. One in particular even exceptional. But none of it made up for the food. Would not recommend this boat at all. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Travelling to Antarctica, the 7th continent on Board Le Boreal was the journey of a life time As we stepped on board we entered a world of comfort and luxury. The ship was elegant and classy. Staff were devoted, caring helpful and ... Read More
Travelling to Antarctica, the 7th continent on Board Le Boreal was the journey of a life time As we stepped on board we entered a world of comfort and luxury. The ship was elegant and classy. Staff were devoted, caring helpful and every so smiling. Service in the room, bars, dining areas and reception were impeccable. The expedition team was experienced and knowledgeable. All expeditions to the shore were extremely organised and well thought out to give us a real taste of expedition to the remotest land of the world. The dining on board was the best dining experience we ever had and staff in Deck 2 dining area were amazingly knowledgeable about drinks and food and so were the bar attendants. Our ever smiling cruise director Philippe was phenomenal with an eye for details and stunned us with a spectacular Christmas show and dinner. Entertainment was classy and all singers and dancers were brilliant. Overall the whole experience was seamless and the cruise will be etched in our memory forever. I would recommend this cruise ship to friends and family and I can guarantee that everyone will be blown away. Thanks again to all the staff of Le Boreal. I am already planning my next trip Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
After travelling with Silversea for some years we decided on the Ponant voyage to Antartica. From embarkation until we reluctantly left the ship in Ushaia we could not fault any part of Ponants service standards. The captain was visible ... Read More
After travelling with Silversea for some years we decided on the Ponant voyage to Antartica. From embarkation until we reluctantly left the ship in Ushaia we could not fault any part of Ponants service standards. The captain was visible throughout the expedition, guests were invited to the bridge, the cabins were spotless, even if somewhat smaller than Silver Sea. The onshore activities by professional naturalists were outstanding. The food and wines were of a superior standard also. My wife and I were joined by some 220 other people of all ages, about 60 from Australia and a further international mix. Our highlight was being invited to the Captains table for the farewell dinner. We stayed on deck three, minimising any rolling across the Drake Passage - however both crossings were relatively calm. All staff are friendly and get to know you by name fairly quickly. We have now booked for the Athens to Aquba cruise in 2019. Read Less
43 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Overall We had a great cruise on the December 11, 2017 Antarctica departure of SilverSea Expedition's Cloud. Most every aspect of the cruise exceeded our expectations and our expectations were pretty high! Temperatures hovered ... Read More
Overall We had a great cruise on the December 11, 2017 Antarctica departure of SilverSea Expedition's Cloud. Most every aspect of the cruise exceeded our expectations and our expectations were pretty high! Temperatures hovered around freezing while in Antarctica, though we had some sunny days and went about at times without our large coats / gloves. The ship can travel quite fast, and we crossed the Drake Passage in 36 hours, giving us an extra day in Antarctica! Seas were mild to moderate. Many people wore "the patch" to help with motion sickness, and the ship's reception desk handed out pills for those who needed help. We hoped to see wildlife on this cruise and we saw plenty of birds (including penguins), several seals, and one glorious night a few people up late (10pm to midnight) saw 100-200 whales on a bit of a feeding frenzy. Bird sightings began on the crossing, and bird experts were on hand to fill you in on what you were seeing. The scenery was spectacular -- both from the ship and on the shore -- and we always enjoyed our time ashore. You see a lot of penguins, and while some passengers seemed bored by the second landing with yet more penguins, I always found them fascinating and entertaining. For those sensitive to smell, I saw several fellow passengers reacting to the penguin guano as we approached our first landfall. Our landing at the Chilean Antarctic Research Base Gonzalez Videla has us tromping through so much penguin guano that all passengers' boots were power washed as we exited the zodiac and before we could step foot in the ship. We love to kayak, and were fortunate to be selected for an afternoon of kayaking; what a great experience led by a passionate and fun team. Our final stop was at Telefon Bay -- the interior of a volcanic caldera. We hiked to the edge of the latest volcanic cone and were surprised to find a