The price was right and I knew Hurtigruten by reputation, from the cargo/postal route in Norway. I figured they would 'know their ice'. This cruise went further south than many others I researched (65 degrees south) and also allowed for zodiac landings and different ways to interact with the environment. I did not want to just cruise and not leave the ship. The Expedition Team consisted of 22 experts in their fields. I liked the idea of an 'expedition cruise' rather than a sightseeing only one. The ship was comfortable and with easy access to all areas. Sometimes it was a bit too warm inside but luckily I had summer clothes with me! Jackets, lanyards and waterbottles (all to keep) and expedition boots (on loan) were provided. I especially appreciated the excellent lighting in my cabin (613) - on many other ships I find reading difficult. The cabin was more spacious than I expected. The food was much better than expected but would have liked availability of muesli EVERY morning and more cooked vegetables with meals. However, salad and fresh fruit was always provided. Most meals were buffet style with open seating. The flexibility of the itinerary allowed for changing conditions. We were blessed with outstandingly good weather, so many opportunities for interacting with the environment were available to us: zodiac exploration, landings, canoeing, camping on ice, 'polar plunges', snowshoeing, participation in scientific research. Most people I spoke to were extremely happy with the amount of included zodiac cruises and landings and did not feel the need to sign up for additional excursions. The expedition team offered more informative lectures and events than my energy would allow me to attend. I regretted not signing up for some of the scientific research participation.The environment was pristine, silent (except for penguins), peaceful and amazing. There was a small gym, a sauna, a hot tub and a library available. We were also early enough in the season so the penguin-poop was not yet too extensive. T-shirts, jackets and a few other items in the shop were reduced on last two sea days. I thought this would be a once in a lifetime trip (partly because of the cost of accessing Antarctica) but it exceeded all my expectations I am feeling like i need to go back to experience other kinds of Antarctic weather and repeat the total experience. I would choose Hurtigruten again. But I will return early-ish in the season (by December) as I realise the value of less penguin-poop.
More room than anticipated, well-placed, excellent lighting. Easy to access outside area - on promenade deck and close to lift and stairs.