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Fly the Drake vs. more luxurious ship

Fly the Drake vs. more luxurious ship

Old Mar 18, 2023, 5:02 pm
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Fly the Drake passage and sail on Silversea Endeavor

What's wrong about a luxury expedition? I get seasick just thinking about rough seas. Sailing the Drake was not an option. I know i would have 3-4 horrible days and maybe some after effects.
We booked Silversea on a 5 night cruise and it was fabulous. My wife wanted to claim the 7 continents title, and that was accomplished. We saw a LOT of wildlife and spectacular scenery.
We were satisfied with that experience and didn't feel we needed to see more of Antarctica. Silversea has several ships available. We lucked into The Endeavor, the most expensive ship ever built on a per cabin basis. This boat was purchased by Crystal after they went out of business. Built for arctic exploration but also for comfort. Yes, it's pretty pricey but we felt it was worth it.
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Old Mar 24, 2023, 12:34 pm
  #17  
 
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I sailed the Drake a few days ago

Hiya... I sailed the Drake both ways on Atlas Ocean Voyages (a smaller luxury cruise line, but new) a few days ago. I went through the same "dilemma" you were a year ago.
I talked at length with
Jonathan Zaccaria who was the expedition leader on our cruise. (search him up, he is VERY well versed) and we talked about this very topic. Flying the Drake awards you no "street cred". He felt and I understood, one has to earn the right to seeing Antarctica. Flyng over the Drake is unpredictable and you may not fly when you think you will. You see no change from the airport to essentially, snow. Part of the build up is getting there...
We sailed it both ways. On the way it was not too bad... but take your Dramamine, or wear the patch and deal with it and save yourself a lot of cash. Take that extra 6K and use it for another trip. If I can sail it, anyone can. And once you do, you feel like a small part of the world's population who has done something pretty bad a$$..Lastly, be sure you boat has a day where you can do the Polar Plunge. it was amazing!!
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Old Apr 8, 2023, 6:35 pm
  #18  
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not sure what "earning" it has to do with anything. i got back from a 8-day Quark "Fly The Drake" Antarctic cruise a couple weeks ago. i was still there, still saw everything, experienced Antarctica. except i saved 6 days not being stuck on a boat. i used that time to go to Easter Island.

your argument sounds like Gene Hackman and Clint Eastwood's characters in Unforgiven when Clint is about to shoot Gene:

Hackman: I don't deserve this.
Eastwood: Deserving's got nothing to do with it.
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Old Aug 1, 2023, 4:46 pm
  #19  
 
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This post and replies are very insightful for me. Once I get my cataracts and crystal lenses(vision correction) late this year/early 2024 I hope to book a trip there for 2025. I am not prone to seasickness fortunately but am a Type 1 diabetic who uses an insulin pump and CGM which should function just fine under multiple clothing layers. Of course I will get advice from my endocrinologist. And I would take seasickness meds regardless!
My concerns are having competent medical care if things go south for me. Can anyone advise on the caliber of medical care on Quark v Silversea v Seaborne v Viking in Antarctica and have any of you met T1 diabetics doing this trip? I am retired so age(now 67) is also a factor for me. Any other advice about which excursions were particularly strenuous?
Thanks in advance!
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Old Aug 21, 2023, 10:03 am
  #20  
 
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Smile

Hello everyone,
please excuse me for intruding here as I've been just "a silent reader" for such a long time. I did a Hurtigruten Expeditions cruise to Antarctica in December - and it was just incredible and otherworldly. Maybe I can be of any help. It was my first cruise ever, so I was a real rookie

Dear sweetsleep, apart from consulting your doctor you should also try to find out about the requirements of the company you would like to travel with. Hurtigruten required a doctor's certificate here - without the GO of your doc you wouldn't have received the travel documents. You can find this form here: https://www.hurtigruten.de/globalass...her-fragebogen (it's German first, but the actual part is bilingual). I'm sure your preferred company can inform you whether your conditions are ok to be treated on board in an emergency. Necessary meds should be on board anyway.

We indeed had a medical "issue" on board in the very first night. A fellow passenger obviously fell in their cabin and got hurt (we heard that through the grapevine, the crew just talked about "a medical situation"). Although the poor fellow wasn't in a life-threatening condition and the issue could have been foreseen, an immediate surgery was required, we were told. We turned around and steamed back full speed to Ushuaia. If that had happened after the "point of no return", we would have had to unload the person in some research station and have the person flown back.

