9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
First let me say it should tell you something that I'm posting this 3 years later. That's how disappointing this cruise was. Second, Antarctica is incredible, this cruise line does get you there, and it's worth going - ... Read More
First let me say it should tell you something that I'm posting this 3 years later. That's how disappointing this cruise was. Second, Antarctica is incredible, this cruise line does get you there, and it's worth going - despite the incredible disappointment of the cruise company to deliver a quality safe experience in my opinion. And it is all about the hospitality in this case. If you want to just go on an expedition cruise and not care about food, towels, coffee, comfort... then sure. This is fine. But for the price and with just a little effort they could do so much better. People save their whole livest to get to Antarctica. Why not make an effort. The basics: The ship is fine. I am more concerned with seaworthy and safety in this case. However, the common area is pathetically sad. It's like a small bad lounge in a drab little Euro-hotel. Bad coffee. Stale cookies. It all feels like an uninviting afterthought. Just one aspect of failed hospitality effort that never really brought the cruise together nor made one feel welcomed. The food was terrible. Which at first I figured we were at the end of the world and supplies were limited. But when we explored Ushuaia we found plenty of fresh produce, good coffee, pastries... at reasonable prices. Clearly Hurtigruten could have sourced better. There were literally fights in the dining area. Over what I can't even imagine. All the food tasted like hospital food. Really sad. There is nothing that says luxury at all. The towels were small, worn, scratchy and scarce. Yes we went to an amazing place and got to go on an incredible adventure. I'll always cherish that. But they could have done so much better with the slightest awareness of hospitality. At one point, wanting to create an experience for myself and friends we made on the trip, I paid our guide to pluck a piece of calved glacier ice from the water. I created a moment in the bar where we chiseled-off a piece of that prehistoric ice that contained compressed air bubbles from millennia ago. When you poured a liquor over it you could hear those bubble effervesce. Simple. Magical. Special. Not vaguely in the awareness of our host. Lastly, be warned that if there's a medical emergency, your cruise is ruined. Too much to explain here, but research it. We were told that the cruise before ours lost 4 days for and emergency evacuation. One is supposed to have a doctor's note to go on this adventure. On several occasions we saw people put into very precarious positions by the crew. (Many of which kind of came off as junior-college level awkward dolts. The geologist was frankly weird and rude). These situations could have easily resulted in a crisis. For just one example: a clearly overweight, out of shape, knee brace person with cane teetering on the edge of a portable aluminum stair case while trying to get out of a heavily rocking raft in rubber boots onto a very slippery rocky shore with crashing waves. We actually did have a medical emergency that could have ruined our journey. A man that had several prior hip / knee surgeries fell on the boat. But thankfully there happened to be an anesthesiologist and a surgeon on board. And we were told his wife, having been through so many surgeries, provided critical assistance. Without all of that good fortune we would have ad to go to South Shetlands (if I recall) and wait for good weather and airlift. The ship is required to sit in port until weather clears enough for the plane to leave. Overall, we're thrilled we got to go. We loved it. It was worth the risk. But we make the most or any experience. The places we got to see were truly once in a lifetime. And the austere beauty of this other worldly place is unrivaled. It's just too bad that this company doesn't interested in making a sincere effort to make it special. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
We started our expedition by flying from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia where we picked up Hurtigruten’s boat MS Fram. The boat is lovely, lots of pine and a fantastic observation lounge with floor to ceiling windows. Our suite was great, a ... Read More
We started our expedition by flying from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia where we picked up Hurtigruten’s boat MS Fram. The boat is lovely, lots of pine and a fantastic observation lounge with floor to ceiling windows. Our suite was great, a good size, but beware, some of the inside cabins are very small. We had an amazing holiday, we saw five different types of penguins (Gentoos, Chin-strap, Magenellic, Rockhopper and King) and lots of seals (Fur, Elephant and Leopard). We saw whales and dolphins and many different birds including albatross and caracars. The scenery is stunning, words cannot describe the sheer beauty of the magnificent icebergs against the cobalt blue skies as the sun’s rays warmed everyone and everything. We endured Force 10s crossing Drake’s Passage, about half the passengers were ill; we couldn’t put into Deception Island because of the Force 11 gale. We had fabulous days when the sun shone and the sky was blue – dips in the on-deck Jacuzzi were a must even though it was -1 C and snowing at times. We had days when the fog obstinately stuck around all day. The best bits were undoubtedly seeing this amazing continent and getting to walk on the Antarctic, South Georgia and the Falklands. It was a real privilege to be there and see the animals and birds and to walk in the footsteps of Shackleton. The staff were really good; the lectures were exceptionally good generally and helped to set the scene perfectly. Safety was paramount, especially important when the transfers to