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16 Antarctica Senior Cruise Reviews

Antarctica was the only continent I had not visited before this cruise and it was the last item on my bucket list. I chose a Princess cruise because I am an Elite member and have always found that Princess caters for persons with ... Read More
Antarctica was the only continent I had not visited before this cruise and it was the last item on my bucket list. I chose a Princess cruise because I am an Elite member and have always found that Princess caters for persons with disabilities. I have mobility problems owing to Parkinson's Disease and found the staff friendly and very helpful. Our cabin was, like all Princess cabins, clean and well laid-out, although I found the shower a bit cramped owing to my physical problems. We ate in the Anytime Dining Room when possible, and this is much more civilised than Horizons, which we found a bit "grab and go". The Captain took us to as many places in Antarctica as was physically possible and I do not think this could have been done any better. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and stress-free and the lectures were mainly excellent and informative. As for the sites we visited - they were truly magical. The whole Antarctic experience was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. It truly was a magnificent wonderland of ice and Alaska cannot even begin to compare. I will treasure my memories of Antarctica forever, as my lifespan will not enable me to visit it again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Having already done a Hurtigruten Norway expedition hiking cruise (and loved it) I didn't hesitate to travel with Hurtigruten again when it came to going to Antarctica. I knew they would offer a more authentic experience, which is ... Read More
Having already done a Hurtigruten Norway expedition hiking cruise (and loved it) I didn't hesitate to travel with Hurtigruten again when it came to going to Antarctica. I knew they would offer a more authentic experience, which is what I wanted. From start to finish it was an awesome voyage. It began with a one-night stay in Buenos Aires in a very well and centrally located hotel. Then the next morning we flew to Ushuaia - known as the southernmost city in the world. The transfers from the hotel to the airport were smooth and in Ushuaia we were given an included free tour and then had free time before we boarded the ship, which I really enjoyed/appreciated. Midnatsol was much smarter than the ship I sailed on in Norway. Although Midnatsol is an expedition ship, it has an atrium with an elevator like the bigger liners - the Hurtigruten ship I sailed on in Norway wasn't comparable. My cabin was fine - it was a polar outside for two people. It was perfectly comfortable/functional - it is NOT posh - The first two days were spent at sea, crossing the infamous Drake Passage - the sea which separates south America from Antarctica. I'm not going to lie. There's a reason this sea is infamous. It can get choppy. Items were literally flying off the shelves onto me as I lay in bed! So if you suffer from sea sickness be sure to take with pills/bands etc - although there were pills available (and very effective too) to buy on board, and they were inexpensive too. But the expedition lectures were a great distraction and extremely enriching. I learned so much - about wildlife, geology, explorers, penguins, climate change, whales/whaling etc. Fascinating. And then as we got closer to Antarctica there were albatrosses and whales to spot from on deck - and even the occasional penguin - just awesome. During those two days everyone gets some boots to wear outside in Antarctica (compulsory as they clean them once you get back so that no germs are being taken onto the 7th continent) and picks up a red expedition jacket you get to keep - I really liked mine. You can see me wearing it in the video links below. It's waterproof and windproof and I wore my other jacket undernearth it. There are only 6 days where you actually get out on land and regulations dictate that only 100 people are allowed on land at a time, which means you have to take turns (the ship carries 500 passengers) and you're only on land for about 2 hours at a time. But then you can enjoy the scenery from on the ship - the two hot tubs on top deck are a great vantage point! And also you might be on land in the morning and then cruising in the zodiac boats (which are small inflatable crafts used to take you from Midnatsol to land) around icebergs for the afternoon. I must mention that itineraries are loose and weather dependent. The expedition team always has a plan A and if the weather (wind and ice are the biggest culprits) prevent that from happeneing they move onto plan B and so on.... This is where we stopped/ what we saw on our sailing: Day 1: Deception Island - a volcanic island - great hikes, a couple of penguins, remnants of old whaling station - scene for attempting the polar plunge challenge - Day 2: Cuverville Island - home to penguin colonies (Gentoo penguins) - just amazing. I the afternoon we went zodiac cruising around amazing icebergs. And ethere were lots of whales Day 3: Ice floe landing (this is a flat iceberg which we got out onto to walk on whilst it was drifting) Day 4. Damoy Point - excellent hikes - great penguins - some people went snow shoeing (an optional excursion)...views over Port Lockroy, home to the British post office which is open for 3 months a year. Day 5. Orne Harbour on the mainland - an awesome (and tricky) hike to the summit brought us to a Chinstrap penguin colony Day 6 - kayaking (this was an optional excursion) in Wilhelmina Bay - and it was amazing - paddling past icebergs, underneath glaciers and oars whacking into floating lumps of ice. Plus we passed a shipwreck of an old whaling ship. We also did some amazing cruising throught