The trip was fabulous: the icy landscape, the beauty of the fjords (sometimes under a blue sky), the mountains blanketed by snow .... The zodiac cruising among the icebergs was always wonderful and so was the hiking on land!
Icy Fjord on Baffin Island was marvelous (we were lucky to see a polar bear mom with her two cubs on shore from the zodiacs). Karat Fjord in Greenland where we walked on Karat Island, surrounded by icebergs and under a great blue sky, was exceptional and so was the walk to the glacier at Ilulissat. To begin with, we couldn't go on shore at Ilulissat because of the ice blocking the harbor, but we waited it out. Finally the ice shifted and we took to the zodiacs: again, blue skies and warmth. The walking on the boardwalk and over the rocks close to the glacier was a delight!
Stefan Kindberg, the expedition leader was outstanding, doing his utmost to show us the beauty of the land. And so was the staff of the Vavilov. Everybody was exceptionally motivated, highly knowledgeable and helpful and we were all very well taken care of - onbord and on land - and always with a smile. The interesting lectures explaining the specifics of that region were always packed.
Captain and crew did an excellent job as well - circumnavigating bad weather as best they could, so that there was almost no rocking of the ship.
We got interesting insight into the life of the Inuits. Touching performances were staged at different landing sites - and onbord, we had with us the Inuits Susie, Andrew and also John Houston, the filmmaker of Inuit life. They were good company, answering our many questions about life in their northern communities, showing us films and giving workshops as well.
You were right for the ship, Sharon: the view from the Bridge is wonderfully panoramic!
I must also mention that the Vavilov was on a mission and had a research team on board before picking us up at Cambridge Bay. You know about it, of course: the mission was successful and the team had located one of the two ships of the Franklin Expedition in the deep waters northwest of King William Island. After more than 150 years of searching for the remains of this ill-fated expedition, finally one of the ships was found! We were all aware of the historic moment!
A big Thank you to you again, Sharon! You made this unique journey possible! And of course, I will address you again at Polar Cruises for my next polar adventure! You can count on it! You did such a great job getting me on this ship!
With my warmest regards
We had great weather the whole time up there- by Svalbard standards anyway. No rain and temps in the low 40’s mostly with lots of sun. The ice was broken up enough that we were able to circumnavigate the entire island group just as I had hoped to. I saw: At least one polar bear everyday; a Blue, a Sperm, and two Fin whales, all firsts for me; several groups of walrus; several Arctic foxes; thousands of birds of varied species, mostly nesting and with young; several different species of seals; several reindeer; great glaciers and geology; some historical settlements. Took lots of photos and had some nice outings on Zodiacs. Food was good, and crew was friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable on a number of topics which they shared in frequent presentations. My quad room was a bit cramped with 4 of us in it, but I’ve had worse. Fortunately my 3 roomies and I, all of us strangers to each other and from 4 different countries, were compatible and we got along well. In short it was a very good trip.
If there was a drawback it was that I don’t think there were enough Zodiac outings. So much time was devoted to watching wildlife we encountered while on the big boat (especially the polar bears) that several Zodiac trips were canceled because time spent (actually several hours each time!) stopped or following next to polar bears that were merely mostly sitting and sleeping on a ice floes or on land. I would have preferred to move on more expeditiously once it was clear we weren’t going to get much more from the bears/walrus or whatever, and make sure we got in the scheduled Zodiac outings, but they chose sitting with polar bears instead every time despite lack of any real interesting activity on their part. That was a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, we still got a good look at all the Svalbards whether we landed or not. But given my druthers, and especially since the weather was so good the whole time and we could always land, I would have rather done several more Zodiac landings as planned.
I would like to do another Arctic itinerary- maybe Greenland or the Northwest Passage- in the near future so I’m sure I’ll call on you again then.
Thanks again for your help.
We had an exciting and memorable trip that far exceeded our expectations. We had some fabulous wildlife encounters and got some great photos. Your knowledge, advice and help in planning and implementing the trip was key in making it a great experience.
Thanks again for your expertise and good advice.
We’re back from our Svalbard trip on the Vavilov. It was an amazing and outstanding voyage. Weather conditions were excellent and we could realize nearly all landings and could sail around Spitsbergen. The staff was great too and we met again our friends Daisy and David (photographer and artist). We always went on the photography zodiac with them and took thousands of pictures. The lounge on the top deck was a good place for observing in comparison with the Ioffe. The expedition leader John is really a quality person with an amazing CV even if our English isn’t good enough to understand all of his stories.
At the beginning we were just afraid of missing the departure as our plane couldn’t land in Longyearbyen due to fog. After two tries the pilot decided to return to Tromsö where we spent one night. We just arrived on time for departure at 6pm. Fortunately we were 27 passengers and staff in the same situation.
As the Vavilov wasn’t fully booked they decided to upgrade all passengers, but we didn’t like at all cabin 332. After one night we changed to 410 which was perfect. Returning flights were a bit confusing too and our luggage is still somewhere in Oslo…
We would have preferred to continue immediately on the next trip, unfortunately we don’t have the same financial background like many other passengers, but we’ve decided to go back to Antarctica once again, maybe further south.
Thanks for your organization and patience.
The trip was really good. We had several bear encounters in the pack ice. The best one was when a male and female bears came all the way to the boat and kept circling us. The female was also putting up quite a display to lure the male, was pretty awesome to see that.