the remote islands were made by Polar Circle boats in lumpy seas. There were many long days at sea filled by lectures and film shows. You might want to take your knitting and a good supply of reading material/puzzle books. There is a supply of jig-saw puzzles on board, but there is also a limit to how many you might want to do. You might also want to take a pack of cards and/or other travel games. The food was OK, the set dinners were better than the buffets, which were the norm at other times. The food was a bit repetitive, the fish and meat often over-cooked. We were expecting something a bit better given the cost of the holiday. We were also disappointed by the penny pinching/money grabbing approach. This was an expensive holiday – the Antarctic is an expensive place to visit. We did receive ‘free’ anoraks, but had to pay to hire boots for the shore excursions – there is a big focus on ensuring that cross contamination of flora and fauna is minimised. The boot hire was only about £15 per person for the whole trip, but this was on a holiday costing £25,000. Excursions were also expensive: kayaking for less than two hours cost £100 per person; a trip in the Polar Circle boat was exciting but another £90 each. There was a queue to camp on the Antarctic, even though it cost £250 for a bottle of water and a night in a tent. Don’t even think about going on the Buenos Aires city tour, it’s only about £30 each but a complete waste of money, you can wander around BA by yourself - just be careful someone tried to rob us by claiming that we had bird mess on our backs that they would help us clean off. In truth our good Samaritan had squirted the ‘bird mess’ onto our backs hoping that the diversion would enable him to pick our pockets. It does seem that Hurtigruten take advantage of the ‘I will only do this once’ sentiment. We also don’t understand why only passengers who have booked suites are offered a glass of fizz on arrival, we stood in the same queues as passengers who hadn’t booked a suite, we were offered a drink and they were quite clearly told that it wasn’t for them – an embarrassing start to the trip. Similarly, we were given ‘free’ water, wine and beer at lunch and dinner because we were part of the ‘Suite Concept’. Everyone else was charged for water at approx £2 per person per day; you could buy a package for the whole trip that reduced the cost to about £1.50 per day. Similarly only those passengers in suites were provided with ‘smellies’ and tea/coffee making facilities in their cabins. Internet access is chargeable but rarely available; so just don’t assume that you will have access. Bar prices are also high, £4+ for a small beer, £5+ for a gin & tonic, £25 for a bottle of wine. We also had a multi-national group of about 200 passengers (the boat can hold about 300) who were interesting to meet – a special sort of person is attracted to this special holiday. We did have a large contingent of about fifty Chinese passengers on our boat – they made up about 25% of the passengers. The experience was not very positive; they frequently took over the lounge/bar area and were very noisy in the dining room. Landings were also marred by their refusal to abide by the rules. Passengers were split into six teams for landings; the first landing started with team 1 going first, followed by teams 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6. The teams were expected to return in the same order. On the second landing team 2 went first followed by teams 3, 4, 5, 6 & 1. This rotation continued so that each team was given the chance to be first on the islands or last off. However, the Chinese passengers would often refuse to leave the islands at their allotted time forcing other passengers to return early. This was the most wonderful holiday; I will long remember standing in the sea with baby seals nudging my legs in curiosity, the sight of ‘baby’ albatross as big as their rockhopper penguin neighbours and the absolutely stunningly beautiful iceberg alley. A wow holiday, it could have been perfect with a little less penny pinching and better behaviour from the Chinese passengers.   Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015
First off, be clear about it: there is no cheap way to go to the Antarctic. We chose the Hurtigruten Fram because we had cruised with them before and had great confidence in their competence. There are more luxurious and expensive ships ... Read More
First off, be clear about it: there is no cheap way to go to the Antarctic. We chose the Hurtigruten Fram because we had cruised with them before and had great confidence in their competence. There are more luxurious and expensive ships but none that are more seaworthy. A very good value. The cruise officially began in Buenos Aires. We spent a week there on our own so had not purchased an airport transfer from Hurtigruten for the charter flight to Ushuaia. This became the source of some stress when we belatedly learned that our flight was to depart at 4:40 AM, meaning finding a cab on our own at 2:00 AM. If we had known about the ridiculously early flight in advance, we would have spent the last night in Buenos Aires with the Fram group. We were met at the airport in Ushuaia by Fram personnel. No problem with check-in on the ship, and our luggage was already in our cabin when we arrived. As been mentioned before, the standard cabin on the Fram is astonishingly tiny. There are two berths with very little space between them. During the day one berth is turned up and the other becomes a couch, to allow for more floor space. There is adequate storage space, but it is mostly in open cubbyholes. Travelers used to large cruise ships will be shocked. The "superior outside stateroom" is much larger and nicer, with a queen-sized bed and large bathroom, but is of course more expensive. We have cruised on the Fram before, and to save money had paid for an "unspecified inside cabin." After all, we never