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25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
I recently completed an Antarctic adventure by Quark Expeditions aboard the Ocean Endeavor. Our trip to Antarctica was unforgettable; it truly is the last slightly untouched, unspoiled, except for the effects of global warming, place in ... Read More
I recently completed an Antarctic adventure by Quark Expeditions aboard the Ocean Endeavor. Our trip to Antarctica was unforgettable; it truly is the last slightly untouched, unspoiled, except for the effects of global warming, place in the world. We booked our trip through a specialty agency specializing in adventure trips and they were able to answer a lot of questions to insure this was the correct trip. I had numerous questions about my physical ability to do the trip, as I am not 30 something years old. They answered my questions to the point that I was reasonable assured that I could physically “do” the trip and enjoy it. For me at least, this is a very (insanely?) expensive trip. However, Antarctica has been one place that I have wanted to see for 30 plus years and realized if I did not go now, I would never see and experience it. The basic itinerary: 1. Travel from home to Buenos Aires, Argentina – This was independent portion of trip or not included in trip fees. 2. Tour Buenos Aires (Expedition Trips/Quark Expeditions). 3. Travel by charter flight (Expedition Trips/Quark Expeditions) from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina. 4. Tour Tierra del Fuego National Park (Expedition Trips/Quark Expeditions). 5. Board Ocean Endeavour (Quark Expeditions). Leave evening day 1. 6. Crossing The (Dreaded) Drake Passage (2 days). The Drake can be rough, this was a calm passage. Day 2 7. Crossing The (Dreaded) Drake Passage (2 days) and 1st zodiac outing at Shetland Islands. Day 3 8. Antarctic Sound – 2nd and 3rd zodiac outing and kayaking (Yes, I opted for kayaking and extra $). Day 4 9. Explore Mikkelsen Harbor and Hughes Bay, Cape Herschel – 3rd and 4th zodiac outing and kayaking. Day 5 10. Explore Wilhelmina Bay and Cuvervulle Island in the Errera Channel – 5th and 6th zodiac outing and kayaking. Day 6 11. Explore Useful Island and Gerlache Strait – 7th zodiac outing and kayaking, 8th zodiac and kayaking replaced by following packs of Orcas. Day 7 12. Crossing The (Dreaded) Drake Passage (2 days). The Drake can be rough, the return was reasonable calm passage. Day 8 & 9 13. Arrive in Ushuaia return flight to Buenos Aires and return (independent portion of trip or not included) to home. Day 10 The food was great, but one sort of expects this on a ship. Meal times were announced and everyone ate in the dining room. Breakfast was hot and cold buffet, lots of choices, plus made to order eggs. Lunch was buffet again, but the menu of items would change. Dinner included choice of soup, salad, entrée and dessert. Dinner generally consisted of 3 choices available – fish, red meat, and pasta or veggie option. For dinner, the wine stewards offered choice of a white or red. Chef could also adjust for dietary needs. One service the dietary staff did that was helpful, when going through the buffet, especially crossing the Drake when the ship would rock some, is to carry your food to a table, they had their “sea-legs”, some of us did not. I looked forward to meal times, not only for the great food and new items to try, but also with such an international shipmate listing, who you would be dining with including Adventure Team staff this generated lots of lively conversation ranging from where you live, occupation, what you did and saw today to where to next. The entire ships’ crew was very experienced and it was obvious that client satisfaction and safety is first priority. The ship’s crew were divided along three main divisions, Ship’s Captain and Engineering staff to operate the ship, Hospitality included Galley staff, housekeeping, laundry and administrative, and Expedition Team an incredible group of dedicated Antarctic and Artic professional with and incredible collections of backgrounds and abilities. The Expedition Team members were readily accessible between excursions and many gave presentations during the two days crossing the Drake and after dinner. All the presentations were well prepared and interesting. I had studied for this trip, so some was a timely review of information I had previously been exposed to, however, the enthusiasm of the presenter kept it interesting and at each presentation, I did receive additional new information. I also noticed that many of the Expedition Team attended their teammate’s presentation. During excursions or on deck the Team members were very knowledgeable about subjects out of their main area of expertise and enjoyed sharing. All staff demonstrated a genuine concern for Antarctic wildlife and sustainability. Every staff member I had contact with was the type of person you would want to have in your organization. The