Our trip was absolutely wonderful. We could not fault anything, and thank you so much, and other staff of Polar Cruises, for the excellent service you provided us.
The ship was very comfortable, the captain and crew pleasant, helpful and accommodating. Having the variety of expertise on the polar cruise staff was fantastic and we made some good friends amongst them. I was sick during the voyage and the staff were very attentive to my needs.
The experiences we had visiting various places was amazing. The scenery and wildlife was spectacular. Everyone on board ensured our safety and maximised opportunities for us to savour the experiences and vistas.
We would like to visit the Arctic eventually and will certainly be in touch with you again. We are also highly recommending you to other folks.
The trip was fantastic. It was everything I had hoped for and more. We were lucky with the weather and as well as the set itinerary we were able to visit Balleny islands as well. Staff and crew very professional and knowledgeable. Great group of passengers, some with family connections to Antarctica and its age of discovery, with whom I had a lot of fun.
It was an amazing trip!!! I had really, really really great experiences, everything was great, in many cases exceeding expectations. A few highlights:
The expedition staff was great: they created a very welcoming atmosphere with lots of fun, learning opportunities, and interesting discussions. They've found great places for excursions
The ship itself was very clean and comfortable, well organized, with all the necessary facilities plus extras like multimedia room, outdoor hot tub :-) . The hotel staff was very well organized, kind, always did their jobs well. Also the crew of the ship did a great job - although we almost never saw them, the ride was smooth, everything was working, and also the food was great. Actually, the "living on a ship" part of the trip was also much better and more comfortable than I expected".
Antarctica itself has also exceeded expectations. breathtaking views, unimaginable landscapes, amazing glaciers, icebergs... And the cutest fauna: penguins, seals, whales, birds... It's impossible not to fall in love with penguins. They soften everyone's heart.
The trips were also very well organized, almost everyday we had 2 trips, most of them including landings as well. And the expedition staff knew some great "secret" places, that were not only beautiful, but also fun, e.g. sliding down on your back on a mountain slope on Antarctica... :-))
Thank you once again for helping us out when our trip with Ortelius was cancelled. This was really a "moment of truth" in our experience, and Polar Cruises did the best thing possible, very quickly reacting, and finding us this other opportunity.
We had a wonderful time. The ship and crew were great, food super, and the continent was spectacular. Thanks for your help, and everybody at Polar Cruises in setting it up. It was a great recommendation.
We love the small ships!
On the Polar Pioneer, we chose Cabin Number 400 on Chuck's recommendation. Please thank him for us; it was probably the best location on the ship.
Food was average, but the ship staff was very helpful and the expedition staff was friendly and knowledgeable. Our fellow travelers were also nice.
We had a tough trip in terms of some really stormy, windy weather that made some landings impossible. But, the expedition leader went out of his way to find better weather and landing spots when possible. We also had to detour out of the Lemaire Channel due to high winds and poor visibility. We traveled a few hours to find a nice landing area, then were were surprised at a second successful try of the Lemaire Channel later in the day, topped off by a visit to Vernadsky Station and Wordie House.
We liked that the schedule was very flexible in terms of extra time on land without worrying about scheduled meal times (On another trip with a different company we experienced that meal times seemed more important than time in the field).
Loved seeing the Weddell Sea but we were disappointed that we did not get to some of the advertised islands.
A once in a lifetime experience of standing on an iceberg was a surprise highlight.
Overall, it was an excellent trip, but the weather really lengthened our crossing times so it was a bit short on the actual time in Antarctica - Nothing anyone could do about that.
Finally, we want to especially thank you, Sharon, (and other Polar Cruises staff) for being so helpful.
We really liked the Albatross Hotel in Ushuaia. Great location; nice, clean rooms; good breakfast buffet and a very helpful staff.
In Buenos Aires, we chose the Hotel Madero from the list you had sent. It was a great choice! Exceptionally nice location, large and beautiful rooms and a great english-speaking staff. The Concierge was especially helpful in recommending things to do and nearby restaurants.
The trip was the best I’ve ever had … from having a Gentoo chick come stand on my boot and peck at my leg on the first landing to all the stunning scenery and the new friends … thanks to you, Chuck and the team, I had an amazing time. Annie from Quark said to say hi to Lynn and the team. She had high compliments for you (Sharon) as well. As you have been there a number of times, I don’t have to tell you how fantastic it is. And high praises for the Ocean Diamond expedition team – we had an added bonus in having both Jonathan Shackleton and Falcon Scott on our voyage and their perspectives on their relatives’ contributions to Antarctic exploration were fantastic.
I certainly hope to be able to go again, but I doubt it would ever match the magical first time.
Thank you again for all your answers to my pre-trip questions … it was so helpful.
The trip was amazing! Truly wonderful and I will definitely keep Polar Cruises in mind for my next adventure!
I enjoyed the trip immensely.
I unreservedly recommend Ortelius to anyone who would wish to visit Antarctica.
It was also a pleasure to meet Jim from Polar Cruises on the voyage. It was good to see the effort he went to evaluating the voyage too.
I would (and will) recommend anyone to your agency – I found the Polar Cruises polar fleece cap very useful for the trip too.
My only constructive criticism is that you should advise your customers of the importance of booking early for the Basecamp expedition – passenger priority for the activities was based on order of booking. Thankfully we booked early, so there was no problems there. I would also suggest on your booking form that passengers include a priority sequence to the activities they might want to undertake.
