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  5. Ocean Endeavour (Quark Expeditions) Cruise Reviews
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
Flying the Drake is the obvious solution if you don't have a lot of time and get sea sick. Unfortunately we had to wait 48 hours until we were able to fly to King George Island due to the weather conditions. As a consequence we only ... Read More
Flying the Drake is the obvious solution if you don't have a lot of time and get sea sick. Unfortunately we had to wait 48 hours until we were able to fly to King George Island due to the weather conditions. As a consequence we only had 6 nights on the ship, but we managed to sail to the Antarctic Circle. The ship, the Ocean Adventurer used to be called the Sea Adventurer. It does not have large bay windows in the lounge from which you can admire the scenery as you sail (as we had seen for instance in the Lofoten in Norway). Our cabin was comfortable, with a very good shower. It was spotlessly clean. The food was all right, considering the difficulty to get such supplies as fresh fruit and vegetables. The landscapes we sailed through, including the Lemaire Channel, were jaw-dropping beautiful. But apart from a few rookeries of penguins, half a dozen seals and the tails of a few whales, we did not see as many animals as we had expected. The whales in Antarctica do not breach as we had seen them do in other countries. What bothered us a little bit was the false enthusiasm of the young guides, who, we understood, were doing their jobs and behaved as they had been told to behave. But it was a bit annoying to be constantly told that the landscapes were "stunning" and that what we saw was exceptional (we knew that...). Some of them tended to treat us like school children, asking us, for instance, if we were able to identify what type of seal was in front of us. Given that most of us were at least middle-aged, the lecturing was slightly out of place. But everyone was very eager to do their jobs well and the crew can't really be blamed for what they thought was the thing to do. Also annoying was the fact that those of us who did the Antarctic plunge were not given any token of their achievement. If they wanted a T-shirt to remember it, they had to pay $29, which we thought was terrible PR considering the price of the cruise. The last impression given by the team when we were taken back to Punta Arenas was awful. We were literally dropped at the hotel and left without any good-bye, told to take care of our last meal and find our taxi to the airport. It left a bad taste in our mouth. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
Antarctica is the trip of a lifetime and one that should be on everyones bucket list. Quark is a first rate operator with amazing guides and great crew. This is what makes the trip so incredible. Our cruise included the ... Read More
Antarctica is the trip of a lifetime and one that should be on everyones bucket list. Quark is a first rate operator with amazing guides and great crew. This is what makes the trip so incredible. Our cruise included the Falklands/Malvinas, South Georgia and some other smaller islands along the route. Each stop was more impressive than the last, leading up to the incredible Antarctic Peninsula. We saw tons of wildlife, learned about the animals, sea and history of the region. Quark does an amazing job on this and I would definitely recommend them for Antarctica. The ship is a bit tired and dated and need of an extensive overhaul. There were numerous plumbing problems throughout the voyage. One one evening we were all told not to flush the toilets. One afternoon all the hot water in the faucets was the color of tea and on the last day of the voyage the toilets again were not flushing. The ship is advertised as a "Wellness" ship, which is quite a stretch. There is a small smoothie bar off the library lounge and (almost) daily yoga classes. The yoga classes are not really yoga and the instructor not very good. Classes are taught in a room they use to store old broken furniture. The gym on the ship is too small and was too crowded to be of use. There is only one dining room. Food was mostly pretty good. I am gluten free (celiac) and I was very happy with the options and how knowledgeable the staff were about cross contamination. I would, however, have liked another dining option. Some place you could just grab a quick healthy bite without the whole long sit-down experience. Cabins are VERY small. I shared with another solo traveler. (Pairing solo travelers is a very nice option that Quark offers.) We had about 6 inches of hanging space each and one small drawer. There is a small desk with one outlet for charging cameras and another outled on the one bedside table. The cabins actually have 4 possible beds (two top beds that fold down to make the room a quad) and some other people folded down the beds to use them as additional storage. We did not opt for this as it would have made the room feel WAY too small. The bathroom in the cabin is about 3 feet by 3 feet, including the shower. There was no way to shower without flooding the bathroom. Onboard activities were okay. Some presentations were better than others. They showed a couple of movies. One was Shackelton, which was fun. Surprisingly absent from the movie offerings was