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DansDeals Forum => Trip Reports => Topic started by: chff on February 06, 2019, 12:09:38 AM

Title: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: chff on February 06, 2019, 12:09:38 AM
Given all the #fakenews on our trip I feel I must write a TR quickly…. All pictures are my own #nofilter (unless otherwise stated).

1 - Flights
Given the timings I was down to taking either the UA or AA flight on Motzai Shabbos NYC>EZE and same on the return Thursday night. Every other day UA either did or didn’t have X/XN class, and for a while AA was only showing Saver going (30k) and the return 130k for econ, Saver Business on both was מאן דכר שמיה. (In fact I don’t AA showed saver on JFK-EZE for the next year or so, and even hardly opened up anything close in). When I decided to pull the plug on the flights, I booked UA “Plan B” on the return (given that AA didn’t even have saver econ. AA was an hour later, but UA was a 764 which is better in econ then AA’s 777 10-Abreast). Booking was pretty easy, called UA and asked the agent if she knew about “Plan B where you pay the I rate and be waitlisted” she said she will check, placed me on hold and came back that she can do it. I transferred points from Chase, but she said she doesn’t see it, I said but I do, so she said book econ and so I did, she then placed me on hold and came back that the Plan B was done. I checked my account and saw the 30k Saver was refunded and a new ticket for 60k was processed. Given that UA still allows open seat assignments I just booked 2 regular window seats, tried at once to sweet talk into a free E+ but didn’t work and decided at the moment not to waste more time.
Given that I was waiting for a UA signup bonus I felt I don’t want to waste more UR points and decided to do the AA flight going (and that day UA didn’t have X/XN class going). Now with #firstworldissues I have more points then I burn, and had lots of AA points that I never touched (and even had an account with 58k expiring, so I did the WSJ & other stuff thru the portal and got that account upto 60k - the points post real quickly), but decided not to look like a fool on DDF so I transferred 18k Amex points to BA using the 40% bonus & booked AA for 25k Avios (and kept on thinking if Business opens up & I’ll have to rebook it from AA what will I do with the BA points…). Given that AA blocks all normal seats I paid 150 (x2) for 2 Window MCE. (And thinking back the next few days that I should have book an EXST for 18k Avios and be confirmed with Ghetto upgrade)
Now for a fun poll: Would you have flown before Shabbos on Thursday just for business? Would you take a risky stop on Motzai with a chance of killing your Sunday just to avoid economy?
For the domestic I booked the AR AEP>USH>AEP for 25k SkyPesos + $7.10 in tax (which I paid using my CSR which earns 3 points as travel, yielding a total of 21.3 Chase UR points, equivalent to about 43 cents, according to TPG’s latest valuations) vs $600 revenue AR. I called in the AR agent line & via my ticket numbers they told me the AR locators & assigned me seats (Window+Aisle in row 7).
AA & UA both allow 2 checked bags to Argentina, while AR only allows 1 or 30lbs on domestic tickets. Many online reports said they didn’t bother with overweight. On their website they listed as 30>50lbs overweight at about 650 ARS (about $18 USD) which is paid at the airport only & extra bag 650 ARS at airport or 399 ARS if pre-purchased on the website. A few weeks later I realized that the extra bag jumped in price to 1099 ARS at airport or 549 ARS if pre-purchased on the website so I right away purchased an extra bag per person round trip and for some reason I was billed 330 ARS per way per bag, which came out to about $17 & change round trip. If you selected on AR’s site to pay in USD it was $27 USD per bag/way…
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: lubaby on February 06, 2019, 12:15:53 AM
+ $7.10 in tax (which I paid using my CSR which earns 3 points as travel, yielding a total of 21.3 Chase UR points, equivalent to about 43 cents, according to TPG’s latest valuations)
This should be mandatory for all TR's  :D
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: davidrotts63 on February 06, 2019, 04:20:38 AM
This should be mandatory for all TR's  :D

Can't wait for the rest (mainly your pics ), but please avoid TPGs gross evaluations.
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: chff on February 07, 2019, 04:29:23 PM
2 - Motzei Shabbos - Dec 8

Before Shabbos I was already all packed up & ready to roll. Motzei Shabbos I was home 10 mins after the zman, made Havdala, Chanukah Candles, (showered…) (https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=101010.msg2050702#msg2050702) and left for the airport. When I checked in online I was surprised to see AA had an equipment swap from the non-PE to the new one with Premium Economy (which has less MCE) and found myself with 2 middle seats. PE had an open a middle seat so I decided to try it out for myself and the other I took a MCE window a few rows behind. On the way to the airport I saw on the app a PE Window seat open but they asked (another?) $150 for it (not sure if it was the window seat that had the extra charge or because it was the bulkhead) so I paid the $150 and made a mental note that I will send an email to AA to request a refund (& will do so do right away but never got to it. In the end AA automatically refunded me). When we got to the airport we dropped off our luggage (no issues with being 51/52lbs EACH) and quickly went through PreCheck security & headed to the gate where we met up with another few travelers.


I tried with the gate agent for my seats but all she had to offer was the PE middle bulkhead but I didn’t take it as I hate bulkheads (but I should have because the PE on AA is very not up to par) and before I even had a chance to say anything the captain walked around the desk & asked for a better seat for a family member so the gate agent assigned her the open PE bulkhead.


When it came time to board, we headed onto the plane & tried to switch seats but of course no one was willing to switch to a middle seat :(. I have to say AA’s premium is really bad - pretty cramped. The plug is in the armrest to the back & not easy to get to, the headphone jack is the 3 pin premium jack (& when I asked the crew for a converter half argued with me that it doesn’t need till one FA said he will bring me a converter but took him over an hour. Seems like they aren’t fully trained on the PE seats. (Yes, I had my own but was really lazy to reach into my overstuffed bag…).


When I checked FlightRadar24 I saw UA979 was right behind us racing towards EZE.


I skipped the meal and just put on my new Bose QC25 and dozed off to sleep (PE did get a good pillow even as they don’t have yet PE “service”. In addition there was an amenity kit & sort of better headphones on the seat). After a decent sleep (& crossing the equator for the first time) I woke up and headed to the rear galley & with the crews permission I davened there. UA was still racing behind us


went back to my seat & the crew served breakfast (Break what? AA for a 10-hour international flight?)



switched to the window seat for landing.


As we landed & turned off the runway I saw UA979 landing right behind us
and both parked at the gate next to each other, although UA did get the gate closer to passport control.


Deplaned and headed to passport control where there was a pretty line but moving at a decent pace.


At the baggage claim we met the other travelers that flew in on the UA flight. Got our bags, loaded up the free baggage carts (take that, USA!) and headed thru customs, (where every bag got x-rayed,) and into the arrivals hall. (My biggest fears was that my bags should get stuck in NY but with the US legacy carriers you can track your bags on the app where I saw that they were all loaded onto our flight).
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: chff on February 07, 2019, 07:21:21 PM
3. Sunday - Dec 9

There was a discussion how to transfer from EZE to AEP, an Uber was about $15-20 USD (see @Dan’s DP regarding Amex) (https://www.dansdeals.com/points-travel/trip-notes/trip-notes-antarctica-part-1-buenos-airesplanning-positioning-adventure-lifetime/) but given that I was planning to stop for food I didn’t want to shlep all out luggage into & out of an Uber/Taxi or have them wait so I opted for a Jewish driver, and managed to get one thru a contact in Argentina (Price was about $40 USD all in). The driver/dispatcher didn’t speak a word of English but Google Translate did a fine job. The driver waited for me in the Arrivals hall, helped us push a luggage cart till his van.


and we left the airport to Luba Café, (why Luba? It was the first listed on Chabad’s website). After about 35/40 minutes’ drive we arrived to Luba and we went inside while my driver waited in the van outside. The employees by Luba didn’t speak a word of English, luckily there was a Jewish lady there who translated and we ordered some food and met some other travelers there. After brunch we ordered some cakes to-go (the lady wasn’t there anymore so international sign language did the trick) paid our check and left.






As @Dan asked around if someone can go buy some milk I headed to a grocery, bought a few bottles of milk


and headed to AEP airport (about 15 minutes’ drive).


