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.
I don't remember my exact cabin number. It was on the same deck as what they call the mud room. It was a porthole cabin. I would not recommend a room near the mudroom as this is where all the shore gear is stored, including everyones boots which start to smell pretty bad after the first few days.