small waterfall! For those souls brave enough, this was the stop for the polar plunge. A storm was blowing through the Drake Passage, with forecast of 12+ meter (36+ foot) seas; the ship's Captain held the ship overnight in a protected bay, allowing the worst of the storm to pass and giving us a milder ride back to South America. All the chairs in the dining rooms are cabled to the floor for a reason;-) I've included below a day-by-day review of where we visited; this changes with every cruise based on weather conditions and agreements with other cruise ships; it may give future cruisers an idea of where they may visit. On the ship, food was generally good, service was excellent, and our cabin met expectations. The ship has just undergone significant work, and some renovations were still underway (particularly to the "Tor's Observation Lounge"). Our cabin steward and our butler were spectacular. We did organize a small party in our cabin on the last night in Antarctica and the butler sorted everything with a smile. Would we sail on SilverSeas again? Absolutely. Would we re-visit Antarctica? We would no re-do this cruise again; we think we'd be disappointed in a return journey as our experience was that good. We would consider Antarctica again if it was a different and compelling promised experience. Now for some specifics...we had several questions ahead of the cruise that included clothing and charter logistics; hopefully this review will help others who are considering or are booked to sail the Cloud to Antarctica. Details We Wish We Would Have Known 1) Clothes to Pack 2) Meeting Up With The Charter 3) Embarkation and Debarkation Days 4) Daily Excursions -- Rotating Passengers to Shore 5) Kayaking 6) How Bad are Drake Passage Seas 7) What's the Video/Image Release For 1) Clothes to Pack. We struggled with how much clothes to bring -- both for the adventures ashore and for life on board the ship. Would the ship be kept so warm we wish we had short sleeve shirts and shorts? What do people really wear to dinner (and, are jeans allowed in the dining room)? What are the clothing layers required and how many of each type of layer did we need to bring? Should we purchase with the travel partner for delivery on board or bring the clothing with us? Should we rent or buy? The ship was kept on the cooler side, so we were fine to walk around in long sleeve shirts and long pants by day/night. If we went on deck, we needed at least a jacket and at times we needed our parkas. Jeans were advertised as not allowed in the dining rooms, and I even called the SilverSea office to confirm this policy before we left for the cruise. I did see a few people wearing jeans. For 2 nights on this 10 night itinerary the attire was "Casually Elegant" -- with men requested to wear jackets (no tie required); the remaining nights were casual. For the excursions, we always wore a base layer and a mid layer; these were covered by our outer layer of waterproof ski pants and the SilverSea parka. The mid layer was a fleece pullover for the top and a pair of windproof cycling fleece thermals; the cycling thermals were warm and did the job though maybe could have been more breathable -- they seemed to collect our sweat. We wore a thick pair of socks inside our rented boots. One of us had lambswool insoles for the boots. We also wore waterproof gloves, a neck gaiter, and a hat (that covered our ears). We brought along hand and foot warmers though abandoned those after about a day because we were otherwise plenty warm. We had two sets of base layer and we washed those mid-way through the cruise. We rented the boots and brought everything else with us. Those who rented waterproof pants seemed happy, as did those who purchased items and had them just delivered to the ship. The Expedition Staff did request to inspect all garments passengers planned to wear ashore to ensure that no foreign objects were transported to Antarctica; any new garments were exempt. 2) Meeting Up With The Charter. We booked our cruise as soon as the itinerary was advertised; charter flights were not even offered. About 6 months before the cruise date, our agent informed us that SilverSea was offering us transport on the charter between Santiago and Ushuaia; we accepted the gracious offer. Logistics were sketchy -- we had a letter that said we were on the charter and we had a flight number. That's about it. No confirmation number, and no record locator code. We were told there would be someone at the airport with a sign or other SilverSea identification. For those people who also stayed at the arranged Santiago hotel, the promise was to drop off your luggage at the hotel and not see it again until Ushuaia. Here's how it worked...there were several check-in desks for the charter. You could spot those only by looking for LATAM check-in counters that showed the charter flight number. These were not so easy to spot. There were a few cruise agents trying to help; they had a small nametag to identify them