As a ship that was built for acoustic research, Akademik Ioffe is a very quiet vessel that doesn't disturb wildlife, is VERY stable in rough seas, and has an excellent Russian crew who are friendly and helpful, if you speak to them.
... Read More
As a ship that was built for acoustic research, Akademik Ioffe is a very quiet vessel that doesn't disturb wildlife, is VERY stable in rough seas, and has an excellent Russian crew who are friendly and helpful, if you speak to them.
Was in one of the cheapest cabins and there is an "open cabin" policy which is no problem. The cabin was fine. Altogether it felt like a proper ship with plentiful good food, a cosy bar, and access to the bridge for much of the day. Lots of deck access on different levels. Zodiac access was easy.
And most important last. The expedition staff couldn't have been more friendly, welcoming and informative. On the crossing of the Drake Passage there were excellent lectures and the expedition leader did a brilliant job choosing excursions and doing everything possible to satisfy client requests.
If you want masses of restaurants, casinos and nightclubs, then perhaps this isn't for you. If you want to appreciate Antarctica, you couldn't do better. Read Less
We have been on the trip Baffin Island - Jewel of the Arctic 03/Aug to 14/Aug/18.There was no other cruise gettable at this time to the region of Baffin Island.The region and the published excursions were looking good. The promise of the ... Read More
We have been on the trip Baffin Island - Jewel of the Arctic 03/Aug to 14/Aug/18.There was no other cruise gettable at this time to the region of Baffin Island.The region and the published excursions were looking good. The promise of the brochures and the internet pages sounded great.
This tour had big problems with the weather conditions. Nobody could do something against it. But it was not necessary to stay two days in the fog. The sistership showed the way and gave every day a report of the regions.
The fakenews of the expedition leader Daniel every evening at dinnertime were amusing. Everybody who had a GPS could look for the real sailing routes and also at the maps at the bridge. But he tried to tell us that we are doing other directions. Never a plan B - only at last minute. Helpless!
Was the tour not well prepared for these conditions by the company??!!
Very few boat tours because of no permissions for landing.
The CheckIn and welcome on the ship was a big chaos. Nothing prepared. At this time the Russian crew was unfriendly and rough. Later we didn't see them.
Bad service. The noise in the dining room was terrible. We had to wear ear plugs all the time. Breakfast and lunch were in buffet form (cheapest cafeteria-style) For example for breakfast we had to stay in line about 35 minutes to get our meal. For some of the elder passengers a painful experience.
The guests themselves had to get cups and glasses from the bar to the dining room for getting a coffee or water.. Not enough cuttery for (about) 110 persons. The forks and knifes were often twisted. The dessert spoons were often missing. The delicious dessert were rare and often tooo late served. The dinnertime was too late, the main meal sometimes was served around 0845 pm.
The first days the tables were layed in a wild organization like small kids are doing. Many pieces of the dinnerware were chipped. Answer of the hotel manager Chris G. was: Nonsense. At all this hotel manager was very unfriendly and didn't like any critical words. Where did he learn his job?
After the meals the dining room was closed immediately, no chance to sit there and talk with your neighbors/friends. The bar was too small for these actions. The library was occupied about three days by the Kayak group. The last days the dirty glasses and empty bottles of their extra parties stood around and were not brought back to the pantry/kitchen/bar.
Sometimes it was looking like a field trip with young students. But the discipline of students was often better than the discipline of the OO-staff.
They sat with caps and bobble hats in the dining room, sometimes as the first persons at the table. They helped serving in the same dresses they were doing the Zodiac tours.
The ship is on European standards of 1970, the technique on the bridge and in the machine room was up to date.
The machine room looks cleaner than the cabins. Cups and glasses at the cabins were not cleaned. Empty luggage stood in the floors and was not stored away by the crew.
Remarks had to be given three times to the staff of OO, then they started to look for it.
The experts were excellent and have done a great job. But the last days they had no more subjects to speak about.
We knew, before we started, that the Akademik Ioffe is an old ship. We never felt unsafe because we were privatly trained on ships in former times, although the lifeboat practice was a nice joke in the first evening.
The cabins were ok, but the prices too high for one bunk and one smaller sofa bed. We asked for use of the second bunk, but that wasn’t possible. (Why not? – No answer)
No keys for the rooms. We were visited unexpected twice by other passengers, wrong door, wrong floor. The cabin stewardess came in also without knocking just when I was getting a shower. Nobody gave her the changed breakfast times. Two of the single women passengers told us, they were feeling very uncomfortable at sleeping time. We also never felt comfortable and it wasn’t cozy at all. We learnt again to stay in line and say nothing to the OO-staff because they never reacted immediately.