the Lemaire Channel and Neumayer channel - both stunning with huge cliffs. And we sailed the most far south the ship has ever sailed to a huge ice sheet which stopped us in our tracks. The light was amazing every day in Antarctica and even in November there really wasn't any proper night time. Food on Midnatsol was also excellent. It's mainly buffets due to the itinerary, but with a couple of waiter-served three-course dinners. Because they can't pick up supplies en route, the food does, naturally, become a little repetitive, but the chef was extremely inventive and I have no complaints whatsoever. Some people went camping for the night on the continent. This was also an expensive optional extra and whilst I didn't do it (it cost $500) I was jealous afterwards of those who did. They camped under canvass in a remote spot (the ship left them there) and with lots of penguins and no civilsation around them. They didn't sleep (it was too cold apparently!) but what an experience - something to say you've done. There was also some entertainement on board - a few shows - a crew talent show / a crew fashion show/a quiz and some screeenings of films about Shackleton and some David Attenbourough nature documentaries. the crew was amazing too. I don't have a bad word to say. After the voyage we flew from Ushuaia to Santiago, Chile for an overnight in another very nice, well-located hotel.... It's a long journey to get to Antarctica, but it was well broken up and helped build the anticipation. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Road Scholar. The ship and crew were always very accommodating. The food was probably my biggest concern. I’m not a picky eater but found the dinners not very enjoyable. I tried everything to be a good sport. Everything looked good ... Read More
Road Scholar. The ship and crew were always very accommodating. The food was probably my biggest concern. I’m not a picky eater but found the dinners not very enjoyable. I tried everything to be a good sport. Everything looked good but some entres were not very good. What I found odd was that we ran out of Chilean wine on the first day even though we departed from a Chilean port. There was always plenty of food. The excursion to learn about the geology of the Falklands was too short and we learned all there was to learn at the introduction class. The drivers of the 4 wheelers were fun and informative. The penguins, the cafe, and the museum store was wonderful. We ate lunch at a local crafted beer restaurant that was really good. Also we sat with some locals and that was informative too. We also enjoyed the kayaking excursion. The kids were delightful and made sure we were very safe and that we had a good time. On our day, the ship was our support boat, meaning they came to us to pick us up. The ship was a overly warm. We got to go to the bridge and that was fun and informative. A highlight was enjoying hurricane winds and seas returning to South America. Quite an experience. I always felt safe and was never afraid. Lastly, the clinic could use some improvement. I needed my eye checked. The problem was the equipment needs new batteries or new eye equipment. Not really worth the visit. Overall I had a terrific trip of a lifetime. Thank you. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
I wanted to make sure i was on the best possible ship for comfort food and experience. From meeting at the airport and flight to Ushiuia to the short sightseeing to the wonderful lunch in a fabulous hotel above the town to the smooth ... Read More
I wanted to make sure i was on the best possible ship for comfort food and experience. From meeting at the airport and flight to Ushiuia to the short sightseeing to the wonderful lunch in a fabulous hotel above the town to the smooth transition to Explorer.nothing was missing. muck room was small but worked Fabulous and stylish jacket and puffer given on first day. Food continued to be good though not fantastic always there was something to satisfy. as soon as the zodiac transfers started I realised how well run this ship is we had at least 5 people getting us on the zodiac and 4 at the arrival end to help get us off. always someones hand to help especially for a novice snow walker. always a smiling face even when we were late to the zodiac to get on from the muck room because we forgot one piece of layering/gloves or camera. the wait staff were exceptional addressing us by name from the first night-amazing!! our ever smiling cabin man and butler always there to help and keep the cabin spotless. lots of rough weather on way to and from sandwich islands and across Drake.but to be expected being at the end of the world. I could not fault the well run cruise and wonder if the other ships doing Antarctica are as well run. Disembarcation was smooth and transfer to airport easy cabin 410 Vista suite Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
I would like to describe our (my wife and me) cruise experience in some details. I hope it helps people to select, or not, this specific cruise itinerary, cruise ship and even the cruise line for future trips. Just a trip overview, we ... Read More
