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2 Oceanwide Expeditions Antarctica Cruise Reviews

ANTARCTICA  CHIMU ADVENTURES /OCEANWIDE EXPEDITIONS REVIEW Antarctica will never disappoint and that’s clear from the moment you being your voyage. HOW you get there and WHO facilitates your journey is a massive decision and, ... Read More
ANTARCTICA  CHIMU ADVENTURES /OCEANWIDE EXPEDITIONS REVIEW Antarctica will never disappoint and that’s clear from the moment you being your voyage. HOW you get there and WHO facilitates your journey is a massive decision and, unfortunately, I think that Chimu and Oceanwide (M/V Plancius) fell well short of reasonable expectations throughout the trip. The booking process was fairly straight forward in that I had already done so much research that I didn’t need to spend a lot of time with them going back and forth about ships, cabins, budgets, etc. The “Basecamp” cruise sounded intriguing and I, foolishly, didn’t ask a lot of questions BUT they also didn’t offer a lot of information beyond the basic information. I’d like to think that Chimu would not sell this cruise based on my comments, later in this document, because the cruise itself was so poor that they should be weary of referring clients. Overall, Chimu do not provide any real level of nuanced customer service. They sign you up and take the money. Other guests on the same cruise were sent hats, packing cubes, customized fleece, etc. – not with Chimu. There is no “we’re happy to have you as a client and want repeat business” attitude with Chimu. I asked about Patagonia extensions, etc. and those questions were never met. Apparently you can go and select your cabin on a website- again this was never articulated by Chimu nor was I ever asked where I’d like to be located within my cabin category. The bare bones nature of this cruise (again captured in this document) was never expressed and that was hugely disappointing and frustrating. Having to drop my luggage (vs. the ship picking from the hotel), loading and unloading kayaks, packing and drying the ship’s camping kit, etc. were all elements that should have been fully revealed. I did not sign up for nor did I pay for a “DIY” cruise but that’s exactly what I got and I hold Chimu wholly responsible for that as it’s their job to know the details of every package they sell. The ship is older (and I knew that) but older doesn’t have to mean worn down and tatty. I read online that the food was “good” and ample – nothing extraordinary and that was fine with me. I knew I was sacrificing the “sexy” part of a cruise by not booking with Heb Sky and/or Ocean Diamond (for example) in exchange for some activities and more time on shore but by no means was I prepared for the wholly poor food served—(and if you’re a vegetarian or vegan you should forget this cruise and cruise line entirely). Overboiled vegetables (the same ones over and over again) and overcooked meat do not begin to address the unlimited culinary choices in today’s food market. This cruise is “physical” and demanding to an extent and lunch will almost never address the high caloric protein-centric intake (not just carbs/sugar) that one would expect. Ocean Diamond and Heb Sky are slightly more expensive ships – and I knew that – but if I knew that paying an addiitonal $1500US was going to exponentially improve my experience beyond activities I would have never booked Plancius. The crew are worn thin and haggard on this cruise. The expedition guides, save for just two or three, are not professional guides in that they were almost all on the cruise on their own “working holidays” to get a chance to come to Antarctica and that meant that their lack of professional, cruise guiding experience became a very glaring component to all days as they simply do not have the skills to communicate, direct, and engage guests. They often kept to themselves, rather than socialize with the guests which is very strange, and were, at times, understandably grouchy. Again, this was another area where this cruise felt very “bare bones”—woefully understaffed and the guides that were on board lacked experience and that was palpable from the on-shore experience to even their very dismal presentations. “Crew  could  have  been  much  more  informative  –  I  found  that  the  briefings  once  on  shore weere  limited  if  not  totally  non-existent.  When  you  get  off  the  zodiac,  you  are  told  where to  walk  and  what  to  see  and  that’s  about  it.  It  would  have  been  really  great  if  there  had been  a  “walking  tour”  of  each  site  and  if  you  were  notified  by  the  crew  if  there  was anything  of  interest  to  see  (chicks,  whale  bones,  seals,  etc.).  I  found  myself overhearing  most  of  the  information  I  wanted  or  needed  from  one  of  the  crew  walkie talkies  –  so  imagine  if  you’re  not  listening,  don’t  speak  English,  or  didn’t  know  to  listen  to “walkie  chatter”.  It  really  felt  as  though  these  guides  didn’t  know  how  to  be  with  guests beyond  their  specialty  –  so  if  you’re  the  mountaineering  guide,  you  don’t  actually  have the  skills  to  guide  people  on  shore,  etc.  –  you  only  speak  mountaineering.  And  that would  be  okay  if  there  were  other  crew  for  the  onshore  part  of  the  journey.  