I am finally back from my trip to the Ross Sea (I had added a few more sight-seeing stops on my way back home).
What a magnificent journey this was! The Ross Sea offered magic scenery of pure beauty: ice-bergs glittering in the sun, groups of Emperor penguins on the ice-flows and ice-edge, the Ross Ice-Shelf in all its glory and the spectacular beauty of the islands and coastal water-ways… Whales and orcas were playing around the ship and albatrosses, petrels, fulmars etc. were a delight to watch. The sun was out every day and the skies were blue all along! I know, we were very lucky, indeed!
The “Forties, Fifties and Sixties” were turbulent, as was to be expected. But as I wasn’t sea-sick, I didn’t mind. A highlight in these parts were the sub-antarctic islands with their special fauna and flora: Enderby Island, beautiful Campbell Island with nesting albatrosses and the many King Penguins and Royals on Macquarie Island. Rodney Russ made it possible to launch the Zodiacs in protected bays and to get us to land.
Our Zodiac landings were many and we could visit Scott's and Shackelton’s huts on Ross Island and Borchgrevink’s hut at Cape Adair. We could make a landing in Terra Nova Bay, although Gondwana, the German base was already closed for the winter. So was the Italian base. The only base open was the very modern Korean one, but they were too busy to show us around. The American McMurdo Station on Ross Island could not be reached. It was too late in the season and the ice-channel was frozen over. But we did land on Foyn (Possession Islands) and Zodiac-drive close to the very remote Balleny Islands.
Everything went perfectly well on the ship as well. Rodney Russ, his team and the Russian crew and Captain did their utmost to make our journey a memorable one. And they succeeded. This trip was fantastic!
(A little anecdote: We can read on our certificate, that our vessel set a new world record for any vessel by reaching the southern most latitude at 78’ 44.008’ S in the Bay of Wales!)
As you are an enthusiastic polar traveler as well, you may have already visited this part of Antarctica, yourself?!
I have become a fan of polar travel and you can be sure that I will call you at Polar Cruises again for my next adventure!
You have organized this trip so well! Thank you very much again!
With warm regards,
Our trip was absolutely amazing. We were very happy with the Ushuaia ship and all of the staff were fantastic. It was definitely one of the most amazing adventures we have ever had. All of the communication and organization from Polar Cruises was great.
Back in London after an amazing 3 weeks in Antarctica, South Georgia (THE BEST!!!!) and the Falklands.
There is nothing negative to tell you, the crew, service staff and the exploration team were outstanding. I am so happy that we were able to take the kayaking option as that truly was the icing of the cake. Memories never to be forgotten, like a huge leopard seal chewing the team leader's kayak only meters from me.....or humpback whale gliding next to us.
The weather was mostly on our side and we managed many landings. The sometimes very rough sea is almost already forgotten :)
It still feels unreal that we were there.
Thank you so much and I am sure we'll contact you again when next Polar adventure will happen, but it is Switzerland next...for 3 weeks of skiing.
Please thank all your team, Nina, Sharon and all involved with our booking to Antarctica. The trip was one of a life Time (and you may know this is my 2nd time to Antarctica).
The Hebridean Sky was simply Fantastic in all ways. Hayley Shepherd, the expedition leader was outstanding, as was her team. Last time I traveled to Antarctica was on the Akademik Ioffe. That trip was great because of the expedition team, but the accommodations did not compare with the Hebridean Sky. I sure got more than I was expecting on the Hebridean Sky. Fantastic food and service, beautiful cabins, and a great crew. The ship is almost to good for expeditions to the polar regions.
I had a super time. Simply a trip of a "Life Time."
Thanks again to all at Polar Cruises for such a great management of our booking and keeping us informed. A great organization who I will highly recommend and hope to book with again.
We had a wonderful time, everything worked like clock work, the transportation, hotels, Iguasu falls, ship, and the ship staff were fabulous. It had been my dream for 20yrs and it exceeded all my expectations. Staff were very safety conscious and we were glad the captain waited till morning to do the Drake package, my fear was getting seasick thru Drake passage and I did not get sick, yeah! The guides were so informative and Hannah was just amazing and always willing to answer any question, loved her humor. I can not put into words how great this trip was and my dream to kayak was just amazing. Thanks so much for the thumbdrive keepsake, we watched it when we got home and can not wait to show our family and friends.
Hi Jim and Nina,
This is Tamy from the Sea Adventurer cruise Jan/Feb 2017. I wanted to tell you both that although my expectations for this trip were minimal (I basically just wanted to step foot on my 7th continent), it ended up being the best trip of my life!
After being delayed one day due to the weather, the remainder of the trip was just spectacular. The kayaking experience was phenomenal and I couldn't be happier with the entire experience!
I wanted to thank you both personally for your input regarding the planning of my trip. Jim, your advice and opinions about the best time of year to travel and which ship and cabin to choose were spot-on.
Nina, thank you for answering all of my questions.
Thanks again and best wishes,
I am happy to report that our trip was fantastic!
The expedition team was fantastic - knowledgeable, skilled, fun, passionate, approachable and enthusiastic. The Hebridean Sky crew was courteous, professional, hard-working and welcoming. The itinerary and activities were well-run and diverse. We couldn't have been much luckier in terms of weather, missing only one out of a possible 19 landings/excursions because of wind/sea swells/weather. Best of all, the animals and scenery left a lasting memory - the birds, fur seals, elephant seals, whales and, of course, the penguins (6 different species spotted). The glaciers and icebergs were beautiful to behold.
All in all, a wonderful trip.
Thanks again for all your help before the trip even began. It was helpful and very much appreciated.
We had a brilliant time!!
We had excellent weather, rough through the Drake but 3 beautiful sunny days before the typical Antarctic weather set in again for our last day! We got 7 out of 8 possible Zodiac trips, cruised through the Lemaire Channel between 3 big but stunning icebergs, reached Port Lockroy, saw lots of penguins, seals and a couple of humpback whales, very lucky and humbled by the wildlife and history. We are now trying to sort through all our photos.
We were well looked after by expedition staff and crew and had no problems with either our cruise or flights. Thanks to you and your team for all the tips on traveling in South America making our trip very easy!
We would definitely come back to you to book other holidays.
Our trip was absolutely AMAZING, from top to bottom! We loved the expedition team; their enthusiasm for the environment and the animals was absolutely infectious! We so appreciated their professionalism all the way!
It amazes me. Though they cruise to the Antarctic often, it was wonderful to see their excitement at the wildlife we saw and the weather we had! We appreciated everyone's experience and the depth of knowledge they so willingly shared about their specialties. Hats off to all of them, especially Hayley, the expedition leader!!
The Hebridean Sky was a lovely ship! Beautifully appointed, and met the challenges of the Drake handily. The hotel team were warm, wonderful and attentive, too! We were well cared for during our voyage with them! The meals were delicious and elegantly presented! We were fortunate that all of our cruise mates were so friendly! You never met a stranger, and I loved how we all mingled with each other so easily throughout our 11 days together.
One of the passengers invited us all to make 30 second iphone videos thanking the team for the great time they had. At the end of the cruise, when the expedition team shared their slideshow of the voyage, we presented them with our video compilation. It was an emotional moment. I think it may have been one of the first times that passengers formally put together a proper "thank you" for the expedition team. I think they were deeply touched! I was honored to be among a group that thought to do such a thing!
Our captain made a decision to hold off our departure from Ushuaia for a few hours until the Drake calmed down a bit. I so appreciated that decision a lot! The Drake was kind to us; we had the Lake going over, and just a few hours of Shake on the way home. I really appreciated the Captain's decision making!
As for Antarctica itself? Words fail me at the moment. On our way from Ushuaia, a Tristan Albatross followed us for 36 hours over the Drake! Antarctica presented the best of itself during our cruise!! It was stunningly beautiful!! We had amazing weather!! Pristine air, blue skies, calm waters, sun, snow covered mountain peaks and lots of penguins, petrels, orcas (!!!) and seals for all the days, except for one - the day we reached Port Lockroy.
High winds made us uncertain we'd make that landing, but we waited, and the winds died down long enough for all who wanted to make the Zodiac cruise over for the 20 minute shopping spree. ;)
On our way back to Ushuaia, whales and dusky dolphins swam alongside us as we approached the Beagle Channel. What an awesome trip!!!!
Thanks so much for all of your patience with our many questions as we prepared for the cruise!! We did overpack, but were happy to have more than enough clothes, than to be caught short. You all did a fantastic job! Thank you so much!! We were very well prepared!!! We will definitely recommend Polar Cruises to all of our friends!!!
Thanks a million and be well!
P.S. We enjoyed our first camping trip ever on the continent @ Neko Harbour! Fog rolled in, which made our trip even more mysterious and expedition-like. We were serenaded by the sounds of glaciers calving and penguins chatting away. It was a fantastic first camping experience, one we will never forget!
Over one year ago, I read an article in a scientific journal about global warming and its effects on the north and south polar regions. This sparked my interest in taking a trip to these parts of the world to witness this environmental phenomenon first-hand.
With the help of Polar Cruises, this dream came true. I joined a group of 100 passengers on the Akademik Sergei Vavilov from 27 December 2016 to 7 January 2017 for what will remain one of the most amazing adventures in my lifetime. Like many other passengers on this journey, I have traveled the globe far and wide. Antarctica represented the 7th and final continent for me to explore. The experience was unlike any other travel to date.
The international crew of Canadians, Australians, Argentinians, Russians, and others, were all impressively helpful, at all hours of the day, under all circumstances. From room cleaning service, to meal service, to adventure excursions off-ship and more, the staff exercised professionalism, while at the same time pushing passengers to their adventure limits. By this, I mean that octogenarian passengers were just as comfortable as teenagers, climbing down the gangway onto the Zodiacs, to go ashore as active participants in our quest for encounters with wildlife and the incredible landscape surrounding us.
Highlights of this trip were not the 2 million plus penguins that we witnessed, although they were impressive indeed. Nor were they the sightings of humpback whales, seals of many varieties, and albatrosses. Rather, the highlights were the personal experiences of camping on an ice shelf, swimming in a volcanic caldera, and interacting directly with the personnel on an Argentine research settlement. In other words, my own direct immersion in the Antarctica before my eyes.
This was my first time to spend multiple days on board a sea-faring vessel, in the company of complete strangers. I found my fellow passengers to be some of the smartest, kindest, most intelligent and compassionate individuals that one could hope to meet...at the end of the earth, no less. Polar Cruises not only runs an amazing business offering an amazing product, but also attracts an amazing clientele.
Thank you, Polar Cruises, for making this dream a reality!
Sharon and Lynn.
Re: South Pole Flight trip Dec. 2016
I know this is long and probably contains much that you already know, but wanted to make sure you got some good feedback about our trip.
This trip was fantastic! When we arrived (Dec 9) we were met by Carolyn and Hernan and transferred to our hotel. We got beautiful folders with welcome letters, post cards, stickers, and a luggage arrangement info sheet. We arrived about noon and Carolyn came to our room at 5 pm to inspect our gear. We passed with flying colors, in fact she loved the way I had everything laid out so she took photos!
The next day was free time (Dec 10). At 9:00 am (Dec. 11) they came to the hotel lobby to weigh our duffles and take them to the plane for loading. The limit was 30 kg and we had only 12 kg each! We were concerned that we had so little but we had everything on the list, plus some extras we wanted. At 2:30 we walked over to their office and were fitted for the rental jackets, bib-pants and boots. (note: for some reason they did not have any paperwork letting them know that both of us were renting gear (only Johns) but they suspected it and it was not a problem) Then at 5:00 we walked back for the Welcome Briefing and Cocktail Party. It was great to meet everyone we were going with and to hear how everything is going to play out over the next week. Really surprised when we got to keep the beautiful etched drink glasses they served the drinks in. We got rides back to the hotel as we had the gear rental bags to take with us.
That night we got a call at 7:40 pm with a pickup time of 7:10 am (Dec 12) (unless things changed and we got a call in the morning with a new time). It was a go! A big bus picked us and everyone else up and took us to the airport. We got off the bus with boarding passes and passports only (everything else was left on the bus), cleared security (easy we had nothing with us!) and we waited about 1.5 hours before we boarded the bus and waited for the call to go to the big Ilyushin. It was a fast board and before we knew it we were airborne for Antarctica watching the Go-Pro feed from the nose of the plane. They fed us lots of goodies and a sandwich as well as drinks. They did play a movie but with no sound or subtitles, it was an interesting watch! It really didn’t matter that there was no sound as we would not have been able to hear it over the engine noise and through the ear plugs they provided.
We arrived to wind and sunshine and were transferred in big vans to the Union Glacier camp. We got a quick ‘there’s the washrooms, the tents, and this in the dining tent and lunch is ready, orientation in 30 minutes in the other tent”. One of the owners, Dave, told us that there is a window to go to the Pole. We would have to stay at least two nights at the pole before the next window to return and by the way, we would be leaving in 1 hour! He explained that this is usually an extra cost but they felt it was more important to give us the opportunity to get to the pole than fuss over the fact it is usually an extra charge. We were not about to argue!! It was unanimous by the 6 of us so in 1 hour we were on the Basler headed for the pole with a cook, food, doctor and 2 guides (all of whom packed really fast with this quick change in plans!). We didn’t even see our bags as they went straight to the plane. We did grab the self-inflate mattresses and pillows from our Union Glacier tents. We were up at 5 am this morning and by the time we reached the pole and had dinner it was 11 pm, so we were exhausted but thrilled beyond belief.
The camp at the pole had 2 washrooms (his and hers), a small dining/kitchen/command center tent, a similar tent for supplies and the pilots, the camp manager Devon, and about 8 small tents. We have not had to crawl into a tent in years and my knees were a bit cranky to say the least but it was surprisingly ‘warm’ as the sun was out full on the whole time we were there. The sleeping bags are very bulky but very warm. In fact we ended up sleeping on top of them as they were too warm!
Having the whole day (Dec 13) at the pole was a definite advantage for me because the altitude really caused havoc with my breathing. Between the altitude, the cold, and all that HEAVY outer gear I could not walk very far without stopping to catch my breath. We had lots of time so this was not a problem.
After breakfast we went to the Ceremonial Pole, and the Geographic pole to get all the customary photos plus a few special shots for others at home (including one in that wonderful earflap fluffy hat you sent us).
