Because I'm a little bit mentally unhinged...

Nov 28th, 2007, 07:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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The cruises that include Falklands/South Georgia are about twice the number of days and twice the cost of cruise that only go to the Antarctic peninsula. I'm currently booked on the Fram. The reason being it's a less expensive trip and 80% of my deposit is refundable (most others are nonrefundable). The downside is that they take 300 passengers, so landings have to be rotated as there's a limit of 100 passengers ashore at one time (ideally you'd want a vessel that takes 100 passengers or less). Anyway, it's sort of a "placeholder" as I ponder and assess finances. I was hoping to be able to put off booking until mid-2008 but I guess that was totally wishful thinking on my part
Patty is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 12:11 AM
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How exciting!

Patty, I totally appreciate that finances will limit what you can and can't do but if there's any way at all to find a place on one of the expedition style trips with 100 pax maximum, I'd strongly recommend it. A wildlife lover like yourself will probably be frustrated at the short duration of the shore excursions on a larger ship not to mention the reduced number of said excursions.

I do understand that including South Georgia is really hard because it tends to be only the longer trips that include it. That said there are shorter trips that I've come across now and then that just go to South Georgia and Falklands over 10-12 days. Or is there one that does South Georgia and part of peninsula for that duration?

It's worth holding out...
Kavey is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 06:55 AM
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Thanks, Kavey! I actually tried to find a shorter Falklands/South Georgia only trip because I'd read that it's even better for wildlife but so far have only been able to find 20 day trips for the 2008/2009 season. If you know of or find out about any shorter sailings, please let me know.

What month are you going this time and what month did you go last time? I noticed that some of the March trips on smaller expedition ships cost considerably less but is that too late in the season? If you could only choose between a 300 passenger ship in Feb or a 100 passenger ship in Mar, which in your opinion is the lesser evil?
Patty is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 11:26 AM
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Hi Patty.

March in Antarctica -- Brrrrr!! I thought most of the trips stopped in February.

One thought about weather and timing. If you want to go during the shoulder months (October/November or February/March), consider the earlier ones, say late October. The land is much more scenic before too much of the snow melts. We went in late October and it was absolutely beautiful!!! Everything else being equal (and it isn't -- wildlife varies according to the month and location), I would pick the earlier months over the later ones -- but that's my only experience, so others should weigh in.

On the number of passengers on the ship, I agree with Kavey. If you are a wildlife lover, you'll want to get off the boat as much as possible. I was on a boat with only 100 pax. I couldn't imagine knowing that some of my shipmates were out there seeing great stuff and I couldn't go. Sort of like being at a lodge in Africa, and being told in the morning you had to stay at the lodge until the afternoon game drive because there were already too many people outside. You would skip that lodge and go to one where you could stay out all day if you wanted to.
sevendown is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 12:24 PM
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Well, I would simply NOT consider going on a ship of 100 passengers having been and understanding the compromise that larger ships mean. I'd rather do one trip every 5 years that's a truly fabulous trip than one that leaves me frustrated and wanting more every 2 years, I think.

That said, I totally DO understand that it's a RIDICULOUS amount of money to be spending on a single trip and that for some people it's a case of compromising or not going.

We went in Nov/ Dec last time and are doing same again. Weather is fabulous at this time though with some species it will mean seeing adults with eggs rather than with chicks. Going later in the season means seeing chicks!

I'm sure I came across an itinerary somewhere that WAS just South Georgia/ Falklands but it may have been a special. It seems many of the companies do run special charters such as the one Peregrine are doing for Exodus (the one I'm booked on) so it might be worth contacting ALL the companies that do smaller ship expedition style trips and asking if they are planning any such special itineraries in the next year or two that you could have details on.

In answer to your question, I'd rather go on the 100 pax ship in the shoulder season than on a 300 pax ship in peak season.

Kavey is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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Kavey is right on with his view about the size of the ship, especially for those who have been on wildlife trips before. I couldn't imagine going on a larger ship.

He also mentions another excellent point. Most penguins hatch their eggs later in the season, so you will see more chicks later if that is important to you.