The return flights were organized by the office well, but if there had been no crew members to fly back there would have been nobody at the airport to help the elderly people. More and better information should be given.
Before this cruise we were interested to go the Antarctica with the RCGS Resolute in 2020, because it was the former Hanseatic. But after these experiences with the service we won’t do that.
Summary: It was not worth the money we had to pay for this ship cruise. Read Less
It's so interesting to read reviews about the same trip, written from other perspectives! To me, this was an amazing voyage, with an excellent expedition leader and staff, great food, and impressive attention given to safety and ... Read More
It's so interesting to read reviews about the same trip, written from other perspectives! To me, this was an amazing voyage, with an excellent expedition leader and staff, great food, and impressive attention given to safety and passenger experience. The food was very good, considering that the ship's itinerary took us into one of the most remote areas on Earth. The beds were super comfortable, accommodations were as advertised and expected of a ship designed for polar scientific research, not for luxury cruising. We enjoyed sitting in the hot tub on the top deck and watching the ice float by!
There were a number of experts on staff, all of whom were personable, knowledgable, and willing to go out of their way to add value to our trip. The team camaraderie was exceptional. Everyone pitched in where needed, whether that was to help wait tables, find answers to our questions, or make sure that we had what we needed in our room. The company provided outdoor clothing and gear that made our shore excursions and zodiak cruises much more comfortable when added to our own gear.
Our trip was beset by several problems. The possibility of itinerary changes was made clear in the company brochures prior to booking. The Arctic is wilderness, remote, poorly charted, with weather and ice conditions that make travel there rather precarious. We were far from easy rescue should a disaster occur. Conditions can differ greatly from year to year, and from day to day. Information about ice and weather conditions, and decisions regarding our itinerary were shared often, with the reasoning that went into these decisions being clear and transparent. Safety and customer experience were at the top of mind in decision-making, and I trusted in the experts leading the trip to make wise choices. If a traveller wants reliable... don't book an Arctic trip.
We had several days of fog, and pack ice conditions that caused the trip leaders and captain to alter our course substantially. That being said, they were able to find alternative locations for us to embark, kayak, hike and cruise by zodiak. The situation wasn't perfect, and that's the chance you take when you travel to the Arctic. The ice conditions didn't allow us to end the cruise at the intended place. Making new arrangements was hugely complex and difficult, given the remoteness of the place, small, gravel runways, the huge distances involved, and more that I can't even imagine. The arrangements were handled professionally, keeping us in the loop, and at the end of the day (albeit a very long one), everyone was delivered to Edmonton in time to make ongoing connections. I was so impressed with the way the company handled this complicated and stressful situation.
We learned so much, saw such incredible vistas, viewed amazing wildlife, and got a glimpse into northern culture, history, archaeology and exploration. We saw a part of the world that few get to experience, and it has hugely enriched my experience of being Canadian. We bought the kayak package, and enjoyed it tremendously. Guides were expert, and so attentive to safety. We met daily before breakfast to discuss kayak options, and they made every effort to get us out as often as we could. We did get together for a final wine and cheese party. So sorry that it wasn't cleaned up quickly enough for the previous reviewer!
I would highly recommend a One Ocean Expeditions trip, provided you do your due diligence as a traveller, and understand what is, and what isn't being offered. Read Less
Converted from a scientific ship to cruising. Cabins are small and the doors can't be locked, deck has tarp-covered obstructions, decks have no service or chairs. Often hoses or equipment in walking areas. Not organized for exercise ... Read More
Converted from a scientific ship to cruising. Cabins are small and the doors can't be locked, deck has tarp-covered obstructions, decks have no service or chairs. Often hoses or equipment in walking areas. Not organized for exercise - minimal gym is on floor 2, sauna on 5 (and is often not turned on), hot tub on 6 and massage on 3. Gift shop is just one cabin with a few shirts on hanger, a table with some gifts and is seldom open. . Very few refill supplies, i.e., toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
Getting luggage on board and identifying yours was pure chaos. Five hours into the cruise and the passenger luggage was still in the halls. Some of it was still there the next morning. The boat drill was treated almost like a joke and was VERY inadequate for someone not familiar with emergency cruising procedures. Exact details for the planned excursions were not revealed until that day's breakfast. Timetables were often missed and trips shortened to compensate. The trips did meet expectations although by no means spectacular.