Check-in was quick, no mention about the “overweight 30>50lbs” but as I was walking away from the check-in desk a lady came over and told me my carry-on ways a ton and I should take out something, I told her ok and just walked away…


At that point there was no line by security, the Americans were busy drinking their water bottles before security even though as the guards told them liquids are allowed through. Headed to the gate where we met up with more people, davened Mincha and waited for our flight to be called.


Pre-boarding was called and line 16+ was directed to a different line and then Sky-Priority was called. I got in the line and the gate agent told me "you are not Sky-Priority" so I told her “but someone told me to go” so she just let me through, and I headed down to the bus. After a short bus ride we arrived to the aircraft, boarded and settled in for the flight down to Ushuaia.



Flight was full (maybe 4 empty seats). About 10 minutes late we pushed back, taxied for a while (including back taxi on the runway to due closed taxiways) and about 45 minutes late we took-off.



Flight was uneventful, some travelers took the time to introduce themselves to other travelers. At 6:55pm we started to descent and a few minutes later the beautiful Tierra del Fuego came into view,




and at 7:09pm the aircraft made a 90 degree right turn (the flight path is to avoid Chile’s airspace)


while continuing the straight descent above the Beagle Channel




into Ushuaia - Malvinas Argentinas International Airport (Pop Quiz: who knows the reason for the name “Malvinas”?). At 7:15 we landed (only 5 minutes late even with the 45 minutes late departure),


back taxied on the runway (given this airport consists of no taxiways at all) and parked at the gate minutes later.


We all headed into the tiny baggage claim room (there was no mystery which belt to go to as there is only one) and all hand bags were x-rayed before entering the room for food that is prohibited in Patagonia.


After claiming my bags we exited the baggage claim where there was a representative from the hotel directing us to a bus waiting outside.


I meanwhile headed to the baggage claim office to inquire about the 2 bags that were missing from @Dan’s group in the morning. First the agent said “we will find it and deliver to the hotel” but I was firm and requested that he check the system to see if the bags were loaded on our flight, and upon confirmation that it was another agent went into the baggage claim area and few minutes later walked out pushing a cart with the 2 bags. He matched the tags with the picture @Moishebatchy sent me and released the bags to me.

After everyone got their bags we boarded the bus and departed the airport,








and after about a 15/20 minutes ride we arrived to the hotel at around 8:15pm - finally after the long 23 hour journey we have arrived to the start of our epic expedition.
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: Joe4007 on February 08, 2019, 01:26:18 PM
Thanks. Keep it going.
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: chff on March 14, 2019, 04:37:43 PM
4. Sunday night

At around 8:15pm (23 hours after leaving home in NYC) we finally arrived to the “Los Cauquenes Resort” (http://www.loscauquenes.com/eng/) for the official start of our “Kosher Antarctica” expedition.


This beautiful hotel is situated on the banks of the Beagle Channel (https://www.google.com/maps/place/Los+Cauquenes+Resort+%26+Spa/@-54.8057259,-68.4912619,4739a,35y,117.94h,67.12t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0xbc4c2488171315e5:0xa2d5f3c1ca32267f!8m2!3d-54.841858!4d-68.372515), with great views all the way to Chile. The hotel is a member of ”SLH” (http://www.slh.com) and I’m guessing @Dan was hoping that it would be part of World of Hyatt (https://www.dansdeals.com/points-travel/milespoints/many-hyatt-points-youll-need-stay-54-slh-hotels/) by the time of our trip, but doesn’t look like any SLH in South America joined World of Hyatt. Upon arrival we were all greeted by @Something Fishy & @Dan. The reception had all room cards ready, and the hotel’s staff started to offload the luggage from the bus and later took them to everyone’s room.


At 8:45pm everyone gathered in the hotel’s dining room for dinner, where there was a gift bag waiting for everyone with a Menorah & trip memorabilia.




@Something Fishy & @Dan made a joint welcome speech

& then (Rabbi?) @Moishebatchy started the “רוחניות” part of the trip with a siyum (seems like @Moishebatchy makes on average .78 siyums per week).


After dinner there was some fruit for snack


& we all went on the deck to watch the beautiful long sunset over the Beagle Channel, taking pictures while bothering @Something Fishy “is this a nice picture?” “this is the way to take pictures?”.







We then davened Mariv and then everyone per their minhang started to light the Chanukah Candles, singing together הנרות הללו into the night.