But  they don’t  and/or  aren’t  paying  attention  as  they  all  have  their  own  personal  agendas  (some expedition  crew  were  very  busy  with  their  cameras  and  not  paying  attention  to  guests). The  expedition  crew  are  friendly  but  they  lack  fundamental  people  skills  and  experience and  it’s  palpable  on  the  cruise. There  were  multiple  moments  missed  because  this  crew  didn’t  communicate  properly  – we  all  missed  wildlife,  whale  bones,  etc.  because  they  simply  didn’t  know  how  to communicate,  want  to  communicate  or  apparently  don’t  have  the  crew  numbers  to make  that  communication  meaningful  and  that  is  my  biggest  complaint  of  this  cruise  and I’ll  keep  going  back  to  it  –  it’s  woefully  understaffed.  You  will  get  no  personal  attention to  detail  and  you  will  miss  many  things  because  they  were  not  communicated  in  a  way that  works  for  tourists  standing  on  shore  of  an  island.  And  this  is  the  massive  departure between  this  cruise  and  what  I  imagine  a  Nat  Geo  (or  other  more  expensive  cruise)  to be  and  it’s  a  massive  learning  curve.  I  did  not  understand  that  “older  ship  and  perhaps a  bit  less  luxurious”  meant  that  they  would  skimp  on  the  crew  –  but  they  did.  This cruise,  I  would  estimate,  runs  at  an  enormous  margin  as  a  lot,  if  not  all,  of  the  expedition crew  were  on  their  own  holiday  and  “working  the  trip”  to  get  to  Antarctica  and  you  can feel  it  in  the  way  they  do  their  work,  relate  to  guests,  etc.  –  they  are  not  professional cruise  guides.  Quite  a  few  have  their  own  companies  and  they  took  the  work,  absent any  real  pay,  to  gain  experience  to  further  their  own  businesses  which  doesn’t  sit  well with  me  –  I  felt  like  I  was  “investing”  in  someone  else’s  future  earnings.” New Headings were an excellent company for gear rental and I would never purchase the same items I could rent from them in the future. In all, any company can take your money and place a booking – or you can just go direct to the company that controls the ship in this case with Oceanwide. But a true travel company/agent/consultant invests time to make sure that you are fully aware of all facets of a package before you commit – Chimu in no way met that standard. This cruise feels like a money earner – crew come and work for free, the rest of the crew no doubt work for bare wages, and guests “chip in” to make activities happen. The food is below average and the ship is poorly maintained so much so that even the linens and pillows are in dire need of replacing. This is Oceanwide’s “money maker” and you’ll feel it every day. M/V Plancius 18-29 December 2017 This ship is older and that's okay - I knew I was going to forgo some of the "sexy ship" bits in order to take a smaller ship and optimize time ashore. However, this cruise felt "DIY" in many ways, had okay to terrible food, and just felt like a cruise company trying to maximize their net margin in lieu of taking care of guests. Expedition guides (mountaineering, kayaking, etc.) were friendly - but they are not experienced cruise guides and you can tell - they don't communicate well and cannot speak beyond their speciality much less present engaging, coherent information. The "activities" part of the "Basecamp" cruise are fun but I'm not sure that I would have ever chosen this cruise if I understood the truly "bare bones" nature of it all - forget the ship - they literally just don't have enough experienced staff to make it all engaging and special. Antarctica is brilliant - by all means go - but find another ship/program. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We choose this 10 nights cruise with an early December departure (06 - 16 December), so we could do some awesome snowshoeing. The snowshoes were free to use, which was a nice bonus. We found that the hikes were really good organized to be ... Read More
We choose this 10 nights cruise with an early December departure (06 - 16 December), so we could do some awesome snowshoeing. The snowshoes were free to use, which was a nice bonus. We found that the hikes were really good organized to be able to choose for easy or moderate snowshoe hikes. We even used the boots provided by the ship. Penguins galore, wow, We saw all the cute waddling Gentoo penguins and even chinstrap penguins. Arriving by Zodiac on the rocky beaches, you could just sit there and take in the breathtaking scenery and silence, watching the penguins walking back and forth. Even humpback whales, and orca we saw from the Zodiac during our Zodiac cruises and from 'our' ship Ortelius,Magnificent. Some Leopard seals here and there on ice floes. Then the lemarie channel. We could sail right through the channel. Bluest of blue skies and huge icebergs surrounding us. Many crabeaterseals on the ice floes. We heard only the cracking of the ice, where the bow of the ship touched the ice floes. That is a morning i will never forget. Also the ship was great. It has all the comfort that we need, small enough to remain a small passenger vessel. We felt we were the only lucky people there. Food was excellent, easily 3 to 4 star quality and service. Enough option for vegetarians. the bread was delicious. Every day again, fresh veggies and salads and fruits and more. Hotel service was above exceptional. Expedition staff, they were fantastic. Nice, kind and very social and most of all, very knowledgeable about the area, history, animals and even ice. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
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