pre-trip information was excellent as to what to bring and not bring. We were able to pack the proper clothing to stay warm and comfortable whether on deck, in the zodiacs or kayaks. The key is to dress in layers and make sure your base layer is comfortable and wicking. The ship store also has a good selection of layering items if you forgot something, or feel you need additional, plus their prices were reasonable. I bought a pair of waterproof pants that I neglected to obtain ahead of the trip. Everyone was a little anxious about cross the Drake Passage as the Drake is known to have 6 to15 foot rolling swells, if you are lucky, as the Drake can be either a Shake or a Lake. It takes about two days to cross in either direction. December and January are better times to go as unless the ship sails into a storm you will avoid the 30 ft. waves. If you are susceptible to motion sickness (I am!) visit your Doctor and inquire about the “patch”, transderm scopolamine, if it is right for you and follow directions explicitly. It worked great for me on this trip. The ship’s Doctor, Dr. Wayne Jonas, was excellent and always available to discuss your situation and gave solid medical advice. You should also try to board ship well rested. Eat only moderately the day before and avoid greasy foods and excessive amounts of alcohol. Once on board pack your gear away immediately, storing it so it won’t become dislodged or need organization later when the seas aren’t so calm. It’s a good practice to avoid overheating both in your cabin, eating or anywhere else as this can bring on motion sickness. Reading in bed is another activity you might wish to avoid. It is rather obvious this type of trip may not be for everyone, example; my wife did not want to go and does not want to go even after seeing all the photos I took and listening to my inexhaustible tales of exploit. My daughter who accompanied me would like a return trip. As I stated at the beginning, for me at least, this is a very (insanely?) expensive trip. However, with 198 passengers and crew and staff of 130 to 150 and experiencing how things are done, I can understand the cost. Activity level can be somewhat high if you decide to do as many kayaking excursions as possible, or do the climbing, skiing options, and climbing to the top of the snow/ice covered island for the better view. But many guests did just the zodiacs and on landings, walked along the shore, or picked a good spot to sit and watch the parade of penguins. I am the traveler that even thought I had a wonderful time and experience somewhere, I tend to cross it of the list as having been there and there are so many new places to experience. Antarctica is different; it was so much more than I expected, and there are so many additional sites to explore that I would truly enjoy a return and with the Quark Expeditions Team. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We took this cruise as Antarctica was on our bucket list and we were not disappointed. The cruise left from Buenos Aires and the terminal and embarkation were great, no problems We did miss our stop in the Falklands Islands due to bad ... Read More
We took this cruise as Antarctica was on our bucket list and we were not disappointed. The cruise left from Buenos Aires and the terminal and embarkation were great, no problems We did miss our stop in the Falklands Islands due to bad weather in the Drake passage. despite the bad weather the trip wasn't too bad but maybe is not for 1st time cruisers. Our cabin was great good view and large size. A lot of lectures and the debriefs were held in the grand salon which had a good capacity. If there were performances you didn't have to get there early to get a seat, I believe most of the passengers could be accommodated here. We found that the colonnades dining room was better than the main dining room which seemed a bit slower, but the food was good in both. A lot of the time we ate on the patio (deck 8) as we enjoyed the views and being outside. The expedition team was great and there were informative lecture's everyday. They were always willing to help and answer questions, and they worked so tirelessly to make the Antarctica experience one that you could not easily forget. Going ashore in the zodiacs was an experience in itself, and the crew were fantastic checking your life vests and gear to ensure your safety there was always someone there to assist with getting your boots on and off and wash the guano off the boots which happened most days that we had landings, we even did kayaking in Antarctica which was great paddling amongst the icebergs. I thoroughly enjoyed my Antarctica experience Seabourn have a great team and Service through out the ship was excellent from the cabin staff guest services and deck crew as well as the waiting and bar staff. After Antarctica we travelled through Patagonia and ended in Valparaiso Chile, disembarkation went very smoothly. Would definitely do the Antarctica experience again with Seabourn and their expedition team no hesitation. Read Less