So, the Drake-crossing. The new Hurtigruten hybrid ships are bigger than those tiny luxury ships. In the first crossing-attempt we had 6 m waves. Scopoderm patches were highly appreciated and did their job just fine, we happily visited the restaurant still. But we were instructed always to have at least one hand on the ship when walking, and you do walk like drunk. In the second attempt we just had slow 3 meters, that is hammock-style and we even went to the gym. When returning we had to face 8m+ waves. They stopped the elevators and that was actually quite a rough experience then because waves came in a higher frequency. The appetite was a bit reduced then The best place was in bed as they had special offshore mattresses which cradled you. When visiting the bridge in heavy seas the captain told us that the stabilizers take away 60-70 % of the movement. Ouch! THEN I was glad about being on a modern and bigger ship. The captain also said 10m+ are ok still, but there were also cases when they turned around or postponed the crossing when waves were 12m+ or so... Safety always comes first. They also have plans B-F or more for such cases

It sure is something to think about whether one should fly or not. Apart from the financial issue I think the Drake was a "transition zone" for me. Watching the endless waters, observing birds with the photographer on deck (fresh air was great in rough seas!), or just sitting in the sauna and looking outside ... there was so much to do in that time, additionally to taking lectures, cleaning and vacuuming clothes and gear etc. In a way you switch off the world and enter a new one. So the Drake-experience was part of it, a time "between the worlds". I don't know if I could have appreciated Antarctica as I did if I had flown. It's just magical when you see Antarctica's first mountains in the mist after the crossing.
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Old Dec 5, 2023, 4:10 pm
  #21  
 
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I'm researching small ship crossings to Antarctica (possibly incorporating South Georgia) for winter 2024. I've narrowed my cruise lines to Quark, Lindblad/NG, Atlas, Ponant and possibly a Hurtigruten new ship but would consider other expedition lines as well (not Silversea, seaborne, celebrity types).

The major differentiator for me would be the quality of the lectures, naturalists, and educational aspects of the trip. Would appreciate any comments from those with direct and fairly recent experience to Antartica on the above lines and your impressions of the educational quality and quantity of lectures you received. If anyone has Antartica educational or other experience on more than one line I'd be interested in a comparison.

Thank you for your previous comments and in advance for your educational impressions.
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Old Dec 8, 2023, 6:35 am
  #22  
 
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Originally Posted by fmkgb
I'm researching small ship crossings to Antarctica (possibly incorporating South Georgia) for winter 2024. I've narrowed my cruise lines to Quark, Lindblad/NG, Atlas, Ponant and possibly a Hurtigruten new ship but would consider other expedition lines as well (not Silversea, seaborne, celebrity types).

The major differentiator for me would be the quality of the lectures, naturalists, and educational aspects of the trip. Would appreciate any comments from those with direct and fairly recent experience to Antartica on the above lines and your impressions of the educational quality and quantity of lectures you received. If anyone has Antartica educational or other experience on more than one line I'd be interested in a comparison.
I have direct/recent experience on Antarctica and my advice is to focus on the itinerary (South Georgia is well worth it) and the size of the ship (you'll have much more time on land on a ship with closer to 100 pax). IMHO, worrying about marginal differences in the quality of the lectures and the credentials of the naturalists between one company and the next is silly. The super-expensive companies need to justify their prices by having naturalists who have "impressive" resumes so that their customers can brag to their friends that they were on an Antarctic cruise with some famous professor of this or that. You don't need to world's foremost expert on penguin poop (guano) or phytoplankton to give a basic lecture on the subject to 100-200 people who, with few exceptions, wouldn't be able to remember a single thing from any high school science class. The lectures aren't designed to be academic level symposia; they're designed to convey basic info to a general audience. Anyone with basic knowledge/experience of the subject and teaching experience can give a very good lecture that fits the purposes of an Antarctic cruise, and the famous professor isn't better than a high school science teacher.

Our company (Polar Latitudes) didn't have any famous lecturers/naturalists -- and I can't remember a single crew member having academic credentials that I would brag to my snobby academic friends about -- yet the lectures were very well done and the naturalists all seemed to have the necessary qualifications. I doubt anyone is coming back from any Antarctic cruise thinking that the lectures were mediocre and they wish they paid more for a high-end cruise with lecturers who had better resumes.
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Old Dec 8, 2023, 9:00 am
  #23  
 
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq
I have direct/recent experience on Antarctica and my advice is to focus on the itinerary (South Georgia is well worth it) and the size of the ship (you'll have much more time on land on a ship with closer to 100 pax). IMHO, worrying about marginal differences in the quality of the lectures and the credentials of the naturalists between one company and the next is silly. The super-expensive companies need to justify their prices by having naturalists who have "impressive" resumes so that their customers can brag to their friends that they were on an Antarctic cruise with some famous professor of this or that. You don't need to world's foremost expert on penguin poop (guano) or phytoplankton to give a basic lecture on the subject to 100-200 people who, with few exceptions, wouldn't be able to remember a single thing from any high school science class. The lectures aren't designed to be academic level symposia; they're designed to convey basic info to a general audience. Anyone with basic knowledge/experience of the subject and teaching experience can give a very good lecture that fits the purposes of an Antarctic cruise, and the famous professor isn't better than a high school science teacher.