After lunch we attended a wedding at the Ceremonial Pole – the 3 in our group from the Czech Republic were the bride, groom and best man. The camp manger officiated, the guide (Carol) was official witness and the other 5 of us with the manager from the Amundesn/Scott Station were the ‘guests’ (she, the manager, gave some orange plastic flowers for the bride to hold!). Champagne flowed and hot water was thrown into the air to create ice crystals (fake confetti!!). We all had a stiff shot of something before heading out for the wedding. The groom brought it with him from home. The bottle had no label on it and it packed quite a punch! The wedding party wore light blue sashes with gold letting on them to identify who they were – in Czech of course. The temperature was about -27C with a wind chill putting it about -35C. Wow!!
Back at the camp we all got those wonderful heavy duty Certificates of Achievement for being at the South Pole. They came in excellent heavy cardboard envelopes to make bringing them home safer. They travelled well!
Our doctor, Gaynor, and the pilots had to miss the wedding so they could go and rescue someone from an adventure trip, Ski the Last Degree. They actually came back with 3: one with Pneumonia (his friends stayed out there), and two guys traveling together but one had altitude sickness and the other had frost bite on his thumbs (he will make a full recovery as he came in early enough).
Before dinner we had a tour of the station which was really interesting. The place is huge and has basically everything you could want. We got to use the flushing toilets – a big bonus, especially because the ladies ‘pee toilet’ was a disabled walker style chair with a big red bucket underneath that you pour into a funnel on a large jug! We also got stamps for our passports. We were here on the 105th Anniversary of man first reaching the South Pole.
After dinner Carol told us the interesting story about the Norwegian Larsen’s expedition to the pole and how his crew got all split up but were eventually all rescued except one that died. We all loved the part about the three guys who had black skin from burning seal fat.
Leaving the next morning (Dec 14) was an unknown until after breakfast when the pilots got the go to return to Union Glacier. It was fine where we were but UG was unsure for a bit. So we finally got back to Union Glacier and it was so wonderfully warm we shed the jackets as soon as we got there. The pilot took a different approach so we got to see the awesome rock formations near the camp.
We had time to set ourselves up in these luxurious tents! Having cots with little pockets hanging down the sides is like a 5 star hotel. The small table was also like a slice of heaven! (note: on the table were 2 Nalgene bottles and inside were eyeshades (that work better than any we brought), lip balm with spf 50 and a small sunscreen with spf 50 - - If we knew this we could have saved buying ones at home that we will never use again).
Mid afternoon we got to witness a first in Antarctica – skydiving. There were 6 skydivers (groom and best man from our pole group). They did two very successful dives before dinner. By this time the showers were ready and we did not hesitate to try them out. They were fantastic and HOT, even after we added some snow to our bucket to cool it down a bit! It was great to feel human again. They had liquid soap in the showers but you need your own shampoo if you don’t want to just use the soap for your hair. The towels and face cloth they provided were nice. Had a need of a brief visit to the doctors (nothing serious – just a small infection) and were really surprised to find out that medical there is covered. Very pleased with this fact! Serious stuff the insurance would cover but anything simple is included. Gaynor said their job was to keep us healthy so that’s what they do.
At the camp with us were three young people from the Kazakhstan Geographic Society (just holidaying), several Mt Vinson climbers, several hikers and skiers, the wife, daughter and son of Henry Worsley who died on an un-assisted expedition last year (distant relation to one of Shackleton’s crew members), Hank from Edmonton, Alberta who was attempting to bike from the South Pole to Hercules Inlet. He started over a week late and lasted just over a week I think it was before calling it off saying that “Antarctica had kicked his butt!” His double fat wheel bike was custom made. We think he made a very good effort to do a very tough thing! Also Mike, from Toronto, was there last year for the marathon and stayed in hopes of reaching the pole (by plane) but three weeks later he finally got out to go home slightly late for work! His arm was up before anyone when he heard we could sleep at the pole.
There is now a small store in the camp BUT they only take US cash. There is a web page with a link to see what they have to offer and the prices. We each got the jackets and I got one of the tote bags. We had no money with us (only about $25) so Carolyn (guest services) made arrangements for us to take the stuff with us and when we returned to Punta Arenas we went to the bank and got the equivalent in Chilean Pesos and took it to their office. They do not sell in the office as they do not have permission to sell merchandise in Chile and they cannot take credit cards out in the camp for obvious connection reasons. (note: It would be really nice if people knew about this beforehand so they could arrange to take enough cash with them, as most going on these trips would not be carrying a couple of hundred or more US on them. It is also good to shop early after arrival as stock is limited.)
Our first morning at UG (Dec 15) was relaxed and included an excellent lecture on the history of the South Pole station and all about the Amundsen and Scott expeditions. During the night the clouds moved in and we never saw the sun much until the morning we left. After lunch we headed out to Elephants head and the blue lake filled with bubbles and Cryocronites. The whole group hiked up to the Elephant head but I stayed at the lake with Carol exploring the fascinating rock formations in the area. It was also great to just sit and soak in the quiet!! Back at the truck were snacks and hot drinks before returning the 40 minutes drive to the camp.
That evening’s dinner was a giant celebration dinner in the Terra Nova tent. There was one big table down the middle, table cloths, fancy folded napkins, flowing wine, beer and champagne, a chocolate wedding cake for the newlyweds (with a map of Antarctica on it), many speeches and thank yous for all the staff, and a lot of laughter. Dinner was special and served to us – not buffet. The windows were blacked out and there were candles on the table. It was a very special evening. They showed a first rendering of the video of the skydiving.
On Friday (Dec 16) we woke to gusting winds and blowing snow. Mid morning we were treated to a talk on Adrien de Gerlache’s expedition of 1897. Carol asked which explorer we would like to hear about and we suggested the one our tent was named for. Lots of facts and interesting tidbits!
We then geared up for a cross continent trip (we were not in a country so it was not called cross ‘country’ skiing!). We have not skied for about 25 years so we were not very fast but did quite well and really enjoyed it. We headed out of camp down the road towards the Blue Ice Runway. We went as far as the only tree (cardboard) in Antarctica before turning back. About half way back we got a BIG taste of how fast this unforgiving continent can change! Within minutes we were in near gale force winds and whiteout conditions! We were with a guide so we were okay although we knew to just follow the black flags and we would reach camp eventually. We went 4.5 km in total and were exhausted!
We thought conditions would cancel any outing after lunch but nope! We drove the 30 minutes out to the wind scoop. That was a fascinating long walk and our second walk on ice with the spikes put on the bottom of our boots. Surprisingly there was little or no wind in that area. That time we went out in the big snow cat tractor which was really fun. Again they had warm drinks and snacks for us before we headed back to the camp. We had a really physical day and were very tired this night.
For our last day at camp it was snowing all day (Dec 17). After breakfast we were treated to a talk on Ice-sheet and Sea-level Rise by Helmut Rott, a glaciologist from Innsbruck. He shared some very scary facts on global warming. It was very interesting to hear about the type of work he does.
Mike from Toronto had some air time cards for the phones so that he could do some work while he was here. One had some time left on it so he gave it to me. I called my girlfriend and she spent the whole 7 minutes we had crying – or so it seemed! (note: The cost for air time is $US 35 cash for 30 minutes.) Not bad if you really want to surprise someone or have to work.
Around noon a group of people started to build an Igloo. Several of the pilots (grounded by the weather) and some staff got involved and about 8 hours later it was all done! It had stairs going down underground and then up into the igloo. Omar (one of the skydivers) was the instigator and he apparently spent the night in it.
At 3:30 a session of Yoga was offered but we passed on that! Getting all sweaty and then going out in the cold was not our idea of fun.
Before dinner Carol gave us a very informative behind the scenes tour of the camp. We really understand now where the cost for these trips comes from. The logistics of running this operation is staggering and our hats are off to the people who do this every year. It is a very impressive camp.
We had our second shower of the Antarctic trip and prepped to leave the next day. As of dinner it was looking like a 50/50 chance for departure. By bedtime it was clearing nicely but we had no info on conditions in Chile.
Our last morning it was sunny and beautiful! (Dec 18) The Guest notice board said “Big Bird has taken off from Punta”. It was stopping in Ushuaia to get some scientists so it would be a bit late getting here. We signed up to go out and watch the landing. Right after breakfast the skydivers did a third and final dive and it was the best for lighting for us a spectators.
Watching the Ilyushin land was incredible and sad as this was our flight out of Antarctica. About 2 hours later we were loaded and heading to Punta Arenas. Sandwiches, snacks, and drinks were plentiful and the two movies had subtitles – much easier to watch. Before we could blink we had our bags and were at our hotel – the big adventure over.
We spent the next day in Punta Arenas before our flights home – which went off without any problems.
Thank you for all your help getting us to the South Pole! It was a fantastic, overwhelming, stunning, experience of a lifetime and we have been sharing it with anyone interested in what we did (and some still think we were totally nuts!).
This panorama was shot from our room’s balcony using our cell phone – talk about stunning photos.
We have SO many amazing photos and memories, and will have a LOT of sorting through to keep track of what photos go where. Ultimately, I see a book being made to preserve the photos and memories for enjoyment in years to come. What an amazing way to spend our 45th wedding anniversary!
What an AMAZING opportunity! Chuck was right – the Hebridean Sky was wonderful. The food, the staff, the accommodations – all top notch. The tour staff was wonderful, too.
Apparently we really lucked out with the weather, having virtually 5 great days. Sure, mornings often started with a bit of snow, but that quickly melted and skies cleared. We also got to see many wonders not generally viewed – I say that because as we did, the Zodiac guides would be stopping and pulling out their cameras to capture the sites, too, and also radioing each other on their intercoms. Wow!
Thank you for offering this opportunity through your company. I was most curious about the “epic” option – the people doing the 4-week trip said they were “guinea pigs” for you all, to see how that would go. If you ever have any sort of opportunity like that for the arctic areas, please let us know.
We had a fantastic trip!
Had a couple of rough crossings going from South Georgia to Antarctica then the Drake passage but we were fine – think being in the middle of the ship on level 3 was a pretty good spot to be…
South Georgia exceeded all expectations – the wildlife there was amazing and Xmas morning in Wilhemina Bay (Antarctica) was absolutely magical.
The boys didn’t want to participate in the young explorer’s club as the children were a fair bit younger, but really enjoyed all the Zodiac expeditions and excursions.
We found Le Lyrial staff and crew very professional and had no issues at all. Pick up from Buenos Aires and transfers went without a problem.
We would love to visit the Arctic at some stage.
And lastly, thanks to you, Brandon and Polar Cruises for all the organising, information, etc. We will highly recommend Polar cruises to our friends/family.
The trip was great and the arrangements you made for us worked perfectly. We are not cruise people (we just wanted to see Antarctica), but were very impressed with Silver Explorer. When we boarded the ship, I saw the sign for the stabilizer fins (one requirement for me), but the Drake Passage was amazingly calm in both directions, so contrary to my expectations, I did enjoy the food and wine. The lecturers were almost all first rate. If I had to fault anything, it would be the photographer, whose primary task was to compile the pricy video and who offered very little guidance.
I just arrived home yesterday. I have travelled all over the world extensively and this is the best trip I've ever been on. It was truly a remarkable experience that will stay with me forever. The grandeur of the landscape, the quantity of wildlife, the professionalism and passion of the expedition team....all went far beyond my expectations. From the initial booking moments your organization was extremely helpful, when other travel companies were not as helpful. Thank you for helping to make this happen.
Yes, I'm already thinking of Arctic possibilities for the future....and a return to Antarctica again someday.
Here's a cool photo from the trip. I'm in the boat in the back/right.
Just a quick note.
The trip was everything I had hoped for and more! I can't say enough about how wonderful, organized, informed, and caring the Ioffe staff was. When I was planning this trip through Polar Cruises, I hadn't given a lot of thought to which expedition company I was choosing since I was focused on dates, ship, and activities. So I am very lucky that Polar Cruises had already vetted the company. And I guess I had vetted Polar Cruises.
The Ioffe was a very comfortable ship, and we lucked out with one Drake crossing that was very easy. The scenery, the wildlife, the programs on board--all were perfect. I am also so very glad that I signed up for kayaking as that was a real highlight of the trip.
I really appreciate the work that the Polar Cruises staff did to make sure I had all the information I needed beforehand and that everything went smoothly. Perhaps an Arctic trip will be in my future...
Thanks again and happy holidays,
We have been home a couple of days and have some time to reflect on our trip to Antarctica. I have decided that all trips to Antarctica are unique due to what you see and experience, but I feel like our trip was extraordinarily unique due to what we saw (blue whale, not one, but two emperor penguins) and what we experienced (calm seas, perfect sunny skies and weather the last three days, and a wedding on board). The expedition staff was top notch, the ship was very clean, and the food very good. The entire trip surpassed anything I could have imagined. We can't say enough good about the trip. There are not enough adjectives to describe what we saw and how we felt.
The bar prices were very reasonable, but unless we were reading the price list wrong, we thought the laundry prices were a little high. Luckily we didn't need to use that service.
Thank you for your help. (Please let others know that there are 2 pairs of binocs and 2 dry bag back packs per cabin and they bring walking sticks to shore for you you to use.)
We are already at home after our exciting and unforgettable expedition!!! Everything was excellent and perfect for us starting from the staff, global guest speakers, wildlife, nature, penguins, organizing of landings. We really appreciated such professional and well done service during our expedition. Each part of this trip was amazing : Falklands with gentoo penguins and its history, Souths Georgia with trustful and beautiful king penguins & seals and Antarctica with incredible icebergs. We have taken a lot of photos. Truly saying it was the trip of our life. I hope that it will not be our last expedition. We will work to choose the next interesting expedition and get back to you.
Thank you very much for your cooperation with arranging this expedition for us.
Dear Janys and others,
I wanted to send a short email to share with you how wonderful our trip was. We were so lucky with timing for South Georgia allowing us access to all the wildlife (not too many fur seals) and additionally we had excellent sea conditions most of the time which allowed us the ability to get into most of the bays and harbors on the schedule with only a few alternate routes then entire 18d days. We missed seeing Elephant Island due to fog but we were fine with that. The passengers were flexible and all 82 of us pretty much just went with the flow. It all turned out spectacular and more impressive from one day to another.
I would say the final full day in Paradise Bay proved to be the most spectacular zodiac tour day for me. Perfect clear blue skies and not a ripple of wind on the water creating pure clear mirror images of the amazing surrounding glaciers and snow covered mountains. It was one WOW after another all that day and nobody wanted to go back to the boat. We did have to leave of course as the ship had to carefully make its way back out to sea toward the Drake Passage through the numerous icebergs.