March of the Penguins. The Spa was also okay. About a 4 on a 1 - 5 scale. Personnel were wonderful but the facility was lacking. No running water made it diffcult to have really good services. I remember wanting to do a scalp treatment but they did not have a way to wash the hair afterwards. Service was excellent. When there were problems the guides and crew of the ship did everything possible to resolve them. There really aren't ports and shore excursions on this voyage. Everyone does the zodiac tours which are unbelievable. There are options to kayak, paddle board, ski and climb (at additional cost). There is also one night you can camp out on the ice. I did one day of kayaking and the camping. The kayaking was just okay because of the kayaks they use which were very uncomfortable. The camping was spectacular and surprisingly not that cold. The take away from this is that Quark Expeditions is a first rate operator. I would not hesitate to travel with them again. I would not, however, go out of my way to go on that ship again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
My husband and I dreamed of going to Antarctica. After much research, we chose to go on Quark Expeditions Ocean Endeavor trip to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. We made our reservations a year in advance so we had a lot of ... Read More
My husband and I dreamed of going to Antarctica. After much research, we chose to go on Quark Expeditions Ocean Endeavor trip to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. We made our reservations a year in advance so we had a lot of time to plan and dream of our trip. We expected a lot; these trips are expensive. However, I’m happy to say that Quark’s Ocean Endeavor exceeded all of our expectations. The scenery was wonderful, of course. But the food was first class thanks to Tracie and her kitchen crew. She even had formal tea for us on sea days. The service in our cabin and in the dining room was better than we experienced on cruise ships and this was an “expedition “ ship. Our expedition leader, Lori, was always there to make sure we saw as many penguins, seals and whales. The members of her team were so knowledgeable and provided excellent lectures to prepare us for what we saw. We went out on Zodiacs whenever the weather allowed and landed or Zodiac cruised if there was too much ice to provide a safe landing. One thing I want to stress: I’m a senior citizen and I needed extra help boarding the Zodiac and disembarking also walking on the ice. The expedition team members were always there to help and they never made me feel humiliated because I was fearful of the ice and the Zodiac. We also had people in their 80s on our trip. So, if you are a senior citizen and have dreamed of Antarctica, don’t think you are too old to go. You’re not and you will have a wonderful time and be very well taken care of. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
1. The staff didn't seem to prioritise our seeing and experiencing as much as possible. We felt that we were treated like sheep rather than sentient clients who had spent a lot of money for a unique and remote experience. While we ... Read More
1. The staff didn't seem to prioritise our seeing and experiencing as much as possible. We felt that we were treated like sheep rather than sentient clients who had spent a lot of money for a unique and remote experience. While we understand that the places we travel to are highly regulated to preserve their existence, it seemed that the staff were performing a rote exercise in getting us somewhere and aborting or shortening any visits when conditions were not near perfect. We did not trust that the staff had our interests and maximizing our time with wildlife and on land as a priority. As an example, we were supposed to have 4 days in Antarctica. Instead, we had less than 2.5. En route to Antarctica from South Georgia, we were told that there was a unique surprise opportunity to stop in the South Orkneys, a place none of the staff had ever been. We spent a day at Laurie Island (perhaps not coincidentally, the expedition leader's name was Laurie). This was described to us as a bonus or extra, but that evening, we were informed we still had a day at sea to reach Antarctica, so it meant our time there would be shortened by a day. We didn't have any input into this decision, which meant that we missed out on must-see highlights of Antarctica, like the Lemaire Channel or Port Lockroy. We will have to go back to experience Antarctica. Moreover, our final day in Antarctica was shortened to finish by 11am due to an impending storm in the Drake Passage. We were told avoiding the storm would lengthen our route and this was a necessary change. We were thus surprised when we reached the entrance of the Beagle channel (just over 5 hours from Ushuaia) nearly 24 hours before we were due in Ushuaia. The ship slowed noticeably from the typical speed of 13 knots to 3-4 knots, as we would be well ahead of time to meet the pilot who would navigate us through the channel. That evening, we circled the port of Ushuaia all night. It seems that we missed our day in Antarctica for no discernible reason. We also did not have our second planned day in the Falklands (Stanley). Laurie explained it was due to high winds, but the next day we learned that one of the staff was able to go ashore for a baptism. Also, even though we didn't spend a day in Stanley, we didn’t get to South Georgia early or get to spend more time elsewhere. With all the above, it felt like the ship and trip were to serve the staff more than the passengers. 