The food ranks as the worst on any cruise I have taken. Breakfast was always standing in line cafeteria style. Massed produced eggs in warming pans with previously frozen croissants and sweet rolls. Lunch was also usually cafeteria style and some days it was pack your own lunch for excursions. The first dinner was lobster and mine took 1 1/2 hours to be served at 9:30 PM. Late starting (7:30 PM) & slow service often meant finishing dinner shortly before bed time. One desert choice. The only dining area was very loud and roughly equivalent to my high school cafeteria in appearance, The lounge/bar is very small, noisy and not designed for inter-mingling. If you are looking for a cruise with none of the frills, average food and service but emphasis on scenery and excursions this would be your choice. Read Less
I took the One Ocean trip to the Weddell Sea and the Falkland Islands from 23 Jan to 3 Feb of 2018. If I had to summarize the trip in a word, I would say that it was good. I would certainly repeat my decision to go with One Ocean on the ... Read More
I took the One Ocean trip to the Weddell Sea and the Falkland Islands from 23 Jan to 3 Feb of 2018. If I had to summarize the trip in a word, I would say that it was good. I would certainly repeat my decision to go with One Ocean on the trip; there were many things that were very good, a few that were not so good, and one that was simply terrible.
First, the good. Antarctica itself is stunning. Just like the pictures that we’ve all seen, but it’s very different to actually be there, to know viscerally that Antarctica exists and is as described.
The ship and the crew were in general outstanding, and the hotel manager was particularly good. But make no mistake: this is a working research vessel as opposed to a luxury liner like you would get with Carnival Cruises or some such. If you’re expecting luxury travel, you’re going to be disappointed.
I decided to go at the last minute, which meant I got whatever cabin was empty at the time. The One Ocean people were wonderful and easy to deal with. The late timing worked out well for me: I got a “superior” cabin to myself. It would have been quite spacious for two; for one, I had more room than I knew what to do with. The bathroom was clean and functional, but basically consisted of one small room with a toilet and shower in the same compartment. They had a common floor and the shower was separated from the toilet only by a cloth curtain. It was totally functional, but the kind of “non luxury” that you should expect.
The food was solid. I live a gluten-free life, and there were in general reasonable gluten free alternatives. I had read before departing that the desserts were fantastic (yay!) but I did not find that to be the case. There was typically only one dessert option available, and the gluten-free version was generally like the main dessert choice but adjusted to remove the gluten. Overall, I would say that the quality of the meals and of the desserts were comparable. There was not nearly enough ice cream or chocolate throughout the voyage. Be warned that there is basically no food available other than at scheduled meal times.
There were a couple of cases of norovirus as we started the cruise. The crew did an excellent job of keeping the ship clean and isolating the individuals involved (both staff, as it turned out). No one else came down with it and a few days later, everything was back to normal.
The disappointing: The weather was terrible. During our entire time in Antarctica, the only blue sky I saw was one small patch on the horizon. This definitely impacted what we were able to do, but the crew did a good job of producing alternatives.
This is obviously not One Ocean’s fault! But for a once in a lifetime trip, it’s a shame that the weather chose not to cooperate. I have no idea how often the weather is better than what I experienced, and how often it’s worse. I do know that even though Antarctica is a desert, it snowed on most of the days I was there.
The bad: As I’ve said, the staff was friendly and competent. There were three things I wish had been different.
First, we were told at basically every meal what a fantastic time we were having. I found this fairly offputting, since I can tell for myself if I’m having fun. So there was an element of “hard sell” throughout the trip. I would certainly have had a better time had I been able to come to that conclusion myself.
I also often had the impression that the expedition leader (cruise director, basically) was being less than candid with us. When the cases of norovirus were first reported, we were told to be careful washing our hands but that it was no big deal. Later that day, when the news had all been good (no new cases), we were told that we were in the midst of a “level 2 outbreak,” whatever that is. There were many other instances as well.
The second thing I found disappointing was the demographics of my fellow passengers. I’m 62, and it is fair to say that I was well below the median age of the other travelers. Well below.
This was compensated for somewhat by the fact that there were a variety of younger people on the ship who had been given discounts (or free passage) by One Ocean itself. A fellow who worked for a geographic society, who had brought his brother along as a guest. A handful of scientists (four?). A group of students from a Canadian college who were coming as part of a class they were taking. (Clearly, I need to go back to college.)
The scientists I found quite antisocial. This might be because they were busy, but they certainly had time to play cribbage in the bar. Perhaps I was the problem; I ask hard questions and am generally unwilling to accept pat answers. I don’t think they were comfortable with that. I had the strong impression that they felt that their trips mattered far more than ours did.
Now, obviously the rest of the passengers and I are subsidizing these folks’ journeys. I understand this from One Ocean’s perspective: a trip full of geriatrics would be no fun at all, and One Ocean is also committed to the science that goes on in the Antarctic region. But the scientists (and the students; more on them below) need to understand that we are their funders. I have done a great deal of sponsored research in my life, and I always treated my funders quite differently than the way the non-tourists on this trip treated me. (Of course, my funders were forking over much more money than the cost of an Antarctic cruise.)