The crew was excellent and we were very well taken care of. I would recommend this life adventure to anyone who has ever wanted to see Antarctica and is of average health and physical abilities. The hardest part of the the trip was getting dressed to go on excursions...lol Truthfully, it is a job getting dressed.
I will recommend Vavilov and Polar Cruises as a great contact source for arranging such a trip and thank you for supporting and arranging our adventure.
Dear Janys AND Brandon, Nina, Sharon, Jim, Lynn, and Chuck:
First of all, before I’d even left home, I was blabbing to anyone who would listen about the great website and travel service of Polar Cruises. There seemed to be a whole lot to keep organized, since I was also planning to tack on a few weeks beforehand in Argentina—just didn’t know where. You kept things orderly, and were on top of all the critical details. Thank you so much for your expert services. And why would anyone look anywhere else for a polar sea voyage? Your website greatly simplifies everything, and I will recommend it whenever I can.
THANKS for the enthusiastic chat (Jim) about the pros and cons of early-season travel. And the USHUAIA? Loved her!! In the end, there were only 70 passengers or so booked, and I was ecstatic to be told on arrival that I would have a twin cabin to myself. But far more important than that, the ship has a lovely, friendly, home-away-from-home atmosphere. The expedition team spoke on Day 1 about how much they love their ship, and now I love her too.
THANKS for getting all the documentation to me well in advance of my departure from home Oct. 2—I was really sweating over that. And THANKS for answering my nit-picky questions. Really, your service was faultless, and friendly.
Everyone on board ship was first-rate and exemplified the highest degree of professionalism, courtesy and good humour. This is where I tell you that I am one very tough critic. I tend to keep expectations on the low side to try and avoid teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling later. No need here! Truly, I cannot praise the folks highly enough.
The expedition team was amazing. They all seemed to be working overtime making plans, presenting lectures, preparing for landings, and leading us on shore. They were very good, and readily available. They worked their buns off to ensure that we got landings—17 in all (incl. one with a Zodiac cruise), plus one Z. cruise when we couldn’t land. They even had one gentleman taken on a Z. cruise when he became uneasy about the walk on shore. And we had the fascinating experience of making a landing at Base Orcanas. We were received as honoured guests, and feted with homemade treats, including alfajores—the most delicious ever. The men had not had any visitors since March, so it was a grand occasion for them. And for us, as well.
The hotel management on board ship was outstanding. Personnel overlooked no requests, remembering personal preferences and somehow magically conveying them, even when a few dining-room and housekeeping staff switched tasks with each other mid-way through the voyage. The Zodiac pilots were skilful, cautious (no fancy stuff) and considerate, slowing to allow people to take photos or even seizing an opportunity to enhance the cruising experience.
I am grateful, too, for the efforts of all those who toiled, unseen, on the bridge, in the kitchens and in the deepest reaches of the ship, keeping us safe and contented.
As you may sense by now, I am fairly overflowing with emotion. This truly was a very moving and extraordinary experience for me, and I treasure the memories. Thank you all for helping to make it happen.
A spectacular adventure. Terrific staff with great customer service. I believe each one of them did all they could to make this trip special and all we hoped for. Absolutely no complaints , except maybe the food as average, but pastries were superb. AND the photographers could not have been more helpful, patient, and pleasant no matter what. I can't wait to start working on my pictures.
The trip was amazing... and there is absolutely nothing negative I can say about the whole trip… even the drake was like a walk in the park.
Wonderful memories, great staff and I made some good friends!!
Thank you, and I will definitely get in touch with you in case of future adventures.
I certainly enjoyed the trip. The ship is comfortable, the staff/guides were great, the kayaking a wonderful experience, and the scenery fantastic! I certainly am recommending this trip to others.
We may at some point perhaps 2017, do an Arctic trip. If so, we will be in touch.
All the best
Thanks to everyone at Polar Cruises for making the arrangements and following up on our questions. You all did an excellent job and we would be pleased to recommend Polar Cruises to our friends when they are planning a trip.
Our Sea Adventurer voyage was fabulous, the staff were very knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. We learned a lot about the ecology and ecosystem of Antarctica, including the geology and flora of this remote region.
We had three successful landings on the main continent and an additional six or seven on the islands. Penguins, sea birds and seals were abundant and we even had an encounter with a humpback whale while out on a Zodiac. Other Whales were spotted from the deck of the ship as we sailed . The landings were well planned and executed and we had frequent briefings and debriefings on what to expect the next day and recap of what we had seen on our stops.
The food and food service staff were excellent as was our cabin steward. All in all, a great experience and we thank you again for helping to make it all possible.
Dear Polar Cruises,
How do I thank you for all the help you gave this most apprehensive 72 year old school marm before I left on my most amazing Antarctic Expedition. Thank you for all your help and patience. I was sort of freaking out at the end just before departure. You always made me feel calmer when I spoke to you.
Now, of course, I know that there was nothing to freak out about, but that was then and this is now. You were my anchor for sure and I want you to know that. You kept saying that every trip was different, but every trip had special times along the way. How right you are!!!!!!
You are a wonderful team at Polar Cruises.
I just want to let you know that I have wanted to go to Antarctica so long that I can't remember when it was not a dream of mine. What got me motivated at the end was having two friends die very quick and unexpected deaths. I did not want to be on my death bed wishing that I had gone to Antarctica.
Well thanks to you folks I went and it was an unbelievable dream come true experience. We had calm seas and beautiful weather everyday we were out on the Southern Seas. Our trip on the Ocean Endeavor was a kaleidoscope of the most breath taking scenery and amazing animals one can imagine. Actually seeing Antarctica and the Icebergs were my absolute favorite parts of the trip. The 33 knot ride on the Antarctic Sound down Iceberg Alley and seeing the tabular icebergs almost caused me to miss dinner. When I woke up the morning we arrived at the Antarctic Continent and I went up on the deck to see it with my own eyes, I was totally overcome with its magnificence and burst into tears. Of course I loved the penguins, albatross, petrels, seals and whales. We were fortunate enough to be the 17th group in the past 60 years to see the rare Type-D Orcas. That was our Christmas present on Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve we were treated to our one and only snow shower.
The passengers were from all the other six continents. What a collection of the World's finest people. These people were only topped by our off-the-charts guides and staff. We had the best lectures including those given by none other than Sir Earnest Shackleton's nephew, Jonathan Shackleton who toasted his Uncle in the small grave yard in South Georgia Island while Ian from Australia played his flute. Everyday had one surprise after the other. We even had the Shackleton Flag on the flying for part of the voyage. The food was sooooo delicious and served by an amazing staff of waiters and waitresses. The entire staff was so friendly and helpful every single day.
On New Year's Day, the final day of our voyage, Captain Alex gave us a rare view of Cape Horn. This trip just never stopped giving. I feel so blessed to have been along for the ride. It was one I will never forget. Thank you all for helping me to finally get to Antarctica on the best trip ever!
The Antarctic trip on Ioffe was an amazing and lifelong memory. I really appreciate everyone associated with the trip. Nothing to complain except for some minor points (I wrote them on the final questionnaire on board). Hopefully I can go to the Arctic someday and I believe Polar Cruises will be my No.1 choice.
The trip was generally outstanding, both on what we were able to see and the organization and service on the ship. Here are particular comments:
- Flight was very good, the organization in King George airport and boarding to ship was reasonable. It was the first time they did it, so it was understandable.
- Arrival at ship was excellent.
- I would like to commend the work done by the staff. Both the guides and hotel staff were extremely friendly, helpful and did everything they could to make the trip unforgettable. It could not have been better.
- The meals were very well organized and food excellent.
- The itinerary fantastic. The ship captain and the staff did everything they could to give us the best experience for the prevailing weather conditions.
- Presentations were very good. Entertainment enjoyable.
- The photographers on board provided excellent guidance and the memory stick with photos and information was a great gift we took back home.
I may be missing to comment on other things, but as a bottom line it was an unforgettable trip I would do again without hesitation.
We will definitely keep you in mind for any future adventures.
It was the most amazing trip. National Geographic did a wonderful job. I don't have one complaint and I have many complements! We were lucky and had great weather and saw lots of whales and of course lots of penguins. Just spectacular!
The trip totally met AND exceeded my expectations, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Sea Explorer, as well as Polar Cruises, to anyone thinking about traveling to the polar regions. Thanks for all your help. I consider it a very nice bonus that you, as well as John and the Tings, were also on my particular expedition! In addition, the birding trip in the park was awesome. I imagine when you are able to get the species list from Marcello, you’ll send that along. It would be another nice keepsake.
It took me a while to decide what kind of trip I wanted to do to the Antarctic, but when I got hold of you guys at Polar Cruises, the advice you gave me (based on your first-hand experience of the trip I wanted to do) was fantastic. I really appreciate all of the questions you answered and the time you took sorting out flights whenever the airline in Argentina changed its flight schedule… which seemed to be pretty often! I ended up having the holiday of an absolute lifetime and I will definitely be recommending you to anyone who is thinking about polar travel. Thank you to you and especially to Sharon for all of your help!
I am now definitely thinking about the Arctic, so I will definitely be in touch!
We had a blast in Antartica and it was the BEST trip in my life.
Thanks for your help since the beginning until after the trip. I'm so impressed by Polar Cruises service!
I am happy to tell you that we were very satisfied with the cruise. We got it all, sunshine and clouds, warmth and storm. It was a memorable journey and once we were on the Vavilov, everything was organized very well and went smoothly. In particular we liked the staff eating with the guests, which made for an excellent exchange of ideas. The staff really tried to maximize our Zodiac and land time, even under difficult conditions, and of course, the little chocolate on the pillow which makes the guest feel welcome.
The photographers on board were also very helpful. Of the many tips they were willing to share, a great number were very helpful. Great and competent guys.
Thus, you see, the polar adventure was a great one for us and we will cherish the memories for long times to come.
Hi Sharon. Happy New Year!
First let me say this was an extraordinary trip in every way. Antarctica is a stunning place and it's such a privilege to see it in person and witness the absolutely wonderful wildlife including the ever charming penguins. But, in addition, the staff was so superior in skill, knowledge, experience and passion for this environment that it would have been impossible not to have had an amazing experience. The coordination among the staff was so impressive and everything was run in a methodical manner even when adjustments had to be made. If all this weren't enough, you add an incredible ship, the Ioffe, with it's amazing crew. Boy, they kept that ship spic and span! The concern for our well being was evident as we crossed the Drake and they monitored us room by room if necessary to offer support and crackers as needed, but also in every step of this expedition- from ensuring our safety to each getting the maximum out of the experience. It also added a whole different aspect to have researchers among us such as Katie and Mo (Oceanities) as well as Tony, the wonderful, exuberant naturalist and Ira, a great photographer. My room was extremely comfortable and I wanted to take that berth home with me! The chef and her assistants, as well as the charming Russian waitresses did an amazing job. Not easy to feed so many people! Then, lastly, let me compliment our expedition leader David on an amazing job and special compliments to Karen and Harry, who infused the atmosphere with a kindness and genuine care for and patience with each of us, as well as tremendous insight and knowledge about everything we were seeing. I feel like my words are not adequate to express my enthusiasm but I tried. Oh, and I should mention that I was the lucky winner of the auction and was privileged to captain the Ioffe around Cape Horn for more than 30 minutes! Do you think future grandkids will think that was cool? Well, I do!
Thanks for help in arranging hotel and domestic flights. All went seamlessly and, of course, I will highly recommend your company as well as this ship in the future.
Good morning, Brandon.
Thanks for all your help booking my Antarctica trip! Antarctica was awesome! We had great weather (temperatures between 3 and 8 degrees C with some snowy, cloudy, windy days and some wonderful sunny days), saw amazing scenery and lots of wildlife including humpback whales bubble net feeding, were able to do all the planned landings, hikes, and zodiac cruises, and had a smooth Drake Passage :) Plus we saw the first penguin chicks of the season hatching!
The Sea Spirit was a great match for me – not overly fancy but very comfortable and we stayed busy with lectures, landings, and Zodiac cruises. Having only around 100 passengers allowed everyone to participate in activities which was great. The rooms were nice and the entire staff and expedition crew did an excellent job throughout the trip. I also enjoyed my fellow travelers on the ship.
Thanks again for all your help and I will definitely recommend Polar Cruises.
After the cruise we spent a few more days in Ushuaia as we did not want to be traveling on Rick's Birthday and just arrived back to Sao Paulo yesterday evening. And re: Rick's Birthday - the ship staff/crew must have looked up passengers whose Birthday's were close to our disembarkation, and on Dec 28th at supper both Rick and another passenger, Eileen, were presented with a cake and the staff singing Happy Birthday! What a wonderful surprise - I caught it on video and sent it to our family and friends.
Our expectations of this expedition were high - and we must say the whole cruise "topped" our expectations! We did not miss a landing and found them to be a perfect balance between easy walks and treks that required some exertion. The lectures were fascinating and gave us much insight into the continent. Our kudos to the great crew!
The food was fabulous! All the service personal - from the kitchen staff, to housekeeping and the workers around the ship were friendly, helpful and efficient.
Thanks for the map and for the cabin upgrade.
And thanks to you Brandon and the Poseidon staff who had a hand in our booking.
Happy New Year!
I have taken time to write because my normal life hit me in the face upon my return.
This trip was the best and most important (haven’t figured out exactly ‘why’ yet) of my life. So much so that as I sit at my computer reading the schedule that was posted on the Sea Explorer, I have tears in my eyes. So often after a trip one feels , “ it was so wonderful…if only….then it would have been perfect.” Well, this trip was, in fact, perfect. I would not change a thing. I would not even forgo the throwing up during the passage of the Drake! I have extraordinary photos (as I am sure everyone has) that communicate to my friends and family the nature of the trip. Everyone responds appropriately and some want to do it. Don’t worry, I have told them that Sea Explorer is the only way to see this otherworldly, and yet in our world, place. So, I thank everyone (especially the crew) for this life-filling experience. I do have some photos of whales that I should send to someone since Hanna requested that we send all whale photos. Where should I send?
I have now been on seven continents and enjoyed my experiences on all of them, but there is nothing to compare to Antarctica and the trip we took on the Sea Explorer. The beauty and the thrill is like being in another world, fresh and pure and exciting!
The accommodations on the Sea Explorer were perfect: the cabin was lovely filled with loads of storage space and a window that enabled us to see magnificent vistas; the beds were very comfortable; the ship was large enough for all but small enough to have an intimate experience with many passengers; the deck was great for invigorating walks; the dining room was able to provide large and small group seatings, food plentiful though not outstanding but well presented; the wine flowed freely; the lounge for talks on all matter of things in Antarctica was an excellent central meeting place; the bar with great beverages and camaraderie all made for a perfect trip.