2. In a related matter, it became clear that staff were incentivized for the extra activities, like cross-country skiing, based on the number of passengers who went/paid. As you know, we had both prebooked the skiing. Iris pulled out due to a prior issue, but Vanessa remained signed up. There were two ski guides, Pete and Chris, and Pete told us he was typically able to take passengers out skiing ~3 times. On our trip, we were told each day that the conditions were not right for skiing up until the very last morning of the trip, before we sailed back to Ushuaia. The activity for the remaining passengers was to visit a chinstrap penguin colony on the same island. I told Pete I would go skiing only if I could also see the penguin colony, as that was my priority given the limited time we had had on land. I told him that otherwise, I would go with the regular groups visiting the penguin colony. He told me we would find a way to do both, and encouraged me to join. On the zodiac on the way to skiing, he mentioned to the rest of the skiiers that I had expressed interest in the penguin colony and asked for input to see what other skiiers wanted to do. No one spoke up, so I said to the whole group, "If no one else is interested in the penguins, I don't have to come skiing, and I can join the other groups going to see the penguins." Pete again told me we would visit the colony, and told me to stay with the skiiers. About 1.5 hours into the skiing activity, he announced to the group that we had a decision point: we could either go see the penguins, or continue higher up the mountain, but not both. Most of the others in the group wanted to go higher up the mountain, with one other skiier wanting to descend. I thus suggested we split up the groups, but Pete refused. I saw a group of snowshoers from the trip (a last-minute scheduled activity that was free and went along much the same route as the paid skiing activity) passing us at that moment, and suggested I could descend with them to catch a zodiac to the penguin colony. Pete again refused, and told me, that is the consensus, and skiied away and up the mountain. I had to turn to Chris, the other guide, who after a 10 minute radio call with Pete, was able to resolve the situation. All of this was unnecessary drama and stress, and it could easily have been avoided if the staff had passenger interests as a priority. (Note: I spoke about this issue directly with Ryan, the guest services director on the ship, as I was quite upset. He handled it well and assured me Quark would be issuing me a full refund for the ski activity). 3. The jacuzzi and pool are advertised as part of the ship's amenities. When we asked for them to be filled on the second day, we were told that they would not be filled until we reached Antarctica, which was the last leg of our trip. It is strange to advertise something and then not be willing to offer it. When we reached Antarctica, we again asked for the jacuzzi and/or pool to be filled. This time, we were told that they were broken. No apologies or offers to make it up to us were offered. That is not acceptable. 4. The first day, we were informed that the bridge had an 'always open' policy, with some exceptions, like when navigating the Beagle channel. However, over the course of 5-6 visits, we only found the bridge open once. During that one visit, we were totally ignored by the crew and staff there, and no one seemed interested in engaging us. 5. There were also minor issues, like mold and leaking in our room, which destroyed two pairs of shoes, leaving water stains. One afternoon we did not have hot water for our showers. Several of the zodiacs had problems on our cruises, with engines breaking. On one occasion, we had to tow another zodiac, causing us to miss viewing a penguin colony. On another, our zodiac broke, and the replacement one was also faulty. We had to wait for a third zodiac to continue our cruise. There were several broken chairs in the main lounges, and it did not appear there was any attempt to fix them. In general, we saw a theme of overpromising and underdelivering. When we are paying over $15,000 each for a trip, we expect Quark to deliver on their offering, and we do not think that was the case here. Broke my luggage during disembarkation. and then lied about it. Then continue to lie about many items when we reached out to them for resolution. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
The Quark expedition staff onboard the Ocean Endeavor were all very good with one exception. The exception seemed popular with the other staff members, but she was horrible with the clients. For the rest of the expedition staff, it was ... Read More