I would like to describe our (my wife and me) cruise experience in some details. I hope it helps people to select, or not, this specific cruise itinerary, cruise ship and even the cruise line for future trips. Just a trip overview, we booked a veranda cabin, deck 8, in the Celebrity Infinity, for the Buenos Aires > Puerto Madryn > Ushuaia > Antartica (Paradise Bay and Elephant Island) > Falkland Island > Montevideo > Buenos Aires itinerary. It was a somewhat expensive itinerary if compared to other cruises in the region, so our expectations were high. We planned this trip for almost a year. The cruise left Buenos Aires on 21th Jan 2018. About a week before the departure date we received an email from Celebrity Cruises informing the Puerto Madryn stop was canceled. Copy and pasting their own email message: "Due to a technical issue with the ship’s propulsion system, as a precaution, we will have to reduce our maximum speed by a few knots. We assure you, there is no safety issue with the vessel; however, due to the speed reduction, we have to modify our itinerary. Some ports of call will have shortened visit times, while some will have more time. We also had to remove our visit to Puerto Madryn, Argentina from the itinerary. Due to the cancellation of this port of call, we are issuing each guest a refund in the amount equal to one day of your vacation." My wife and I planned to dive in Puerto Madryn with the sea lions. All our scuba gear was already packed to go and the dive package reserved at a local PADI agent. You can imagine our frustration... We embarked on the 21th as planned. About Celebrity Infinity, despite some review we read, it is not falling apart. It is indeed an old ship, somewhat worn out. Stained carpets, peeling paint, scratches here and there are visible, but we consider those minor things. I noticed, however, some other not so minor problems, like leaking plumbing in several places (that left wet spots on the carpets), air conditioning failures (that left some friends in internal rooms overheating), external doors hard to open/close, and massive temperature changes in the hot/cold water supplies. There were also some smaller annoyances in our stateroom, like loose tiles in the bathroom floor and leaks in the shower hoses. We usually ignore these small things, but as you see ahead, events stack up. About the food, it was nice and plentiful. All restaurants we went to were nice. Particularly I would say that some dish on the main dining room, Trelis, was somewhat small (especially the ones with expensive ingredients) and with unexpected component mixes, but this is a matter of taste. The buffet on Deck 11 always had food for any taste. About the entertaining, it was ok. Some shows were really nice while some other were somewhere below passable. The daily activities were plenty, somewhat focused on luxury activities (like art auctions, jewelry sales, Fabergé egg showcase and sales, liquor tastings, and so one). It perhaps makes sense for the overall target audience, mostly senior guests. One of the highlights of this cruise was the presentations from the destination experts. The presentations were really interesting and made de experience must more enjoyable and immersive. The presentation themes included wildlife identification and behavior, destination highlights, geographic features, historical events and even a recent rescue mission to Antartica from the Argentinian navy. There was much effort to provide the same presentations in English and Spanish, so most people would benefit and enjoy all given information. It is also important to note the crew was always friendly and eager to help. Our stateroom attendant and some other personnel we had more contact with during the cruise were very professional and cordial. After few days on the sea, we reached Ushuaia. We visited Escondido/Fasano lake and the experience was really memorable. Since we did not stop at Puerto Madryn we were able to stay in Ushuaia for a few more hours. We headed to Antartica, our main and most anticipated destination. The weather was really good during our stay and the visibility was great. We had the luck to get some snow while entering Paradise Bay. It was quite a spectacle. It is really difficult to describe in words the beauty we saw. While it looks a desolated region, it is full of life. We could see whales, penguins, many different types of birds. The icebergs are also a show apart, featuring beautiful shapes, textures, and colors. We also stopped at Elephant Island, the second sightseeing place. After Elephant Island, when heading back to Falkland Island, a major storm formed in our way and the captain had to deviate our corse, missing Falkland port of call. His decision was the correct one due to the bad weather, however, no one was able to explain why the next port of call wasn't changed to Puerto Madryn. Apparently, the route would be even safer than going straight to Montevideo and, we had the time since Falkland stop was completely skipped. It was really strange and until now I got no answer from Celebrity guest relations about this. On the memo we received in our stateroom: "We would like to inform you that our call to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, has been canceled, due to adverse weather and high winds. (...) Tomorrow, January 31th, the Celebrity Infinity will be at sea, since weather conditions and distance to alternative ports will not allow us to call an alternative port. In an effort to avoid the rough seas, we are traveling directly to Montevideo through an alternative route, as your safety is our top priority. We will be arriving in Montevideo at 6:00 am on February 3rd" We understood the situation and weather changes are a risk involved in all Cruises, however, this port miss and strange deviation from Puerto Madryn just stacked up on our frustration pile. We then faced many days at sea, finally arriving at Montevideo. It was a nice stop, however, I (and many other guests I spoke with) would rather stop in other ports then in Montevideo. Montevideo is really close to Buenos Aires and you can easily go by car, bus or even boat in a couple hours. Puerto Madryn and Falkland Island, on another hand, are much harder and expensive to get to. In the end, the trip left really good memories about Antartica sightseeing experience and a bitter taste for itinerary changes and other smaller annoyances. We felt only half of the trip was actually delivered since we could not stop at Puerto Madryn and Falkland Island. Looking in retrospect, if we could changes things, we would rather flight straight to Ushuaia and book a cruise on a smaller ship just to experience Antartica. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