There is nothing to compare with the Zodiac trips into the breathtaking wilderness of Antarctica. Climbing mountains of ice and snow, seeing penguins, seals, whales and birds, experiencing perfect silence and the squawking penguins, were all incredible experiences.Best of all was the staff!!!: intelligent, experienced, helpful, fun, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, just outstanding in every way.
It is not an easy trip but worth the effort. You need to be in decent shape and willing. The Drake Passage was tough going and calm coming back so there is no telling.
I loved it all and can't recommend it highly enough.
The trip exceeded our expectations. The ship was excellent. The captain was superb. David Sinclair is an excellent leader. Dick filby was an excellent bird and wildlife guide. Denise landau was a treasure in every department including mammals, cetaceans, and conservation of South Georgia and the polar regions. We had fabulous weather and made ALL our landings in South Georgia island!
We will definitely tell all our friends about you. We have a group of friends thinking about going to Antarctica and we are suggesting that they contact you about the trip.
Thank you for all your help. It was a trip of a lifetime and we would not change one thing about it. It was perfect!
We had an absolutely fantastic trip!!! Thanks again for arranging for us to have the fourth deck room on the Ioffe – it was SO nice! Took way too many pictures so will take a while to edit. The Photographic Symposium was everything we had hoped it would be and the staff on the Ioffe was outstanding. Really awesome trip!
We will definitely give you a call when we’re ready to book another adventure!
I so want to thank you for everything. You folks have met all my expectations and than some. I had the best time on the ship (not counting a few days under the weather on the Drake lol.) I really enjoyed talking with and interacting with the wonderful and knowledgeable expedition staff. Hanna was a trip. She is a real asset to the expedition. Antarctica is indescribable and that being said is the most beautiful place on this Earth, I think.
Thanks again and have a great Christmas and coming New Year.
I don't think any of us knew what an incredible gift it would prove to be to have you upgrade our cabins to Deck 5. It was great to be all together and we all loved the full length windows and balconies. With the bridge at one end and the back deck at the other we truly had the best place to be. None of us had mal de mer, we all spent time on the bridge (David especially enjoyed that with the wonderful Captain Oleg) and we all loved the Sea Spirit. Anja was a fabulous expedition leader, the guides were first rate and we felt we had the best ship. Plus the Drake Passage was good to us and we had remarkably calm weather throughout. We all agreed that going to Antarctica is not enough--the Falklands and South Georgia are essential. What a wonderful expedition this was.
Many thanks to everyone at Polar Cruises for all the care and attention you put into making this a magnificent experience.
We just returned from an extended trip to Argentina and Chile interspersed with the cruise to Antartica. Everything on that cruise was amazing from the crew to the ship to the food. Service was impeccable. Everyone felt taken care of in the best way from getting safely on and off the zodiac to being served in the dining room. Hannah the expedition leader was a giant among women. Such an authentic and class act. Just wanted to let you know that you picked out a great ship for us; it was perfect.
You may not remember me but you sold the November Sea Explorer trip to me, my husband and our friends.
We are now home and I want to thank you for all your help and excellent counsel.
You provided the ammunition to convince us all that the extended trip was the way to go and you were SO right.
Your recommendation for rooms was perfect -- we were in 346 and felt very fortunate between access to everything and more stability.
Your directing us to Sea Explorer was great -- it is a beautiful ship and the accommodations were incredibly spacious and comfortable.
The food and wines were excellent and the serving staff great. The crew and staff were without exception outstanding. Actually there was 1 exception -- the musician, but no need to go into that. The naturalists were smart, fun, very safety conscious and they added great energy and enthusiasm.
We had an excellent captain and expedition leader, both of whom worked hard to see that we had as rich an experience as possible given the storms all around us.
I didn't understand what people meant when they said that this was a trip of the lifetime -- I assumed they were talking from a $ standpoint. But truly, from the standpoint of an absolutely amazing and wondrous experience, this was definitely it.
Again, many thanks for your help.
Thank you again for all the help from you that really made our dream come true. The trip was very interesting, exciting and memorable.
Sure we are going to plan our next polar adventure, we will be in contact with you at that time.
Thank you, Sharon!
We are still reveling in the wonderful experiences we had on the trip through the Northwest Passage. It it a trip that has been permanently imprinted in our memory. The ship in general and our room were extremely comfortable. The staff were very knowledgeable, friendly and spent a lot of time socializing with the passengers. The Russian crew were very professional and efficient and the captain did an amazing job cruising the open waters, maneuvering thought the ice and pulling up to the icebergs to give us perfect views of the polar bear. We loved the fact that the passengers represented many different countries and we spent most of our time with some very charming Aussies and Canadians. The scenery was outstanding and the Inuit villages and culture were fascinating.
We thought the food was excellent, much better than we expected, especially since Mary is a fish eating vegetarian and I try to limit my meat intake. Unfortunately the ship was very full (we realize a couple of trips were cancelled and some passengers were rescheduled for this trip) so the dining room was filled to capacity and was very noisy making it difficult to carry on a conversation.
We realize that the low ceiling design and large number of passengers makes noise control impossible.
We were a little disappointed that our wildlife sightings were limited to polar bears, a few whales and muskox (way in the distance) - no walruses or narwals but we know the crew was aware of that and they did their best to look for them. Obviously they have no control over that. They offered good lectures and some documentaries but we felt that they could have offered more to fill up some of the downtime. We had two days straight when we were cruising, with no zodiac cruises or land visits. Although they scheduled a lecture in the a.m. and one in the p.m. and had to split the large group to fit in the presentation room, that filled up 2 hours/day so it would have been nice to have another activity - maybe additional educational documentaries which would not require a lot of extra staff time, or a second photography session. We had one during one of the first days but could have used another. We were also surprised that there was no discussion or lecture on climate change and its effect on the Arctic. It certainly is a major issue but other than a few sentences about the change in the ice depth during an ice lecture, it wasn’t given the attention we thought it deserved.
Many thanks to everyone at Polar Cruises who arranged for this trip. If we decide to go on another Arctic or Antarctic cruise, we will definitely contact you.
Hi Sharon - We are already dreaming of our next polar adventure.
The trip was memorable and fun. Before I talk about the NW Passage trip, I do want to mention how much we enjoyed our 2.5 days in Ottawa. It was our first time there and we were very impressed. The Fairmount was a wonderful hotel with an absolutely perfect location.
The voyage was interesting and fun, but did have a lot of "down-time" due to the distances that we needed to travel. They did a good job of filling that time with interesting presentations.
We really enjoyed the staff who were friendly and knowledgeable.
On the ship, we found our cabin #414 to be perfectly located and very nice, and it was always kept very clean. The food on-board was OK, with the breakfast buffet and lunch being the best. Even though there were choices for dinner, most nights both choices were smothered in cream sauces which we and some others did not care for. A significant number of people commented on the need for more "simple" food. The dining room itself was extraordinarily noisy, which we and others also found to be a problem. The ceiling is low and made of a metal surface and the floor is a hard surface, so I'm not sure that there is a fix for this.
The staff explained that the ship had an active ballast control system to handle bigger waves smoothly, but we had such incredibly calm seas that most days we felt like we were on a lake. I would have liked to see how the ship handles bigger waves.
We enjoyed the history aspects of the trip and it was interesting seeing the arctic and Inuit towns, but there was a lack of wildlife, especially whales, that we did not expect. Because of the distances, we did have less landings in the "wilderness" areas than we had expected from reading the trip description.
Fortunately, we had 2 exciting polar bear days near the end of the trip, highlighted by 14 bears on the shores of Conningham Bay, some feeding on Beluga Whale carcasses that hunters had left. They included a mother and one cub and a mother and 2 cubs, along with several very large males and a swimming bear. We thought that "made" the trip for us and everyone else!
Finally, we found that the Fairmount hotel in Edmonton was very nice, but was too distant from the airport for a one night stay. It made for a very expensive taxi ride in the morning.
We had a wonderful trip – can’t say enough about the efforts of the expedition team to get the most/make the most out of all situations.
Only disappointment was not getting to the east coast of Baffin Island (due to ice flows) – so guess we’ll have to do the trip again!!
In short, we were delighted with almost all aspects of the cruise, and really enjoyed the experience.
I am struggling to find anything critical to say. The ship stood up to its reputation as a luxury vessel, and we found the crew extremely attentive and helpful (even though the wait staff probably still have a few finer details to learn, they were lovely people, who worked really hard).
We were very happy with our cabin, and couldn't see that those cabins with a narrow balcony would have been any better, except for the ability to keep the view window clean.
The food and wine were excellent with very few exceptions, and there were plenty of alternatives. We enjoyed the mix of guests (and were surprised by the number of Australians on board).
We could have been luckier with our polar bear sightings (two, at a distance), but the bird life was great, and we accept that the paucity of bears was something one should expect at that time of year. The crew and ship certainly made every effort to get close to the ones we saw.
The lectures and guides were of high standard, and were very approachable. The two excursions a day most days is a pretty good achievement, though the requirement to split excursions into two "shifts" is frustrating and could probably be solved by using a couple of extra Zodiacs and drivers (our Antarctic excursions were better, but I guess they don't have polar bears to contend with.)
We had a great time, thanks. Would we choose Silver Explorer again? You bet.
Trip was fantastic.
Nate and his team were absolutely fabulous, and the focus on photography was an incredible opportunity to raise our level of photographic skills. All 4 photographers on board were high level, and we would especially note Reed Hoffman, simply because of his ability to convey concepts in simple and accessible manners (without derogating from the VERY high level of the others).
Kayak team were simply to dream for.
Last but not least, we all got stuck in Longyearbyen in the last day, as airport was shut down due to heavy fog. The manner by which Nate and the team handled this very complicated situation, was a textbook to be learned on how to deal with a big bunch of nervous and unhappy customers in a very difficult situation. For as long as they could - they cared for us, let us stay on the ship in our cabins with food and activity to keep us busy, whilst trying to get us information on where things are.
So - next trip with Polar Cruises on the Vavilov - definitely!!
In response to several inquiries about my trip and my expectations, I have responded that my trip exceeded all my hyped-up (by myself) expectations. That is a difficult result to achieve and has elicited the usual shock and awe that anything could exceed expectations in this day and age . . . but it did . . . and continues to do.
Thank you for all your help in the process of making this trip possible, but most of all, for recommending the Expedition. I can't imagine having a better experience or wanting to travel with anyone other than the team on the Expedition. From the Team Leader to the CEOs to the crew, the commitment to sustainable tourism, etc., everyone's incredible dedication to making this the experience of my life was simply hard to fathom, especially knowing that this was their second to last voyage of a long season (I've worked at world class resorts at the end of a season). I never sensed anything other than genuine excitement, commitment to being there for us whether in a lecture or on the glacier, and a seemingly bottomless enthusiasm for Antarctica. Wow! Can I say anything more than that my wife, who has become enthralled by my videos, has suggested that we book our trip for the Arctic?
We have finally returned from our adventure in Antarctica and Argentina.
The information and guidance from your company was fantastic. I appreciate that I was able to make monthly payments so the amount was not so high when the final payment was due. The cabin that was chosen for us I think was the best location on the ship. We were below the deck that had the walk around deck on it so we could keep our curtains open the entire time and not have to worry about people walking by our window. We saw whales, dolphins, birds, penguins etc while sitting in our cabin looking out the window. We were on the same floor as the reception desk and lounge where we had our meetings. The dinner level was only one deck down and the bar level one deck up. It was also the deck we arrived on when we returned from our zodiac trips.
My husband has large feet. We were concerned about the boots not fitting so he brought his own. The rubber boots supplied were great. They had boots that fit him as well and he takes a size 14 US. The jackets provided were also great. They kept us dry and warm and had many pockets to put all our camera stuff in.
I would strongly suggest to future guests to bring 3 pair of water proof gloves. Our hands seemed to get wet more than anything.
Being on the 21 day cruise meant a lot of time at sea. The 3 days back to Buenos Aires was long but the weather was fantastic and by the second day we were having our lunch outside on deck in the sunshine and wearing shorts and sandals. Be sure to tell people to pack lighter clothes for this part of the trip.
The Expedition Staff and Crew on the ship were awesome. We were well taken care of.
We had a wonderful adventure. On the last day - the last zodiac trip back to the ship- we were accompanied by a pod of dolphins. It was perfect. We waited almost 10 years to take this trip and now sadly it is over but the memories are incredible.
Its was an experience of a lifetime. Thank you for all your help.
We are catching our breath now. Arctic is getting into our radar screen now.
Will definitely contact you if we decide to go.
Our trip was amazing and we have tons and tons of photos. Everything went like clock work (well, the Drake Passage added a little extra spice, but our patches worked well).
The Sea Spirit is a wonderful ship. The accommodations and meals & beverages were fantastic. The team delivered a great trip with all our landings, lectures, and approachability. We would travel with them again without hesitation.
We'll definitely give you folks a call for our our next polar adventure; polar bears and fjords are likely in our future.
Thanks for providing great service and patiently responding to my multiple emails.
I'm back home and enjoying the warm weather.
We had an incredible adventure. We give Polar Cruises a five star rating. The expedition team were so organized and fun to be with. The food was superb. We especially enjoyed the variety and special of the day. Most of all, the daily excursions were awesome and breathtaking.
I will highly recommend this expedition to my friends.
Please send info on the Arctic cruises.
The trip was great ! The entire experience was memorable!
I definitely will keep you in mind when I plan my trip north.
Our trip to Antarctica was great. Everything was greatly organized and we would surely recommend Sea Explorer to everybody. Crew of the ship was excellent as well as expedition team which were able to organize very diverse excursions which created unforgettable memories. Now we are making presentations for our friends and if they would be interested in Antarctica, we would surely forward them to you.
Once again thank you for organizing this trip for us.
This was a wonderful trip. It couldn’t have been better. I felt like the staff was experienced, knowledgeable, professional, friendly and very helpful. And I also thought that they could handle most any situation that would arise; therefore I felt safe, well taken care of and educated.
I liked the schedule, we were busy and had activities almost always, we couldn’t be lazy (well I guess we could If we wanted to, but that is not why I took this cruise). The food was great. I think we were lucky with weather and the number of landings we were able to do.
The Palmer Base landing was an unexpected treat. We didn’t get to camp because of rain that evening and it would not have been a good idea, but we were disappointed.
We both got seasick, so that wasn’t so much fun, but we recovered quickly when the seas settled down. We both had sea sick medication, so we weren’t unprepared. I also thought we were prepared well for the trip, so thank you Sharon.