The Quark expedition staff onboard the Ocean Endeavor were all very good with one exception. The exception seemed popular with the other staff members, but she was horrible with the clients. For the rest of the expedition staff, it was amazing how many went beyond merely conscientious and seemed sincerely interested that all clients had a wonderful experience. After many expeditions over many seasons, the commitment to client service was outstanding and remarkable. Some passengers complained some of the expedition staff were not very knowledgeable. But if staff did not know the answer to a question, they tended to make the remark, “that is a good question” and suggest who might be able to answer the question or find out the answer themselves and report back. I booked this expedition/cruise through a third party. I contacted Quark for a quote directly and Quark quoted me a price of approximately $6000 more in American dollars than they were selling the expedition/cruise through the third party. This is hard to understand. Either the Quark sales staff didn’t know the expedition/cruise was being offered through a third party at a substantially lower price, information they should have known. Or the Quark sales staff knew the expedition/cruise was being offered at a lower price and was trying to make an exorbitant profit from me. As mentioned by one of the other reviewers, sometimes there was difficulty with climate control on the ship. My cabin was the temperature of a refrigerator for a few nights at the same time other passengers were complaining their cabins were so hot they had to keep their cabin doors open at night for cooling in order to be able to sleep. The passengers who could not sleep because it was so hot were cranky and it was not fun to be around them. After a few nights of an extremely cold cabin, my cabin got too hot for a few nights, then the problem was solved. Quark put $25 in everyone’s shipboard accounts as compensation for the problem. As mentioned in another review, Quark subcontracts out housekeeping and food service on the ship. While reaching under the bed to retrieve a pill bottle top I had dropped, I found two pieces of evidence of previous occupants on the cabin before I found my pill bottle top. My cabin steward was conscientious, but seemed to have more cabins to care for than was the case on other cruises I have been on. My cabin steward told me the beds were too heavy to move. Except for under the bed, my cabin was not filthy, but it was not as clean as on other cruises I have been on. I attribute this to the housekeeping staff being stretched to thin, not to the quality of the staff. The food on the ship was very good. There were a lot of choices. Besides the fine quality of the food, the food and drink service was excellent. Some of the other passengers complained the wine was not superb. It’s fair to say the wine was not superb, but it was all agreeable and drinkable. Quark doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in client feedback. There was an onboard survey at the end of the expedition/cruise that was only available to be filled out on the ship and had to be filled out online. It was aggravating to fill out the survey as the capacity of the intranet on the ship was inadequate. It took five attempts to log on before I was successful. No survey was sent out after the cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
If you plan to visit Antarctica, be aware that no matter which ship you take, YOU MAY GET STUCK IN ICE and NO ONE will be coming to rescue you unless there is a dire emergency…in which case you might be airlifted by helicopter. We ... Read More
If you plan to visit Antarctica, be aware that no matter which ship you take, YOU MAY GET STUCK IN ICE and NO ONE will be coming to rescue you unless there is a dire emergency…in which case you might be airlifted by helicopter. We encountered ice that neither our ship (with reinforced hull) nor an icebreaker could have handled, and spent ~9 days in the area waiting for wind to move the ice so that the ship could leave the Weddell Sea. I was on the Quark Ocean Endeavor’s very disappointing 20-day expedition, “Antarctica East & West: The Peninsula in Depth” Jan. 24- Feb. 13, 2018. What was delivered, in terms of locations visited, only remotely reflected what was marketed & sold (at high cost!). On Day 1 passengers met Quark in Buenos Aires, spent a night in hotel, and flew to Ushuaia for embarkation. This part was efficiently run and there was excitement in the air as we passengers met one another and anticipated great times ahead. There was some time to explore the small town on this day; and upon return after the cruise 19 days later we could explore beautiful Patagonia as part of a tour. The advertised itinerary (aside from Buenos Aires & crossing Drake Passage twice) was: Day 5: Elephant Island; Day 6-8: Weddell Sea; Day 9-15: Antarctic Peninsula and Antarctic Circle; Day 16-17: Shetland Islands. Instead Quark provided: a view of Elephant Island from the ship (Day 5); ten days in Weddell Sea (Days 6-15), the vast majority surrounded by impenetrable ice; and a very busy two days on the western side of the peninsula trying to make up for lost time (days 16 & 17). Most passengers (like me) had chosen this trip in order to see "the peninsula in depth" as advertised; but that was not delivered. No Antarctic Circle. No Shetland Islands. (No Lemaire Channel, Damoy Point, Danco Island, Enterprise Island, Melchior Islands, Neko Harbour, Petermann Island, Port Lockroy, Waterboat Point, Brown Bluff,… or any of the many other enticements listed in the pre-booking documents). Although Elephant Island was listed in the itinerary as “the first land you’ll visit”, there