and were also difficult to spot. Check-in was a minimum of 2 hours before the flight, and the airport was quite busy at 5am. We stayed at the only hotel on the airport grounds, the Holiday Inn, so that we minimized travel time. We'd been to Santiago before so didn't expect to sight see. While we could get up at 4:30am and be at the airport for 5:00am, those who stayed at the Sheraton (the SilverSea arranged hotel) had a very early wake-up and I believe they had to be in the lobby at 3:30am. Apparently it was very disorganized, some guests were charged for their rooms (though they had already paid via SilverSea), and promised food / drink was difficult to find. Once we found the check-in counters at the airport all charter passengers had to check in their luggage at the counter. Even those who stayed at the SilverSea hotel had to manage their bags between the bus and the airport check-in counter. People with the same last name were generally assigned adjacent airplane seats; otherwise, you just got assigned a seat. There were empty rows on the flight, so parties could request re-seating. The flight was all Economy Class, and we were served a sandwich and a beverage on the three hour flight. On arrival in Ushuaia, we had to first clear immigration (took over one hour for those of us at the back of the flight), collect our bags, and clear customs. As you exit the jet-way and await immigration, those folks waiting on the left are passengers who have just finished their cruise -- they're taking the charter back to Santiago. After Customs, SilverSea took the luggage and transported it to the ship. Passengers were put onto buses, taken on a short tour of the city, and brought to a nice hotel on the hillside above the city for lunch. The buses each had a different assigned departure time from the hotel in order to pace passenger boarding. If believe our bus finally made it to the ship at about 4:15pm; we were one of the last buses. 3) Embarkation and Debarkation Days. We received our room keys while at the Ushuaia hotel having lunch. We only had to take a quick photo and have our credit cards swiped once we arrived at the ship. Our parka and any items we ordered / rented were waiting for us on our bed in our cabin. I presume that guests who did not arrive on the charter were able to get onto the ship much earlier than those of us who had a tour / lunch before arriving at the ship. On debarkation day, we had to be off the ship at 8:30am; luggage was collected the night before and we didn't see your luggage again until we landed in Santiago. It was a bit odd travelling with checked luggage and no luggage tag. The airport check-in counter didn't open until 9am. It was a very slow and painful drive to the airport from the ship. The airport is nice but small. A kiosk opened at about 11:00am in the international passenger waiting area for anyone who needed something to eat or drink before they departed. The flight departed a few minutes later than planned and arrived into Santiago on time. While on the flight, fill out the Customs Declaration! The flight crew gave incorrect instructions to transiting passengers. EVERYONE on the charter flight had to collect their luggage in Santiago and go through immigration and customs; if they were then departing for another country, they had to re-check their luggage in the airport lobby, get their boarding passes, and then go back through immigration to exit Chile. Many folks failed to fill out this paperwork on the flight and they were not allowed to go through customs until they had completed the form. We did see a couple arrive in Ushuaia on the charter flight to start their cruise and they were rejected by Immigration; they joined us on the flight back to Santiago and missed their cruise. We presume they didn't have the correct visa for Argentina. What a shame for them, and even more so that they were allowed to fly to Argentina and then had to immediately return to Chile. 4) Daily Excursions / Rotating Passengers to Shore. Passengers each have a colored sticker on the back of their cabin key that designates an excursion group. Only 100 passengers are allowed ashore at one time, so the ships 200 passengers are divided into 4 groups of 50, and those groups are shuttled by schedule. A typical morning excursion would see a schedule like: 8:00am disembarkation for group Green; 8:15am disembarkation for group Brown. These groups are generally ashore for about 1:15-1:30, with the last group returned to the ship by 10:00am. At 10:00am disembarkation occurs for group Red, and 10:15am for group Black. Everyone is back by 12:00. Exit and return to the ship have several process steps: scan out (showing you've departed); collect and put on your boots; wait in the line for a zodiac; travel to shore and get a short brief on the location/wildlife/return time; drop off your life-jacket; tour around; pick up your life-jacket; was off your boots in the surf/board a zodiac; get off at the ship, brush / wash off your