All in all it was a great experience and I would highly recommend it. It was a very nice gesture to provide us with the flash drive with all of the trips itineraries, menus, photos, etc., etc., That is so helpful after a trip such as this.
Thank you so much!
This trip was the best I ever have done and I am very satisfied with everything. I am so glad for all the photos taken by the expedition team during our voyage because I am not so good at taking photos myself. Soon I will plan for the next trip.
Sharon: The magic is done and I’m back to work. Still haven’t opened most of my mail (especially the financial envelopes) or dealt with the dent in the car, but beginning to make it through the daily routines.
I met Jim on the Sea Explorer and told him that I wanted to thank you personally for your attention to our trip details. I would never have guessed that you were helping so many people on the boat (all of us wearing Polar Cruises hats or luggage tags), I felt like I was your only concern. Thank you so much for making the trip so easy and memorable.
I certainly will recommend Polar Cruises in the future. Maybe Arctic sometime soon….
We just returned from our trip this evening. The Antarctica trip was amazing. We saw a lot glaciers, many that looked as if they were sculpted by an artist. We also saw many penguins, sea lions, seals, and birds. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to take a trip to the Arctic.
Thanks for helping to set the trip up for us.
I am still processing what a phenomenal place Antarctica is. . . thanks for your help with such a trip of a lifetime. I'm so glad I was able to make such a phenomenal trip.
Say hi to Jim for us! I hope he was able to catch his flight in Houston. . . it was a tight connection.
Thanks so much,
We had a blast! Antarctica is a star! We also enjoyed having Jim—coincidentally our initial Polar Cruises phone contact—on our cruise. Aside from being an excellent business man, he's a hoot!
What a pleasure from start to finish.
Though the ground does still feel like it's moving.
Thanks for everything,
We had such a fantastic trip! The expedition team was wonderful, great excursions, excellent staff, nice accommodations and good food options-cannot recommend them highly enough!
Thanks so much for all your help!
The trip was awesome! I have no complaints whatsoever. Kayaking was the best decision.
The ship's crew and the guides did an outstanding job. ALWAYS there to help you overcome any problems.
There was always Zodiacs in the morning ... Zodiacs in the afternoon ... reviews in the evening. GREAT.
The weather, for me, was perfect. Overcast and misty for the first few days (I feel connected to any first explorers when such a view, such as Antarctica presents, is not razor sharp).
Then the rest of the cruise was clear and calm for brochure photography.
The final crossing of the Drake was as it should be. Something to remember fondly!
This trip exceeded our expectations. Expedition staff were really good ..... experts in their fields, great presentations, very well organized on the excursions, safety focused.
Kayaking was, for us, the peak .... incredible! And only 16 clients and 2 leaders .... very intimate and usually so distant from the zodiac crowd ...... Usually did not see them until a landing. We went out on 4 expeditions in kayaks and 6-7 in zodiacs. Could have gone on all 6 kayak trips, a new record for our length of trip, but we also enjoyed the zodiac trips so much.
We had a terrific time.
To recap our motivation and impressions, let me expatiate just a bit.
The Falklands/South Georgia/Elephant Island/Antarctic Peninsula itinerary was appealing, and our 2013 Spitsbergen experience on the well-designed Polar Pioneer was very positive, so we were definitely psyched up for another cruise on the very same vessel.
We were not disappointed; if anything, the trip exceeded our already high anticipations.
South Georgia was special for the landscapes, the tens of thousands of penguins, and the generous time ashore to look around at historical sites along with the wildlife. We hadn't really expected to be able to get ashore on Elephant Island, which is mostly a big icy, craggy, inhospitable rock; however, we got not just one, but two landings there.
On and around the Antarctic Peninsula, there were several landings and many penguins. Here and there, numerous whales were sighted, some quite close up.
The weather, contrary to stereotype and the older exploration accounts I had been reading (the Open Library and Gutenberg Project websites have a lot to offer), was for the most part quite mild, even brightly sunny much of the time.
With only fifty-some passengers on board, and plenty of Zodiacs, landings and boardings were quick and efficient. The staff were enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and personable; the very capable Russian crew was helpful and good humored. In short, they all really delivered the goods on this trip, and we're very glad we went.
All the best,
The trip was amazing and exceeded my expectations! The crew were brilliant and I would not hesitate recommending this voyage (and ship) to anyone. Thanks to you and the rest of Polar Cruises for making the booking process smooth and providing comprehensive information to prepare me for the journey - I did pack way too much anyway!
I'd love to do the Arctic one day and will certainly be contacting you for any bookings.
We had an excellent trip and it ran perfectly without a hitch. Everyone in the family said it was better than expected. We loved the trip, the leaders and the staff on the ship and at the hotel.
Thanks for all your help and I am sure we will contact you again for a future trip.
Our Antarctica voyage was epic! One of the best vacations we have ever taken! We took tons of videos and couple of thousand photographs between the two of us!!! Antarctica was just absolutely stunning and pristine and the wild life was amazing!
The staff were just super friendly, helpful, fun, professional and extremely knowledgeable in their areas of expertise.
Chad, our expedition leader was phenomenal and went out of his way to make sure that we had exceptional excursions; if weather prevented us from doing an originally scheduled excursion he worked with the ship's captain and we had another amazing landing and excursion.
The only disappointment was that we could not see the King penguins as strong winds and weather prevented us from that excursion on Falkland Islands. Oh well, that means we just have to go back.
We shall definitely refer you to any of our friends if they chose to go to any polar region.
Of course we will definitely consider you for any future polar voyages!
Antarctica was an experience of a lifetime. We enjoyed every moment of the trip that was very well organised. There is really nothing to complain about. The food was very good and the variety on the menu was amazing. The tour operator's staff and the crew were very professional and always there to assist, and provide information when required. We had two days of stormy sea (49 knots wind) but with the help of the doctor on board everybody that was sick felt better and could enjoy the trip. It was clear that all the passengers were outdoor people and aware of the importance of the environment. Therefore there were no complaints about weather conditions and the cold and rough sea.
Thank you for your assistance and arrangements.
We had a great time visiting the subantarctic islands of NZ; different than I expected. The weather was warmer and a lot of rain. I should have expected that, but was pleasantly surprised. Also the islands were really exposed. They are in the roaring 50s, so a lot more ship movement than when visiting Antarctica. Lucky for me I don't seem to get seasick. Kate just medicates through the rough parts. Also made Zodiac landings a bit interesting, but we managed to visit all of the islands.
We were lucky enough to visit with 5 new species of penguins between our pre-visit to Stewart Island and the subantarctic islands: Little Blue, Fiordland Crested, Yellow Eyed, Snares, and Royals, as well as some old friends Kings, Gentoo (subspecies on Maquarie look different than those on Antarctica) and Rockhoppers. So far we are 15/17 Penguin species in their natural habitat, We are still missing the Erect Crested found in NZ but breed on Antipodes and Cook Islands, as well as the African, so we will definitely be going back to Antarctica and New Zealand. Once I get all the Photos organized I will send you a few.
Hopefully you will be hearing from some of our fellow passengers, Mostly Aussies and Kiwi, a fun group to travel with. Several passengers expressed interest in South Georgia and Antarctica and we pointed them in your direction. While the expedition leader described Macquarie as Jurassic Park, I think South Georgia is Macquarie Island on steroids. Would love to visit both islands again as well.
I have to say that getting to Invercargill was a lot more pleasant than getting to Ushuaia, Air New Zealand is really a pleasure. Also if you have clients going to NZ we highly recommend visiting Stewart Island. We ended up spending 2 days there and found it really relaxing after flying straight through.
Thanks again for all of your help and we definitely look forward to working with you in the future.
It has taken some time to settle back into normal life after our amazing Antarctic adventure.
We thoroughly enjoyed our voyage on the Ioffe. The staff and crew were exceptional and fostered a nice community/family atmosphere on the ship. Time off the boat was excellent - the staff worked hard to maximize our excursions/time on land, etc and there was not a minute wasted. The cabin, amenities and food were also great. We can't say enough about our experience in Antarctica, and the people on the ship who made it happen. We are already contemplating an Arctic cruise on the Ioffe.
Much thanks to you Sharon, and to Polar Cruises, for a smooth, hassle-free booking experience and especially for turning a bad situation upside down. We are so lucky that we had you on our side when our original departure was unexpectedly cancelled and for your expeditious work to find an alternative plan in advance for us on the Ioffe (and in a nice cabin!!). We talked to other passengers from the cancelled ship who booked outside of Polar Cruises and who had no advance notice about a possible cancellation! You will hear from us again when we decide to explore the Arctic, and will refer friends/family when we've convinced them to discover one of the most beautiful places on earth.
I have just spent the past 2 hours with my client whose trip you arranged to Antarctica. He had many moments of complete emotion as he was explaining his experience to me and how he can't speak highly enough of your team and professional services.
He is thrilled in every possible way and we cannot thank you and your team enough from booking process to every member involved in the trip - everything he experienced has well exceeded his expectations and the attention to detail, knowledge and passion of the team stands in the highest possible order.
I have been in the industry for 9 years , Duncan is my 5th client to experience Antarctica; it's not something that happens often! The photos and footage he has from the trip are actually incredible! I will in every way possible be recommending your services to future clients in a position to be able to go to the most magical place on earth!
Wishing you all at Polar Cruises a very happy and healthy 2015.
Many thanks again!
We arrived home late last night after the most amazing trip ever. We will be recommending and telling all our friends about our adventure for a long time to come. The only bad part was the 'Drake Shake' on the way over but you cannot control nature! The ship, staff, expedition crew were amazing and we were very lucky with the weather and the whales!!
Again, thank you so much for your organisation and assistance!
My trip was probably one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Its difficult to put into words how great of an experience it was.
We had an amazing time and will certainly return for more fun, either Arctic or South Georgia or something. We are certainly hooked.
It was a great trip and a perfect fit (days on a boat / # landings) for a first visitor.
Outside of our amazing experience on the Sea Explorer, we had a great experience working with you and the Polar Cruises team.
The only critical feedback would be to have greater number of reviews of Polar Cruises on tripadvisor or other sources. We reference these before traveling and one of the items that held us up was the lack of feedback for Polar Cruises.
Thanks for everything and will only use Polar Cruises for our polar excursions and have many friends already asking for details.
The trip was amazing and I'm sure that you've heard the same from all of your other previous customers - I think it is neigh impossible not to feel amazed and awed at the immenseness of the Antarctic.
Thank you for an amazing level of service and it has been a real pleasure having had you work on this with us.
We had a fantastic time, doing one kayak in South Georgia and six in Antarctica. The kayaking team were excellent and they ran the trip very professionally. The cabin with sliding door and balcony up on the seventh floor was really nice with plenty of space.
I would say the food wasn't great but that is not why we came to Antarctica.
Overall really excellent - for us the kayaking really made it as did having a nice cabin to repair to and have our own space. With 200 people on board it was really crowded at breakfast and lunch - maybe staggering meal times is the answer.
This was the best trip ever for us! We sat down after we got home and totally agreed it was worth every dime we spent. From the pre-cruise stay at Los Cauquenes to disembarkation from Sea Spirit, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe our experience.
The Expedition Team was great (led by Cheli) and so very interesting to chat with — what experiences they have to tell. The ship and staff were also very good.
Yes, Sea Spirit is showing her age, but she’s aging gracefully.
The weather was outstanding until we started back across the Drake — oh my! Always heard of the “Drake Lake” or the “Drake Shake”, well we had the Shake on the way back. We did have sideways snow one day early in the trip, but overall we were pleasantly surprised with the weather and it was much warmer than I expected. Lots of sunshine, too. We had 7 landing opportunities and 5 zodiac cruise opportunities. We made such good time crossing that we had a landing on the second day
Only regret for me was not doing the Polar Plunge. The water was -1C that day and most of the team thought the plungers were a little nuts (even though at least 4 of them went in, too).
The passenger mix was good. We had people from Japan, China, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Scotland, England and of course the US (probably some others, just can’t remember). The ages were from 20-something to 70-something. One young man proposed during the first landing on the actual continent!
Thanks to you and the staff at Polar Cruises for handling this trip for us.
We had an amazing experience on Sea Explorer!
Every aspect was fabulous.
Thank you for all your assistance.
We would definitely refer others to Polar Cruises.
The trip was great! We have nothing but good things to say about the entire experience.
It was a really great experience for us. Big ice, mountains capped with snow, horrible wind with snow, chinstrap / gentoo penguins , seals, orca, skuas & a lot of other bird species…
WOW! What a fantastic experience. This trip met all our needs and exceeded every expectation.
To start: Sea Spirit was a perfect ship for the trek to the 7th Continent. Comfortable and spacious cabin with all the amenities and none of the pretension. We loved having the balcony—it gave us floor to ceiling double glass doors/windows for watching the amazing scenery and our own platform for photography when the sites were on our side. The lounge was a great place to visit with friends or just sit and have a drink—coffee, tea, or something a bit more spirited. Cookies were always there (damn, they were good!). Meals were adequate and the restaurant staff was accommodating to many of the people’s dietary restrictions. The boat crew was courteous, friendly and very professional.
Expedition Team: I would imagine that it would be hard not to have a good time on any expedition to Antarctica. But, our expedition team, led by the most extraordinary Cheli, really were over the top. She had the respect of everyone—ship crew, hotel staff, her expedition team members, and all the passengers—and it was well deserved. We were so fortunate to have her as our leader. Every stop, whether zodiac landing or cruise, was designed to give us the maximum experience. And, we did have just that! She pulled together the best of the best. Every team member was friendly, knowledgeable and fun. Every presentation was interesting, informative and entertaining. Even the wild Drake was no match for this irascible team; they filled our roughest hours with presentations, fun get-togethers, slide shows, and just hanging out with us.
And, to anyone reading this who may think we are just casual travelers who don’t really know what’s what, we are pleased to say that with this trip, we have now been on all 7 continents and have exceeded visiting over 100 countries!
Thank you so much for making this a reality.
It was an excellent trip and we would certainly recommend it. The ship, crew and professional staff were all high quality. The food was also quiet good but some of the dishes were too salty.
The trip was fantastic and more than I expected. The expedition crew was professional and did everything to offer us the best experience. The hotel staff was also excellent. The food was outstanding. The only part of the trip that was poor was the internet service which was slow and inconsistent. I would recommend this trip and this vessel to my friends.
The trip was great. It was especially interesting to do back to back and see the differences in the 2 legs. There were 10 of us that continued on – a larger number than normal.