Thanks so much for the way Sharon and Lynn supported our holiday – it was all a customer could want.
Best regards to all,
It was indeed a very memorable trip and was perfect in many ways. Except crossing the Drake passage!
Antarctic Peninsula and crossing the circle were like being transported to another world! The place was magical.
The expedition staff were extremely knowledge and very professional. We enjoyed the educational aspect of it as well.
We have just returned home after a further week touring in Argentina and Chile.
We thoroughly enjoyed our Antarctica expedition and were blessed with extremely good weather. Your staff were absolutely outstanding and the lecturers were equally impressive.
Congratulations to you all on providing us with such a unique experience.
You did a wonderful job. The Sea Spirit was the perfect ship, and crossing the line was important to me. I really wish that I would have had a balcony room.
We had an amazing trip to Antarctica!
It was a great adventure and the kayaking really made the trip one of the BEST experiences we have ever had.
We cannot praise expedition leaders highly enough. From the moment you walked through the door of the Rey Don Felipe Hotel, they were organized,informative and really took very good care of you. They are one of the best organizations we have encountered and their entire team did an excellent job.
We had a wonderful time in Antarctica. We had a one day delay for the flight in, but it was long forgotten once we were there.
It was the most organized and efficient group we have ever traveled with. All the staff were wonderful! Even after the cruise was over and we ran into them on the streets of Punta Arenas they were warm and welcoming!
I would highly recommend them to travel with!
Thanks for all of your help in the planning.
We had a wonderful time - it exceeded our expectations. The boat, the crew, the expedition leaders, the food, and above all, the scenery and wildlife were truly exceptional. We would recommend the trip without hesitation.
While we are hard pressed to identify anything that was not a 10 - we might have two suggestions:
1. Arrange to have a greeter/transportation receive the guests at the Ushuaia airport. A small gesture and a nice way to kick off the adventure. It appeared quite a few other travel programs had signs and greeters when we arrived at the airport.
2. Suggest and make available side trips before the cruise in Ushuaia. A number of the guests (including us) did not realize or appreciate the amount of time we had on day 2 prior to boarding the ship in late afternoon. Rereading the materials we were sent it is a bit unclear when we board the ship. Many of us were under the impression that we would board shortly after the bags were to be picked up in the morning. Having most of Day 2 available to us we used our own resources and through some on the ground hustle we arranged for a taxi to take us on a several hour tour of the National Park so we had a great adventure.
Thanks again for your help in arranging the trip and we look forward to another adventure soon.
I want to thank you for all your help in planning and arranging my trip. It was even better then I had imagined! National Geographic runs a real class show. The ship, crew and expedition staff were incredible and the sights and wildlife are not to be believed (the only way to improve things would be remove the penguin stench). I was really impressed with the ability of the staff to make changes on the fly as situations beyond their control arose (we had a problem with the flight back to EZE, due to severe thunderstorms in the EZE area that shut down the airport and prevented the charter flight from leaving and getting to Ushuaia in time to take us back to EZE). All was taken care of and everything worked out well.
I will have no trouble using Polar Cruises again or recommending them to friends and family.
I find myself in a most unusual situation - for once in my life I am lost for words. There are simply no words enough to express my elation, awe, ecstasy, you name it... I confess, a very important piece of my soul is forever left on those wind swept shores...
These were the best days of my life and I am so proud to spend them alongside the stellar expedition team of Sea Explorer, and super professional crew and hotel team and a wonderful bunch of shipmates...
Going back? Hell yeah !!!! As a minimum Svalbard in summer, or South Georgia in October. As maximum both, and I think in maximums only.
Needless to say, only via Polar Cruises!
Sharon, I have not enough words of appreciation for you personally, as I know how much efforts you have vested in fulfillment of my dearest childhood dream!
The trip was everything that I dreamt about and more. Every thing went perfectly (even the Drake Passage behaved both ways). The Expedition group of Akademik Vavilov was amazing - and we had a whale of a time (literally).
Thanks again for everything.
Yes, I am dreaming about the Arctics already, but need a few months to recover from this trip. My brain is still processing the wondrous, surreal breathtaking vistas of the Antarctic Peninsula and it will take me a while to come back to reality. :)
Thanks again for helping me with this adventure; can't thank you enough.
I have already expressed my positive comments on the ship's catering to many of my friends. I was totally surprised that a ship that caters for such a relatively small number of passengers would provide such a wide variety of offerings at each and every meal. The menus were most expansive.
The number of landings was also exceptional. At least two landings per day and sometimes three. Even on the crossing on the way down, when the calmness of the Drake Passage meant the ship was way ahead of time, two crossings were added on a day when we were meant to be still en route.
The guides were exceptional, both with their landings but also with the most interesting talks they gave on board.
You may recall in my very early discussions with you, I questioned whether I should sail on this small ship or whether I should join a much larger ship?
I am so pleased I followed your advice. To have the friendliness and casualness of this ship was so unexpected. To be able to go to the dining room in track pants, warm weather gear or whatever was far more appropriate than what I heard from the passengers on those other ships which had also returned to Ushuaia at the same time. They were expected to dress formally for meals, including as one of their guests told me, with coat and tie. How ridiculous for an expedition cruise to the end of the world!