30 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
My husband and I recently returned from a 10 day cruise in February to Antarctica. Le Lyrial is a beautiful ship and given our geographical location handles the rough seas and conditions very well. It was hard to find fault with a ... Read More
My husband and I recently returned from a 10 day cruise in February to Antarctica. Le Lyrial is a beautiful ship and given our geographical location handles the rough seas and conditions very well. It was hard to find fault with a ship that was only 10 months old. Our cabin on deck 5 was more than comfortable with plenty of storage and the cabin stewards took pride in keeping the cabins very clean with plenty of fresh towels and french toiletries. Nothing was ever a problem to them. Our dining experiences on both Level 2 and Level 6 were very enjoyable. There was plenty of choice for both buffet and fine dining with very attentive staff making sure all was okay. As this was an expedition cruise the expedition crew were exceptional and we looked forward to their daily informative talks about the wildlife and the places we would visit. Each day our zodiac excursions whether they be to go ashore or cruise around icebergs or shipwrecks were a highlight. The crew made sure we had plenty of time ashore to look at wildlife or just to take in the scenery. The ease of getting on and off the zodiacs is handled very well with every effort taken to make one feel safe. This is not your normal cruise and cannot be compared to the bigger cruise ships. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience of sailing on a luxury ship in a very isolated part of the world. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
Silversea is one class act. All possible categories to review were excellent, so no need to spend time with details. The Captain, his crew and the Expedition team exceeded every expectation that I had for the adventure. Chef Pia ... Read More
Silversea is one class act. All possible categories to review were excellent, so no need to spend time with details. The Captain, his crew and the Expedition team exceeded every expectation that I had for the adventure. Chef Pia astounded us with her resourcefulness and creativity despite food inventory constraints of being at sea for 19 days. All other staff were professional, experienced and personable. Antarctica is a vast, grand, incredibly pristine and quiet place on Earth. It defies all positive adjectives and superlatives. The penguin and seal colonies in South Georgia and the Shetland Islands are beyond belief. You'll never go to a zoo again. Silversea Cruises conspired with Mother Nature to hit this expedition "right out of the park". Before we disembarked, we booked a Silversea Silver Explorer expedition in the Artic. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
A Zegrahm cruise on a vintage Quark ship, which they use routinely. We selected Zegrahm for the itinerary. Unfortunately we missed the entire west coast of Antarctica, barely made it to the Peninsula, because the ship wasn't in full ... Read More
A Zegrahm cruise on a vintage Quark ship, which they use routinely. We selected Zegrahm for the itinerary. Unfortunately we missed the entire west coast of Antarctica, barely made it to the Peninsula, because the ship wasn't in full working order. A propeller was seriously malfunctioning which Zegrahm knew before we departed. Hence we missed 4 days of the itinerary, arrived late at many landings so light was very poor for photography, landed on Deception Island in total darkness. Because so9 many clients were unhappy with all the time at sea, Zegrahm finally offered a weak compensation package, which still required considerable haggling. Their offer was largely dependent on future bookings, in other words Zegrahm making more money. A good deal for Zegrahm, not for the clients. After considerable discussion, they finally offered 10% cash on a very expensive, once in a lifetime trip. In addition, the ship is in dire need of interior renovation, grimy, seats falling out of the lounge banquette. We recommend Natl. Geographic - new ships, faster, with more time on the ground. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
The Explorer is we feel the best of the 3 Silversea Expedition Ships Having said that I think it is important to say that some passengers/guests expect the Expedition Fleet of Silversea to mirror in terms of service and food and ... Read More