The first leg had incredible weather – sun daily until the day before last when light fog and mist set in for our visit to Beechey – perfect for that landing. Even Northern Lights the first night! Then the day of departure fog, wind and questions about whether they would get off and the new ones would be able to land in Resolute. All worked out, a little late, but then brighter skies appeared as the new ones boarded.
Second leg had fog the first few days not allowing landing at Beechey or some zodiac cruising. Then ice kept creating “getting stuck” issues for the ship as we started south. We have nothing but praise for the Expedition Crew, Captain and crew who were flexible and created a whole new itinerary going down to Arctic Bay, back to Crocker Bay (got to see more of the glacier as the last time here concentrated on the polar bears on the hillside) and Dundas Bay (where we saw Musk Ox which didn’t get to see the first time stopped), Eclipse and Tay Bays, saw migration of estimated 300 – 500 narwhals!!!!! Sam Ford Fjord, Davis Strait, (saw huge iceberg estimated to be 2 miles long with waterfall later that day) and on down the east side of Baffin Island on to Iqaluit.
Food incredible, treated royally for our anniversary – the Captain, Chief Engineer and Hotel Manager even joined us at our table!!!! ALL crew and staff could not have been better trained and able to meet all needs. Had a medical emergency the 2nd night which was taken care of as quickly and quietly as possible to get the patient and doctor evacuated.
Highly recommend the company again. It was great – memories for more of our lifetime! Thanks again for helping to make it possible.
Thanks again and may you get to continue traveling. Envy your adventures.
The trip was fabulous: the icy landscape, the beauty of the fjords (sometimes under a blue sky), the mountains blanketed by snow .... The zodiac cruising among the icebergs was always wonderful and so was the hiking on land!
Icy Fjord on Baffin Island was marvelous (we were lucky to see a polar bear mom with her two cubs on shore from the zodiacs). Karat Fjord in Greenland where we walked on Karat Island, surrounded by icebergs and under a great blue sky, was exceptional and so was the walk to the glacier at Ilulissat. To begin with, we couldn't go on shore at Ilulissat because of the ice blocking the harbor, but we waited it out. Finally the ice shifted and we took to the zodiacs: again, blue skies and warmth. The walking on the boardwalk and over the rocks close to the glacier was a delight!
Stefan Kindberg, the expedition leader was outstanding, doing his utmost to show us the beauty of the land. And so was the staff of the Vavilov. Everybody was exceptionally motivated, highly knowledgeable and helpful and we were all very well taken care of - onbord and on land - and always with a smile. The interesting lectures explaining the specifics of that region were always packed.
Captain and crew did an excellent job as well - circumnavigating bad weather as best they could, so that there was almost no rocking of the ship.
We got interesting insight into the life of the Inuits. Touching performances were staged at different landing sites - and onbord, we had with us the Inuits Susie, Andrew and also John Houston, the filmmaker of Inuit life. They were good company, answering our many questions about life in their northern communities, showing us films and giving workshops as well.
You were right for the ship, Sharon: the view from the Bridge is wonderfully panoramic!
I must also mention that the Vavilov was on a mission and had a research team on board before picking us up at Cambridge Bay. You know about it, of course: the mission was successful and the team had located one of the two ships of the Franklin Expedition in the deep waters northwest of King William Island. After more than 150 years of searching for the remains of this ill-fated expedition, finally one of the ships was found! We were all aware of the historic moment!
A big Thank you to you again, Sharon! You made this unique journey possible! And of course, I will address you again at Polar Cruises for my next polar adventure! You can count on it! You did such a great job getting me on this ship!
With my warmest regards
We had great weather the whole time up there- by Svalbard standards anyway. No rain and temps in the low 40’s mostly with lots of sun. The ice was broken up enough that we were able to circumnavigate the entire island group just as I had hoped to. I saw: At least one polar bear everyday; a Blue, a Sperm, and two Fin whales, all firsts for me; several groups of walrus; several Arctic foxes; thousands of birds of varied species, mostly nesting and with young; several different species of seals; several reindeer; great glaciers and geology; some historical settlements. Took lots of photos and had some nice outings on Zodiacs. Food was good, and crew was friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable on a number of topics which they shared in frequent presentations. My quad room was a bit cramped with 4 of us in it, but I’ve had worse. Fortunately my 3 roomies and I, all of us strangers to each other and from 4 different countries, were compatible and we got along well. In short it was a very good trip.
If there was a drawback it was that I don’t think there were enough Zodiac outings. So much time was devoted to watching wildlife we encountered while on the big boat (especially the polar bears) that several Zodiac trips were canceled because time spent (actually several hours each time!) stopped or following next to polar bears that were merely mostly sitting and sleeping on a ice floes or on land. I would have preferred to move on more expeditiously once it was clear we weren’t going to get much more from the bears/walrus or whatever, and make sure we got in the scheduled Zodiac outings, but they chose sitting with polar bears instead every time despite lack of any real interesting activity on their part. That was a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, we still got a good look at all the Svalbards whether we landed or not. But given my druthers, and especially since the weather was so good the whole time and we could always land, I would have rather done several more Zodiac landings as planned.
I would like to do another Arctic itinerary- maybe Greenland or the Northwest Passage- in the near future so I’m sure I’ll call on you again then.
Thanks again for your help.
We had an exciting and memorable trip that far exceeded our expectations. We had some fabulous wildlife encounters and got some great photos. Your knowledge, advice and help in planning and implementing the trip was key in making it a great experience.
Thanks again for your expertise and good advice.
We’re back from our Svalbard trip on the Vavilov. It was an amazing and outstanding voyage. Weather conditions were excellent and we could realize nearly all landings and could sail around Spitsbergen. The staff was great too and we met again our friends Daisy and David (photographer and artist). We always went on the photography zodiac with them and took thousands of pictures. The lounge on the top deck was a good place for observing in comparison with the Ioffe. The expedition leader John is really a quality person with an amazing CV even if our English isn’t good enough to understand all of his stories.
At the beginning we were just afraid of missing the departure as our plane couldn’t land in Longyearbyen due to fog. After two tries the pilot decided to return to Tromsö where we spent one night. We just arrived on time for departure at 6pm. Fortunately we were 27 passengers and staff in the same situation.
As the Vavilov wasn’t fully booked they decided to upgrade all passengers, but we didn’t like at all cabin 332. After one night we changed to 410 which was perfect. Returning flights were a bit confusing too and our luggage is still somewhere in Oslo…
We would have preferred to continue immediately on the next trip, unfortunately we don’t have the same financial background like many other passengers, but we’ve decided to go back to Antarctica once again, maybe further south.
Thanks for your organization and patience.
The trip was really good. We had several bear encounters in the pack ice. The best one was when a male and female bears came all the way to the boat and kept circling us. The female was also putting up quite a display to lure the male, was pretty awesome to see that.
Our trip was absolutely wonderful. We could not fault anything, and thank you so much, and other staff of Polar Cruises, for the excellent service you provided us.
The ship was very comfortable, the captain and crew pleasant, helpful and accommodating. Having the variety of expertise on the polar cruise staff was fantastic and we made some good friends amongst them. I was sick during the voyage and the staff were very attentive to my needs.
The experiences we had visiting various places was amazing. The scenery and wildlife was spectacular. Everyone on board ensured our safety and maximised opportunities for us to savour the experiences and vistas.
We would like to visit the Arctic eventually and will certainly be in touch with you again. We are also highly recommending you to other folks.
The trip was fantastic. It was everything I had hoped for and more. We were lucky with the weather and as well as the set itinerary we were able to visit Balleny islands as well. Staff and crew very professional and knowledgeable. Great group of passengers, some with family connections to Antarctica and its age of discovery, with whom I had a lot of fun.
It was an amazing trip!!! I had really, really really great experiences, everything was great, in many cases exceeding expectations. A few highlights:
The expedition staff was great: they created a very welcoming atmosphere with lots of fun, learning opportunities, and interesting discussions. They've found great places for excursions
The ship itself was very clean and comfortable, well organized, with all the necessary facilities plus extras like multimedia room, outdoor hot tub :-) . The hotel staff was very well organized, kind, always did their jobs well. Also the crew of the ship did a great job - although we almost never saw them, the ride was smooth, everything was working, and also the food was great. Actually, the "living on a ship" part of the trip was also much better and more comfortable than I expected".
Antarctica itself has also exceeded expectations. breathtaking views, unimaginable landscapes, amazing glaciers, icebergs... And the cutest fauna: penguins, seals, whales, birds... It's impossible not to fall in love with penguins. They soften everyone's heart.
The trips were also very well organized, almost everyday we had 2 trips, most of them including landings as well. And the expedition staff knew some great "secret" places, that were not only beautiful, but also fun, e.g. sliding down on your back on a mountain slope on Antarctica... :-))
Thank you once again for helping us out when our trip with Ortelius was cancelled. This was really a "moment of truth" in our experience, and Polar Cruises did the best thing possible, very quickly reacting, and finding us this other opportunity.
We had a wonderful time. The ship and crew were great, food super, and the continent was spectacular. Thanks for your help, and everybody at Polar Cruises in setting it up. It was a great recommendation.
We love the small ships!
On the Polar Pioneer, we chose Cabin Number 400 on Chuck's recommendation. Please thank him for us; it was probably the best location on the ship.
Food was average, but the ship staff was very helpful and the expedition staff was friendly and knowledgeable. Our fellow travelers were also nice.
We had a tough trip in terms of some really stormy, windy weather that made some landings impossible. But, the expedition leader went out of his way to find better weather and landing spots when possible. We also had to detour out of the Lemaire Channel due to high winds and poor visibility. We traveled a few hours to find a nice landing area, then were were surprised at a second successful try of the Lemaire Channel later in the day, topped off by a visit to Vernadsky Station and Wordie House.
We liked that the schedule was very flexible in terms of extra time on land without worrying about scheduled meal times (On another trip with a different company we experienced that meal times seemed more important than time in the field).
Loved seeing the Weddell Sea but we were disappointed that we did not get to some of the advertised islands.
A once in a lifetime experience of standing on an iceberg was a surprise highlight.
Overall, it was an excellent trip, but the weather really lengthened our crossing times so it was a bit short on the actual time in Antarctica - Nothing anyone could do about that.
Finally, we want to especially thank you, Sharon, (and other Polar Cruises staff) for being so helpful.
We really liked the Albatross Hotel in Ushuaia. Great location; nice, clean rooms; good breakfast buffet and a very helpful staff.
In Buenos Aires, we chose the Hotel Madero from the list you had sent. It was a great choice! Exceptionally nice location, large and beautiful rooms and a great english-speaking staff. The Concierge was especially helpful in recommending things to do and nearby restaurants.
The trip was the best I’ve ever had … from having a Gentoo chick come stand on my boot and peck at my leg on the first landing to all the stunning scenery and the new friends … thanks to you, Chuck and the team, I had an amazing time. Annie from Quark said to say hi to Lynn and the team. She had high compliments for you (Sharon) as well. As you have been there a number of times, I don’t have to tell you how fantastic it is. And high praises for the Ocean Diamond expedition team – we had an added bonus in having both Jonathan Shackleton and Falcon Scott on our voyage and their perspectives on their relatives’ contributions to Antarctic exploration were fantastic.
I certainly hope to be able to go again, but I doubt it would ever match the magical first time.
Thank you again for all your answers to my pre-trip questions … it was so helpful.
The trip was amazing! Truly wonderful and I will definitely keep Polar Cruises in mind for my next adventure!
I enjoyed the trip immensely.
I unreservedly recommend Ortelius to anyone who would wish to visit Antarctica.
It was also a pleasure to meet Jim from Polar Cruises on the voyage. It was good to see the effort he went to evaluating the voyage too.
I would (and will) recommend anyone to your agency – I found the Polar Cruises polar fleece cap very useful for the trip too.
My only constructive criticism is that you should advise your customers of the importance of booking early for the Basecamp expedition – passenger priority for the activities was based on order of booking. Thankfully we booked early, so there was no problems there. I would also suggest on your booking form that passengers include a priority sequence to the activities they might want to undertake.
Thanks so much for the way Sharon and Lynn supported our holiday – it was all a customer could want.
Best regards to all,
It was indeed a very memorable trip and was perfect in many ways. Except crossing the Drake passage!
Antarctic Peninsula and crossing the circle were like being transported to another world! The place was magical.
The expedition staff were extremely knowledge and very professional. We enjoyed the educational aspect of it as well.
We have just returned home after a further week touring in Argentina and Chile.
We thoroughly enjoyed our Antarctica expedition and were blessed with extremely good weather. Your staff were absolutely outstanding and the lecturers were equally impressive.
Congratulations to you all on providing us with such a unique experience.
You did a wonderful job. The Sea Spirit was the perfect ship, and crossing the line was important to me. I really wish that I would have had a balcony room.
We had an amazing trip to Antarctica!
It was a great adventure and the kayaking really made the trip one of the BEST experiences we have ever had.
We cannot praise expedition leaders highly enough. From the moment you walked through the door of the Rey Don Felipe Hotel, they were organized,informative and really took very good care of you. They are one of the best organizations we have encountered and their entire team did an excellent job.
We had a wonderful time in Antarctica. We had a one day delay for the flight in, but it was long forgotten once we were there.
It was the most organized and efficient group we have ever traveled with. All the staff were wonderful! Even after the cruise was over and we ran into them on the streets of Punta Arenas they were warm and welcoming!
I would highly recommend them to travel with!
Thanks for all of your help in the planning.
We had a wonderful time - it exceeded our expectations. The boat, the crew, the expedition leaders, the food, and above all, the scenery and wildlife were truly exceptional. We would recommend the trip without hesitation.
While we are hard pressed to identify anything that was not a 10 - we might have two suggestions:
1. Arrange to have a greeter/transportation receive the guests at the Ushuaia airport. A small gesture and a nice way to kick off the adventure. It appeared quite a few other travel programs had signs and greeters when we arrived at the airport.
2. Suggest and make available side trips before the cruise in Ushuaia. A number of the guests (including us) did not realize or appreciate the amount of time we had on day 2 prior to boarding the ship in late afternoon. Rereading the materials we were sent it is a bit unclear when we board the ship. Many of us were under the impression that we would board shortly after the bags were to be picked up in the morning. Having most of Day 2 available to us we used our own resources and through some on the ground hustle we arranged for a taxi to take us on a several hour tour of the National Park so we had a great adventure.
Thanks again for your help in arranging the trip and we look forward to another adventure soon.