was no landing. It was only after we couldn’t land that it was explained that boats rarely land there. I can appreciate how weather, including fog as in this case, can alter plans; but the HIGH UNlikelihood of a landing was NOT revealed prior to boarding the ship. On Day 6 after two very enjoyable zodiac trips, the ship’s passage to Paulet Island was blocked by impassable sea ice. Expedition staff members were highly motivated to maximize time on the east side, as only one person on the ships’s staff had visited that side of the peninsula before. The decision was made to travel an extra ~120 nautical miles around the northern islands and tip of the peninsula to the west side and RE-ENTER the icy, eastern side via the Antarctic Sound to access Paulet Island on Day 7. We were subsequently completely surrounded by the previously encountered ice, and stranded in the area. At this point, it became a waiting-and-hoping game. We were COMPLETELY at the mercy of Mother Nature to sweep in with a strong windstorm to push out the ice so that we could carry on. There were NO other ships in the area, NO icebreakers, NO rescue helicopters…just our ship w/199 passengers & ~150 staff/crew. While the expedition staff searched for things to fill our time, the ship’s crew was on High Alert: working double shifts (16-19 hrs); more than doubling of the number of crew on watch (fore & aft); navigation bridge was closed to guests; and the stressed ship’s captain was sleeping on a cot at the bridge (this information was not shared with passengers at the time but we learned later by talking with ship employees). There was a relatively small, shifting space of open water in which the ship’s crew would readjust our position so as to avoid hitting any of the enormous icebergs or rocky land in the area. Many may consider that “an adventure". Some passengers on the ship were aware of what going on and were NOT amused: some were angry and some were very frightened. At the other extremes were the blissfully ignorant; and those hoping we would have to be airlifted by helicopter. DO NOT be falsely reassured by Quark website & literature, touting reinforced hulls and icebreakers, which in fact, are NOT capable of navigating the ice that our ship encountered. Furthermore, within the pre-boarding documents listed as FAQ, a rather upbeat, less-than-candid description is given regarding icebergs & icy conditions. “The Expedition Leader keeps well informed of the ice conditions through constant communication with other vessels, local communities, and the ship’s officers who consult ice charts provided by government agencies.” This is misleading, as well, particularly when referring to the eastern side of the Peninsula. There were no other vessels, local communities and realtime ice charts to consult. It was a guessing game. We were first waiting/hoping for a wind to take place on Sat., Feb. 3 (Day 11) that failed to materialize. The next great hope was for the following Tues. (Day 15), which, thankfully, came through, and the ship fled to the western side of the peninsula. Ship’s staff did their best to entertain guests while we were stuck in the Weddell Sea (Prince Gustav Channel/Ross Island area). At one point the plan was to take passengers by zodiac onto land to visit Czech researchers who happened to be nearby, but this was cancelled when ice rushed in and rendered passage impossible. The contingency plan (according to a staff member), if the ice would have moved in an hour later than it did (i.e., when passengers were already on land), was for passengers to overnight in sleeping bags with a day’s worth of provisions. (I wonder: Was any thought given to medical conditions/medications, obesity, and elderly status- all of which would have made it very uncomfortable, even dangerous for some guests?) Antarctica itself is a magnificent, other-worldly place like nowhere else on Earth. I saw amazing scenery and fantastic wildlife (MANY penguins & other birds, and many whales) and created unforgettable memories (good & bad). A great deal of effort went into planning this “trip of a lifetime”. Ultimately, poor judgement was exercised on the part of the expedition leader (in this case, Solen Jensen, a nice fellow who is apparently very experienced in Polar travel…but not on the Eastern side of Antarctica). The heavy ice encountered was visible to everyone on the ship; yet the decision was made to go ~125nm out of our way to re-enter the icy conditions. I spoke at length with several members of Quark administration and there has been no offer of compensation, apology, or admission of responsibility for this debacle. They do recommend that passengers bring “a measure of flexibility to the voyage” and emphasize that itineraries often change (website says “to others equally as interesting”…although that was obviously not true in this case!) Quark staff and ship’s crew were very kind, courteous people and willing to mingle with guests; enthusiastic, with a love of adventure. Communication about wildlife sightings was excellent and most expedition staff exhibited great respect for the animals in their environment, with us as visitors/intruders. However, expedition staff’s level of experience and expertise varied greatly. While some were VERY capable and I would comfortably place my life in their hands, others left guests