First cruise with Celebrity and the last. We have been cruising for the last 35 years and never struck issues like these - even in older ships and much heavier weather. 6 days before we were due to board, the itinerary was changed due ... Read More
First cruise with Celebrity and the last. We have been cruising for the last 35 years and never struck issues like these - even in older ships and much heavier weather. 6 days before we were due to board, the itinerary was changed due to 'technical issues with the propulsion system". The issue had also been present on the previous cruise so why weren't we told earlier ? As a result, the itinerary was changed and one of the ports (Puerto Madryn) was to be skipped. We were told that we would be reimbursed the cost of 1 day - however 4 weeks later we still haven't received it. We now know that the issue won't be repaired until April, but the cruises will go ahead - presumeably with last minute itinerary changes. I know at least 1 person who has just been sold one of the trips - with the original itinerary. We were very late into Ushuaia and finished our land tour in the dark (10.00pm) - despite it being rushed and cut short by 1 hour. We were unable to visit the museum as it was now closed. We were told it was due to tides (?!) and winds - well the winds went heavy enough to worry a boat with an operation propulsion system! We then didn't stop at the Falklands supposedly due to 'bad weather', we were told the evening before. In reality, the visit had been cancelled much earlier in the day, as some passengers had been contacted from shore by 3:00 pm in the afternoon. It seems likely that with slightly heavier weather, it was necessary to bypass Port Stanley in order to get to Montevideo on time. So we missed 2.5 of the scheduled 4 ports. Embarkation procedures in Buenos Aires were a complete shambles with crowds milling around, no structure, no signs, and a large inoperative loud speaker system. Disembarkation at Ushuaia, was held up because of bunkering on the wharf. Initially, we didn't have hot water in our cabin and a light bulb was out. The cover on one of the beds was torn. At Montevideo, we could disembark from about 7:15, we gather, from watching people go off. However, no announcement was made - so you had to guess. The excuse was that they didn't want to wake people up ( However, they can prevent the announcement from being made in the cabins - so this is another piece of deceit). We had several incorrect bar items on our account as did other travellers - so watch your bar bill like a hawk.Two items that the desk had reversed when I queried them, reappeared 2 days later, as new bar items. We were also charged for higher priced drinks than we had ordered, probably to maximise the gratuity. There were 4 of us and we had booked a table of 8 in the second dining in order to meet other people. This was checked with them several times. However, we were put on a table for 4. When we complained, we were dumped on a table of 10, on our own. The second sitting dining usually took 2.5 hours. Eventually, we requested a change to open seating, and the service, etc improved dramatically. The juice and coffee machines in the Ocean Cafe frequently, ran out. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Always wanted to go to Antarctica and to see Cape Horn. The charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia gave us the chance to spend time in the vibrant capital of Argentina as a bonus. Le Boreal was a fantastic ship; Goldilocks size, ... Read More
Always wanted to go to Antarctica and to see Cape Horn. The charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia gave us the chance to spend time in the vibrant capital of Argentina as a bonus. Le Boreal was a fantastic ship; Goldilocks size, luxurious and attentively crewed. Dining choices included the full service restaurant as well as a more casual grill. Live entertainment in the theatre was relaxing and fun and the same venue held briefings and information sessions during the day. Zodiak excursions were well planned and superbly executed by highly trained staff. The spectacular coastal scenery was complemented by lots of sea-ice and great icebergs, as well as penguins, orcas and humpback whales up close and personal. We appreciated the great care taken to preserve the pristine environment when shore excursions occurred, and the opportunity to visit a shore based research station occupied throughout the year. I feel every person on board disembarked both entertained and better informed about one of the world's great wilderness areas. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
The venue .... Antarctica..... lured us to this cruise and it was everything we imagined and more. Embarcation was a near disaster as we waited in Buenos Aires port with hundreds in an un-airconditioned, chaotic facilty, where the ... Read More
The venue .... Antarctica..... lured us to this cruise and it was everything we imagined and more. Embarcation was a near disaster as we waited in Buenos Aires port with hundreds in an un-airconditioned, chaotic facilty, where the computer system failed. No Celebrity staff were present to let us know what was happening. Disembarcation was normal. The ship was well-done with a fair amount of wood, modern sculpture, but lacked the "wow". The 3rd to 4th floor atrium was about it. The cabin was average size with enough storage space.. Apart from the excellent service (Cabin staff and restaurant management and staff were super efficient, polite and anxious to please),marketing was at every turn. Buy this upgrade that. All restaurants incurred a minimum of $35-65 per person plus the 18% tax...plus the corkage on a bottle of wine of $30. It seemed all nickle-and-dime : bottled water (had to be