I want to thank you for all your help in planning and arranging my trip. It was even better then I had imagined! National Geographic runs a real class show. The ship, crew and expedition staff were incredible and the sights and wildlife are not to be believed (the only way to improve things would be remove the penguin stench). I was really impressed with the ability of the staff to make changes on the fly as situations beyond their control arose (we had a problem with the flight back to EZE, due to severe thunderstorms in the EZE area that shut down the airport and prevented the charter flight from leaving and getting to Ushuaia in time to take us back to EZE). All was taken care of and everything worked out well.
I will have no trouble using Polar Cruises again or recommending them to friends and family.
I find myself in a most unusual situation - for once in my life I am lost for words. There are simply no words enough to express my elation, awe, ecstasy, you name it... I confess, a very important piece of my soul is forever left on those wind swept shores...
These were the best days of my life and I am so proud to spend them alongside the stellar expedition team of Sea Explorer, and super professional crew and hotel team and a wonderful bunch of shipmates...
Going back? Hell yeah !!!! As a minimum Svalbard in summer, or South Georgia in October. As maximum both, and I think in maximums only.
Needless to say, only via Polar Cruises!
Sharon, I have not enough words of appreciation for you personally, as I know how much efforts you have vested in fulfillment of my dearest childhood dream!
The trip was everything that I dreamt about and more. Every thing went perfectly (even the Drake Passage behaved both ways). The Expedition group of Akademik Vavilov was amazing - and we had a whale of a time (literally).
Thanks again for everything.
Yes, I am dreaming about the Arctics already, but need a few months to recover from this trip. My brain is still processing the wondrous, surreal breathtaking vistas of the Antarctic Peninsula and it will take me a while to come back to reality. :)
Thanks again for helping me with this adventure; can't thank you enough.
I have already expressed my positive comments on the ship's catering to many of my friends. I was totally surprised that a ship that caters for such a relatively small number of passengers would provide such a wide variety of offerings at each and every meal. The menus were most expansive.
The number of landings was also exceptional. At least two landings per day and sometimes three. Even on the crossing on the way down, when the calmness of the Drake Passage meant the ship was way ahead of time, two crossings were added on a day when we were meant to be still en route.
The guides were exceptional, both with their landings but also with the most interesting talks they gave on board.
You may recall in my very early discussions with you, I questioned whether I should sail on this small ship or whether I should join a much larger ship?
I am so pleased I followed your advice. To have the friendliness and casualness of this ship was so unexpected. To be able to go to the dining room in track pants, warm weather gear or whatever was far more appropriate than what I heard from the passengers on those other ships which had also returned to Ushuaia at the same time. They were expected to dress formally for meals, including as one of their guests told me, with coat and tie. How ridiculous for an expedition cruise to the end of the world!
And to have the freedom to visit the Bridge at any time throughout the cruise also made for such a grand experience. The 8 gb memory stick at the end of the cruise was an exceptional gesture which added many plaudits to the cruise. On it were over 500 photographs, plus a couple of videos plus maps, information ships, copies of every daily notice and so on. Absolutely first rate.
At the final meeting, they displayed a quote on the screen written by some well known person of recent years that said "If God ever wanted to take vacation, he would surely take it in the Antarctic! " I fully agree.
It was indeed a wonderful cruise and I thank you for your part in encouraging me to join the Sea Explorer.
Thank you for all your help with booking this trip. I now would like to do a similar cruise up north and will be looking over your site for Arctic cruises in the future.
Regards and best wishes,
The trip was fabulous. The expedition team was one of the best I have seen in action on a tour. By the time we got off we felt like we had a personal tour even though we were one of 100 people. They were proactive from the start, the muster drill includes getting in the life boat and they make well checks on the Drake Passage if you don't appear for meals. A staff member ate at each table answering questions and sharing their knowledge. Antarctica was breathtakingly beautiful. We had two humpback whales come to our zodiac and sit for at least 5 minutes raising their heads to look at us. Still shaking my head!!!
Amazing trip! Thanks,
We had an absolutely fantastic time! The scenery and wildlife were amazing, and we couldn’t have been happier with the expedition leaders and guides. The whole trip was very well organised and we enjoyed the informative lectures from the guides along the way. But of course the real highlight was the massive colonies of king penguins on South Georgia! It was an incredible experience to be there on the beach with them.
Many thanks for all your assistance with making this trip possible.
Thanks for your email. We had an awesome trip. Cheli, the expedition leader, was the best ever - great dedication and humorous as well. We loved the trip and were very lucky to get the best weather week of the season so far. I might also add that we were the only ones sporting a Polar Cruises hat and others were clearly miffed that they didn't get one!! So well done Polar! Would definitely recommend you.
Thank you for the welcome back! I had an incredible time on my Antarctic adventure. I was very impressed with the expedition team. The customer service of the hotel manager was excellent. The staff were knowledgable and friendly, and they made the trip a lot of fun. I always felt very safe in the capable hands of the Russian crew and their ship, even on the rougher days. A lot of the passengers didn't have much interest in engaging with others (New Year's Eve was an entirely non-event), but I did make friends with some of the more outgoing ones and members of the staff. I had a roommate, and we got along very well. I did have a couple of small suggestions, but I left them in the box with the ship and they were incredibly minor. It was a truly unique and breathtaking journey, and I loved every moment of it. The time I spent in Iguazu and Buenos Aires was also very enjoyable. On the whole, I don't think I could've asked for anything better!
Thank you for all your work and help in organizing this for me, and if you have any other specific questions let me know.
We had an amazing trip! Everything was wonderful (except for being seasick occasionally). Docents were great, fellow passengers were wonderful, food was terrific... an all around great experience! I'm eyeballing the Arctic trip to Spitsbergen...
Thank you. Below is a copy of our first impressions and the email we sent to family and friends. We are not sure how we will ever top this adventure in our future travels.
After a rough crossing of the Drake Passage, our expedition cruise went into high gear as the crew has us active from 7am to 9pm each day. The Antarctica Peninsula is indescribable. Superlatives such as awesome, jaw-dropping, surreal and "of another world" are just words. You really need to see and experience this landscape to understand its effects on the human spirit. Last night we set up camp in the falling snow and today we awoke to a spectacular sunrise. The ice is cerulean blue to crystal clear, depending on its age, air and water content. The snow is soft, fluffy and marked with trails of red penguin poop. The waters are rippled or flat with reflections of ice formations, mountain tops and birds flying. Seals rest upon the shore and the ice; whales are spotted from the ship's deck and the penguins reign on land. This continent's remoteness quiets you, calms you and excites you.
When the ship passes through a spectacular spot, everyone is absolutely silent, gawking at the sight. The life in Antarctica is limited to a small outer rim, only a few miles from the shoreline. The vast interior landmass is totally devoid of life. This landmass is about 1.5 times the size of the continental US. It is truly the ends of the earth!
Thank you for your kind email ! I am sorry for the delay of my reply, I got back home on the 18th, and it was my birthday. Barely off the plane and I was celebrating my birthday with my friends and family.
Antarctica was the best trip of my entire life, it is an incredible experience that humbles you to the awe of nature. As for the penguins they are some of the most resilient animals I have ever known. I have over 800 images, I have some long nights ahead of me now.
I am confident that I am going back to Antarctica again, and I already know I want to include a visit to the Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and maybe Elephant Island. Unfortunately this trip will have to wait after 2016 for a variety of reasons most notably work related.
However, when I am going to sign up for that trip, I will be emailing you again Sharon. Who knows maybe my stories and images will have some of my family and friends go to one of the poles.
It was a wonderful trip. The Sea Spirit agreed with us completely. The expedition team really made the Antarctic accessible and understandable, and the hotel staff/chef aboard the ship were so good we would have had a wonderful time no matter where we were! We were doubly fortunate to have astoundingly good weather, so we got 10/10 possible excursions in, and managed to see all the major marine mammals and penguins. There was also still plenty of ice, so the scenery was breathtaking. Any concerns I had about not being there during the time when the penguin chicks were hatching disappeared completely.
It was really other worldly – no wonder people go back again and again! I appreciate all your help – thanks particularly to Chuck who listened to me ask so many questions and patiently walked me through the different ships/options. I felt like we were on exactly the right ship/cruise itinerary.
Thank you, yes we did have an amazing time. We are very happy we chose the longer cruise. As exciting as going to Antarctica was, the scenery and wildlife of South Georgia were our favorite part of the trip. The most memorable moment for us did occur on Half Moon Island though. I proposed to Holly and she said yes!
Thank you for all your help.
We had the best trip ever. Crew and Staff on the Vavilov were superb. I'd recommend them to anyone. In addition the other passengers were great. We will probably see some of them again in the future.
Thanks so much.
All of your information was precise and accurate.
We are still in Argentina and will be in South america until April. We will surely recommend you to others and would use Polar Cruises again.
Happy New Year 2014! Awesome trip! Definitely a trip to remember for life! The expedition team was organised and professional. The hotel staff was friendly and made us feel just at home. As I just returned to Singapore after enduring 30hrs flight (including transit time), it will take time for me to share my photos!
Thanks again for making the trip happen ! ;))
Warmest Greetings and Best Wishes for Year 2014
The Expedition Team is excellent. They are knowledgeable, skillful, friendly, dynamic and helpful. They always put safety first. They have managed the whole journey professionally. We have travelled thirty countries. We come to a conclusion that Antarctica is the most spectacular and beautiful place. Chun Moi is so happy that she has done the Polar Plunge. But she regrets that she does not join the camp. We have taken many photographs. We attach a few to share with you.
Thankyou for booking my family on to our most amazing holiday yet. The Ioffe and Antarctica were all that we could have imagined and more! We will recommend it to everyone we speak to.
The only issue (as you warned us) was flying Aerolineas Argentinas - we were delayed by nearly 24 hours in Buenos Aires airport and still don't know the reason!
We will not be letting that inconvenience spoil the memory of our holiday - we loved every minute.
Many thanks again.
We had a fantastic trip! The Ocean Diamond boat was fantastic as well as the staff. The trip exceeded our expectations in every way possible. From the animals we saw to the food that was served at each meal it was an amazing trip! We truly enjoyed it. Thank you for all your help and as people ask us about our trip we will definitely be passing on our wonderful experience with Quark and your team on helping us book the trip.
Thank you again and we will definitely use your team again when we look at another Polar Trip in the future.
Antarctica was AMAZING. It blew my mind away. I spent the time of my life there and I can't wait to go back!
The return to reality was very hard, but I'm hopeful I'll go back to Antarctica soon, maybe on a different route accross South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. I need to start saving money again :)
How to describe what I saw and experienced is something I’m still working on coming to terms with. You could not have made it out to be that good through email or talking to me as I would not have believed you that it could be that fantastic.
There was not one part of the trip that was not AAA plus in every way from the fantastic ship crew and staff to the expedition staff and they all know you by name within the first day on board.
As for Antarctica itself, you can’t capture what you’re seeing on a camera, you need to sit down and just absorb what your mind and your eyes are seeing. As for the penguins when you first land on the beach in the zodiac and they are 3 feet from you looking gorgeous and they are wild you suffer from information overload as your brain tries to take it all in.
I got to see snow falling for the first time - it was almost a white out. To walk on the sea ice inside the caldera from of the ship gangway was great, they played soccer on the ice.
I could go on forever about the fantastic trip I had and it was with your hard work that got me there.
We had an absolutely fabulous time on our trip. Thank you so much for your help.. The Iceland stay was great .The hotel staff were very friendly and helpful.The food in Iceland was spectacular as was the scenery.
We had 4 nights of northern lights and got some great photos.The Greenland scenery,the HUGE icebergs and the fabulous expedition staff added up to wonderful trip that we will recount for years to come.
Thanks again for your help.
The trip was amazing. The One Ocean staff was incredible. I did not know I was booked on such a historic trip. I can't believe I was so lucky to be part of burying Frank Wild's ashes next to Shakleton. Meeting Alexandra Shakleton, Angie Butler, Paul Rose, David McGonigal, Mike Wain was such a privilege.
I can't praise enough the One Ocean staff and the ship's crew. Thank you for all your pre-departure help.
I am looking at the Artic in 2013!
Our trip on the m/v Plancius thoroughly exceeded our expectations. Our room was big and comfortable (we couldn't have been happier with being beside the observation lounge, room 503). The staff was exceptional, the boat was fantastic, the food was great, and the trip was phenomenal. We met a lot of great people on board as well. We will certainly be recommending this trip to our friends.
We will pass your info along to anyone interested in any polar trips, and will be in touch if/when we consider another one.
Great trip. It was life changing. Loved the expedition leaders, the crew, the captain, the ship. Am still vibrating from the experiences. Made good friends for life. Thanks for helping me set it up. They must have had a hard time filling the ship -- there were about 10 travel agents on board who went for free, and most other passengers paid half price. No twin share available though when I got on board. I thought that was very weird. But in the quad, my roommates had a good sense of humor, so there was laughter and camaraderie. Some woman had been on board on the prior trip and held the bottom bunks for her group, so I had a top bunk. A little difficult to get in and out of in the Drake when we had 69 knot gusts and up to 45' waves in a Force 10 storm. I tied myself into the bunk and was fine. Not a pretty picture, but a grand adventure. I didn't get sick. Tell Chuck I had the electrical watch-thingie he suggested and I think it helped. Either that or I am just susceptible to the idea that it worked. :) I took 2,000 total videos and pictures. I'll be sending them all to you to see (just kidding).
The bottom line is that I had a great time.
The whole trip was over the top amazing. The crew and tour guides were all simply terrific. The food was unbelievable at every meal . The accommodations were as described and yet better still. I have not one complaint or negative comment and I am a fussy traveler. On the packing side, the only additional suggestions I would make are to take light and heavy gloves, which I did , and wore the light gloves most of the time. Also, one guy had procured boot liners and said he was wearing only one pair of socks. Amy and I wore 3 or 4 pair of smart wool and other heavy socks and still had cold feet at the end of some days, but the guy with the boot liners was fine. BTW, Ushuaia turned out to be a great little town with stuff to do and great little stores and even casinos. The whole trip was perfect and I would like to do it again one day.
Thanks for all your help,
The trip exceeded my expectations significantly. On my own the trip might have been in black and white. The expedition staff fleshed out the color. The ship was more like a home than a holiday house. I am sure that there are other boats and other expedition companies, but once you have been to this level, why would you look around for something better?
Although I did not expect to go ashore at Elephant Island, when the morning broke clear and sunny, hopes shot up. Owing to a big swell the boats could not be launched and even if they had, the shore break would have had to have been dealt with. That probably was my only disappointment but it was safety related.