And to have the freedom to visit the Bridge at any time throughout the cruise also made for such a grand experience. The 8 gb memory stick at the end of the cruise was an exceptional gesture which added many plaudits to the cruise. On it were over 500 photographs, plus a couple of videos plus maps, information ships, copies of every daily notice and so on. Absolutely first rate.
At the final meeting, they displayed a quote on the screen written by some well known person of recent years that said "If God ever wanted to take vacation, he would surely take it in the Antarctic! " I fully agree.
It was indeed a wonderful cruise and I thank you for your part in encouraging me to join the Sea Explorer.
Thank you for all your help with booking this trip. I now would like to do a similar cruise up north and will be looking over your site for Arctic cruises in the future.
Regards and best wishes,
The trip was fabulous. The expedition team was one of the best I have seen in action on a tour. By the time we got off we felt like we had a personal tour even though we were one of 100 people. They were proactive from the start, the muster drill includes getting in the life boat and they make well checks on the Drake Passage if you don't appear for meals. A staff member ate at each table answering questions and sharing their knowledge. Antarctica was breathtakingly beautiful. We had two humpback whales come to our zodiac and sit for at least 5 minutes raising their heads to look at us. Still shaking my head!!!
Amazing trip! Thanks,
We had an absolutely fantastic time! The scenery and wildlife were amazing, and we couldn’t have been happier with the expedition leaders and guides. The whole trip was very well organised and we enjoyed the informative lectures from the guides along the way. But of course the real highlight was the massive colonies of king penguins on South Georgia! It was an incredible experience to be there on the beach with them.
Many thanks for all your assistance with making this trip possible.
Thanks for your email. We had an awesome trip. Cheli, the expedition leader, was the best ever - great dedication and humorous as well. We loved the trip and were very lucky to get the best weather week of the season so far. I might also add that we were the only ones sporting a Polar Cruises hat and others were clearly miffed that they didn't get one!! So well done Polar! Would definitely recommend you.
Thank you for the welcome back! I had an incredible time on my Antarctic adventure. I was very impressed with the expedition team. The customer service of the hotel manager was excellent. The staff were knowledgable and friendly, and they made the trip a lot of fun. I always felt very safe in the capable hands of the Russian crew and their ship, even on the rougher days. A lot of the passengers didn't have much interest in engaging with others (New Year's Eve was an entirely non-event), but I did make friends with some of the more outgoing ones and members of the staff. I had a roommate, and we got along very well. I did have a couple of small suggestions, but I left them in the box with the ship and they were incredibly minor. It was a truly unique and breathtaking journey, and I loved every moment of it. The time I spent in Iguazu and Buenos Aires was also very enjoyable. On the whole, I don't think I could've asked for anything better!
Thank you for all your work and help in organizing this for me, and if you have any other specific questions let me know.
We had an amazing trip! Everything was wonderful (except for being seasick occasionally). Docents were great, fellow passengers were wonderful, food was terrific... an all around great experience! I'm eyeballing the Arctic trip to Spitsbergen...
Thank you. Below is a copy of our first impressions and the email we sent to family and friends. We are not sure how we will ever top this adventure in our future travels.
After a rough crossing of the Drake Passage, our expedition cruise went into high gear as the crew has us active from 7am to 9pm each day. The Antarctica Peninsula is indescribable. Superlatives such as awesome, jaw-dropping, surreal and "of another world" are just words. You really need to see and experience this landscape to understand its effects on the human spirit. Last night we set up camp in the falling snow and today we awoke to a spectacular sunrise. The ice is cerulean blue to crystal clear, depending on its age, air and water content. The snow is soft, fluffy and marked with trails of red penguin poop. The waters are rippled or flat with reflections of ice formations, mountain tops and birds flying. Seals rest upon the shore and the ice; whales are spotted from the ship's deck and the penguins reign on land. This continent's remoteness quiets you, calms you and excites you.
When the ship passes through a spectacular spot, everyone is absolutely silent, gawking at the sight. The life in Antarctica is limited to a small outer rim, only a few miles from the shoreline. The vast interior landmass is totally devoid of life. This landmass is about 1.5 times the size of the continental US. It is truly the ends of the earth!
Thank you for your kind email ! I am sorry for the delay of my reply, I got back home on the 18th, and it was my birthday. Barely off the plane and I was celebrating my birthday with my friends and family.
Antarctica was the best trip of my entire life, it is an incredible experience that humbles you to the awe of nature. As for the penguins they are some of the most resilient animals I have ever known. I have over 800 images, I have some long nights ahead of me now.
I am confident that I am going back to Antarctica again, and I already know I want to include a visit to the Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and maybe Elephant Island. Unfortunately this trip will have to wait after 2016 for a variety of reasons most notably work related.
However, when I am going to sign up for that trip, I will be emailing you again Sharon. Who knows maybe my stories and images will have some of my family and friends go to one of the poles.
It was a wonderful trip. The Sea Spirit agreed with us completely. The expedition team really made the Antarctic accessible and understandable, and the hotel staff/chef aboard the ship were so good we would have had a wonderful time no matter where we were! We were doubly fortunate to have astoundingly good weather, so we got 10/10 possible excursions in, and managed to see all the major marine mammals and penguins. There was also still plenty of ice, so the scenery was breathtaking. Any concerns I had about not being there during the time when the penguin chicks were hatching disappeared completely.
It was really other worldly – no wonder people go back again and again! I appreciate all your help – thanks particularly to Chuck who listened to me ask so many questions and patiently walked me through the different ships/options. I felt like we were on exactly the right ship/cruise itinerary.
