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Antarctica Cruise--Zegrahm or Lindblad and time to go

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Hello everyone,
I'm planning a trip to the Antarctic next year and need some advice. I want to go on an expedition boat, and would like to spend as much time on the islands as possible. I'm deciding between Lindblad/National Geo and Zegrahm. Both offer roughly similar itineraries for trips that include South Georgia and the continent. There are three possible start dates: November 5, 2018, January 24, 2019 and February 13, 2019. Zegrahm's boat holds ~100 passengers. Lindblad offers two boats, one holding ~100 passengers and one holding ~143 passengers. Can someone help with the following questions: (1) Does anyone have experience with Zegrahm or an opinion of how they compare to Lindblad? (2) How would a trip starting on November 5 compare to one starting on January 24? I've read that the snow and ice will be more pristine in November, but is November too early to see penguin chicks? (3) Should I avoid the 143 passenger boat if I want to have max time on the islands. I spoke to Lindblad and they said that there is no difference in the amount of time you get to be on the islands with the two boats. This conflicts somewhat with what I've heard about the 100 person limit for people on a landing at any one time. Thanks in advance.

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    Either company will deliver a good cruise to you. I have traveled with both all around the world but most with Zegrahm. I would definitely choose the smaller ship - I believe there is a limit on how many are allowed on shore at one time.

    There is a lot of information on the internet about the best time to go. Prime penguin hatching is late December to January. Whale watching is better later. I think November would be too early - it will be colder too.

    My trip was in February and the amount of wildlife everywhere was amazing. I am sorry now I did not add on South Georgia. May just have to go back!

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    Hi Hollander1,

    We know you mentioned you spoke with us but we wanted to provide you with additional information based on your questions.

    1) We have over 50 years of experience bringing guests to Antarctica. Lars-Eric Lindblad led the first citizen explorer expeditions to Antarctica, in 1966. Our one-of-a-kind alliance with National Geographic gives you direct access to top scientists, naturalists, and photographers while our exclusive undersea program lets you discover a vibrant and surprising world few get to see. We’ve forged deep-rooted networks across the world, allowing us to create unprecedented opportunities for you in Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands.

    2) Throughout the November to February season, the guest experience is the same, with varying charms due to seasonal changes. While the weather tends to be a bit colder, the November ice provides us the opportunity to offer cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, not available on our voyages later in season.

    Antarctic wildlife is at its most active during the southern austral summer, when Lindblad’s fleet explores the region. There’s always activity throughout the Antarctic season. In the early season, you’ll see intriguing penguin courting and nest-building rituals. In late December, penguin chicks are beginning to hatch, and in the later season, penguin parents are busy fetching krill and feeding chicks.


    From October - November
    • First visitors of the season: virgin snow, with the most pristine conditions — perfect for photography. Incredible iceberg photography, colors from snow white to deep aquamarine.
    • Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins come ashore to mate and build their nests starting in November. See their amazing courtship rituals, sky pointing, and stone stealing.
    • Best chance for our IceMaster Captains to “park” the ships in the ice, allowing guests to walk, snowshoe or cross-country ski on the frozen sea.
    • Some leopard, crabeater or Weddell pups, or possibly even southern elephant seal pups, may sometimes be seen in the very early season.

    From December to January
    • The gentoo, Adélie and chinstrap penguins are on eggs in December; most penguin chicks start to hatch at the end of December, and are creching and running about by mid-January.
    • Elephant seals come ashore to molt.
    • The height of wildlife sightings is at this time of the year
    • 24 hours of daylight in December, with the chance to take photographs at midnight.
    • In mid-January, the ships may start being able to reach the Antarctic Circle.


    (3) Guests on both ships (Orion and Explorer) will have the same experiences ashore, spend the same amount of time ashore. Everyone will be off the ship at the same time, engaging in the same activities — whether they are sequential or concurrent. For example some will be walking/hiking while others are kayaking

    We hope that we've answered your questions. If you have any others, please give us a call at 800-EXPEDITIONS.

    We hope you'll consider traveling with us to Antarctica.

    Happy planning!

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