boots in the wet area, sanitize the boots, return the boots to their storage area/put on your shoes; and scan back in. 5) Kayaking -- where conditions allow, 10 passengers at any one location are allowed to kayak as a managed group. Any passengers who are interested in kayaking had to attend a scheduled briefing near the start of the cruise. Those who complete the briefing entered into a lottery for kayak spots. We were selected for kayak group 5 or so, and were able to Kayak on about the 3rd day in Antarctica. You must be able to lift yourself from a zodiac into the kayak, and then back to the zodiac when done. SilverSea provide all equipment, including a dry suit and a kayak skirt. The equipment is all fantastic stuff and was plenty warm. The kayak team is crazy good -- so passionate and fun loving. It was really magical to kayak through swimming penguins, be eye to eye with wildlife on icebergs, and (oh were we fortunate) see whales up close. 6) How Bad Are Drake Passage Seas -- they can be bad. Check out passageweather.com for an idea of wave height during your crossing. For us, it was relatively calm on the way over though many passengers were sick. Many passengers wore "the patch" and seemed to avoid sickness on the way to Antarctica. The way back was rougher. I believe we had 4-5 meter (12-15 foot) seas. The photos and videos make the sea look rather calm (no white caps). In reality, the ship would rise and fall, sometimes suddenly, with these large waves. Many folks were sick, even some who wore the patch. Reception did have plenty of motion sickness pills, and folks who took them said they helped. While I generally don't get sick, I did feel the movement on this cruise. I didn't get sick and I didn't take any medication; I'm very fortunate. 7) What's the Video/Image Release Form. At the beginning of the cruise you're asked to sign a release so that any photos or video of you can be used by SilverSea. Maybe I wasn't paying full attention, but I don't think I fully understood that a video of the cruise would be made AND SOLD TO PASSENGERS who wanted to pay about $150 for a copy. I did sign over the video/image release. I was disappointed that this all inclusive cruise didn't include the video as part of the package; had I realized this at the start, I would not have released my image for use by SilverSea. Other Items of Interest. Dining quality and variety was as expected. I heard other passengers with a spectrum of views, from loving the food to very disappointed in the food. We ate one night at the Italian restaurant; I was most disappointed that my fish fillet had at least 25 bones in it. The waiter rushed over and tried to remove all of the bones. The experience didn't make me want to return. The poolside "hot rocks" dinner restaurant was surprising good. My one disappointment in the meals was dessert; nothing seemed extraordinary. The main dining room was our go-to spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Tor's Observation Lounge, at the top and front of the ship, was very cold and under-utilized. Work was still underway to complete the renovation of that area. There was no service in the lounge though it would have been nice to have coffee/tea service. Maybe that's planned for the future. Wildlife Viewing. We did see much wildlife, even from the ship. I was most surprised that the ship did not announce major wildlife sightings. For example, one night (10pm-midnight) a few of us, including some expedition staff, watched as 100-200 whales were on a feeding frenzy. Everywhere we looked, we could see whale spouts with fins/tails following. It was an incredible sight. There was no announcement made. Maybe it was because of the time. Expedition Staff. They were generally fantastic. One or two seemed more interested in speaking with each other than in engaging with passengers. Some experts did a great job translating their knowledge into useful stories for us passengers (example, Fritz with his bird info); others provided technical info (glacier size) that included formulas interesting to a scientist but much less interesting to someone wanting to learn the basics. In summary, this was a fantastic cruise that exceeded expectations. SilverSea did an outstanding overall job. I'm attaching an image of our stops in Antarctica. In text form, here's where we visited: Day 0 (extra day as we arrived early): Morning -- Aitcho Island: Chinstrap penguins, Gentoo penguins, whale bones, other birds. Afternoon -- Yankee Harbor, though this was a substitute for a planned stop that weather didn't permit us visiting. Day 1: Morning -- Brown Bluff: Adelie and Gentoo penguins. Afternoon -- cruising through Antarctic Sound and seeing fabulous large tabular icebergs. Day 2: Morning -- Mikkelson Harbor: Gentoo penguins, Argentine refuge hut, and whaling remains. Afternoon -- Cierva Cove -- zodiac cruise in search of wildlife. Day 3: Morning -- Danco Island: Gentoo Penguin colony and frequently visited by snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls, and blue-eyed shags. Afternoon: Cruising the Gerlache Straight, looking for passing wildlife. Day 4: Morning -- Nekko Harbor: breathtaking beauty surround you here. Stunning. Gentoo penguins, kelp gulls, skuas, and seals. Afternoon -- Gonzalez Videla Base, Paradise Bay: Gentoo penguins nest around the Chilean research base. Day 5: Morning -- Halfmoon Island: short uphill climb over a cobble beach to reach a colony of chinstrap penguins. Afternoon -- Telefon Bay: hike 1 KM up to the edge of a crater for some spectacular views. Polar Plunge for those who want to swim. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