Thank you, yes we did have an amazing time. We are very happy we chose the longer cruise. As exciting as going to Antarctica was, the scenery and wildlife of South Georgia were our favorite part of the trip. The most memorable moment for us did occur on Half Moon Island though. I proposed to Holly and she said yes!
Thank you for all your help.
We had the best trip ever. Crew and Staff on the Vavilov were superb. I'd recommend them to anyone. In addition the other passengers were great. We will probably see some of them again in the future.
Thanks so much.
All of your information was precise and accurate.
We are still in Argentina and will be in South america until April. We will surely recommend you to others and would use Polar Cruises again.
Happy New Year 2014! Awesome trip! Definitely a trip to remember for life! The expedition team was organised and professional. The hotel staff was friendly and made us feel just at home. As I just returned to Singapore after enduring 30hrs flight (including transit time), it will take time for me to share my photos!
Thanks again for making the trip happen ! ;))
Warmest Greetings and Best Wishes for Year 2014
The Expedition Team is excellent. They are knowledgeable, skillful, friendly, dynamic and helpful. They always put safety first. They have managed the whole journey professionally. We have travelled thirty countries. We come to a conclusion that Antarctica is the most spectacular and beautiful place. Chun Moi is so happy that she has done the Polar Plunge. But she regrets that she does not join the camp. We have taken many photographs. We attach a few to share with you.
Thankyou for booking my family on to our most amazing holiday yet. The Ioffe and Antarctica were all that we could have imagined and more! We will recommend it to everyone we speak to.
The only issue (as you warned us) was flying Aerolineas Argentinas - we were delayed by nearly 24 hours in Buenos Aires airport and still don't know the reason!
We will not be letting that inconvenience spoil the memory of our holiday - we loved every minute.
Many thanks again.
We had a fantastic trip! The Ocean Diamond boat was fantastic as well as the staff. The trip exceeded our expectations in every way possible. From the animals we saw to the food that was served at each meal it was an amazing trip! We truly enjoyed it. Thank you for all your help and as people ask us about our trip we will definitely be passing on our wonderful experience with Quark and your team on helping us book the trip.
Thank you again and we will definitely use your team again when we look at another Polar Trip in the future.
Antarctica was AMAZING. It blew my mind away. I spent the time of my life there and I can't wait to go back!
The return to reality was very hard, but I'm hopeful I'll go back to Antarctica soon, maybe on a different route accross South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. I need to start saving money again :)
How to describe what I saw and experienced is something I’m still working on coming to terms with. You could not have made it out to be that good through email or talking to me as I would not have believed you that it could be that fantastic.
There was not one part of the trip that was not AAA plus in every way from the fantastic ship crew and staff to the expedition staff and they all know you by name within the first day on board.
As for Antarctica itself, you can’t capture what you’re seeing on a camera, you need to sit down and just absorb what your mind and your eyes are seeing. As for the penguins when you first land on the beach in the zodiac and they are 3 feet from you looking gorgeous and they are wild you suffer from information overload as your brain tries to take it all in.
I got to see snow falling for the first time - it was almost a white out. To walk on the sea ice inside the caldera from of the ship gangway was great, they played soccer on the ice.
I could go on forever about the fantastic trip I had and it was with your hard work that got me there.
We had an absolutely fabulous time on our trip. Thank you so much for your help.. The Iceland stay was great .The hotel staff were very friendly and helpful.The food in Iceland was spectacular as was the scenery.
We had 4 nights of northern lights and got some great photos.The Greenland scenery,the HUGE icebergs and the fabulous expedition staff added up to wonderful trip that we will recount for years to come.
Thanks again for your help.
The trip was amazing. The One Ocean staff was incredible. I did not know I was booked on such a historic trip. I can't believe I was so lucky to be part of burying Frank Wild's ashes next to Shakleton. Meeting Alexandra Shakleton, Angie Butler, Paul Rose, David McGonigal, Mike Wain was such a privilege.
I can't praise enough the One Ocean staff and the ship's crew. Thank you for all your pre-departure help.
I am looking at the Artic in 2013!
Our trip on the m/v Plancius thoroughly exceeded our expectations. Our room was big and comfortable (we couldn't have been happier with being beside the observation lounge, room 503). The staff was exceptional, the boat was fantastic, the food was great, and the trip was phenomenal. We met a lot of great people on board as well. We will certainly be recommending this trip to our friends.
We will pass your info along to anyone interested in any polar trips, and will be in touch if/when we consider another one.
Great trip. It was life changing. Loved the expedition leaders, the crew, the captain, the ship. Am still vibrating from the experiences. Made good friends for life. Thanks for helping me set it up. They must have had a hard time filling the ship -- there were about 10 travel agents on board who went for free, and most other passengers paid half price. No twin share available though when I got on board. I thought that was very weird. But in the quad, my roommates had a good sense of humor, so there was laughter and camaraderie. Some woman had been on board on the prior trip and held the bottom bunks for her group, so I had a top bunk. A little difficult to get in and out of in the Drake when we had 69 knot gusts and up to 45' waves in a Force 10 storm. I tied myself into the bunk and was fine. Not a pretty picture, but a grand adventure. I didn't get sick. Tell Chuck I had the electrical watch-thingie he suggested and I think it helped. Either that or I am just susceptible to the idea that it worked. :) I took 2,000 total videos and pictures. I'll be sending them all to you to see (just kidding).