We were on a special voyage to see emperor penquins, which hatch their eggs around July, so we of course were happy to go earlier and see their chicks as young as possible. While we saw some other penguin species (Adelie, Chinstrap, etc.), we only saw them with eggs -- no chicks.
sevendown is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 01:23 PM
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I'm with Kavey. Having been on an Antarctic Voyage on a 48-pax ship at the beginning of this year, I can't wait to go back, but I would opt to go shoulder season on a small ship rather than a 100+ ship during peak season.

That's not to say that I haven't checked out the mid-size options (like Fram) because the pricing is so attractive. Knowing we have to take turns going ashore however, has stopped me from booking on those ships so far. If the itch to go gets overwhelming, however, I just might cave in. (For now, the lure of polar bears in Churchill in Nov '09 is keeping me in check.)
eenusa is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 01:56 PM
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I'm a girl
Kavey is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 02:06 PM
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Thanks for all the replies! I forgot to mention earlier that seeing chicks <is> high on my list. I read that hatching starts around mid-Dec. And due to other commitments, I also can't travel any earlier than from late Dec onwards anyway. I need to find someone who has gone in March to tell me what it's like.

I've seen cruises that go as far as late March. The seasons are probably getting longer and longer due to demand.
Patty is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 02:19 PM
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The info here is a great Antarctica primer. Appreciate all the comments. Someday in the distant future, when I put them to use, I'll appreciate them even more.

eenusa, Enjoy the polar bears--a marvelous wildlife experience! I went in 03.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 03:51 PM
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Antarctica is also on my short-list. I was thinking of the Orlova on 12/27/08 (Christmas Break) and you all thought I was just a big cheapskate- not so, I just really wanted to do both Africa and Antarctica this year...but the prices!

Very detailed Antarctic trip report I had bookmarked

Patty- I remember reading (but cannot find the trip report) that many people stay on the larger ships during excursions. A lot of people book these ships because they don't want to lose any of the standard cruise ship amenities, wish to retain formal dining, but still want to attend lectures and view Antarctica through the indoor observation lounges. She estimated that only half the passengers disembarked on the peninsula on her ship and she only had to wait once, because she chose to wait. It sounded like the early risers got out no problem.

Review of the Fram is here

Also according to Cruisecritic posters- Vantage travel offers the lowest rates M/S Fram.

travellynn- The Russian freighters are called ice-breakers. They are real ice breakers and can travel the farthest south plowing through the ice. Other ships are only ice-strengthened with modified, rounded hulls and re-enforced/skewed bows.
The only 2 ice-breakers are the Yamal and Kapitan Klebnikov with helicopters for excursions. Check out
They are owned by Quark.

Links for other ships

Links for agents and
tinlizzy2 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 05:19 PM
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Sorry Kavey about the gender mistake.

Patty, I am with you on the chicks. If I had it to do again, and wasn't going specifically for Emperors, I would try to get there when chicks were being born. Penguin parenting is very interesting indeed.

I do recommend that you get some good intel on trips into mid or late March. I really understood the weather then can be very unpredictible. But whatever you do, go if you can. I loved Antarctica almost as much as Africa. I just wish it was more accessible.
sevendown is offline  
Nov 30th, 2007, 12:29 AM
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Regarding reports, Eenusa's report is a really great one and absolutely reminds me of our trip back in 2004.

We saw a lot of chicks of the king penguins on South Georgia - they don't have a defined breeding season so at any given time there are adults courting, mating, young chicks, older chicks, chicks moulting their baby feathers, adults moulting and so on. Amazing!

Kavey is offline  
Nov 30th, 2007, 10:45 AM
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I'm also considering Orlova if I can come up with more $. I've checked the Vantage and Viking sites and don't see any 2008/2009 season dates yet for the Fram so am currently booked directly with Hurtigruten. Good luck with your planning to both Africa and Antarctica and let me know what you decide!
Patty is offline  
Nov 30th, 2007, 01:37 PM
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After reading some threads on the cruises forum, I don't think I'd book with Vantage anyway. Too many reports of customer service issues.
Patty is offline  

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