spend any time in the cabin on an expedition cruise. As it turned out, we were upgraded to a "superior" cabin, our good fortune this time. The Fram is a lovely ship, especially built for polar conditions. For this cruise it was completely booked with 224 passengers. Public rooms are very attractive. There is a large observation lounge on Deck 7 forward, a wonderful place to watch the scenery in a hostile climate. Deck 4 is the nerve center of the vessel, with the dining room with windows on three sides; two lecture halls; a cafe with drinks and snacks; a shop offering cold-weather gear and a few souvenirs and essentials; and the administrative center. There are large windows on both sides. The ship also has an outdoor hot tub and a fitness room with a sauna. Outside on Decks 5 and 8 are large observation areas. Of course, in the Antarctic these were used primarily when something especially exciting was going on, such as whale watching or threading our way through gigantic icebergs. We were generally fortunate with weather. The notorious Drake Passage was glassy smooth on the two-day cruise south, and we were able to make two landings a day in Antarctica. (On the return trip over the Drake, it blew a full gale, force 8 on the Beaufort Scale.) The temperature on the Antarctic peninsula hovered around freezing twenty-four hours a day. There is no real darkness this time of year. For shore excursions we wore layers and shed them if there was no wind and the sun was out. Then it seemed surprisingly warm. When it was windy, or when we were in the 8-passenger "Polar Zirkel" boats, we needed all our cold-weather gear, including waterproof parkas (a gift from Hurtigruten) and pants. We also wore study rubber boots for all excursions. These were available for rent from the ship at a reasonable cost. It's hard to describe the eight days we actually spent in the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctica is not a place, it's an experience. Twice-daily excursions brought us into close contact with three species of nesting penguins, who have no fear of humans and will walk right up to you. We also had close encounters with seals on land and on icebergs. The scenery is beyond spectacular. We've all seen pictures and videos of glaciers and icebergs, but no pictures can capture the reality of being there. We visited a couple of inhabited islands and got a change to understand what it's like to live there. Some historic sites were included, such as a former whalers' processing station, and Elephant Island, where Shackleton's crew managed to survive for 4 1/2 months awaiting rescue. Lectures on the wildlife, geology, and history of the region by members of the outstanding Expedition Team put things in context. In addition to the included daily shore excursions, there were optional kayaking trips and "boat cruising" in the small boats. There was also one long guided hike, and the chance to spend a night ashore in a tent. These optional excursions cost extra but provided an even more intimate experience with this unique environment. There was no evening entertainment per se: a "Crew's Show," a Tango demonstration, some relevant movies, etc. We were too tired after the busy days to have any interest in evening activities, and I never heard anyone complain about the lack of entertainment. Breakfast and lunch were always buffets; there were two official dinner seatings, but because of the extensive shore excursions, all but three dinners were buffets. Service was excellent throughout. I have read complaints elsewhere about food aboard the Fram. It certainly does not measure up to the standards of a traditional cruise ship. However, we found that there were plenty of options, including lactose-free and gluten-free. The beef was not great, and vegetables tended to be overcooked, but the fish, cheeses, salads, breads, and desserts were outstanding. And does anyone expect meals on an expedition cruise to play the important role that they do on, say, a Mediterranean cruise? We were quite satisfied. Passengers were a diverse group. Probably more than half were American, but there were large contingents from Germany and France, and we also met South Africans, Australians, Japanese, and Indians, to name a few. This was a very well-traveled assortment of lively, adventurous people, as you would expect on a cruise to the Antarctic. We've been on many cruises, including some to rather exotic places (Greenland, Svalbard, Galapagos, Amazon), but Antarctica will always stand out in my mind. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity of experiencing it. It is totally unlike anywhere else on earth, absolutely indescribable. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We have recently returned from an Antarctic cruise on the Fram. This is sold as a 19 day cruise but although day one starts by having to be at the local airport in Buenos Aires at 3 a.m. you don't actually get onto the ship until 4 ... Read More
We have recently returned from an Antarctic cruise on the Fram. This is sold as a 19 day cruise but although day one starts by having to be at the local airport in Buenos Aires at 3 a.m. you don't actually get onto the ship until 4 p.m. and on day 19 you are going to be leaving the ship at about 7.30 a.m. So, effectively it is a 17 day cruise. The Fram is an excellent ship for the job, being large enough to be comfortable but small enough to get into places that bigger liners would never get to or be allowed to go to, South Georgia for instance has a limit of 100 people ashore at any one time at most of the places we stopped at. Try that on a 2 - 3000 passenger liner. We were blessed with good weather and we landed at almost all of the places intended, however, Hurtigriten do like to make the most of a 'captive audience'. They offered us organised trips at Ushuaia and on the Falklands. All of them seemed quite expensive for what they were so we only pre-booked one which was at Port Stanley. It was fairly interesting, a visit to a penguin colony, but given that we visited numerous others for no extra cost on South Georgia and the Antarctic Islands subsequently this trip was a waste of money, and time as you don't get long in Stanley. Other extras were offered once on board: snowshoeing, kayaking, trips in the Polarcircle RIBs and several hikes. All of these were quite expensive for what they were for instance about £75 for a 2 hour cruise in the RIBs just to see the sights along the shore, almost £100 each for two and a half hours kayaking which, with 5 two-man kayaks earned the line about £1000 for the use of the boats plus two guides. Even the hikes which usually have over 50 people on them will cost you around £25 per person when you might think that they could throw in a guided walk of a few miles free of extra cost especially when you consider that the 'trainee' members of the Expedition Crew are not even being paid by the Line but are doing their jobs unsalaried just to gain experience. They rely, of course on the "well, I'll only be here once" thought that goes through our minds and makes us pay these silly extra costs. Then there's the bar prices. I didn't want a 'booze cruise' but it would have been nice to have a beer at the end of an active day or a bottle of wine with dinner but with Carlsberg lager (the only beer they had and one that I don't like) costing almost £7 per pint and Chilean 'plonk' that sells in Buenos Aires supermarkets for about £5 a bottle being priced at around £25 per bottle on the ship I had a very 'dry' holiday. Obviously it is not that people who can afford the cruise can't afford the drinks but I object to being 'milked' in this way especially when the Line presumably buys the stuff as 'Bonded Stores', that is to say, without having to pay duty on it. They also x-ray your cases when you come aboard, including hand-luggage. This is not as you might think to protect you from guns and bombs. It is to protect their bar profits by spotting and removing any alcohol you may have brought with you. To add insult to injury they also charge for water to drink in the restaurant but they offer a 'deal' whereby you can pay about £20 per head for the privilege of having a carafe of 'mineral' water on your table every evening. This deal is supposed to be per person whereas, of course, it should be per couple but having had a very early start (up at 01.45 a.m.) to catch the flight to Ushuaia I allowed myself to be bounced into agreeing to it for each of us so we paid almost £40 in total. It is a real shame that Hurtugruten feel the need to rip-off their clients in these petty ways as the cruise itself was everything we could have hoped for but the constant feeling that you are being 'milked' leaves a nasty taste that even their very expensive water cannot wash away. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Going to Antartcica is expensive. Hurtigruten is a good lower budget alternative Main complaint: Land services. We, and others in the ship, had bad experiences with the flights from BA to Ushuaia and their associated ... Read More
Going to Antartcica is expensive. Hurtigruten is a good lower budget alternative Main complaint: Land services. We, and others in the ship, had bad experiences with the flights from BA to Ushuaia and their associated 'excursions'. Getting information out of Hurtigruten and their local land operator was virtually impossible. We found out our Ushuaia departure flight time less than 10 hours before we left - at 2:30 in the morning! Wouldn't have been a problem if we had been prepared and not booked a tango show for that night. Just be decent and give people the information and then then can be prepared or make alternative arrangements themselves. My advice is to get to Ushuaia on your own and don't book with the cruise. Also, the Escondido Lake 'excursion' was an absolute rip off. The bus drove out to a roadside outlook of a lake and returned. That was it. Avoid any land segments- badly organized and no value for money. There are also plenty of nice hotels in BA and there is no need to stay at the Emperador. Cabin: It was small but ok. We had a large window to look out to on deck 6 which made watching the scenery easy. The bathroom is quite small and there is limited storage. The good news is that you don't need any fancy clothing. Jeans and fleeces are fine at any time. Take quick dry fabrics because they will get wet during landing and there is much space to dry clothes. Thankfully items dried very quickly. Food: It was fine, nothing special. Don't expect fancy cruise food. Service was OK but there are a lot of rules which the staff will remind you of readily. We had to pay for drinks including water. We did buy a water package which meant that we got a carafe of the same water that came out of the tap. It was conveniently if you are a big water drinker but totally unnecessary. I eat mostly vegitarian and didn't have trouble finding things to eat. Remember that you will be in the middle of nowhere and expecting fresh fruits and veggies is not that realistic Entertainment: It was mostly lectures which were good. The big problem was that they were so well attended it was difficult to find a seat. This is really and educational style trip and so don't expect a lot of entertainment. Cruise Excursions: Amazing and made the trip worth while. We felt completely safe with the expedition staff. We also paid a number of extras including kayaking, which was so worth while. This is where to spend a little extra money, rather than on drinks! Getting geared up to go on the excursion can be a little frenzied because people are anxious to get on land. Definitely rent boots, they were comfortable and good quality. As a tip, leave your life jacket with your boots on the drying rack, that way you don't have to adjust a new life vest each trip. It was a great trip - just keep your expectations of the ship low, make your own travel arrangements to Ushuaia, and let the scenery, wildlife and history make the trip fantastic !   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