The bottom line is that I had a great time.
The whole trip was over the top amazing. The crew and tour guides were all simply terrific. The food was unbelievable at every meal . The accommodations were as described and yet better still. I have not one complaint or negative comment and I am a fussy traveler. On the packing side, the only additional suggestions I would make are to take light and heavy gloves, which I did , and wore the light gloves most of the time. Also, one guy had procured boot liners and said he was wearing only one pair of socks. Amy and I wore 3 or 4 pair of smart wool and other heavy socks and still had cold feet at the end of some days, but the guy with the boot liners was fine. BTW, Ushuaia turned out to be a great little town with stuff to do and great little stores and even casinos. The whole trip was perfect and I would like to do it again one day.
Thanks for all your help,
The trip exceeded my expectations significantly. On my own the trip might have been in black and white. The expedition staff fleshed out the color. The ship was more like a home than a holiday house. I am sure that there are other boats and other expedition companies, but once you have been to this level, why would you look around for something better?
Although I did not expect to go ashore at Elephant Island, when the morning broke clear and sunny, hopes shot up. Owing to a big swell the boats could not be launched and even if they had, the shore break would have had to have been dealt with. That probably was my only disappointment but it was safety related.
I am already thinking of something for the future, possibly the Arctic and I would use you again for that booking.
The Antartica trip was SPECTACULAR and the Ushuiai crew was AWESOME!! The Drake passage treated us so well especially on the way back to Ushuaia that the ship crew jokingly told us we should not have gotten our Antartica certificate because we did not experience a true Drake passage!!! (Thanks to God for that!!).
I have referred somebody to you, her name is Karen and her boyfriend (I don't remember his name), and they also live in Miami. Also, if I win the lottery I will contact you to go to Alaska in Summer. I would love to quit working and keep traveling!!! (LOL)
It was great to get to know you. Your presence undoubtedly made a memorable experience more enjoyable. I must say that this trip was most pleasant and quite exciting. The Ocean Nova had a superb crew.
I will definitely keep you in mind for my next polar adventure (perhaps in a few years time). I shall also refer to you any of my colleagues or relatives who would express an interest in visiting the Arctic or Antarctic.
My heartfelt and sincere thanks to you and Lynn for your helpful advice and kind assistance!
Very best regards,
Words can't even begin to describe the great time I had aboard Akademik Ioffe. It was AWESOME! The sights and wildlife were simply breathtaking. The entire crew (Chad, Maggie, Sarah, Liz, Nate, Rose & Andreas who made sure that our throats didn't go dry, Boris and the Russian crew) went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time. Super super set of people! I am already missing them! I left the ship after making new friends both from the crew and fellow passengers.
Thanks for making all the arrangements for me and patiently answering my numerous questions. There is no way I could've done this trip without your help.
Once again thanks.
We ended up having a fabulous time! The staff on the One Ocean ship were wonderful and very knowledgeable and we think we lucked out with the new ship.
We want to thank you for all the work you did in getting us the new tour so we could experience Antarctica! We truly appreciate all your trouble and work to get us booked with One Ocean. It was a marvelous experience.
We aren’t planning our next trip yet, but we will keep you in mind when we get ready for the Arctic Circle. J We keep pushing the Antarctic trip to our friends, but so far they all think we are crazy. Perhaps they will change their minds when they see our pictures.
Thanks again and Happy New Year!
Our experience exceeded all expectations. The scenery was awe inspiring. The penguins were endlessly amusing and photogenic. The seals were plentiful and whales were sighted on several occasions. The ship's crew and the expedition staff were terrific. The ship itself was spotlessly clean, well organized and everything worked. We thank you for your unbiased assistance in helping us choose a ship and dealing with our many questions. I will certainly recommend Polar Cruises if anyone expresses interest in a voyage of their own.
All the best.
We had an amazing time on the trip! We could not be more happy with the customer service provided by both Polar Cruises and One Ocean Expedition. The staff & crew on the ship were wonderful! Thank you so much for all of your help. We will definitely refer any friends to Polar Cruises when booking!
"The trip was AMAZING!!! I think we actually lucked out getting on the ship...you're right, it was worth it. The ship was great and the expedition staff were a lot of fun. I wouldn't have changed a thing. Thank you so much for doing all that you did. I want to go back in a big way, but I'm not sure I could do the Drake Passage again haha.
I passed your company's name along to some court staff that I work with often. Maybe you'll hear from them. They were pretty awed by the pictures I took."
It was an amazing trip - and not just because the ship didn't sink this time...:-) We can't say enough great things about the ship and it's staff. We were extremely lucky to have Aidan Dooley onboard who has portrayed Tom Crean for several years in a one-man show and he performed the show complete with props and costumes over 2 nights. He also wore his authentic outerwear on the Shackleton hike. Plus, having Ian Tamblyn onboard was also a unique experience - what a great singer-songwriter! The weather was near-perfect - only a couple of days of rainy weather in South Georgia but we made quite a few more landings than on our last trip and they were always much longer - 4 hours plus! The food was excellent, the cabin was really good. We spent quite a bit of time on the bridge as the Captain was really good about having passengers up there. Plus he drove zodiacs a few times, did some polar swims, and plays the blues harmonica!!
Again, thank you to you, Lynn, and Chuck for all of your help, patience with all of our questions, and your knowledge. We felt really confident going into the trip knowing that you knew so much about the ship and it's history.
