1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. National Geographic Explorer
I chose this cruise among other of alternatives based on NG's reputation, the length of the cruise and the timing. I am an avid photographer and history buff, especially of the Antarctic heroic exploration period, and I've been wanting to go to Antarctica for years, ever since watching a Masterpiece Theater mini-series in 1982 describing the race to the pole, based on Roland Huntford's book. This cruise went to the Antarctic peninsula and no where near the Ross Ice Shelf where the polar journeys started, but this is as close as a civilian can get! Basically the adventure starts by flying to Buenos Aires. You get yourself there either by buying your own tickets or letting Lindlbad do it for you. They have recommended flights and an arrival/departure window of time. From the Buenos Aires Int airport they take you and everyone else by bus to a nice hotel where they feed you and take you on an optional city tour. We saw Evita's mausoleum and some folksy areas. The next morning you get up early and go to the local airport and take a charter flight on Latam (an Airbus A320) to Ushuaia. Next you take a bus tour through the park to a catamaran that takes you to the port where you board the NG Explorer. It's their largest ship and with room for 148 passengers and 100 crew. At this point I put on my anti-sea sickness patch and it worked well for me. The next two days you spend crossing the Drake Passage. We had a smooth trip going and coming back - lucky us. A lot of people were sea sick but none wearing patches so do your homework to avoid sea sickness. We arrived at the South Shetland Islands and spent the next 6 days exploring islands all the way down to Port Lockroy. We landed 9 times, once on just the ice and once on the continent. We had lots of opportunities to see seals, penguins (3 species), whales and other birds. On the way back we visited Deception Island (no landing) and saw Cape Horn. The food was great, buffets for breakfast and lunch, sit-down for dinner with a number of selections, and a coffee/drink bistro open from about 6 AM to dinner. Also lots of interesting people to meet and speak with. They had a program for juniors and lectures each evening. Plenty to eat and drink, always. Here are some suggestions for photographers: The weight limit on the chartered flight is low, only 57 lbs checked and 17 pounds carry on. I didn't realize this until two days before so I had to rethink my packing. I usually carry a 35 lb camera bag and laptop. I wanted to take a back up body - I shoot Nikon, but the weight was too restrictive. So I took one body, and the 24-120mm F4, 70-200mm F2.8 and the 200-500mm F5.6 lenses. I also took a tripod. If I go again I would take my 28-300mm F4-F6 lens. You don't need fast lenses - there is lots of light, but you need depth of field and long length. Most of my pics where at 200 mm with the 70-200mm. The 200-500mm was too awkward most of the time. I didn't use the tripod but would have used a monopod. The animals move quickly so I was shooting continuous-high and taking 5 or more exposures at a time of the birds and whales. (Penguins are slow!). I was at ISO of 800 to 1000 or so and I was able to shoot F8 to F11 at 1/200 to 1/1000 speeds. I took a waterproof point and shoot and it was also useful. I rented the boots and poles from Ship-to-Shore and they were excellent. I recommend them in large part so you don't have to transport the weight. They have a stock on the ship so if you don't order the correct size you have a chance to exchange. They give you an orange parka and vest. I took some ski pants and jacket but never needed them. I wore jeans with ordinary long under ware, thick socks, their parka and vest, and was never cold except on the bow when cruising in the wind, when my face was cold. Bring two pairs of gloves - you may need to let one pair dry out. I purchased those golve/mittens for photographers that have removable covers for your fingers and thumb and they worked very well. I had a thin balaclava which was helpful when the wind was up. So I took more than a thousand pictures, edited them on the boat and had a great experience. The downside - Internet was slow since it's satellite based. I knew it would be slow but I was surprised to see they wanted so much extra for connecting. I purchased 120 mins for $50 but it was gone almost immediately. I am not sure why. I then purchased unlimited time for $250 for the trip and used it several times a day. During peak hours it was really too slow to use for any thing other than brief emails. You can see my pics on my face book page - Michael Stenstrom So if I had it to do over again, I certainly would. I would try my best to talk my family into going with me! mks

Photo Journey to the Antarctic

National Geographic Explorer Cruise Review by stenstro

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2018
  • Destination: Antarctica
I chose this cruise among other of alternatives based on NG's reputation, the length of the cruise and the timing.