We have travelled with Hurtigruten before on their costal round trips a couple of times. We enjoyed these very much so we decided to take the plunge and go for one of the explorer voyages. We booked direct and received confirmation ... Read More
We have travelled with Hurtigruten before on their costal round trips a couple of times. We enjoyed these very much so we decided to take the plunge and go for one of the explorer voyages. We booked direct and received confirmation suggesting a two flight journey each way. When the paperwork arrived we had a three flight journey each way spanning a total thirteen hours not including first airport pre flight time. Arrival at Svalbard on night in the Raddison Blu hotel. Arrived around midnight, checked in and went to room. Our hearts sank! Annex accommodation comprising of a small unit. Main bed was a sofa bed large enough for one. Second bed was either a top or bottom bunk bed. Room, furniture and fittings looked tired, but at least clean. Curtains as thin as tissue paper so would not keep out midnight sun.No coffe, tea or milk provided. Transport to ship satisfactory. Embarkation a little long winded with queuing of around 40 minutes or more for some. Cabin was as expected. On deck three with window. A little small and very compact, but more than adequate. Clean and comfortable and v good housekeeping. Dining. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style with an excellent selection for all. Dinner was a mix of buffet or fixed menu. Again very good with alternative for vegetarians etc. Tea coffee and cookies available 24/7 No children's club or facilities due to nature of voyage. Non advertised or expected. Evening entertainment was very low key. Again due to type of voyage and other activities ongoing. Polar bear spotting or landings. Disembarkation. Well organised and efficient. Summary. For a once in a lifetime voyage to see the wild Arctic, this would be difficult to better. A wonderful experience on a well run efficient ship. Excellent crew and staff including all expedition team who were extremely knowledgable. A wonderful experience let down by the first night hotel accommodation and the more than expected number of flights to reach our destinations. Possibly a little on the expensive side.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
My husband and I were very pleased with our cruise to Antarctica aboard the Fram. The expedition staff is great and our suite (634) was spacious and comfortable. I recommend you make your own arrangements for hotel and transportation in ... Read More
My husband and I were very pleased with our cruise to Antarctica aboard the Fram. The expedition staff is great and our suite (634) was spacious and comfortable. I recommend you make your own arrangements for hotel and transportation in Buenos Aries. Hurtigruten wanted $500 per person for transportation between airports and to book a room at the Emperador Hotel for the first and last nights of our trip. I booked the hotel online myself for $125 plus taxes per night. Cabs are easy to get on your own. This saved us approximately $650. I do recommend you book at the Emperador because it's a very good hotel and Hurtigruten uses it for their hospitality base in Buenos Aries so you can talk to one of their representatives in person once you arrive. We booked a day trip to Tierra del Fuego upon arrival to Ushuaia. I paid a bit more to book it through Hurtigruten because I didn't want to take a chance that another tour provider would not get us back in time for final boarding. The park tour was very good and well worth the time and money. It turns out I didn't need to worry about the ship sailing without us. Our scheduled 6:00 p.m. departure was delayed until 1:00 a.m. because a customs issue between Hurtigruten and the Argentine government. I'm not sure who was at fault but another passenger told me the same thing happened to them on another cruise line in Ushuaia two years ago. I recommend you bring something for sea sickness with you. The Drake passage can be very rough or very calm. Our southern crossing was pretty rough with 60+ knot winds and 20 foot seas. I used to live on a sailboat and had never been sea sick before but I would have had a miserable crossing without the patch. If you use a patch for sea sickness make sure you keep a bottle of water next to your bed. Most people experience significant dry mouth with the patch. We thought the food and service in the dining hall was fine. Not gourmet but not bad at all. I wish they had offered more than one brand of beer and a few more vegetarian choices but I had plenty at every meal. My omnivore husband enjoyed almost everything he tried. My only complaint about this aspect of the cruise is that Hurtigruten charges for water at the table. We had a suite so it was included for us but most of the passengers were taken aback that something as basic as water was not complementary. It really doesn't make sense when you can get cookies, tea and coffee free all day near the lecture hall but have to pay for water at your meals. The expedition staff was terrific. They provided a full schedule of interesting lectures between landings and did a fantastic job when we were ashore. The crew that gets passengers ready to go to shore and drives the Polarcirkles were very good and absolutely safety conscious. Speaking of the Polarcirkles, they are really nice with high sides to help keep passengers dry and have good, sturdy rails to hold on. The boots they provide for going ashore are very good. But, like the tap water, use of the boots should be included in the price of the cruise. I would rather they charge a little more up-front so it doesn't feel like I'm being nickled and dimed. Okay, I'm done complaining because