That day in Ushuaia was extremely hot and the rooms had no A/C so I asked the front desk if they had fans, and he just answered me “open the window, there are no mosquitoes” (as he knew that I was going to ask him that as Argentina is a Zika listed country on the CDC’s site (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information) - but I had anticipated no Zika as 10 miles west Chile had none so I knew it can’t be Ushuaia does have).

Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: Dan on March 14, 2019, 04:50:59 PM
Nice TR so far :)
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: chff on March 14, 2019, 05:25:42 PM
Nice TR so far :)
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: chff on March 15, 2019, 12:10:14 AM
5. Monday Morning



In the morning after Shacris


was served breakfast (note that all food for Ushuaia were brought in and left there, for the cruise itself food came from Montreal and were loaded on the boat when OOE re-registered the boat before the season).


Afterwards everyone packed up and left their luggage in the hotel lobby where an truck came from the boat and transferred the luggage directly to the boat, and everyone was free to roam Ushuaia for a few hours.


As noted the fuel shortage meant we had to leave a few hours earlier than planned many people than had plans were forced to work around and do changes, but I personally didn’t have any plans in advance. I took my time very leisurely and then saw what others were doing so decided to go check out Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tierra_del_Fuego_National_Park) just to say I was at the edge of Argentina. People were teaming up 4 per taxi, but as I was going to be ready later than most other people, only @Moishebatchy was able to join me (luckily we were only 3 people as no way would 4 Americans fit in such a car). Luckily we got a driver that spoke English (many others were complaining that their drivers only spoke Spanish so I showed them how to download Google Translate offline and they were able to communicate easily). Most of Ushuaia is not paved (would guess the same reason why most of Alaska isn’t paved - as the winter snow cracks the pavement creating many potholes and it’s just easier like this) -



we headed to the park and the driver kept on raving what beautiful views the park has but in reality (i’m borrowing the words from @Something Fishy) they were from “meh” to “feh”...


Entrance fee was 490ARS per person (Local Argentines pay way cheaper). First we stopped at the "Correo del Fin del Mundo" (https://goo.gl/maps/6nAknN64zKF2) - “The end of the World Post Office” where we bought some postcards and mailed them out. The postmaster was making a living selling fake passports and stamping fake stamps in your real passport accompanied with a picture from his late dad may he rest in peace. Took a little longer then expected as there was my neighbors from Brooklyn (I’m not going to be קורא בשמם) who were controlling the lines and creating havoc & I was just praying that they shouldn’t be on our ship.


We then continued to the very end of Route 3 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Route_3_(Argentina)) where the "Pan-American Highway" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan-American_Highway) starts and it is the very southwestern edge you can drive in Argentina, surrounded by Chile from 3 sides. We got out and took some pictures and headed back to the car as it was getting late.





We then headed back towards Ushuaia (and had to do a quick detour to the hotel as I forgot something there)

I’m still wondering what’s wrong with this car - hint: 4 Americans are in it…..

and went to the Albatros Hotel (https://goo.gl/maps/9PM3yAYwW5S2) (right next to Puerto Ushuaia) which is the meeting point for One Ocean Expedition (little did I know what impact “Albatros” will have on me).


first glimpse of our ship


OOE had coffee served there (no kosher stuff) and many people walked around the corner to the many gift shops to stock up on souvenirs. At about 1:15 we loaded onto 2 busses for the short ride to the port (as it’s a “closed customs area” and “you can’t walk in” and must go by bus), where one of the ship’s guide said a quick hello to us all,



but then unfortunately my bus couldn't start and we had to transfer over to the 2nd bus while some people had to wait for the bus to come back to get them.


We then took the very long drive (https://youtu.be/g4wSh6hxxHw) into the port area



and onto the dock till our boat (where there was a fuel truck parked),


everyone got off the bus and headed up the gangway to the deck 5, no passports checked or vouchers requested. 



Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: chff on March 15, 2019, 10:57:47 AM
Minor detail I left out - Monday Morning was prepared wraps with tuna (or Turkey?) to take along for lunch
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: sam28 on March 15, 2019, 11:44:03 AM
Nice TR keep it coming
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: chff on March 25, 2019, 11:00:26 PM
The Ship
Flag: Madeira (Portugal)
IMO: 9000168
MMSI: 255806208
Call sign: CQAL6 (Charlie Quebec Alpha Lima Six)
Year Build: 1991
Tonnage: 8,378 GT
Ice Class: Lloyds 1A(Super)
Hull Classification: Ice Strengthened
Length: 122.83 m (403 ft 0 in)
Beam: 18.00 m (59 ft 1 in)
Draft: 4.9 m (16 ft 1 in)
Speed: 16 kn (29.63 km/h)

The vessel for the expedition was the “RCGS RESOLUTE” from One Ocean Expeditions (https://www.oneoceanexpeditions.com/vessels/vessel-rcgs-resolute). The ship was built in 1991 and was owned & operated by a few companies & was taken over by OOE after the Summer 2018 season and sailed from Hamburg (it’s former home port) to Sydney, Nova Scotia where it was renamed “RCGS RESOLUTE” (https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17929551724200911/) (and while it was docked in Sydney the Kosher food was loaded on - according to some sources Montreal might have closer (https://goo.gl/maps/r32kUmedRFz) to the Ushuaia than - sorry I got confused already  :-X).


The ship then sailed down to Punta Arenas, Chile where it left on its maiden voyage for OOE and we had the 3rd voyage (one of the reason I couldn’t find any reviews on the Ship)


I will bring here @Dan description of the ship's layout (https://www.dansdeals.com/points-travel/trip-notes/antarctica-trip-notes-part-3-diverted-falkland-islands/) and I will add in my notes;
Deck 1: has the engine room, which is off-limits to passengers.
Deck 2: has the presentation room that we used as our shul. The ship set it up with a mechitza that was perfect for our needs. It also houses the ship’s infirmary. - Between the presentation room & the hospital is some of the crew quarters. Officially no passage between each other and you have to go up to deck 3 to go from forward to aft
Deck 3: houses the triple cabins, as well as the mud rooms and zodiac boat exits from where we would change into boots and leave on Antarctic expeditions. - most of the triple cabins are not sold but rather houses the “Staff”. Behind the mud rooms are some areas off limits to passengers including storage & crew quarters.
Deck 4: has the twin cabins, the ship’s boutique shop, and the main dining room. - in the forward section in the bow I believe are the anchor & some other technical stuff
Deck 5: has the superior and superior plus cabins, as well as the lounge, bar, and an aft observation deck. - the superior plus cabins are the most forward cabins, with the bridge being on the deck above and the anchor below. The superior plus cabins can hear & feel every time the bow thrusters are used and as well any anchor movement. The noise was deafening most of the cruise.
Deck 6: has the suites, the Bistro with its indoor and heated outdoor seating, the ship’s bridge, and an aft observation deck.
Deck 7: has the pool, hot tub, exercise room, and the library with expansive views forward. - going to the aft are the lifeboats, 1 fast rescue boat on each side, and at the very aft the Zodiacs are stored (they are lowered by crane to the water)
Deck 8: is the main forward observation deck.
- You can take a Virtual Tour of the ship here (http://rcgsresolute.com/) & more details about the ship can be found here on OOE’s download page (https://www.oneoceanexpeditions.com/downloads)


The ship has 2 elevators, one by the center by reception/lobby and one forward by the staterooms/bridge area. Next to the elevators are nice open wide staircases and most people just used the stairs and didn’t bother with the elevators. During the Shake on עשרה בטבת the elevators were taken out of service. The elevators also didn’t go down to Deck 2 to the presentation room.

I really liked the cabin layout. Upon entering the cabin was a tiny closet with 2 hooks, 2 small shelves like for gloves/hats, 2 umbrellas.



The bathroom had storage place both in vanity & wall cabinets. The shower has 2 bars to hold on, & water pressure was good. Shampoo & soap was provided in a wall dispenser.


Right outside the bathroom was the emergency closet, containing 2 life-vests and a survival kit. Continuing to the bedroom on the wall hanging was 2 sets of the included gear such as the bib pants, waterproof jacket, waterproof bag & binoculars.