The Explorer is we feel the best of the 3 Silversea Expedition Ships Having said that I think it is important to say that some passengers/guests expect the Expedition Fleet of Silversea to mirror in terms of service and food and amenities their main line Fleet. On the Explorer the Crew were brilliant - kind , professional, helpful and attentive. Always remembering your name and invariably your favoured tipple in the bar! The ship has a large range of suite sizes and choices - perhaps unusual for a small expedition ship. If there is any criticism we thought the food could go up a couple of notches and the complimentary wine list needs rewriting. ( when will Silversea get the message on this?) The trip was for us was just outstanding. A little swell on the way across to Antarctica, but then and the rest of our trip we enjoyed brilliant weather and very calm seas. We even had lunch and dinner in deck on at least 4 occasions. What a memory that will always hold Not sure words can be found to sum up the sheer beauty of Antarctica! It was just stunning! If you have half a chance should not be missed as future expedition destination. The Siversea Expedition Team did a magnificent job taking us ashore twice every day whilst we were in Antarctica. Their specialist knowledge of the area just added so much to our day to day activities on shore . We loved too the daily briefings by the Team. All 10 or so of them are true pros and a great ambassadors for Silversea Expeditions. So all in all a trip we wouldn't have missed. A long journey, but a couple of days in Beunos Aries also so worthwhile and enjoyable so do visit if you can. our days in a Finca, well north of BA rounded off a truly special trip. If you have got half a chance do go. It is truly a special place Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
This is a fantastic way to experience the Antarctic, the Falklands and South Georgia. If you want to go on an expedition to see wildlife and nature this is for you; if you want dancing girls with feathers and dinners with tuxedos and black ... Read More
This is a fantastic way to experience the Antarctic, the Falklands and South Georgia. If you want to go on an expedition to see wildlife and nature this is for you; if you want dancing girls with feathers and dinners with tuxedos and black cocktail dresses then book another sort of trip. This is a professional operation with an excellent boat and expedition crew. Personally, I pay good money to avoid dancing girls with feather but YMMV. We saw penguins unnumbered, humpback whales bubble netting, whales surfacing next to the ship (!!!), seals hunting penguins returning to the rookery, Rock Hopper penguins kamikazimg off the cliffs to avoid seals, fantastic hospitality of the Falkland Island residents, Hour Glass dolphins viewed from the observation deck, Wilson's Storm Petrels and Falkland Island Steamer Ducks doing what they do naturally, visits to British 1950s Antarctic Stations and a fascinating impromptu talk by a Norwegian ex-whaler (and I am a card carrying anti-whaler!). The only problem is should we be travelling to this delicate and fragile eco-system? We would be back again (for the third time) but for wrestling with our conscience about whether we should be travelling here at all. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015
We went with Celebrity Expeditions to the Galapagos about 8 years ago and thought that experience could not be topped. We were wrong. I did extensive research on all the different Antarctic cruises. Most cost the same, all have zodiacs ... Read More
We went with Celebrity Expeditions to the Galapagos about 8 years ago and thought that experience could not be topped. We were wrong. I did extensive research on all the different Antarctic cruises. Most cost the same, all have zodiacs with naturalists, all have food included. None have alcohol included and the luxury experience you get with Silversea. The ship is a smaller icebreaker but lovely cabins and dining room. It did look a little ready for refurbishment in some places but overall was very nice. But the biggest thing of all is the Antarctic. We were extremely lucky on our Drake passages, they were calm and uneventful. We had a mid-ship cabin on the third floor which was very stable. Our window was very large but there were excellent shades to cover so that us light sensitive sleepers could rest. The bathroom was large, had a tub and was mostly done in marble. I was shocked. We got a fantastic table at the rear of the ship and had amazing views. The maître d'hôtel, Anna was very gracious. The chef was wonderful and often came to the dining room to be sure we enjoyed our food (which was divine). We usually stopped at two ports per day. Most were shore landings but there were a few zodiac cruises. Everything was outstanding. We were very lucky to have fantastic weather and saw an amazing array of animals. Other people got tired of the penguins but I think they are crazy. Mid-January was a perfect time to go as most of the penguins and birds were just hatching chicks. We actually got to see a penguin chick hatching from an egg! It was funny to watch them squabble over tiny rocks and slide across the ice. Then they would jump in the water and be the picture of speed and grace. We saw lots of seals, orcas and seabirds. We saw many whales (humpbacks, minke) and were very lucky that our captain stopped the boat for an hour