feeling uneasy and in search of someone more competent. The ship, Ocean Endeavor, was not adequate for predictably navigating the intended course that was set out & sold to guests prior to the expedition. Aside from that, there were significant issues with temperature regulation within the guest cabins (some were very cold- mine was as low as 17C/63F the first time mechanic checked) and staff/crew did their best to address that problem; over days it was eventually satisfactorily resolved. The food was very good, and there were always healthy options available (plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, etc.). Other facilities on the ship (though not like what is available on typical cruise ships) were comfortable and served guests’ needs well enough. The fitness room is quite small but was usually not busy. The yoga classes were very popular. It's a fairly simple, low-frills ship, in terms of onboard amenities. The hotel staff was superb, although perhaps overburdened with responsibilities. The ship was nevertheless kept clean and the steward was always friendly and courteous. There was one home schooled child on the ship and the staff went out of their way to make it an enjoyable learning experience for him. The ratings were a little challenging because of the extremely altered itinerary and the resultant fact that guests were left with a lot of unplanned time on board trying to come up with things to do (the outside deck for walking laps was very busy). The shore excursions that we did were generally excellent and well run (although the quality of guide varied tremendously; and that in turn influenced the zodiac experience). Antarctica as a destination is absolutely phenomenal, but getting there & back comes at a cost. The risks involved are not explained up front. Indeed, I was unable to find a similar description anywhere either before or after taking this cruise. There are plenty of videos and descriptions of the Drake Passage, and I was able to mentally prepare for whatever that presented, prior to this expedition. On another website (TripAdvisor) where I posted a review after this cruise, previous visitors to Antarctica stated that one should expect this sort of experience when traveling to this remote part of the world, "It's an expedition" after all. Had I know in advance what this meant, I would not have chosen to go on this cruise. I have traveled fairly extensively and know that there's always a degree of unpredictability and that itineraries frequently change, weather can be awful, etc. Hopefully this review will help others to make a more informed choice. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
The voyage was billed as an amazing trip to the Antarctic Circle, the South Shetland islands, and the east side of the peninsula. We only did the east side. We were stuck in ice for the rest of the voyage, almost a week. People paid ... Read More
The voyage was billed as an amazing trip to the Antarctic Circle, the South Shetland islands, and the east side of the peninsula. We only did the east side. We were stuck in ice for the rest of the voyage, almost a week. People paid thousands of dollars, in some cases tens of thousands of dollars, and almost all of the itinerary failed to be delivered. Quark defended themselves by saying everybody had fun. This isn't the point: we didn't spend all this money just to travel randomly and have random fun. Many people wanted to reach the Antarctic Circle. This was advertised in the literature. It explicitly said we would reach the Antarctic Circle. They did not get there. Not even close. I tried to get compensation, but was not offered anything meaningful. If you buy their trips, you may not go anywhere near where you thought. If they fail deliver, they will not make it up to you. Think carefully about whether you want to spend so much money on such a risk. You might end up spending tens of thousands of dollars to sit on a ship, surrounded by ice. Quark gets paid either way. The food was good. On-board activities were meh. It's nice to have lectures, but you aren't paying 15,000 to sit on board and listen to lectures. That's what happened for our trip, since we were trapped. The cabin was fine. The cleaning and other staff was great. But again, you don't pay 15,000 for a clean cabin. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
I have been on quite a few cruises and ships but this one was special. The organization, (can't say enough about how good the organization of the adventure was), quality of the excursions, sea (zodiac) and landings were very ... Read More
