We sailed on the MS Midnatsol on Hurtigruten’s 13-day “Antarctica-Highlights of the Frozen Continent” expedition. It was the experience of a lifetime! Antarctica is an amazing, unique, and beautiful place. We were able to land at five different Antarctic locations (Half Moon Island, Orne Harbour, Danco Island, Necko Harbour and Demoy Point) and observe penguins, seals, whales and sea birds. All landings are dependent on the weather and ocean conditions and we were lucky that, except for one day with almost gale force winds, the weather was mild and the seas calm. The team worked hard so our five landings were a great success. I didn't realize that we would also have daily zodiac cruising to see the scenery up close, in addition to the landings. They were just as fun as the actual landings, and a lot easier physically and good photo ops. One day the ship travelled for hours to find a landing spot, in one bay there was so much ice the ship had to back out and in another area, an unexpected navy vessel (Chilean or Argentinian) prevented us from accessing the landing. They finally came through that afternoon and we were able to land.
I booked this trip because it was the least expensive expedition cruise with landings that were comparable to much more expensive trips. I didn’t expect luxury, only an adventure, and that I got. I’m in my late 60s and not in the best of shape, but was able to hike uphill in the snow and climb in and out of the zodiacs. Boots and poles were provided. All of the staff went out of their way to make our voyage successful. The expedition leaders were knowledgeable, friendly and entertaining. The lectures were educational and timely. Besides the lectures on all things to do with Antarctica, one I particularly enjoyed was by one of the navigators who explained how they navigate in Antarctica’s icy waters. A tour of the bridge was scheduled on another day. The scientific lectures were fun and informative - who knew they had an underwater drone and that the underwater sea life was so diverse!
The MS Midnatsol is a comfortable ship, easy to get around with many lounges to relax in. The vibe was casual, friendly and happy, how could it not be in such a beautiful location. There was a small store but everything went on sale the last two days. We had a L2 polar outside cabin, # 416 (two single beds, with two portholes). It was tiny but adequate and we really didn’t spend much time there. I am glad we paid the extra for the portholes. Though we were at the front of the ship, it was smooth sailing, quiet, and just a short walk to the zodiac meeting area. We spent most of our free time up on the lounge on deck nine at the front of the ship watching the beautiful scenery. It was quiet there most days, had easy access to the outside deck, and close to a bar and the free tea and coffee. I am a very finicky eater and don’t eat fish but I didn’t go hungry. We were onboard over Thanksgiving and an effort was made to serve roast turkey, but other than that, no chicken was seen but lots of pork, lamb, reindeer, a bit of beef, and fish, fish, fish. On the first seating while crossing Drake’s Passage, a delicious beef filet was served. The fresh fruit and salad bar were great.
Don’t expect a typical cruise experience with bingo and entertainment. Bring a good book, playing cards or board games. I appreciated the mix of different nationalities on board, it was a very multi-cultural experience. One thing the staff did that was wonderful was prepare a website of our voyage with landing locations, maps, photographs, temperature and mileage, and information about the staff and crew that was available two weeks after we returned. I think 11 days was the perfect amount of time for seeing Antarctica. I’m so glad I was able to experience Antarctica first hand.
We had a L2 polar outside cabin, # 416 (two single beds, with two portholes). It was tiny but adequate with plenty of room in the closet. My smaller suitcase fit under the bed, a larger one out of the way in a corner. The small bathroom was fine, a hairdryer was included as well as shampoo and body gel. I am glad we paid the extra for the portholes. Though we were at the front of the ship, it was smooth sailing, quiet, and just a short walk to the zodiac meeting area.