purchased for 2, if you were two) came to $32/day; drink package at $65 pp did not included any drinks over $7..such as martinis for $15 extra. he gym charged extra for yoga and pilates classes, amongst others. Many of the dinners in the Trellis dining Room were fine, but the same old green beans and smashed potatoes appeared nightly...not too creative. We found the desserts "OK", but usually ended us with our safety - ice cream. The Baked Alaska was our biggest disappointment, having had it on our last cruise on a different line. Special events such as sail-aways, did not offer a glass of champagne or a drink. There was no Captain´s dinner..unless you were a member of the special class...nor was there a Captains/plus crew welcoming party, as we had experienced on other lines. The Entertainment Director, Alejandro (the great), from Buenos Aires, saved the day. There were some good shows, not all. And the ports were beautifully explained by a pro, "Ranger John", who would meet anyone in private/on deck and explain almost every animal species. Ports were good - Antarctica was excellent. Shore excursions were pricey - more than 2X-3X what the locals were charging for the same tours. The Ushuaia excursion was offered at about $200/ pp, but we found a similar one, with a local taxi driver for $80 per couple, for 4 full hours. Very few children on this (or any long 14 day cruise). Would probably not return to this line or ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Having done the same cruise last January and finding it excellent and Antarctica amazing we decided to treat ourselves again but in the reverse direction. This was the Zaandam's first Antarctic cruise of the season so we three ... Read More
Having done the same cruise last January and finding it excellent and Antarctica amazing we decided to treat ourselves again but in the reverse direction. This was the Zaandam's first Antarctic cruise of the season so we three weeks later then previous and not sure what would be different. At embarkation in Valparaiso we saw Scott D. one of the Antarctic specialist from last cruise and he said that this time we could expect less whales and more penguins and maybe less icebergs. He was right on all counts. Embarkation went smoothly and we were on board and having lunch in the Lido by 1pm. At the end disembarkation was just as smooth and on time. The ship felt a bit like coming home as we new where everything was and what and when things operated. Last year we had a verandah cabin which while it gave us a bit more space we hardly used the verandah at all and with all things on a boat there is a 50/50 chance that what you want to see will be on the other side of the ship. This year we went for a ocean view room on the lower promenade which was near perfect for sightseeing as the other side of the deck was only a few steps through the ship and not up or down a few floors. Apart from being slightly smaller the room facilities are basically the same. Only draw back was the 10pm tying up of the deck chairs and the 5am washing down of the deck outside our window. For dining we opted most days for the Lido and only dined in the main restaurant twice plus treat ourselves twice to the Canaletto. There was always a great variety of food and desserts available and one new thing was the salad station. As for entertainment we on ly went to the two very funny comedian shows but reports from fellow passengers said that the other shows where excellent. There are enough daily activities on board to fill out the few sea days that we had. Trivia every night with Alexis was popular. Wallis gave very informative and funny port talks and the Antarctic specialist team were the same team as previous and excellent. Jorge the cruise director plus the Daily Navigator flyer kept guests informed on what was happening each day. All the crew are friendly cheerful and the ship impresses as one big happy family. Captain PJ was our skipper again and kept us informed on navigational and nautical to use his own words and we got to go to all the itinerary places in the Antarctic Peninsular as planned. We were also blessed with near perfect sea condition throughout the entire cruise and sunshine and blue skies for the 4 days we were in the Peninsular. We undertook three excursions and found two of them excellent one less so but more on that later. The ship reached all the ports on schedule with exception of Punta Arenas where the port was closed for a brief time due to high winds. In fact due to the very favourable conditions crossing Drakes Passage we actually had an extra half day in the Antarctic. Which gave us more time to enjoy the experience that is the Antarctic. Penguins, seals, whales, sea lions, glaciers icebergs and just the serenity and majesty and scale of the place. Having done this trip twice in less then a year, would we do it again? Yes!. The only caveats being the long flights from Australia and this one being so near perfect it would be hard to better. If you get the chance GO! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Chose the cruise due to a special offer. Food was boring and bland and we were unlucky enough to be put in the late sitting dinner. One night didn't get to eat until 9pm and as it was a set menu meal didn't finish until almost ... Read More