Always wanted to go to Antarctica and to see Cape Horn. The charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia gave us the chance to spend time in the vibrant capital of Argentina as a bonus. Le Boreal was a fantastic ship; Goldilocks size, ... Read More
Always wanted to go to Antarctica and to see Cape Horn. The charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia gave us the chance to spend time in the vibrant capital of Argentina as a bonus. Le Boreal was a fantastic ship; Goldilocks size, luxurious and attentively crewed. Dining choices included the full service restaurant as well as a more casual grill. Live entertainment in the theatre was relaxing and fun and the same venue held briefings and information sessions during the day. Zodiak excursions were well planned and superbly executed by highly trained staff. The spectacular coastal scenery was complemented by lots of sea-ice and great icebergs, as well as penguins, orcas and humpback whales up close and personal. We appreciated the great care taken to preserve the pristine environment when shore excursions occurred, and the opportunity to visit a shore based research station occupied throughout the year. I feel every person on board disembarked both entertained and better informed about one of the world's great wilderness areas. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I choose this cruise to visit Antarctica. I enjoyed this cruise tremendously. The scenery was breathtaking. The crew was outstanding helping you in every way and enjoying what they do. The cabins were excellent and had plenty of room. The ... Read More
I choose this cruise to visit Antarctica. I enjoyed this cruise tremendously. The scenery was breathtaking. The crew was outstanding helping you in every way and enjoying what they do. The cabins were excellent and had plenty of room. The food was very good. Seeing the penguins, seals and humpback whales made the experience worth while. Getting in and out of the zodiacs was an experience not to be forgotten. The zodiacs got you to the shore where you were able to watch the penguins going about their daily duties of nest sitting and feeding. The males carrying the stones for nest building was very amusing as the females would accept or reject the stones. The humpback whales surfacing within 15 feet of the zodiac was stimulating. The only bad thing about the cruise was the internet charges in an area where the internet was very intermittent. Overall it was an excellent cruise and I will certainly use Ponant as my premier cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
We'd been on a National Geographic expedition cruise to Alaska with our family this summer. Though we enjoyed that a great deal, we wanted to try another cruise line just for the experience. This was a cruise to Antarctica. Silversea ... Read More
We'd been on a National Geographic expedition cruise to Alaska with our family this summer. Though we enjoyed that a great deal, we wanted to try another cruise line just for the experience. This was a cruise to Antarctica. Silversea came highly recommended, and, as this was to be a trip with just the two of us, we decided to REALLY splurge and take the Silver Explorer, another expedition ship. It was a great choice all around. All the pre-trip arrangements were well done, including the Buenos Aires hotel (The Park Tower) and the charter flight to Ushuaia. The welcome aboard was very efficient, indeed, and our cabin (500) just right for us. We liked the size of the ship and met many fellow travelers from different areas of the world, some of whom we expect to keep in touch with well into the future. Food was very good, the only downside being weight gain! The Naturalists on board were, on average, an even higher calibre than those on the National Geographic cruise: knowledgeable, experienced, interesting and humorous. Loved all of the lectures. The only real complaint we had was the requirement, after each of our zodiac landings and hikes, to meticulously clean our boots so as not to transfer foreign matter from one place to another. We have no complaint with the requirement, but it is simply out of character with an all-inclusive super-luxury cruise with personal butlers and champagne flowing everywhere to have the passengers doing this. The little mud room in which to do this was super-cramped. It was the one thing all the passengers felt was out of place and, though we conjured up a few reasons why this was imposed upon all 140 passengers (ensuring ecology awareness being the tops), we all agreed it should be re-thought. But that's it. We hope to take Silversea again. The entire crew was incredibly professional and polite."Entertainment" is rated "3" below to be fair-there is no entertainment (save the very good lectures) and a piano player, who was fine. N one takes an expedition cruise for entertainment, but rather for enrichment. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We discussed with friends of ours the possibility of an Antarctic cruise. They suddenly came back saying they had booked a cruise with another company. We started to look at their pricing structure but had kept Ponant as a possibility ... Read More
We discussed with friends of ours the possibility of an Antarctic cruise. They suddenly came back saying they had booked a cruise with another company. We started to look at their pricing structure but had kept Ponant as a possibility for quite a while. Ponant then hosted an information day and we decided then and there to take the plunge and book. All in all Ponant's pricing was as good as the other company with a few more inclusions and more "luxury". Instead of just flying to Argentina for the cruise we decided to make a trip of it and spend some time in Patagonia. We had been to Argentina (Buenos Aires and Igazu Falls) before but the southern part of this vast country had some serious appeal for walking and photography. We arrived in Ushuaia a day before and explored both the city and the Tierra del Fuego National Park. We made our own way to the ship. Embarkation was smooth even though we were earlier than the rest of the passengers arriving by bus. The ship has a real "human size". We were left wanting for nothing. A feature of Ponant ships, all cabins with a balcony, did not seem like a great advantage on an Antarctic cruise but made such a difference when wanting to take photographs without having to go to the main decks. Our cabin, a Deluxe Stateroom on Deck 3, was surprisingly spacious and cleverly appointed. The crew from Captain to Food and Beverage, Hotel staff and other members were very friendly and would always acknowledge you. The naturalists' team has a wealth of knowledge but also showed a great depth of "love", if there is such a word, for the Antarctic continent. Their talks very extremely informative. A casual and a formal restaurant were perfectly adequate and we never felt we could not eat in the venue we wanted to dine at because of lack of space. Food was amazing with great choices and the wine and drink selection without reproach. We enjoyed the opportunity to "upgrade" to some better wine selections on occasions. Service in restaurants and bar/lounges was attentive and by the end of the cruise a few members of the staff were starting to remember our preferred drinks. With regards to entertainment, in general we enjoyed the singers (particularly the Italian lady - can't remember her name) and the classical pianist. The dancers were so so... We felt that sitting down for the welcome cocktail party in the theatre was odd. Why not do this in the lounge area? Each shore excursion or zodiac outing was a new experience and we flt safe and in good hands. Disembarkation was smooth. Maybe some information on board the night before in regards to luggage weight limits might have avoided hassles and problems for some at the airport. Would we return? Yes, at a later part of the season to see hatchlings or juvenile penguins. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I chose it based on "Cruise Critic" reviews of all the companies that had sailed to Antarctica during the previous season. Ponant was rated as one of the leaders (#2 in small ship cruises to Antarctica). Also I was not asked to ... Read More
I chose it based on "Cruise Critic" reviews of all the companies that had sailed to Antarctica during the previous season. Ponant was rated as one of the leaders (#2 in small ship cruises to Antarctica). Also I was not asked to pay a single supplement. These two points made it very attractive. The timing of the cruise was also correct for me as I was on vacation in November elsewhere and I intend to travel again in late January. I was atracted by the itinerary of the cruise and the expertise and knowledge of the guides. I also had the opportunity to explore Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls before flying to the cruise terminal. Everything about this cruise was well organized and even when we could not land at one of the harbours, due to ice, we quickly moved on to an equally breathtaking location. The meals were top class with plenty of variety and flavours. I have already booked back to back cruises with Ponant for 2019, through the Northwest passage to Vancouver. Read Less

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