I have been on quite a few cruises and ships but this one was special. The organization, (can't say enough about how good the organization of the adventure was), quality of the excursions, sea (zodiac) and landings were very interesting, informative. I have a new appreciation for penguins and could have sat there all day watching them. The quality/quantity of the food was excellent. The information sessions should not be missed as these prepare you for what you will see and experience once off the ship. There are numerous activities that you can participate in (book early), sea kayaking, Stand-up-Paddle boarding, mountaineering, overnight camping, cross country skiing, and the 'Polar Plunge'. Certainly enjoyed my cabin. Traveling Solo I had an exceptional roommate whom I was paired up with. We got along very well. The Cabin had a bedroom and sitting room with two bathrooms. What more can you ask for? I now want to go on some of the other cruises that Quark offers - ever hopeful! The other guests aboard the ship also helped to make this an amazing trip. Everybody seemed to be enjoying the trip A LOT! It makes for a special time. The list of clothing they provide should be followed. A must is the waterproof pants. It is quite cool when traveling in the zodiacs and sometimes wet from the spray as your going along (on a zodiac excursion you will be on it for perhaps 1.5 to 2 hours without much movement so a tendency to chill is possible). I found the clothing a bit warm when walking on the land but you still have to get there and back to the ship in the zodiacs. I would definitely go again if the opportunity comes my way! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Cruise chosen because of its itinerary through the legendary North West Passage. This ship is owned by Adventure Canada and used also by Quark Expeditions. We were dur to fly from Edmonton to Coppermine but as the previous cruise Into the ... Read More
Cruise chosen because of its itinerary through the legendary North West Passage. This ship is owned by Adventure Canada and used also by Quark Expeditions. We were dur to fly from Edmonton to Coppermine but as the previous cruise Into the North West passage had been held up by ice and needed the assistance of an icebreaker we flew to Cambridge bay instead with a refuelling stop at Yellowknife. The gravel landing at Cambridge bay was exciting in a 737.Adventure Canada had done well to organise new plans in a couple of days and all went well. The organisation during the cruise was exceptional especially with so many passengers of older years. Unfortunately due to bad weather we were not able to land near the site of the Erebus wreck but the onboard team made up for it with several lectures including from a member of the dive team. A highlight was the landing at Parks Canada's newest national park where we brought the number of visitors from 4 to 202. This is not a luxury cruise but a marvellous way to see the Arctic close up, cruising in a zodiac amongst icebergs at Illiusiat will stay in my memory forever. The food was excellent, the whole crew could not do more for one. The expedition crew in partnership with Parks Canada staff were wonderful, I also congratulate the ships crew who made sure we transferred from ship to shore and back safely, at one landing the seas came up whilst we were ashore and they were wading waist deep in the freezing water to ensure we got safely into the zodiacs. The bear control guards who walked up to high vantage points and remained there for hours looking for bears also did a great job. Read Less
25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
I recently completed an Antarctic adventure by Quark Expeditions aboard the Ocean Endeavor. Our trip to Antarctica was unforgettable; it truly is the last slightly untouched, unspoiled, except for the effects of global warming, place in ... Read More
I recently completed an Antarctic adventure by Quark Expeditions aboard the Ocean Endeavor. Our trip to Antarctica was unforgettable; it truly is the last slightly untouched, unspoiled, except for the effects of global warming, place in the world. We booked our trip through a specialty agency specializing in adventure trips and they were able to answer a lot of questions to insure this was the correct trip. I had numerous questions about my physical ability to do the trip, as I am not 30 something years old. They answered my questions to the point that I was reasonable assured that I could physically “do” the trip and enjoy it. For me at least, this is a very (insanely?) expensive trip. However, Antarctica has been one place that I have wanted to see for 30 plus years and realized if I did not go now, I would never see and experience it. The basic itinerary: 1. Travel from home to Buenos Aires, Argentina – This was independent portion of trip or not included in trip fees. 2. Tour Buenos Aires (Expedition Trips/Quark Expeditions). 3. Travel by charter flight (Expedition Trips/Quark Expeditions) from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina. 4. Tour Tierra del Fuego National Park (Expedition Trips/Quark Expeditions). 5. Board Ocean Endeavour (Quark Expeditions). Leave evening day 1. 6. Crossing The (Dreaded) Drake Passage (2 days). The Drake can be rough, this was a calm passage. Day 2 7. Crossing The (Dreaded) Drake Passage (2 days) and 1st zodiac outing at Shetland Islands. Day 3 8. Antarctic Sound – 2nd and 3rd zodiac outing and kayaking (Yes, I opted for kayaking and extra $). Day 4 9. Explore Mikkelsen Harbor and Hughes Bay, Cape Herschel – 3rd and 4th zodiac outing and kayaking. Day 5 10. Explore Wilhelmina Bay and Cuvervulle Island in the Errera Channel – 5th and 6th zodiac outing and kayaking. Day 6 11. Explore Useful Island and Gerlache Strait – 7th zodiac outing and kayaking, 8th zodiac and kayaking replaced by following packs of Orcas. Day 7 12. Crossing The (Dreaded) Drake Passage (2 days). The Drake can be rough, the return was reasonable calm passage. Day 8 & 9 13. Arrive in Ushuaia return flight to Buenos Aires and return (independent portion of