Under the bed was place to store luggage (I sent some of my suitcases to the storage room for the duration of the trip). 3 closets of hanging & shelf space, and a night chest next to each bed. By the window was a couch which had drawers underneath for more storage and a table bolted to the floor. All drawers & cabinets had euro hinges & rubbers which kept the door tight closed even if the ship was shaking.



The was a screen in each room and showed the daily schedule and the map, and I believe you were able to watch a DVD but I didn't try (it had some other input as well).


Their was a small fridge and a drawer with cups, same idea designed to keep everything secured, a coffee machine was there as well. The window sill had plenty space for storage.

There was a house-keeping service all day long, and each cabin was cleaned twice a day - morning & during dinner.

The ship has 3 divisions of crew;
1) “Staff” or “Blue Shirts” - those were OOE’s Expedition leaders, guides, adventurers, photographer, naturalists, penguinologist and many other "-ists" (ואי אפשר לפורטם כי רבים הם), those are people from 1st world countries (like from Canada & the US) receiving 1st World salaries with 1st World benefits. During meal times they sat & mingled between the passengers, at night hung out with everyone. Most of the staff left with us out of Ushuaia - they do a "tour of duty" for 2-3 weeks at a time.
2) “Crew” - those from 2nd world countries getting paid 2nd world salaries, doing all the other jobs like; ship engineering, kitchen & galley, cleaning, painting (the ship gets painted over & over  24/7), all “sailor” stuff (anchor / security / engine / gangway / zodiacs loading), Doctor (Ukrainian), incinerator, hotel staff (room service etc), waiters and so on. Most of them are Thai/Filipino (I don’t know the difference between). They live fully on the ship for months.
3) The bridge crew - higher ranking sailors, such as the Captain(s), navigator, Staff captain and a few more. They were mainly from Ukraine, but there was one British officer as well, and for the lookout position they had one of the “crew” have that job.

When we came on board & checked-in (more on that later) I asked for our room key, and was told the ship has an “open door” policy - as weird as it sounds, all doors on the boat were kept unlocked at all times (except of course when I was sleeping…), and this included every room from the bridge to the tech rooms to the kitchen & galley to the rooms to Stephen Harper's Suite, and everyone just applied common sense and didn’t go where they didn’t belong. There was a sign posted by the 3rd deck bulkhead that “Security Level 1” was in effect which is the minimum. By one of the mud rooms was a metal detector but it was never used (I believe that on the big cruise ships one goes thru airport style screening every time they board), the only security measure that was done (or called it safety) was every time you went off or returned you had to scan your card in & out (and if you didn’t have your card just saying your cabin number & name worked - your face was matched with the picture on file)



During the planning of this cruise OOE had said that the only communications options was phone card (to use the ship’s public satellite phone, which was in the phone booth next to the reception - $30 for a 60 minute card) or an email service to send text emails only for a setup fee of $30. While the was a big מחלוקת הפוסקים regarding using an Inmarsat or Iridium sat phone, I came upon this & I shared it with group, and as his tweets kept on coming @Dan asked “what is he using for service?” one of us said maybe a BGAN (http://www.bgansatellite.com/) device, but then he replied to @Dan  & we were all “oh no, we were looking forward to a forced digital detox” (I already had in mind what I was going to send out on my WhatsApp status before & after the trip being off the grid and now I was back to the drawing board…), but other than “there is some Wifi service” we didn’t know any details, and we all started to ask OOE, I send DMs on Instagram to anyone that posted from the ship but no one replied back and it took a few weeks till we got the pricing. (Side note, @georgekourounis also used a BGAN (https://bit.ly/2Tzhpzc) supplied by NatGeo.)

OOE kept on touting that the ship has an “open bridge” policy where the bridge is open and you can enter whenever you want except in minor cases - but in reality, the bridge was closed more times than not, it was open after lunch for a few hours (on non-excursion days) and then again after dinner till around 10pm. If the weather was bad (such as windy days or during the drake passage) or during “pilotage” the bridge was closed. Every time the bridge was open there had to be one or more from the “Blue Shirts” on hand to babysit us, to usher us to the starboard side, to only talk in whispers, and to behave really nicely. But all the officers were very nice & patient, and every person every time they came to the bridge they kept the officers very busy “what's this switch?” “that switch?” “what’s this” “that?” “what’s the weather forecast” “drake lake?” “shake?” and checking out every machine, checking the planned route in the autopilot, going to the weather computer to look at the forecast, all this rinse & repeat every person again every day. (I will write more about the bridge later in the TR)