The college students were more antisocial still, interacting truly exclusively with each other and with the staff (reducing staff availability for everyone else). They also were generally lounging around in the bar, spread out with laptops across multiple tables and making the limited bar space significantly smaller for all of the other passengers. If I were taking another One Ocean cruise, I would make sure that there was no similar student group aboard before I booked. I also had the impression that the students viewed the trip as a total boondoggle and were primarily paying lip service to the “class” that was the source of their vacation.
The behavior of the sponsored passengers hasn’t impacted my rating of the cruise; I think of it more as a lost opportunity on One Ocean’s part. I hung out with other folks and had a fine time. But to the extent that One Ocean invites these guests aboard to dilute the generally elderly nature of their paying clientele, they need to make that goal much clearer to the individuals being sponsored.
The final bad thing about my trip was the bartender. He cared about selling drinks, and did not give much of a rip about anything else. I asked him for two things (cough drops and some playing cards). In both cases, he did nothing. In both cases, I asked him again, he assured me he was on it, and continued to do nothing.
Crews always have people who are stellar and people who are not. While the One Ocean bartender was definitely on the wrong end of that scale, I suspect that it may actually be One Ocean’s fault. I believe that the bartender is paid either significantly or totally from the bar till, which would explain most of his behavior. So, to the One Ocean people who will undoubtedly read this: If you pay the bartender from the till, you need to stop.
The terrible: There was one thing that was bad enough that I would recommend against traveling with One Ocean until it is fixed.
The doctor was not equipped for the voyage. He was a very nice and caring guy, but simply not equipped. I went in to see him to get some cough drops, and he rummaged through this filing cabinet full of pills and produced some. He had no idea how they would interact with any of the other drugs I’m taking, which is OK, but he also had no way to find out, which is absolutely not ok. The guy in front of me was getting medication for his wife and wanted to know if it were contraindicated if she were pregnant. Again, the doctor did not know and had no way of finding out.
Antarctica is a remote and potentially dangerous place. Given modern technology, it is simply inexcusable that there is no complete medical library on board. If the doctor were to prescribe medicine and then have it impact a pregnancy, I expect that One Ocean would (rightly!) be held totally at fault. If the doctor were to unnecessarily withhold medicine out of concern that it might have negative consequences for a pregnant patient, the same would be true.
No one should travel on a One Ocean vessel until they have adequate medical resources and documentation aboard.
All told, though, this was a good trip. I came to do two things: get away from email and see tabular icebergs. I accomplished both of those things. I will remember the trip, and remember it primarily fondly, for the rest of my life. I’ve tried to point out a few simple things that One Ocean could do to improve the experience considerably but, as I said at the outset, I would make the same decision regarding passage had I known at the time of booking what I know now.
★★★½ out of five. If One Ocean fixes the medical documentation issue, it will be 4½ out of five. Read Less
We were recommended to One Ocean and Akademik Ioffe for a trip that would maximise the experience of visiting our seventh continent and were not disappointed. If you want to sit in comfort watching the scenery pass by, this is not for ... Read More
We were recommended to One Ocean and Akademik Ioffe for a trip that would maximise the experience of visiting our seventh continent and were not disappointed. If you want to sit in comfort watching the scenery pass by, this is not for you. If you are happy to spend up to 5 hours a day (or longer overnight) either ashore or cruising in the zodiacs, there is probably no better option. We did the Quest for the Circle cruise, flying to Falklands and boarding the ship there, then flying back from King George Island. This maximised time in Antarctica, but still meant we had our "right of passage" to be there
The experts on board were fantastic. John our historian was in his 51st year in Antarctica, and holds the Polar Medal - not a bad start! Birds, mammals, glaciers, geology - it was all covered both in excellent talks aboard or on shore. Having them join us in the open dining room was an added benefit. Safety, equipment and attention to detail were superb. The whole expedition team operated extremely efficiently and smoothly. The Russian crew provided waitress and cleaning services efficiently and unobtrusively - their English was adequate.
We had a twin cabin with private facilities that provided all we needed. Our concierge could not be more attentive to our needs including when we were a bit off colour with the rough first night.
Food was plentiful and of an overall high standard with some stand out dishes. Drinks were very reasonably priced and of excellent quality. Laundry was half the price of most hotels.
Public space is limited but we found it quite adequate. Sauna with plunge pool, spa pool and a small gym were great to have but we had limited time to use them with all the off boat activities.
There were too many highlights to list - mainly off the ship - and photos never capture it all. You just have to go there. If we get the chance to go again, or on similar expeditions, we would use One Ocean again without hesitation.
Thank you for the experience of a lifetime. Read Less