Our company (Polar Latitudes) didn't have any famous lecturers/naturalists -- and I can't remember a single crew member having academic credentials that I would brag to my snobby academic friends about -- yet the lectures were very well done and the naturalists all seemed to have the necessary qualifications. I doubt anyone is coming back from any Antarctic cruise thinking that the lectures were mediocre and they wish they paid more for a high-end cruise with lecturers who had better resumes.
Great advise, thank you!
Agree about South Georgia but unfortunately their one included itinerary is sold out for this season.

I've added Polar Latitudes to my list. Any further positive or negative comments about that company? I like that they seem to focus on Antarctica.

I notice (unlike others) they do not include travel insurance; medical insurance; evacuation coverage. Can you recommend a company for insurance?
Thanks in advance.
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Old Dec 8, 2023, 1:11 pm
  #24  
 
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Originally Posted by fmkgb
Great advise, thank you!
Agree about South Georgia but unfortunately their one included itinerary is sold out for this season.

I've added Polar Latitudes to my list. Any further positive or negative comments about that company? I like that they seem to focus on Antarctica.

I notice (unlike others) they do not include travel insurance; medical insurance; evacuation coverage. Can you recommend a company for insurance?
Thanks in advance.
Polar Latitudes was excellent, and my trip report (very long) is here: Trip Notes: Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia

We always just use SquareMouth for travel insurance (it's a comparison site for travel insurance). Make sure you filter for policies that meet the minimum evacuation, etc. coverages that one would want for a polar voyage.
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Old Dec 8, 2023, 5:42 pm
  #25  
 
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq
Polar Latitudes was excellent, and my trip report (very long) is here: Trip Notes: Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia

We always just use SquareMouth for travel insurance (it's a comparison site for travel insurance). Make sure you filter for policies that meet the minimum evacuation, etc. coverages that one would want for a polar voyage.
Immensely helpful trip report. thank you.
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Old Dec 12, 2023, 8:49 am
  #26  
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Originally Posted by fmkgb
Agree about South Georgia but unfortunately their one included itinerary is sold out for this season.
That may not matter as many ships are not stopping/landing there right nw. Many of the landing sites on South Georgia are closed at present because of avian flu.
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Old Dec 22, 2023, 1:23 am
  #27  
 
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Originally Posted by Xyzzy
That may not matter as many ships are not stopping/landing there right nw. Many of the landing sites on South Georgia are closed at present because of avian flu.
Yep - got notified today that my expedition with Ponant starting on 4 January 2024 which was to go to the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula is now just to the Falklands and the Antarctic Peninsula.
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Old Dec 22, 2023, 6:25 am
  #28  
 
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Originally Posted by Chalkie
Yep - got notified today that my expedition with Ponant starting on 4 January 2024 which was to go to the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula is now just to the Falklands and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Well that, frankly, stinks. Sorry to hear that. Did your company give you an option to postpone your cruise to next year without penalty? That's a highly material change to the itinerary -- the Falklands are nice, but nobody is paying double to go on an A+F+SGI itinerary versus an A-only itinerary because of Falklands alone; heck, you can fly in and visit the Falklands.
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Old Dec 26, 2023, 4:24 pm
  #29  
 
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq
Well that, frankly, stinks. Sorry to hear that. Did your company give you an option to postpone your cruise to next year without penalty? That's a highly material change to the itinerary -- the Falklands are nice, but nobody is paying double to go on an A+F+SGI itinerary versus an A-only itinerary because of Falklands alone; heck, you can fly in and visit the Falklands.
I didn't notice that was offered, but even if it was, we wouldn't take that option as this expedition has already been postponed because of Covid and then a voluntary postponement - there's 5 of us in the party and trying to coordinate things has been a logistical nightmare. We'll have a great time regardless I am sure.
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Old Dec 26, 2023, 4:45 pm
  #30  
 
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Originally Posted by Chalkie
I didn't notice that was offered, but even if it was, we wouldn't take that option as this expedition has already been postponed because of Covid and then a voluntary postponement - there's 5 of us in the party and trying to coordinate things has been a logistical nightmare. We'll have a great time regardless I am sure.
No doubt you'll have an amazing time. You'll just have to go back to visit the SGI sometime
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