Another tidbit was regarding tracking, while there is FlightRadar24 for flights - which is free with minimal ads or low monthly rates, the main ship tracking site is MarineTraffic (https://www.marinetraffic.com), but their website has more ads then VIN & LNN combined, making it really slow & very buggy. I started to look into their paid options, but you need a PHD in tech engineering to understand their plans (which BTW is only yearly & not monthly), so I created an account with an email that I never use to try it out and then found out their trials are 3 days only with a CC on hold which meant that my plan of doing a monthly trial during the trip won’t work. I then found another site VesselFinder (https://www.vesselfinder.com/) & they have a more basic version just for passengers cruise ships called CruiseMapper (https://www.cruisemapper.com/?imo=9000168) which loaded faster (their app does for some reason not update like the website) and did the trick for my family to track the ship.
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: Mordyk on March 25, 2019, 11:21:59 PM
Love this TR so far!! Thanks!
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: Traveler718 on March 26, 2019, 12:22:39 PM
Amazing TR! Just one minor correction: While all the rooms were kept unlocked by default, there was an option to request a physical (not electronic) room key that one could use to lock the door whenever outside the room. We did not utilize this option, but I know of at least 2 members of our group who did. No idea if Stephen Harper had a key, though based on interactions with him, I'd be quite surprised if he did.
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: chff on March 26, 2019, 12:24:27 PM
Amazing TR! Just one minor correction: While all the rooms were kept unlocked by default, there was an option to request a physical (not electronic) room key that one could use to lock the door whenever outside the room. We did not utilize this option, but I know of at least 2 members of our group who did. No idea if Stephen Harper had a key, though based on interactions with him, I'd be quite surprised if he did.

Going to write about the physical key in the next segment. I requested a key & got a set, but never used it. Andrew I saw leaving his Cabin without locking it
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: Something Fishy on March 26, 2019, 12:47:12 PM
Awesome TR, please keep it coming!
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: Moishebatchy on March 31, 2019, 06:14:24 PM
Amazing TR! Just one minor correction: While all the rooms were kept unlocked by default, there was an option to request a physical (not electronic) room key that one could use to lock the door whenever outside the room. We did not utilize this option, but I know of at least 2 members of our group who did. No idea if Stephen Harper had a key, though based on interactions with him, I'd be quite surprised if he did.

Stephen Harper had a key. I personally witnessed him entering his room once, and he unlocked the door before opening it.
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: Moishebatchy on March 31, 2019, 06:17:31 PM
& then (Rabbi?) @Moishebatchy started the “רוחניות” part of the trip with a siyum (seems like @Moishebatchy makes on average .78 siyums per week).


No, I am not a rabbi, despite the Ami attempting to coronate me as one.
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: Mimo on April 10, 2019, 02:59:38 PM
Love the TR! keep it coming
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: marduk on April 11, 2019, 06:27:22 PM
Awesome TR and adventure! Gonna read the report again at home.
Title: Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
Post by: chff on April 19, 2019, 12:07:24 PM
Dec 10 - Day 1 - Departure from Ushuaia
We walked up the gangway to Deck 5 and entered the ship. We settled in the lounge while groups of 5-10 were called to the reception to check-in. Coffee & tea were setup on one side and on the other side there was a table with a “Kosher” plaque (but was empty ;-0.)



After a few minutes we were called & headed to the reception desk to do the check-in formalities. They scanned our passports (and then kept it for the duration of the cruise [in case of abandoning ship a crew member has the responsibility to grab the box with everyone’s passport]), took our pictures and gave us a cruise card (on the big ships the card serves as a room key, charge card & embarkation/disembarkation card, but as this was a small ship it was only used to go on & off the ship. For any charges such as the bar you just gave your room number). When I got the cards I asked “is this my room key?” and was then told the “open door policy” (which I mentioned above) but was offered physical keys which I took but never actually used them. No credit card was requested or a hold charged. We then went to our cabin to unpack (our luggage was already there).

