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Antarctica TR: the trip after Dan I took the same ship, the RCGS Resolute, that Dan took, on its very next voyage after TeamDan.  Dan suggested I post a TR report here but I'm not very good at this sort of thing, so I'll just highlight my trip with respect to Dan's (or what I know of it based on what I've read so far).

First off, I have to say that I eagerly kept abreast of Dan's posting about his trip, to see if it would have any impact on our voyage.  I was nervous when I read about some fuel issues and also something that a passenger on that trip posted on tripadvisor, complaining about the diversion that resulted in less time in Antarctica proper.  But, in the end, everything on our voyage turned out great.   

Quick aside: we befriended some ship staff, who only had very warm things to say about TeamDan.   Understandably, they said it was a little bit of a learning curve for some minor things at first, but they really liked the group a lot.  It was nice to hear that!

Unlike Dan's cruise, our trip was not blessed with the diversion to the Falklands for fuel.  I say that because I would have gladly accepted that because of the wealth of wildlife they must have seen there.   (I did not see any mention of this yet in Dan's reviews, but I base this on what the OneOcean guides tell me of what is possible to see there.  I hope TeamDan had a fulfilling time.)

Days 1&2:  Violent Drake shake, with lots of rolling and waves as high as the fourth deck---the dining deck, which made for interesting scenery while eating!   Although this took its toll on some passengers, we all have some vivid memories.   Such as the sounds of glasses crashing.  Or chairs sliding across the bar.  One passenger even had to get some stitches for a minor cut.

Day 3:  ice blocking the channel, so we were diverted.  No excursions.   There was a very exciting scene though, with a pod of orcas chasing some penguins in the water--photographers went nuts but, really, you cannot capture such a thing in a photo or a video.   Pure drama!

Day 4:  A glorious scene morning!   A morning landing to see gentoo penguins in a bay colored with black, white, grey and...."iceberg blue".  (If you've seen the blue, you know what I mean.)    The afternoon was spent among whales and penguins.

Day 5: Hiking and polar plunge.   Overnight camping.

Day 6: Chilean station with nesting gentoo penguins.    Afternoon kayaking with icebergs and breaching whales.

Day 7: Cruising through an active volcano crater.  Afternoon visit to island with nesting gentoo and chinstrap penguins, complete with chicks.   Awesome.

Day 8 and 9:  Drake lake.  (Day 9 with a little bit of a waste because the calm seas meant that the crossing was very fast. )   

Other stuff:  We had the standard food catering.  All of the food and drink was more like standard "big cruise ship" food, rather than "expedition" food.  IOW, there was good selection and plenty of it.

Good scotch whisky tasting night, with knowledgeable staff.

Excellent guide-to-customer ratio, with more than a dozen guides and another handful of researchers who were doing their own thing (but eager to answer questions).

Had two minor issues, which were dealt with promptly and satisfactorily.    As a result, I am extremely satisfied with the entire trip.

January 01, 2019, 12:23:02 PM
Re: Antarctica TR: the trip after Dan As ual902 asked in a PM, and also on another thread, what are the tips about booking a cruise to Antarctica?   I am happy to answer any questions you might have.

1)  Should I use an agent?   Agents know many cruises but, of course, they are sales people, so you must find one you trust.  I found some real duds, but one I liked,--which I didnt use because they could not get me a slot on the ship I wanted (and which I got myself via persistence with OneOcean directly)--is an agency in Bend, Oregon (of all places).   Lynn, from PC, was on our cruise too so she should know what she is talking about from firsthand info.

2)  Price to pay.   Expect 10K and up.   But depends on ship, itinerary and time of year.   You will need to read up and determine what you want to see and what is important to you.   Pay attention, ual902!:  if you just want "bragging rights", you can find a cheapish tour, like the big ship Hurtigurten, which will tick your box for you.   If you want something special---more whales, 3 types of penguins, penguin chicks, etc, etc---you will need to read books and do research.   Lonely Planet can help.

3)  Tradeoffs: the biggest tradeoff is size of ship.   Under 99 passengers can basically go anywhere, but the passage can be rough.   Over 200 is a problem, because they have to take shifts for landings.  (Over 500 cannot land at all)    OneOcean RCGS Resolute was fine for me because it was basically a cruise ship and had special gear to make for a smooth journey (which was important to my sensitive stomach)

4) Saving money.  I think this should be lower priority but, because we are DD readers, we cannot help but try to find a better price.  :-)  So, three ideas for you: (1)go early or late in the season.  It will be colder but so what, you get maybe more animals.    (2) Go to Ushuaia and wait a few days and bargain for an empty cabin...going rate was $5600 for Quark Expedition boat with similar features to ours and which went out just before Dan's  (3) organize a group of 12 friends and you can be their free leader.  (Not sure if 12 is correct number...maybe SF can verify)   (Bonus 4th):  It's not clear to me that going directly to the provider will save you money.  They have their own sales reps too and. apparently, agreements to not undercut the independent agents (see #1).   Also, once you ask anyone about a particular cruise and give your name for a tentative hold, all the other agents may be able to see that you are working with someone already...makes shopping around a bit tricky....

If you have questions, I can try to answer here.   

ETA: Bonus 4th money saving tip

January 07, 2019, 12:18:49 PM