trip or not included) to home. Day 10 The food was great, but one sort of expects this on a ship. Meal times were announced and everyone ate in the dining room. Breakfast was hot and cold buffet, lots of choices, plus made to order eggs. Lunch was buffet again, but the menu of items would change. Dinner included choice of soup, salad, entrée and dessert. Dinner generally consisted of 3 choices available – fish, red meat, and pasta or veggie option. For dinner, the wine stewards offered choice of a white or red. Chef could also adjust for dietary needs. One service the dietary staff did that was helpful, when going through the buffet, especially crossing the Drake when the ship would rock some, is to carry your food to a table, they had their “sea-legs”, some of us did not. I looked forward to meal times, not only for the great food and new items to try, but also with such an international shipmate listing, who you would be dining with including Adventure Team staff this generated lots of lively conversation ranging from where you live, occupation, what you did and saw today to where to next. The entire ships’ crew was very experienced and it was obvious that client satisfaction and safety is first priority. The ship’s crew were divided along three main divisions, Ship’s Captain and Engineering staff to operate the ship, Hospitality included Galley staff, housekeeping, laundry and administrative, and Expedition Team an incredible group of dedicated Antarctic and Artic professional with and incredible collections of backgrounds and abilities. The Expedition Team members were readily accessible between excursions and many gave presentations during the two days crossing the Drake and after dinner. All the presentations were well prepared and interesting. I had studied for this trip, so some was a timely review of information I had previously been exposed to, however, the enthusiasm of the presenter kept it interesting and at each presentation, I did receive additional new information. I also noticed that many of the Expedition Team attended their teammate’s presentation. During excursions or on deck the Team members were very knowledgeable about subjects out of their main area of expertise and enjoyed sharing. All staff demonstrated a genuine concern for Antarctic wildlife and sustainability. Every staff member I had contact with was the type of person you would want to have in your organization. The pre-trip information was excellent as to what to bring and not bring. We were able to pack the proper clothing to stay warm and comfortable whether on deck, in the zodiacs or kayaks. The key is to dress in layers and make sure your base layer is comfortable and wicking. The ship store also has a good selection of layering items if you forgot something, or feel you need additional, plus their prices were reasonable. I bought a pair of waterproof pants that I neglected to obtain ahead of the trip. Everyone was a little anxious about cross the Drake Passage as the Drake is known to have 6 to15 foot rolling swells, if you are lucky, as the Drake can be either a Shake or a Lake. It takes about two days to cross in either direction. December and January are better times to go as unless the ship sails into a storm you will avoid the 30 ft. waves. If you are susceptible to motion sickness (I am!) visit your Doctor and inquire about the “patch”, transderm scopolamine, if it is right for you and follow directions explicitly. It worked great for me on this trip. The ship’s Doctor, Dr. Wayne Jonas, was excellent and always available to discuss your situation and gave solid medical advice. You should also try to board ship well rested. Eat only moderately the day before and avoid greasy foods and excessive amounts of alcohol. Once on board pack your gear away immediately, storing it so it won’t become dislodged or need organization later when the seas aren’t so calm. It’s a good practice to avoid overheating both in your cabin, eating or anywhere else as this can bring on motion sickness. Reading in bed is another activity you might wish to avoid. It is rather obvious this type of trip may not be for everyone, example; my wife did not want to go and does not want to go even after seeing all the photos I took and listening to my inexhaustible tales of exploit. My daughter who accompanied me would like a return trip. As I stated at the beginning, for me at least, this is a very (insanely?) expensive trip. However, with 198 passengers and crew and staff of 130 to 150 and experiencing how things are done, I can understand the cost. Activity level can be somewhat high if you decide to do as many kayaking excursions as possible, or do the climbing, skiing options, and climbing to the top of the snow/ice covered island for the better view. But many guests did just the zodiacs and on landings, walked along the shore, or picked a good spot to sit and watch the parade of penguins. I am the traveler that even thought I had a wonderful time and experience somewhere, I tend to cross it of the list as having been there and there are so many new places to experience. Antarctica is different; it was so much more than I expected, and there are so many additional sites to explore that I would truly enjoy a return and with the Quark Expeditions Team. Read Less
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