those really are only two things I didn't like. They have a small but well equipped gym that we used almost every day. Random magic moment: I was in the gym one morning listening to my iPod while using the treadmill. Just as "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" started playing we motored by an ice floe covered with penguins and then a humpback whale breached right in front of me. There are two heated jacuzzis and a sauna right outside the gym. The planned itinerary had to be changed a couple of times during our cruise but the staff chose alternatives that had to be every bit as good as the original plans and I didn't hear any complaints. The first change was because our planned landing site was iced in but the back up site was fabulous. The second change was more substantial because of a health crisis aboard the ship. We had to abruptly head to the South Shetland Islands to get a crew member who had suffered a stroke to an island with an air strip so he could be evacuated to a hospital in Chile. Even then, our alternative landings at Half Moon Bay and Admiralty Bay in the South Shetlands were wonderful. In fact, if we hadn't gone to Half Moon we would not have gotten to see a Macaroni penguin at all. One of the reviews here mentioned a charge for seeing the ship's doctor. I fell and needed to get patched up for a minor injury. The doctor and her assistant were very nice and took good care of me. The provided a brace, analgesic cream, and ibuprofen at no charge. We have done expedition cruises in the Galapagos, the Amazon, and the Seychelles as well as safaris in Kenya and South Africa. This Antarctic cruise ranks close to the top for me. It is absolutely thrilling to see so many penguins, whales and seals up close. We also enjoyed getting to know our fellow passengers as most were incredibly well traveled and had great stories to tell. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
Let's start with the bottom line: A+ for the adventure/education experience and C- for amenities and even basic courtesy Flight arrangements. Getting basic information from Hurtigruten's flight team would challenge the CIA. ... Read More
Let's start with the bottom line: A+ for the adventure/education experience and C- for amenities and even basic courtesy Flight arrangements. Getting basic information from Hurtigruten's flight team would challenge the CIA. Something as simple as baggage limitations required faxes that went unanswered and a series of e-mails that produced absolutely contradictory information. Although I began my quest for answers almost two weeks before departure, it was not until we left the U.S. that I was able to determine that the ONE 8-kg "personal item" that LAN will permit is actually the "carry-on" limit, and that a "personal item" (purse, laptop, etc.) is indeed permitted in addition. I urge potential passengers to arrange their own travel to Ushuaia. LAN flies Fram passengers from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia in an Airbus 320, which was evidently designed by the same folks who learned their ergonomics from the manufacturers of sardine cans. I am only 5 feet 7 inches tall, and I sat with my knees against my chest for three and a half hours. I have flown in military cargo planes that were more comfortable. The cafeteria quality food: Most lunches and dinners were buffet style with quality equivalent to U.S. family restaurant chains, such as Cracker Barrel or Country Buffet (exception: Cracker Barrel does NOT include reindeer stew on its menus). On one of two nights when we had a sit-down meal instead of a buffet, the pork schnitzel was so dry and hard (not tough, brittle-hard) that the cutlets could not be cut with flatware—one of our table companions demonstrated that he could take it his two hands and break it like a thin piece of wood. Can’t seem even to get the good things right. Smoked salmon available at almost every meal . . . lox, but not a spoonful of cream cheese within 500 miles. Mayonnaise? Yes. Mustard? Yes. Butter? Yes. Cream cheese? Blank stares or, to be more accurate, hostile glares, which is what one gets when he asks anything the least out of the ordinary from the Filipino hotel staff. The breakfast buffet is better, or at least more varied, than the complimentary breakfasts one gets at Comfort Inn or Motel 6, and one can actually order a breakfast from the kitchen instead of eating from the buffet, but we timed it. More than 30 minutes to arrive—with the very likely result of missing one’s scheduled landing. Regimentation of services. One cannot take a glass of wine back to one’s cabin. Fear of liability should a passenger fall and break a glass. And, room service available only to passengers who book suites. The very(!) poor service by the serving staff (The "Ugly"): They spend more time chatting, laughing, and flirting among themselves then they do waiting on passengers. And they have the audacity to scold passengers who finally, in desperation, get up help themselves. One got in my wife's face and told her that getting coffee was HIS job. She told him that she wouldn’t have to do it herself if he’d get himself over to the table and actually DO his job. They don’t even smile until a day or two before debarkation when everyone is being reminded about tipping. The hotel staff double as deck crew (at which they are superbly good—getting passengers in and out of boats, sometimes in very challenging conditions), so don’t expect any real competence when it comes to their serving duties. Up in the bar I ordered my usual very dry, dirty, and straight-up vodka martini . . . and was brought a glass of vodka. The rapacious nickel-and-diming passengers to death: The 10th-century Vikings made their living by raid and plunder. Their 21st-century Norwegian descendants have figured out how do the same thing without bloodshed. They run cruise lines and have you at their mercy. Examples. Do not forget any of your