Chose the cruise due to a special offer. Food was boring and bland and we were unlucky enough to be put in the late sitting dinner. One night didn't get to eat until 9pm and as it was a set menu meal didn't finish until almost 11. There should have been a rotation system! Buffets were boring and bland and breakfast was basically the same every day. Fresh fruit was in short supply and limited variety. Zodiac drivers seemed to be uninterested in finding the best wildlife and catering to all on board by turning the boat to allow everyone access to good photos. Guides did not seem to be knowledgeable about the area and wildlife. For most of our trips no one even spoke! Misinformation given regularly ended up walking 14kms after being told it was 7k round trip...it was in fact 7k each way big difference when you're plodding along with heavy rubber boots etc. There were no on board activities except for a few presentations by the expedition team but the language barrier made this excruciating to sit through. A couple of films on appropriate subjects would have been welcome. Hygiene wasn't adhered to with many people entering the dining area without hand sanitizer so subsequently half the ship ended up with cough, colds etc which made sitting the auditorium even more unattractive. No movies in the cabin unless you paid extra, no internet without paying extra. Have decided I'm not cut out for cruises as I thought the inactivity between landings would bore me to death. The only thing that saved this trip from being an absolute disaster was the perfect weather and conditions and that certainly wasn't down to Hurtigruten. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We enjoyed an amazing experience with Hurtigruten on their MS Midnatsol ship sailing from Punta Arenas, travelling along the Chilean Fjords to Antarctica Peninsula and back. The view was breathtaking throughout. When we cruised on smaller ... Read More
We enjoyed an amazing experience with Hurtigruten on their MS Midnatsol ship sailing from Punta Arenas, travelling along the Chilean Fjords to Antarctica Peninsula and back. The view was breathtaking throughout. When we cruised on smaller boats to look at glaciers and icebergs was incredible and satisfying. Accommodation was very good and comfortable. Food was varied and very good too. Expeditions and on board lectures from experts were excellent. It was an educational and adventurous cruise. Hurtigruten did an excellent job getting us from London through Madrid to Santiago then Punta Arenas and back without a single hitch! It was impressive and I will use them again. The staff were excellent and friendly especially those in the reception, restaurant, bar, cleaning and the expedition team. The expedition team members were all graduates and experts in their field. We had excellent lectures which were very informative and we had the first explorer to trek the Arctic and Antarctica in the same year. Every passenger on board seemed to be delighted with the cruise. The expedition team made every effort to ensure we were able to cruise or land at every convenient location Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Seeing the antarctica was definitely a bucket list item for us , I have wanted to do this cruise for the last 5 years , and was surprised when friends told us they were planning to do this cruise with Ponant in 8 months time in November ... Read More
Seeing the antarctica was definitely a bucket list item for us , I have wanted to do this cruise for the last 5 years , and was surprised when friends told us they were planning to do this cruise with Ponant in 8 months time in November and why not join them . the all inclusive price for the accommodation, flights , special clothing ( gum boots and thermal coat issued on the boat) all drinks on board made this cruise great value for money . Everything was 5 star and we were treated as 5 star guests by all the crew and staff . There is no doubt the small ship of 200 passengers and 150 crew and staff made this trip beyond all expectations for us. Of all the expedition trips on offer , this has to be the most amazing cruise for seeing the wildlife close up and having experienced naturalists to explain and guide you on shore. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Started in Valparaiso. This is my second HAL-cruise. First on Eurodam, over Greenland. Was surprised liking the much older Zaandam better. Not only because the cabin and balcony, was a bit larger here. Most public rooms were more ... Read More
Started in Valparaiso. This is my second HAL-cruise. First on Eurodam, over Greenland. Was surprised liking the much older Zaandam better. Not only because the cabin and balcony, was a bit larger here. Most public rooms were more attractive to me. (Gym, Crows nest, dining room, theatre etc.) The theatre suffered from not so good sound. Breakfast and lunch in main restaurant (Rotterdam) was perfect for those who wanted to kill time. (And not very funny dinners, when we shared table with americans who ordered 3-4 starters. We had to choose between leaving hungry or miss the show.) Food was mostly ok. Steaks not. Fish sometimes uneatable. Other times perfect. We had the best meals in the buffét (Lido.) Service all over the ship top-class. Nice sailing in the Antarctic peninsula. Embarkation and disembarkation among the best we have had. (Disembark in Buenos Aires was heaven, compared to the hell we had in New York, sept. 2011.) 4 of our 5 excursions were a terrible waste of time and money. Penguin-safari on Falklands was funny. Though I liked cruising in Antarctica a couple of days, I would say that the 2-week-cruise just around Cape Horn is a clever money-saver. If I knew what I know now, I would have choosen that. (And seen the animals nearer on my TV.) PS. Jim in the piano-bar was a hit. Not only for us. Crowded. Spent 10 evenings there. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
For a number of years I've wanted to travel to Antarctica and have heard the warnings that access to this part of the world would be reduced if not eliminated to cruise ships of the HAL size. So I booked us on the Zaandam sailing out ... Read More
For a number of years I've wanted to travel to Antarctica and have heard the warnings that access to this part of the world would be reduced if not eliminated to cruise ships of the HAL size. So I booked us on the Zaandam sailing out of Valparaiso to Buenos Aires. I will note that we are experience 4 star Mariners on HAL. We departed the US from Atlanta on Delta on a direct flight to Santiago which is located inland from the port city of Valparaiso about 60 miles. After the overnight flight we arrived in the mid morning in Santiago but couldn't check in to our hotel until 3pm. While waiting in a local cafe, my backpack was cleverly stolen from right next to me. It contained my meds, cameras, other electronic items, some cash, and personal effects. It was a bummer of a way to start the trip. Fortunately it's just "stuff". Surprisingly, I was able to replace my meds at a local pharmacy with no prescription! Replacing a camera was a bit more difficult and took several days in another city near Valparaiso. The takeaway from the theft was to always put one's foot through the arm straps of a backpack to reduce the chances of it being stolen. In Santiago, we rented an apartment for two days located on the top floor of a high rise. We took two walking tours of the city with Tours by Locals and met a few people who were also going to be on the cruise and that was pretty cool. Santiago is a very modern city with lots of hustle and bustle. To get to Valparaiso, we hired a car, driver, and a guide who met us promptly and delivered us to our destination in Santiago via a couple vineyard stops and a lovely seaside restaurant. In Valparaiso, we rented a room in a hostel near what I thought would be the departure point for the ship. While it was cheap, the music and crowd noise at night blared from the street below until 5am and was beyond annoying. If I were to stay in the area next time, I'd go to the IBIS which has a nice quiet location nearby. In Valparaiso, we also did a couple walking tours with the same company as in Santiago and they were very interesting. We were located right at Plaza Sotomajor which is a main monument location and the local light rail station was there which took us directly to the cruise terminal at a very inexpensive fare. There's a nice food court on the second level of the train station. For this cruise we were assigned an ocean view cabin located low and mid ship on the starboard side which we really liked. Normally we sail using inside cabins, but waking up to daylight is nice. As 4 star Mariners it was nice to be able to board early and without a line. After having sailed on a number of HAL ships, it felt so comfortable boarding the Zaandam. We really liked the look and feel of the ship and everything seemed so familiar even though we'd never been on the ship. It appeared to be in good repair and had all of the typical HAL decor and accompaniments. Captain PJ was a delight to listen to and Bruce, the Cruise Director, was wonderful in that role. He didn't make too many announcements, and was very easy to understand over the PA system. The evening entertainment was very good and consistent with other HAL ships. We really appreciated the new cast shows (we'd seen them on previous cruises) and the audio levels were dialed in perfectly. There was a wide range of outside entertainers. Also, we were able to get some replacement American dollars for the money that was stolen before we boarded the trip. This was the first time I used Cruise Critic to book shore excursions, and we found it a total delight to meet other CC passengers at the Meet & Greet on the first sea day and then share various shore excursions with them. For several of the ports, we had to use HAL Shore Excursions (Ushuaia and Punta Arenas particularly) and those were fine. At Ushuaia my goal was to get a picture at the end of the road sign in the National Park, and the shore excursion met that objective. The best of the CC member arranged shore excursions was going to the penguin reserve at Punta Tombo out of Puerto Madryn. It's a colony of 1,000,000 Magellan penguins and the small bus got us out there before the large tour buses. It's a must do stop in my opinion. In the Falkland Islands, we elected to walk the city visiting the museum, finding some British Fish & Chips, and just taking in some of the local culture. The scenic cruising was simply off the chart excellent. Pictures of the glaciers and other scenic natural wonders don't do it justice. While traveling through the Fjords and bays of Chile, Argentina, and then Antarctica, our location guide, Ryan, was simply excellent. These sights fulfilled my every expectation about Antarctica and the related sights. I've got thousands of pictures of glaciers, shipwrecks, icebergs, penguins, seals, sea lions, birds. Additionally there was an Antarctica expedition team on board composed of men and women who had worked and lived in Antarctica for years. Their experience and tips were invaluable (Scott particularly) in providing details about the local flora and fauna. Capt PJ would also interject nautical and navigational commentary as appropriate throughout the voyage. We always at breakfast in the LIDO before attending the Good Morning Zaandam taping session with the CD Bruce and the Culinary Arts Hostess who was from near where we live in the Puget Sound region of the US. Lunch on the ship was also always at the LIDO, and we found the meals to be good. We're careful eaters (we don't gain weight on cruises!), and the selection was good. I tended to eat the Asian fare as that's a strong preference for my palette, while my wife leans to the salad side of the menu. Most dinners were taken in the Main Dining Room (MDR). We always choose open seating and eat dinner as early as the dining room opens. On days when we are returning from a long day ashore, we would choose to eat in the LIDO so we could be more casual. We also took the opportunity to eat in the Pinnacle Grill and the Canaletto. Both of those were very good and we are now tending to eat in them at least once on all of our cruises. At Buenos Aires, we had an overnight stay on the ship. For the first day, we used a Tours by Locals guide to do a fully city tour. Alex was terrific. The second day, after a very smooth but delayed disembarkation), we used another tour through Tours by Locals to take us to an Estancia (ranch) directly from the ship and then take us to our BA hotel the NH Buenos Aires Latino. It was a fun day out in the countryside which a chance see totally different scenery than the glaciers and fjords we had just experienced. The horseback ride was cool and the barbeque lunch was good. A few days later we used another Tours by Locals guide to give us a tour themed around Evita and it was quite good also. We also did a lot of self-guided walking tours from our hotel as well as riding the Hop On Hop Off bus. We felt totally safe doing that, but we didn't venture out at night. I highly recommend the NH Buenos Aires Latino hotel for lodging in BA. It's located centrally near the main Obelisk monument. While the rooms are plain, they are spacious and there's a safe in the room. We ate all of our meals outside the hotel at local cafes, and they were good. ATM's abound at the many banks. The hotel arranged for a car and driver to take us to the international airport which is located quite a distance out of town and there is no support service infrastructure out there. While our flight was delayed for 3 hours, DELTA provided food for the waiting passengers and all too soon our flight headed us off to Atlanta . In summary, the trip met all of our expectations. It was so wonderful that I'd like to do it again. For the second trip, however, I would travel in the reverse direction in order to change up the fjord cruising in Argentina and Chile. I highly recommend that travellers who have any desire to see Antarctica, book a cruise on this route. The Zaandam would be my strong recommendation. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This was a trip we had been planning for some time and our expectations were very high. the transfer flight to Ushaia was fine and boarding was a quick as possible onsidering all the passengers arrived at once. Our Expedition Suite was ... Read More
This was a trip we had been planning for some time and our expectations were very high. the transfer flight to Ushaia was fine and boarding was a quick as possible onsidering all the passengers arrived at once. Our Expedition Suite was lovely and spacious and iimmaculate. On this expedition we had a dream run, not only because of the weather which was fantastic, but the crew and the expedition team who were superb. Robin the expedition leader ran the expedition side of the ship extaordinarily well. He and his team ensured we saw everything possible, cared for our well being on land and in the zodiacs and there was always someone from the team around us imparting information on the wild life, flora and the geology of the region. We really cannot praise them enough, they ensured we saw and did more than we ever anticipated - thanks for getting us onto Elephant Island, quite a feat. We saw everything from blue whales down to the tiny seal pups and thousands of penguins, it was just amazing. The ships crew coped so well with the weird hours we ate at some days, very early risings and were instantly ensuring we were happy, warm and fed. Our Cabin crew Rom and Ith were the best we have ever had in our long relationship with cruising. Perhaps the only grizzle we could have was with the dining room. the breakfast buffet was often cold and there seem to be a shortage of wait staff who were not well run by the Maitre D. They were willing and charming but somewhat over worked. The perfect culmination of the trip was the showing of the trip video on our last night. Richard Sidey the photographer had done a brilliant job and was treated to a standing ovation, it seems everyone bought a copy. As this trip was so very special it is impossible to really tell anyone how good it was, but the video shows it all and the photography is outstanding. My advice to potential Antarctic cruisers - if you do nothing else in your life do this cruise which includes the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula, it is truly wondrous. do it with Silver Explorer, they do it so very well. This expedition exceeded our expectations totally and we look on it as probably the most special experience of our lives. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
The biggest decision to make in regard to going to Antarctica on an 'expedition' ship is how much time you wish to spend 'off the boat', and what style you want to experience while on-board. Le Boreal is still probably ... Read More
The biggest decision to make in regard to going to Antarctica on an 'expedition' ship is how much time you wish to spend 'off the boat', and what style you want to experience while on-board. Le Boreal is still probably the most stylish way to explore the peninsula, but because it carries 200 passengers, you will spend less time roaming about in the zodiacs than on a smaller ship with less than 100 passengers (by regulation, only 100 individuals are allowed onshore at one time). Le Boreal does have it's failings though (as other reviewers have indicated), and when it comes up against all the other ships sailing other parts of the world, it would have some issues matching up. But in Antarctica, it will not be wanting for passengers... as only a small number of ships tour there, and more and more people are visiting each year. The staff will get better at being more professional, and the ship will work on eliminating some of the shakedown style problems. Bottom line, if you want to visit in style, and being restricted to only 3-4 hours a day off the ship is not an issue, than you will probably not do better than going on the Le Boreal... other parts of the world are another matter. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010

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