I am already thinking of something for the future, possibly the Arctic and I would use you again for that booking.
The Antartica trip was SPECTACULAR and the Ushuiai crew was AWESOME!! The Drake passage treated us so well especially on the way back to Ushuaia that the ship crew jokingly told us we should not have gotten our Antartica certificate because we did not experience a true Drake passage!!! (Thanks to God for that!!).
I have referred somebody to you, her name is Karen and her boyfriend (I don't remember his name), and they also live in Miami. Also, if I win the lottery I will contact you to go to Alaska in Summer. I would love to quit working and keep traveling!!! (LOL)
It was great to get to know you. Your presence undoubtedly made a memorable experience more enjoyable. I must say that this trip was most pleasant and quite exciting. The Ocean Nova had a superb crew.
I will definitely keep you in mind for my next polar adventure (perhaps in a few years time). I shall also refer to you any of my colleagues or relatives who would express an interest in visiting the Arctic or Antarctic.
My heartfelt and sincere thanks to you and Lynn for your helpful advice and kind assistance!
Very best regards,
Words can't even begin to describe the great time I had aboard Akademik Ioffe. It was AWESOME! The sights and wildlife were simply breathtaking. The entire crew (Chad, Maggie, Sarah, Liz, Nate, Rose & Andreas who made sure that our throats didn't go dry, Boris and the Russian crew) went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time. Super super set of people! I am already missing them! I left the ship after making new friends both from the crew and fellow passengers.
Thanks for making all the arrangements for me and patiently answering my numerous questions. There is no way I could've done this trip without your help.
Once again thanks.
We ended up having a fabulous time! The staff on the One Ocean ship were wonderful and very knowledgeable and we think we lucked out with the new ship.
We want to thank you for all the work you did in getting us the new tour so we could experience Antarctica! We truly appreciate all your trouble and work to get us booked with One Ocean. It was a marvelous experience.
We aren’t planning our next trip yet, but we will keep you in mind when we get ready for the Arctic Circle. J We keep pushing the Antarctic trip to our friends, but so far they all think we are crazy. Perhaps they will change their minds when they see our pictures.
Thanks again and Happy New Year!
Our experience exceeded all expectations. The scenery was awe inspiring. The penguins were endlessly amusing and photogenic. The seals were plentiful and whales were sighted on several occasions. The ship's crew and the expedition staff were terrific. The ship itself was spotlessly clean, well organized and everything worked. We thank you for your unbiased assistance in helping us choose a ship and dealing with our many questions. I will certainly recommend Polar Cruises if anyone expresses interest in a voyage of their own.
All the best.
We had an amazing time on the trip! We could not be more happy with the customer service provided by both Polar Cruises and One Ocean Expedition. The staff & crew on the ship were wonderful! Thank you so much for all of your help. We will definitely refer any friends to Polar Cruises when booking!
"The trip was AMAZING!!! I think we actually lucked out getting on the ship...you're right, it was worth it. The ship was great and the expedition staff were a lot of fun. I wouldn't have changed a thing. Thank you so much for doing all that you did. I want to go back in a big way, but I'm not sure I could do the Drake Passage again haha.
I passed your company's name along to some court staff that I work with often. Maybe you'll hear from them. They were pretty awed by the pictures I took."
It was an amazing trip - and not just because the ship didn't sink this time...:-) We can't say enough great things about the ship and it's staff. We were extremely lucky to have Aidan Dooley onboard who has portrayed Tom Crean for several years in a one-man show and he performed the show complete with props and costumes over 2 nights. He also wore his authentic outerwear on the Shackleton hike. Plus, having Ian Tamblyn onboard was also a unique experience - what a great singer-songwriter! The weather was near-perfect - only a couple of days of rainy weather in South Georgia but we made quite a few more landings than on our last trip and they were always much longer - 4 hours plus! The food was excellent, the cabin was really good. We spent quite a bit of time on the bridge as the Captain was really good about having passengers up there. Plus he drove zodiacs a few times, did some polar swims, and plays the blues harmonica!!
Again, thank you to you, Lynn, and Chuck for all of your help, patience with all of our questions, and your knowledge. We felt really confident going into the trip knowing that you knew so much about the ship and it's history.
We had a few emails waiting for us when we got home about whether it was our ship that had trouble in the Drake Passage!
Thanks for the info. I’ll keep you in mind for possible referrals.
And yes, the trip was truly spectacular and everything that I had hoped for. The staff was enthusiastic and bubbling, the ship was excellent and the new friends were wonderful. I’m still going through the pics and I’ll have some good ones I think. I’m not really a great photographer –I take snapshots, but that’s OK for me. We did get a DVD of a collection of other peoples photos, so I can use them when I want to show off really good shots !!
And the arctic is a possibility in the future – but no immediate plans for now.
Marilyn and I will probably plan another escapade – but no plans or targets yet.
Thanks for your help in making this trip come true for me.
It was nice meeting you (in-person) and thanks for all your help! This trip was definitely a once in a lifetime experience; absolutely amazing!
We will definitely be referring the trip to friends and polarcruises for the ones that are interested in the future.
Sorry for the delay in providing feedback on the Around Spitzbergen expedition. Firstly, it was a really wonderful trip which we both enjoyed very much. The guides and crew were really excellent, in particular the expedition leader Valeska and her team were very good at planning all the landing and the various walks. They were also very good when one of the guests had an accident on the walks and managed the situation well - including taking care of the other guests and stretchering the injured person back to the boat. We also enjoyed the lectures they provided in the evening. One feedback is to perhaps postpone the first night's lecture to the second night, simply because some of the guests may be jet-lagged or sleep deprived after travelling to Longyearbyen (as in my case travelling 24 hours to get there) and was a shame to miss it.
Second, I would also say that the captain and his team did a really excellent job in maneuvering the boat in the pack ice as well as following the feeding humpback whales we saw. Lastly, the hotel head, Arnold, his team led by Glenn were very friendly and lively, providing many humourous moments for all of us. We did look forward to their daily announcements.
The only other feedback for modification I have (which may be specific to our trip) is to perhaps a slightly adapted programme for birdwatchers vs non-birdwatchers. There were 2 birding groups on the trip and for the non-birdwatchers, one zodiac ride & landing seemed a little protracted. Perhaps it may be possible to offer a shorter time with the birds for the non-bridwatchers? Appreciate it is difficult to please everyone.
Altogether, a very smooth and enjoyable trip.
Hope the above is useful to you. I also appreciate the great service and information provided by Polar Cruises and will be happy to make recommendations in the future. Thank you very much!
The trip to Antarctic was a TRIP OF A LIFETIME. I had an amazing adventure, and One Ocean does a top notch job. Enclosed are two pix of some of your other clients booked on the same sailing.... I'm on the far right.
I've already talked up the trip to many people, and will of course, encourage them to book through Polar Cruises. One suggested for feedback is that there was very little communication when I got to BA about the transfer to the trip etc. I didn't know if I was on my own to get to the airport or if there was going to be arranged transportation. The hotel in BA was not helpful with information. That evening I arrived I FINALLY got some communication (at 9PM an envelope was slid under my door - when we were going to be picked up at 2:30AM for the transfer the next day) delivered to me. I would suggest that Polar Cruises provide this information AHEAD of time to those that get the pre-package trip hotel/flight combo. I know other people that were part of that transfer, were also in the dark.
All said, it was an amazing experience and I am so happy to have had the experience to visit the continent. I'm now a proud member of the seven continents club.
Happy New Year!
By evening, we were aboard our ship and sailing down the Beagle Channel.
The soaring albatrosses that followed the ship were to be constant companions along our journey.
We were expecting large penguin rookeries and beautiful seabirds. We knew we would see icebergs and glaciers. What we did not realize is how these elements come together to create immensely powerful scenes bursting with life. We loved the convoluted geology of places like Brown Bluff and Bailey Head and how the wildlife adapted to it. The uniqueness of the landscape at each landing amazed us. The light also surprised us with its beauty, constantly changing during the long austral days. The sunsets, beams of light glowing off distant icebergs, the occasional blue raft covered with penguins, the sunrises. We were always the last lingerers on the outer decks, as well as the first ashore and the last to board the ship during shore excursions!
We were extremely fortunate with the weather. We know we had more than our fair share of clear blue skies. Even the dreaded Drake Passage turned into a glassy lake! We made every landing, although our stay at Salisbury Plains was cut short by fierce Katabatic winds. We met Tim and Pauline in Grytviken and members of the British Antarctic Survey team at King Edward Point. It was inspiring to share conversation, a joke, and a beer with all of them.
The staff on the ship was great. Everyone was enthusiastic, dedicated, and fun to hang out with. We were by far the youngest passengers aboard the ship, and we had a lot more in common with the staff. From knocking on our door at 1am to let us know about the rising full moon to sharing a wealth of information and a lot of laughs, the staff contributed enormously to our experience. We are quite certain that we'll be organizing a trip together with at least one staff member in the near future.
One aspect of the expedition leadership that we greatly appreciated was the sincere and personal commitment to education, conservation, and environmental stewardship. We are certainly not the only passengers who will continue to follow and support conservation issues in Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falklands.
In closing, thank you very much for helping us to make this trip happen. You provided us with helpful logistical information and a great cabin. We will certainly recommend Polar Cruises to anyone who is interested in traveling these locations. As for ourselves, we are already ready to return to the Ice!
"Superb. One of the best vacations ever. And now I have visited all seven continents, woo-HOO! And you forgot to tell us that the penguins are card-carrying members of SAG, those little devils -- talk about begging to have their pictures taken!"
"No doubt this was the best, most interesting trip we have been on. Better than the Galapagos in that Antarctica is so remote. The staff was the big difference."
The trip surpassed all our wildest expectations.
Each day was better than the one before. Just when you thought it couldn't get any better--it would!
The ship was comfortable. The crew and expedition staff were great. The food was fabulous. I still can't figure out how they kept the fruit and lettuce so fresh for 19 days! We did hit some rough seas here and there (although the Drake wasn't as bad as I had imagined!). Not many passengers seemed to be immobilized by mal de mer, however. I think between what the ship doctor had and the remedies that people brought, the seasickness was minimized. But please continue to be honest with folks signing up for the trip, that it is a legitimate concern. It helped us go prepared. The clothing recommendations that you give are perfect. Layers, layers, layers and Gore-Tex outer layer. Our LL Bean wellies were perfect, even for all the hiking and trekking we did onshore. South Georgia is a hidden gem (in spite of the nasty overcast, windy, rainy weather!). We really enjoyed our stops there. Then amazingly, the fates were with us and we stopped at Elephant Island. Some folks even landed on Pt. Wild before the tide rose too high for the rest of us to land--but we had a great zodiac ride and got a good look. Great chinstrap penguin rookery there.
Deception Island was totally fascinating. John did the polar dip, I was just too tired to dress and undress and re-dress yet again, to lay in a lava hole with warm water! (OK, I was a weenie!).
We had the best weather in Antarctica--sunny and warmer temps! We even saw an Emperor penguin (all by itself!). That was totally unexpected, as we knew we were out of their range. And we had a wedding. An Australian couple married by the Russian ship captain on Antarctica! (Probably not legal, but we had a lot of fun celebrating!). Even the Gentoo penguins seemed enthralled by the festivities! Fabulous barbeque on the back deck in Paradise Harbor (which lived up to its name!).
There really weren't any disappointments. Your advice and literature that you sent was incredibly helpful. Thanks again for all your assistance and patience with our questions.
It really was a trip of a lifetime.
Thanks for the note. We had an incredible voyage, from start to end. It was well coordinated, informative and truly eye-popping; an adventure of a lifetime. The weather turned out great, even though we heard just before we left that the weather for the immediate preceding two months had been awful. We only had one slightly rough day on our return crossing the Drake Passage. We saw many types of seals, penguins, whales, and birds (all of which I am sure you are well aware). We had a great experience with killer whales who put on quite a show swimming all around the ship. The area had received an inordinate amount of snow recently, resulting in a couple of landing changes, but all went smoothly. The recent snow made the White Continent even more white. Spectacular! We climbed snowy peaks, slid down (on our back and butts) self-made 1500 ft snow-toboggan runs, and swam in the ice-cold Southern Ocean followed by a dip in the ash of the caldera of an active volcano.
I had high expectations before I left and the experience exceeded those expectations.
Your recommendation to have dinner at Kaupe was an excellent one, as my daughter and I had one of the best meals I’ve ever had (and that is a high compliment coming from someone who has eaten at some of the best places in the world, including New York). Thanks again for all your help. We may return in the near future (north or south) and if we do, we will call on you. I will certainly recommend you to others.
Hope you had a great holiday season (we did).
WOW what a trip on the Silver Explorer!
The expedition team was incredible and beyond our expectations. Didn't think any group could beat our past experience, but learned several trained together or under someone on one of the other teams. They are all incredible and now understand the workings of expedition teams much better.
The food, wine, music, all the staffs and especially our Butler and Suite Attendant were beyond expectations and certainly added to the great memories. The Expedition Suite was incredible and I truly think the best on the ship. We really lucked out in that opportunity and choice. Could certainly spoil us for the future!!! The best was being given complimentary laundry for the trip! I could have stayed aboard forever!
Saw one of the greatest polar bears just sleeping on the hillside. Stretched and turned over, just as great as the one on shore eating a - they thought - reindeer carcass. The walrus herd, the whales, the great landscapes, flowers, birds, ice formations - all wonderful to see and experience.
We met Susie and Joe from Colorado, who had booked with you by chance. They were a fun couple, although Joe was sick for most of the trip) and so glad they found you to work with. We also told several about the North Pole trip and we hope some will truly investigate it and contact you.
Thank you for helping make this all happen. Keep us in mind if anything comes up similar to the Northwest Passage trip again or if some sale is available that you think we might be interested in. We have this Arctic gear!!
Good to talk with you this morning. Thank you, Sharon, Lynn, and Polar Cruises for making our trip on the Adventurer just perfect. Thanks to your effective communication, we were able to switch from the Orlova to the Adventurer when it looked like the Orlova might not sail. It was a wise choice so thanks for strongly suggesting it. With the Orlova not sailing, your work to get us one of the last cabins available on the Adventurer meant we were able to have a better experience at the same price. (Note: there was at least one couple who arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina who did not know that the Orlova was not sailing. They unfortunately had booked with another tour operator.)
(I misspoke when I said the Ushuaia ship this morning. It was the Orlova in the bay when we left.)
I can't wait to start to painting penguins, whales, scenery, etc from the trip. When I get some paintings done, I'll let you know.
Thank you so much!!!