About 1550, (from here forward I will write in 24hr time format as the ship was like that), the captain made an announcement on the PA, that in 10 minutes he will sound the "general alarm" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_emergency_signal). It iis 7 short rings followed by 1 long one. And at that time everyone needs to grab their life-vests from the cabins and head to their “muster stations”. Everyone’s muster station is listed on the cruise card & on the room door map. The "muster drill" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muster_drill) which is required under international maritime law. Since it was my first time on a cruise, this did give me a small shiver, more than watching the safety spiel about seat belts on an airplane. 10 minutes later the alarm sounded and we put on our life-vests, made some scary looking selfies and headed to our muster station. We settled comfortably, which was the forward library on deck 7 (2 flights up) and settled down on the couches there.


Image Credit Jason Ransom/One Ocean Expeditions

After a few minutes the cruise director stood up in middle of the room and started his safety drusha and explained the safety protocol, the muster plan and alarms etc. He told us when we take a shower the door has to be closed as the sensors are very sensitive and the vapor from the shower can activate the silent alarm and the fire crew will come for a visit ”ladies please don’t do it too often…”. Then we put on the life-vests ”I promise you by the excursions we have more comfortable & glamorous vests”. We then headed out in single file - hand on the person in front - to the lifeboats ”hopefully the only time you will get to see these boats”.


The photographer was there to take pictures and then we were all dismissed, returned the vests to our cabin and headed to the bar for the welcome briefing.

Around 1630 everyone gathered in the bar lounge and the stewards were serving Champagne. For a few minutes all we can do was envy them, but it didn’t take long for the Kosher Wine to appear. Corks popped and the “L’chaim” kicked off.



At 1700 the lines were let go and the ship was on its way.

Gangway retrieved

Lines removed - Image Credit @moish




At this time the welcome briefing started by the “Hotel Manager” Romana Calvetti welcoming everyone.


She introduced the Captain who came down from the Bridge. He welcomed everyone with a glass of champagne in his hands saying “it’s not my glass, I’m on duty now so I just borrowed it from someone…no worries”, after he finished he gave back the microphone and returned the champagne from whoever he took it from and he went back to the Bridge.



Image Credit Jason Ransom/One Ocean Expeditions

Next up was the “Cruise Director” Boris Wise who introduced himself & the rest of the “staff”.

Image Credit Jason Ransom/One Ocean Expeditions

His briefing was on safety, rules & guidelines for the cruise in general, and then the “daily briefing” (which followed everyday “tomorrow’s news - today”) which is about program planned for the next 24 hours. Given the antarctic environment & conditions, they have many plans, but rarely execute “Plan A or B”, but rather “Plan E or F”. He gave us a heads up about the drake “it’s coming” & now is the time to “put on the patch, take the pill, eat the brownie ;-)”.


We were shown a weather map forecasting the weather for the following day and the tomorrow’s schedule, and with that over we headed to dinner.



Ship's position around dinner time

Ship's position around dinner time

Dinner was served everyday both in the Bistro (Deck 6) buffet style, & in the dining room (Deck 4) restaurant style. We had our meals in the dining room with the starboard side tables reserved for us. For dinner this night was only a Main Course & Desert. Throughout the cruise the Kosher Group had complementary wine & soft drinks (vs the non-Kosher people had to pay for it).





After Dinner we headed down to the Presentation Room on Deck 2 where @Something Fishy & @Dan welcomed everyone onboard, briefed us on what our own program will be.



We had had a “meet & greet” where everyone introduced themselves to the other travelers.


We then davened Mincha &  Mariv, followed by the never ending debate when we should daven Sharcris (as one said “2 jews 4 opinions”).

note the “mechitza” on the right

Then I lounged around till I ended up on Deck 8 (which is the forward observation deck) and just took in the beautiful views of the ship exiting the Beagle Channel. 








Ship’s position (UTC 0300 11DEC19): 55°03'01.4"S, 65°35'34.9"W (https://www.google.com/maps/place/55%C2%B003'01.4%22S+65%C2%B035'34.9%22W/@-55.0503889,-65.5952165,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d-55.0503889!4d-65.5930278)
Distance sailed (10DEC): 180 Miles
Times @Something Fishy bumped his head: at least 4 times



Timelapse from Day 1