so we could watch a group play. The best naturalist was a young man named Travis from South Africa. He would make noise on the bottom of the zodiac to get the interest of the whales. We saw them come very close and one time they even followed the zodiac. I wished we had known we could invite the staff for dinner with us, we would have loved to get to know some of them more. They are meticulous about making sure you don't take any unwanted seeds or plants from the mainland. It was just very professional and the trip of a lifetime. We included it with another 2 1/2 weeks of hiking in Patagonia and the whole experience was Nirvana. You have to go. Just do it. It's expensive but worth every penny. I was worried people might be pretentious but the staff were wonderful and most of the people were nice. Don't wait until you are so old you can't move around much. It seemed like some people just wanted to 'tick off' their final continent which I think is a waste. It is truly a gorgeous destination with so much to offer. Go, Go, Go!!! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We selected the Explorer for our Classic Antarctica cruise, a bit apprehensively, as our only previous SS experience was a disappointing cruise on the Shadow. Still, we were looking for that sweet spot of comfort, education and adventure ... Read More
We selected the Explorer for our Classic Antarctica cruise, a bit apprehensively, as our only previous SS experience was a disappointing cruise on the Shadow. Still, we were looking for that sweet spot of comfort, education and adventure and the Explorer delivered. ITINERARY This was the standard "Classic Antarctica" itinerary common for the shorter trips. That said, there can be no assumption about what will and will not be seen as all of the ships in Antarctica are subject to weather and ice conditions. The ice rating of the Explorer allows the ship more flexibility and that is a real consideration in this area. What impressed us most was the clear objective of the captain and expedition staff to show us as much as possible and we were able to do a few special things like cruise through the Lemaire Channel, which was breathtakingly beautiful. There was variety in our landings - usually two a day - with zodiac tours, Port Lockroy and several stops for penguins/birds. Bad weather forced us to leave Antarctica a day early, which was a decision made for safety and seemingly understood by all. As a result, we spent an extra day in Ushuaia. SS put together a tour of the beautiful national park but, because of heavy rain, it was more like a sort of tedious bus trip. Overall, we were very satisfied that we had a good overview of Antarctica. Of course, it was short and, time permitting, it would have been nice to go to South Georgia and similar ports, but it was sufficient. SHIP CONDITION This is not a new ship, and it is a bit frayed around the edges. However, it was kept very clean and that is our priority. For an expedition ship, we found the ship very comfortable. FELLOW PASSENGERS There were 107 people on board: 45 were from China and the rest was a mix from all over the world - for sure, UK, US, Netherlands, Russia, NZ, Australia, Ireland, Germany, among others. Large groups can change the dynamics of a sailing and one group of 26 was challenging at times. My suggestion is that the staff, right upfront, makes it clear that there is a rotation of zodiac groups and that people are NOT permitted to go other than at the appointed time. Overall, however, it was a pleasant group of travel companions. FOOD/BEVERAGE We were very impressed with how hard the chef, Pia, and her staff worked to make the meals interesting and provide numerous options given the limitations of the kitchen and supplies. The food was superior to ours on the Shadow, which wasn't expected. The dining room was very friendly and Anna was masterful at making people feel comfortable and seating them as they wished....it was no problem to dine alone or with others. We can't comment on the wine, but the beverage staff was terrific in all venues of the ship. In addition, the wait staff was fantastic. CHARTER The charter days were tedious. We arrived at the domestic airport two hours before the flight, as requested, and our boarding passes for the LAN charter were already printed. There didn't seem to be much opportunity to make seating requests. There didn't seem to be much concern about the weight limits on the way down, but there were some hassles with carry on weight for some people on the way back from Ushuaia. The flight down was approx. 