We had a few emails waiting for us when we got home about whether it was our ship that had trouble in the Drake Passage!
Thanks for the info. I’ll keep you in mind for possible referrals.
And yes, the trip was truly spectacular and everything that I had hoped for. The staff was enthusiastic and bubbling, the ship was excellent and the new friends were wonderful. I’m still going through the pics and I’ll have some good ones I think. I’m not really a great photographer –I take snapshots, but that’s OK for me. We did get a DVD of a collection of other peoples photos, so I can use them when I want to show off really good shots !!
And the arctic is a possibility in the future – but no immediate plans for now.
Marilyn and I will probably plan another escapade – but no plans or targets yet.
Thanks for your help in making this trip come true for me.
It was nice meeting you (in-person) and thanks for all your help! This trip was definitely a once in a lifetime experience; absolutely amazing!
We will definitely be referring the trip to friends and polarcruises for the ones that are interested in the future.
Sorry for the delay in providing feedback on the Around Spitzbergen expedition. Firstly, it was a really wonderful trip which we both enjoyed very much. The guides and crew were really excellent, in particular the expedition leader Valeska and her team were very good at planning all the landing and the various walks. They were also very good when one of the guests had an accident on the walks and managed the situation well - including taking care of the other guests and stretchering the injured person back to the boat. We also enjoyed the lectures they provided in the evening. One feedback is to perhaps postpone the first night's lecture to the second night, simply because some of the guests may be jet-lagged or sleep deprived after travelling to Longyearbyen (as in my case travelling 24 hours to get there) and was a shame to miss it.
Second, I would also say that the captain and his team did a really excellent job in maneuvering the boat in the pack ice as well as following the feeding humpback whales we saw. Lastly, the hotel head, Arnold, his team led by Glenn were very friendly and lively, providing many humourous moments for all of us. We did look forward to their daily announcements.
The only other feedback for modification I have (which may be specific to our trip) is to perhaps a slightly adapted programme for birdwatchers vs non-birdwatchers. There were 2 birding groups on the trip and for the non-birdwatchers, one zodiac ride & landing seemed a little protracted. Perhaps it may be possible to offer a shorter time with the birds for the non-bridwatchers? Appreciate it is difficult to please everyone.
Altogether, a very smooth and enjoyable trip.
Hope the above is useful to you. I also appreciate the great service and information provided by Polar Cruises and will be happy to make recommendations in the future. Thank you very much!
The trip to Antarctic was a TRIP OF A LIFETIME. I had an amazing adventure, and One Ocean does a top notch job. Enclosed are two pix of some of your other clients booked on the same sailing.... I'm on the far right.
I've already talked up the trip to many people, and will of course, encourage them to book through Polar Cruises. One suggested for feedback is that there was very little communication when I got to BA about the transfer to the trip etc. I didn't know if I was on my own to get to the airport or if there was going to be arranged transportation. The hotel in BA was not helpful with information. That evening I arrived I FINALLY got some communication (at 9PM an envelope was slid under my door - when we were going to be picked up at 2:30AM for the transfer the next day) delivered to me. I would suggest that Polar Cruises provide this information AHEAD of time to those that get the pre-package trip hotel/flight combo. I know other people that were part of that transfer, were also in the dark.
All said, it was an amazing experience and I am so happy to have had the experience to visit the continent. I'm now a proud member of the seven continents club.
Happy New Year!
By evening, we were aboard our ship and sailing down the Beagle Channel.
The soaring albatrosses that followed the ship were to be constant companions along our journey.
We were expecting large penguin rookeries and beautiful seabirds. We knew we would see icebergs and glaciers. What we did not realize is how these elements come together to create immensely powerful scenes bursting with life. We loved the convoluted geology of places like Brown Bluff and Bailey Head and how the wildlife adapted to it. The uniqueness of the landscape at each landing amazed us. The light also surprised us with its beauty, constantly changing during the long austral days. The sunsets, beams of light glowing off distant icebergs, the occasional blue raft covered with penguins, the sunrises. We were always the last lingerers on the outer decks, as well as the first ashore and the last to board the ship during shore excursions!
We were extremely fortunate with the weather. We know we had more than our fair share of clear blue skies. Even the dreaded Drake Passage turned into a glassy lake! We made every landing, although our stay at Salisbury Plains was cut short by fierce Katabatic winds. We met Tim and Pauline in Grytviken and members of the British Antarctic Survey team at King Edward Point. It was inspiring to share conversation, a joke, and a beer with all of them.
The staff on the ship was great. Everyone was enthusiastic, dedicated, and fun to hang out with. We were by far the youngest passengers aboard the ship, and we had a lot more in common with the staff. From knocking on our door at 1am to let us know about the rising full moon to sharing a wealth of information and a lot of laughs, the staff contributed enormously to our experience. We are quite certain that we'll be organizing a trip together with at least one staff member in the near future.
One aspect of the expedition leadership that we greatly appreciated was the sincere and personal commitment to education, conservation, and environmental stewardship. We are certainly not the only passengers who will continue to follow and support conservation issues in Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falklands.
In closing, thank you very much for helping us to make this trip happen. You provided us with helpful logistical information and a great cabin. We will certainly recommend Polar Cruises to anyone who is interested in traveling these locations. As for ourselves, we are already ready to return to the Ice!