over-the-counter meds—aspirin, antihistamines, etc. There is nothing of the sort for sale in the minimal shop. The "Good": The store stocks excellent expedition quality outdoor gear--even better than the ski shop where we work. The "Bad": If you want so much as an antacid, much less something for sea-sickness, you need an appointment with the ship’s doctor. Minimum $150 fee. Don’t go into the bar and ask for a glass of carbonated water. They don’t even have a carbonated water fixture at the bar. They open a can of sparkling water and charge you bar fee for . . . water. And, should you want carbonated water with meals, you either pay by the pitcher or buy a subscription for . . . water. Don’t buy internet time. They sell by the minute, not by the megabyte. Our travel agent arranged a 1,000 NKr credit. We used some of it to buy an hour of internet access and then expended 45 minutes of it trying to forward the credit documentation to the reception desk 20 feet away from where we were sitting in the computer alcove. Subsequently, we exhausted a half-hour (200 NKr) sitting watching a screen say (CONNECTING TO GOOGLE). Never did get online, but the clock ran out nonetheless. If these folks sold you a house, you’d find out afterwards that there was a surcharge for plumbing. Nonetheless, we are contemplating another Hurtigruten cruise. Why? Because they go to some incredible places and because their expedition staff--leaders, ornithologists, biologist, geologist, photographer--are far better than the hotel staff is poor. They’re even better than on the Celebrity Xpedition. Every lecture was worthy of a PBS hour, and the personal photos that the staff have taken in the conduct of their research are often of the quality one expects from a David Attenborough presentation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
We sailed from Ushuaia on the 13th January not knowing what to expect!!!! Various cruise reviews had described very different experiences of cruising with Hurtigruten and we sailed very much hoping for the best!!! The Fram left port later ... Read More
We sailed from Ushuaia on the 13th January not knowing what to expect!!!! Various cruise reviews had described very different experiences of cruising with Hurtigruten and we sailed very much hoping for the best!!! The Fram left port later than expected and we thought ...here we go....is this a sign that the cruise will not go well!!!! However our concerns were ill founded and the cruise delivered an experience we shall never forget. The scenery, wildlife and the wonder of nature that unfolded before our eyes was awesome!!!! Magnificent icebergs ,stunning glaciers , vast wilderness, fascinating penguins,frolicking whales and sleek , sleepy seals were some of the sights that we were privileged to experience. The Fram certainly delivered all we could have wished for. I feel though that I should point out that this is an expedition voyage , catering for passengers who are keen to learn about the Antarctic environment and who are flexible , adaptable travellers. We quickly learnt that the Antarctic is unpredictable and on several occasions our itinerary was adapted, changing by the day!!! The expedition team on board were very professional. Their in depth knowledge of Antarctica was amazing . They presented as a very dedicated team, keen to share their knowledge and their experiences. Our expeditions from the ship were well prepared and they went that extra mile in making sure that we made the most of every minute spent in Antarctica. Life on board was informal . Sea days went quickly, relaxing, listening to briefings from the expedition team about penguins, seals, history of Antartica and it's origins, or simply watching the scenery from the many large viewing windows on board. Mealtimes were informal with 3 set dining evenings . There was no dress code and people wore anything from casual wear to smart casual . There were many different nationalities which led to many an interesting conversation at mealtimes or when relaxing with a drink in the bar. The food as you would expect had a distinctly Norwegian flavour. The buffet menus had plenty of choice with some interesting fish dishes !!! The staff on board were polite and helpful. They always had a smile to share with you and gave an excellent variety show towards the end of the cruise. Clothes wise we did bring too much!!! The ship,is very warm and one layer of thermal wear , plus waterproofs is fine for outdoors!! You are given a waterproof jacket on board and you can take this home with you. The ship also hires rubber boots for wearing on shore excursions and these were excellent, gripping the ice/snow .there is also a small shop on board so if you do forget anything it's not a problem!! There is 24 hour tea& coffee and very yummy home made cookies available . Bring a thermal mug with a lid or buy one onboard.......very useful when the ship is lurching through Drakes passage!!! Photo opportunities abound and the ships photographer led some very useful sessions. At the end of the voyage we were given a CD which included the daily programme, blog and a map showing where our ship had travelled. This plus our photographs &memories will be treasured by us for years to come. Journey to Antarctica with Hurtigruten aboard the Fram if you want to set foot &experience Antarctica's wilderness . Journey on board a large cruise ship should you wish to gaze from afar. The choice is yours. I know which I would choose ........   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
My husband and I had been on the Hurtigruten FRAM before, on a cruise from Iceland to Spitsbergen. It's a relatively small ship, built in 2007 specifically for cruises to the polar regions. The Fram officially accommodates 318 ... Read More
