Antarctica was my husband's choice for his 75th birthday present, so we took advantage of the opportunity to take one of the initial sailings to the bottom of the world on our "top of the cruising world" cruise line, Viking. The experience was truly remarkable--seeing a world in which the color palette was restricted to shades of white, blue, greys, and black yet provided for natural beauty on a scale not to be believed was truly awe-inspiring. The wildlife was plentiful--pods and pods of whales and orcas, beaches filled with seals, and colonies of penguins, all viewed "up close and personal" filled our days. The scientists on board were surprisingly accessible and forthcoming, happy to answer our many questions, and providing informative and most interesting programs in the magnificent on board auditorium with floor to ceiling glass and drop-down screens. Guests were allowed to take part in some of the scientific data collection going on both on shore and in the on-ship laboratory. Landings were smoothly accomplished, with many hands on board to help us on and off the zodiacs and special ops boats. Because of truly miraculous weather, we were able to do two landings every landing day, and were even able, through the auspices of our outstanding captain and his crew, to enter the Caldera of an active volcano. This truly was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us, well worth the investment of time and resources. The fitness center was very nice, and provided a chance to keep in shape for the excursions. The only disappointment was the intrusive COVID protocols, particularly on a ship where all passengers, staff, and crew were fully vaccinated, and PCR tested prior to and at embarkation, and had been flown down on chartered planes after having been quarantined overnight in a locked down floor of a Miami hotel. The DAILY PCR tests, daily temperature checks, daily health questionnaires, and masking requirement were overly intrusive in my opinion, particularly where there was no interaction with unvaccinated persons on board or on shore. Because I have asthma and have difficulty with prolonged masking, I was unable to enjoy the lovely public areas of the ship. That being said, it was a wonderful and truly memorable experience.
Total comfort! The stateroom had a very nice divided sitting/study area looking out of the floor to ceiling Nordic balcony (top half of window comes down), with an l-shaped couch, desk, and chair. The bedding was high-end hotel quality, and the toiletries, robes, and slippers and hair dryer made packing easier. The warming/drying closet for our expedition gear was a life-saver! We were able to get geared-up in the comfort of our stateroom. We had more closet and drawer space than we could every fill--truly remarkable as this was a mid-level stateroom. The stateroom was kept perfectly by a two-steward staff that took care of us very well and kept the gratis minibar fully stocked with drinks and snacks.