"Superb. One of the best vacations ever. And now I have visited all seven continents, woo-HOO! And you forgot to tell us that the penguins are card-carrying members of SAG, those little devils -- talk about begging to have their pictures taken!"
"No doubt this was the best, most interesting trip we have been on. Better than the Galapagos in that Antarctica is so remote. The staff was the big difference."
The trip surpassed all our wildest expectations.
Each day was better than the one before. Just when you thought it couldn't get any better--it would!
The ship was comfortable. The crew and expedition staff were great. The food was fabulous. I still can't figure out how they kept the fruit and lettuce so fresh for 19 days! We did hit some rough seas here and there (although the Drake wasn't as bad as I had imagined!). Not many passengers seemed to be immobilized by mal de mer, however. I think between what the ship doctor had and the remedies that people brought, the seasickness was minimized. But please continue to be honest with folks signing up for the trip, that it is a legitimate concern. It helped us go prepared. The clothing recommendations that you give are perfect. Layers, layers, layers and Gore-Tex outer layer. Our LL Bean wellies were perfect, even for all the hiking and trekking we did onshore. South Georgia is a hidden gem (in spite of the nasty overcast, windy, rainy weather!). We really enjoyed our stops there. Then amazingly, the fates were with us and we stopped at Elephant Island. Some folks even landed on Pt. Wild before the tide rose too high for the rest of us to land--but we had a great zodiac ride and got a good look. Great chinstrap penguin rookery there.
Deception Island was totally fascinating. John did the polar dip, I was just too tired to dress and undress and re-dress yet again, to lay in a lava hole with warm water! (OK, I was a weenie!).
We had the best weather in Antarctica--sunny and warmer temps! We even saw an Emperor penguin (all by itself!). That was totally unexpected, as we knew we were out of their range. And we had a wedding. An Australian couple married by the Russian ship captain on Antarctica! (Probably not legal, but we had a lot of fun celebrating!). Even the Gentoo penguins seemed enthralled by the festivities! Fabulous barbeque on the back deck in Paradise Harbor (which lived up to its name!).
There really weren't any disappointments. Your advice and literature that you sent was incredibly helpful. Thanks again for all your assistance and patience with our questions.
It really was a trip of a lifetime.
Thanks for the note. We had an incredible voyage, from start to end. It was well coordinated, informative and truly eye-popping; an adventure of a lifetime. The weather turned out great, even though we heard just before we left that the weather for the immediate preceding two months had been awful. We only had one slightly rough day on our return crossing the Drake Passage. We saw many types of seals, penguins, whales, and birds (all of which I am sure you are well aware). We had a great experience with killer whales who put on quite a show swimming all around the ship. The area had received an inordinate amount of snow recently, resulting in a couple of landing changes, but all went smoothly. The recent snow made the White Continent even more white. Spectacular! We climbed snowy peaks, slid down (on our back and butts) self-made 1500 ft snow-toboggan runs, and swam in the ice-cold Southern Ocean followed by a dip in the ash of the caldera of an active volcano.
I had high expectations before I left and the experience exceeded those expectations.
Your recommendation to have dinner at Kaupe was an excellent one, as my daughter and I had one of the best meals I’ve ever had (and that is a high compliment coming from someone who has eaten at some of the best places in the world, including New York). Thanks again for all your help. We may return in the near future (north or south) and if we do, we will call on you. I will certainly recommend you to others.
Hope you had a great holiday season (we did).
WOW what a trip on the Silver Explorer!
The expedition team was incredible and beyond our expectations. Didn't think any group could beat our past experience, but learned several trained together or under someone on one of the other teams. They are all incredible and now understand the workings of expedition teams much better.
The food, wine, music, all the staffs and especially our Butler and Suite Attendant were beyond expectations and certainly added to the great memories. The Expedition Suite was incredible and I truly think the best on the ship. We really lucked out in that opportunity and choice. Could certainly spoil us for the future!!! The best was being given complimentary laundry for the trip! I could have stayed aboard forever!
Saw one of the greatest polar bears just sleeping on the hillside. Stretched and turned over, just as great as the one on shore eating a - they thought - reindeer carcass. The walrus herd, the whales, the great landscapes, flowers, birds, ice formations - all wonderful to see and experience.
We met Susie and Joe from Colorado, who had booked with you by chance. They were a fun couple, although Joe was sick for most of the trip) and so glad they found you to work with. We also told several about the North Pole trip and we hope some will truly investigate it and contact you.
Thank you for helping make this all happen. Keep us in mind if anything comes up similar to the Northwest Passage trip again or if some sale is available that you think we might be interested in. We have this Arctic gear!!
Good to talk with you this morning. Thank you, Sharon, Lynn, and Polar Cruises for making our trip on the Adventurer just perfect. Thanks to your effective communication, we were able to switch from the Orlova to the Adventurer when it looked like the Orlova might not sail. It was a wise choice so thanks for strongly suggesting it. With the Orlova not sailing, your work to get us one of the last cabins available on the Adventurer meant we were able to have a better experience at the same price. (Note: there was at least one couple who arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina who did not know that the Orlova was not sailing. They unfortunately had booked with another tour operator.)
(I misspoke when I said the Ushuaia ship this morning. It was the Orlova in the bay when we left.)
I can't wait to start to painting penguins, whales, scenery, etc from the trip. When I get some paintings done, I'll let you know.
Thank you so much!!!