4 hours. Upon arrival, we were driven to lunch at a restaurant and were there for two hours. Following that, we were driven to the ship, with several stops along the way, all designed to kill time. It was a very long day.... On the return, we were put on buses at 9 AM and driven about 150 yards to a parking lot in Ushuaia where we had "free time" for two hours. Then a two hour wait at the airport followed by the 4 hours flight back to Buenos Aires' domestic airport. At rush hour, the drive to the International airport can take well over an hour, so be sure to leave enough time for a connecting flight. EXPEDITION STAFF The staff on board was sensational - all specialists in various topics and excited to share their interests with the passengers. There were many lectures which could be watched in the theater or on TV in the room. As an aside, the sight lines for the theater are terrible. Everyone is on the same level, so a few tall people upfront (isn't that always the way?) can block half the screen. There are also poles scattered around the room. The expedition staff spent a lot of time with passengers and added greatly to the experience. CABINS The cabins were surprisingly comfortable for an expedition ship. I know that many people don't spend time in their rooms, but I was happy to have a larger space for the long days on the Drake Passage. There are 4 butlers for the ship, so they are very busy, but we found ours to be delightful and responsive. The room was kept in good order and any minor issues were addressed quickly. ATTIRE This is a very casual cruise. There were only two "casually elegant" nights on the ship and maybe a bit more than half of the men wore jackets on those evenings. Otherwise, it is mostly sweaters and slacks for all meals. Sneakers are fine for walking around the ship. Some people had Uggs. Again, casual footwear and definitely rubber soles. We rented boots from the ship and were very happy with them. The red parka provided to all guests was perfect - warm and waterproof. Sizes could be changed for either, which was on the questions I had before we got on board. For landings, we followed the guidelines suggested - two layers and waterproof pants/parka. A gaiter is a must. We had two sets of clothing for landings and that was plenty. There is a self service laundry on the ship as well as laundry service by the staff, so don't overpack. NITS We were not impressed with the documents provided by Silversea. There was not a lot of detail in some areas and we had to call them for a few kind of obvious questions. We also missed the "leave behind" information for our family. Finally, the booklet and and separate paper regarding the charter had different weight limits listed, something many of our fellow passengers noted. This is an important detail and the correct limit should be clear. On departure day, we were told that no changes to our bill could be made after 8 AM. Our bill arrived in our room in the middle of the night and had an error of a few hundred dollars. At 6:15 AM we were told that the person with authority to change the bill could not be found. It took until 7:30 to get this sorted out. While it may not be a big deal, it seems obvious that, with such a small window for corrections, the person responsible should be available on departure morning. OVERALL We were delighted with our choice of the Explorer for our trip. The crew was professional and caring and there was a surprising degree of comfort given the locale.   Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
This was my third cruise on a Silversea ship, and the second on the Explorer. The itinerary was fabulous, and the expedition staff was utterly superb; many of them were PhDs. There were frequent lectures, and many of the lecturers were at ... Read More
This was my third cruise on a Silversea ship, and the second on the Explorer. The itinerary was fabulous, and the expedition staff was utterly superb; many of them were PhDs. There were frequent lectures, and many of the lecturers were at a college or university level. The Explorer is a smaller ship, and the amenities are certainly not at the level one would expect on a larger ship. That having been said, the cabins were completely adequate, and a couple of issues with my cabin were resolved quickly. The dining room was a highlight, from the superb staff captained by dining room manager Anna (a superstar in every respect) to excellent food and a delightful staff. The only complaint was that dining in the evening sometimes ran a little long because people loved to talk! Most impressive was the attention the expedition staff paid to getting passengers on and off the ship, which in almost every case was via zodiac. The zodiac operation was smooth, highly professional, and the expedition staff and ship staff who worked with the zodiacs could not have been more professional. Land tours were fantastic, and expedition staff made exceptional efforts seeing that everyone got around to see as much as possible. It was obvious that the staff enjoyed their jobs and were enthusiastic about doing them well. Antarctica is a challenging trip under the best of circumstances, but Silversea is to be commended for making this a particularly outstanding trip. Visiting one of the most remote parts of the world in luxury is a real treat! Read Less

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