I am an avid photographer and history buff, especially of the Antarctic heroic exploration period, and I've been wanting to go to Antarctica for years, ever since watching a Masterpiece Theater mini-series in 1982 describing the race to the pole, based on Roland Huntford's book. This cruise went to the Antarctic peninsula and no where near the Ross Ice Shelf where the polar journeys started, but this is as close as a civilian can get!

Basically the adventure starts by flying to Buenos Aires. You get yourself there either by buying your own tickets or letting Lindlbad do it for you. They have recommended flights and an arrival/departure window of time. From the Buenos Aires Int airport they take you and everyone else by bus to a nice hotel where they feed you and take you on an optional city tour. We saw Evita's mausoleum and some folksy areas. The next morning you get up early and go to the local airport and take a charter flight on Latam (an Airbus A320) to Ushuaia. Next you take a bus tour through the park to a catamaran that takes you to the port where you board the NG Explorer. It's their largest ship and with room for 148 passengers and 100 crew. At this point I put on my anti-sea sickness patch and it worked well for me.

The next two days you spend crossing the Drake Passage. We had a smooth trip going and coming back - lucky us. A lot of people were sea sick but none wearing patches so do your homework to avoid sea sickness. We arrived at the South Shetland Islands and spent the next 6 days exploring islands all the way down to Port Lockroy. We landed 9 times, once on just the ice and once on the continent. We had lots of opportunities to see seals, penguins (3 species), whales and other birds. On the way back we visited Deception Island (no landing) and saw Cape Horn.

The food was great, buffets for breakfast and lunch, sit-down for dinner with a number of selections, and a coffee/drink bistro open from about 6 AM to dinner. Also lots of interesting people to meet and speak with. They had a program for juniors and lectures each evening. Plenty to eat and drink, always.

Here are some suggestions for photographers:

The weight limit on the chartered flight is low, only 57 lbs checked and 17 pounds carry on. I didn't realize this until two days before so I had to rethink my packing. I usually carry a 35 lb camera bag and laptop. I wanted to take a back up body - I shoot Nikon, but the weight was too restrictive. So I took one body, and the 24-120mm F4, 70-200mm F2.8 and the 200-500mm F5.6 lenses. I also took a tripod. If I go again I would take my 28-300mm F4-F6 lens. You don't need fast lenses - there is lots of light, but you need depth of field and long length. Most of my pics where at 200 mm with the 70-200mm. The 200-500mm was too awkward most of the time. I didn't use the tripod but would have used a monopod. The animals move quickly so I was shooting continuous-high and taking 5 or more exposures at a time of the birds and whales. (Penguins are slow!). I was at ISO of 800 to 1000 or so and I was able to shoot F8 to F11 at 1/200 to 1/1000 speeds. I took a waterproof point and shoot and it was also useful.

I rented the boots and poles from Ship-to-Shore and they were excellent. I recommend them in large part so you don't have to transport the weight. They have a stock on the ship so if you don't order the correct size you have a chance to exchange. They give you an orange parka and vest. I took some ski pants and jacket but never needed them. I wore jeans with ordinary long under ware, thick socks, their parka and vest, and was never cold except on the bow when cruising in the wind, when my face was cold. Bring two pairs of gloves - you may need to let one pair dry out. I purchased those golve/mittens for photographers that have removable covers for your fingers and thumb and they worked very well. I had a thin balaclava which was helpful when the wind was up.

So I took more than a thousand pictures, edited them on the boat and had a great experience.

The downside - Internet was slow since it's satellite based. I knew it would be slow but I was surprised to see they wanted so much extra for connecting. I purchased 120 mins for $50 but it was gone almost immediately. I am not sure why. I then purchased unlimited time for $250 for the trip and used it several times a day. During peak hours it was really too slow to use for any thing other than brief emails.

You can see my pics on my face book page - Michael Stenstrom

So if I had it to do over again, I certainly would. I would try my best to talk my family into

going with me!

mks
stenstro’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Explorer price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Cabin 307
I was a single reservation and met my roommate when I arrived in Buenos Aires. All well.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews