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