My husband and I had been on the Hurtigruten FRAM before, on a cruise from Iceland to Spitsbergen. It's a relatively small ship, built in 2007 specifically for cruises to the polar regions. The Fram officially accommodates 318 passengers, but on this voyage there were only 171, around two-thirds of whom were German speakers. The official language of the ship is English. We were the only Americans aboard, along with two intrepid Australian widows, some families from the UK, various other Europeans, three Japanese, and a single Argentine man. Check-in went relatively smoothly, considering that it had to take place aboard the ship. We had boarded from the pier in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, via "Polarcirkel" boats, i.e., Zodiac-like tenders. Luggage was delivered to our cabin in a timely manner, and after the mandatory safety drill we set sail down stunning Sondre Stromfjord. Except for suites, cabins aboard the Fram are very small. Okay, they're tiny. Ours was one of the cheaper ones and had a bed that converted to a couch by day. But there was adequate storage space for all our cold-weather gear, and the bathroom, though small, was quite acceptable and impeccably clean. This is an expedition ship, and no one is likely to spend much time in the cabin. On the other hand, the public rooms are both elegant and practical, with two well-used lecture halls, a large observation lounge, an attractive dining room surrounded by windows, and interesting, original art work. There was a musician aboard, otherwise not much in the way of evening entertainment. But the days were so full that few people were inclined to party at night. Prices for drinks were comparable to other cruise ships. Service was unobtrusive but excellent throughout. The reasons for choosing the Fram are clear: it sails to remote destinations; its company, Hurtigruten, has an excellent safety record; and the "Expedition Team," which includes scientists as well as people intimate with the area (including, in our case, a native Greenlander) is outstanding. This cruise would not be possible for someone requiring a wheelchair. Although the ship itself is handicap accessible (there was a woman in a wheelchair on our cruise to Spitsbergen), embarkation and disembarkation require a transfer in a Polarcirkel tender, due to the necessity of starting from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland's only international airport. For North Americans, the only real negative about the cruise is that you have to fly first to Copenhagen for the round-trip chartered flight to Greenland. The price for the chartered flight is included in the cruise fare. Wanting to avoid the craziness of flying from NY to Copenhagen, then round trip from Copenhagen to Greenland, and finally yet another transatlantic flight home to the U.S., I investigated various other ways of getting from the States to Kangerlussuaq. It essentially couldn't be done. When I mentioned to a member of the Expedition Team that this cruise would likely attract more North American passengers if there was an alternative way to reach the ship, I was told that the problem lies not with Hurtigruten but with the Greenland government. On Cruise Critic I have read criticism of the food aboard Hurtigruten ships. We found the food good but not great, with wonderful fish (especially all kinds of salmon), breads, cheeses, cold suts, salads, and a fabulous dessert buffet. Meat main courses are uninspired, to say the least; beef eaters would be disappointed. Lactose-free and gluten-free choices are available. All in all, Hurtigruten food is decidedly Scandinavian. On this cruise they occasionally offered traditional Greenlandic cuisine, including reindeer and Arctic char (but not seal or whale). As for the actual cruise along the west coast of Greenland above the Arctic Circle, it was an indescribable experience of glaciers, icebergs, spectacular scenery, and considerable contact with the indigenous people of Greenland, who today call themselves Greenlanders. There was a port stop every day, with opportunities for hikes of varying degrees of difficulty, kayaking (the early Greenlanders invented kayaks for summertime fishing), boat trips to small islands and to icebergs, fishing, watching demonstrations of traditional activities such as dog sledding, and of course exploring the towns and small fishing and hunting settlements. There were not many opportunities for shopping, although some lovely hand-crafted items were for sale in Sisimiut and some of the smaller villages. No T-shirts or coffee mugs except at the airport in Kangerlussuaq! The weather almost the whole week was perfect, with blue, incredibly clear skies, 24-hour sunlight, and high temperatures in the 40's and 50's. Only one day was marred by fog. Unfortunately, our much-anticipated stop in Ilulissat, a World Heritage Site, had to be cancelled due to the harbor being totally blocked by icebergs. On the other hand, weaving our way through bizarrely-shaped bluish icebergs as large as buildings made for a fascinating day. All of our stops were memorable, especially Uummannaq with its heart-shaped mountain and thousands of sled dogs, Qeqertarsuaq with its waterfall, and Eqip Sermia, a huge, productive glacier. We had several opportunities to meet Greenlanders, even being invited into individual homes for a "kaffeemik" (coffee and cake) in the tiny fishing village of Itilleq. Back in Kangerlussuaq waiting for our overnight flight to Copenhagen, we experienced one of the high points of the trip: a drive to the Greenland Ice Cap, the world's largest ice field outside of Antarctica. We were able to walk close to the icewall along paths through the tundra. I can highly recommend the Fram's cruise of Greenland as a unique and unforgettable experience of one of the world's most remote and unspoiled places. Read Less
Fram Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 2.0 0.0
Public Rooms 3.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 2.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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