Corinthian II Antarctica Cruise

Feb 18th, 2008, 10:47 AM
  #1  
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Corinthian II Antarctica Cruise

Since eenusa has done a fabulous job documenting her cruise, this will be a short report commenting on the ship and itnerary!
The cruise on the Corinthian II started with us booking a Business Class flight from LAX to Buenos Aires using our British Airways miles. LAN is a partner, so we used I think 90,000 miles each for each ticket. We flew to Santiago, disembarked for an hour or so, and reboarded for our flight to BA. The beds were wonderful, the food okay/good but not great, but the Pisco Sours before take-off were fabulous. (Whilst in the lounge at LAX we booked New York flights on Jet Blue for next month as those flights kept increasing in cost and I had not had a minute to finalize our dates prior to leaving home!!)
We arrived in BA to be met by a representative from Travel Dynamics. We booked with Polar Cruises but TDI was the company who chartered the ship, hired the expedition staff etc.. We were taken to the Park Hyatt, a fabulous hotel, and this one night was included in our trip cost. We had to hang around waiting for other passengers, and looking back we would just get a taxi the next time. [Booking inside the airport (a very wise thing to do in South America) the inbound to the city trip was 80 pesos (return being 60 pesos).]
We got to the hotel and checked in to a gorgeous room which we did not have time to enjoy! We rested for about an hour and walked up to the Alvear Palace Hotel (La Bourgogne is closed for renovations but is a fabulous restaurant) and popped in. The lunch buffet was about $60 per person but we were not that hungry and reservations were needed. We walked on to the Recoleta and revisited Eva Peron's family's mausoleum. We ate a disappointing steak lunch at the restaurant on the corner by the park and I went off in search for an ATM. In our travels we have not encountered ATMs where you have to swipe your card in order to open the door to access the ATM machines, so thank goodness a couple of American girls were also in line.
We wandered back and got ready for the welcome coktail party. We had eaten at 4pm on purpose so that we could nibble at the party and then go to bed. Many wished they had also done this instead of going out to dinner after the reception. It was fun to meet almost all of our fellow passengers (about 94 of us total)and I consumed far too much champagne as everyone was so interesting to talk to that I was one of the group who closed down the party!!
Shower, bed and then up at 4am (we all received wake-up calls). This early rise was not necessary as our flight was a charter and not scheduled until 7:15am. It went from the domestic airport which was very close. Breakfast was 4:30am to 5:15am and on to the coach at 5:30am. Hindsight...we would have got up an hour later, had breakfast which was excellent, and got a taxi for 18 pesos in time for the 7:15am flight. Our luggage had been taken and we had received our boarding passes at the hotel...excellent planning. At the airport we just had hand baggage and went up the escalator through minimal security and through to the gate! Then the wait!! It is about 4 hours to Ushuaia which surprised me. As everything was included in the cost of the trip after arriving at BA, I hadn't checked flight times!
The plane was not new but the flight was fine. We were met and taken to a local restaurant for lunch. Afterwards we had 2 hours and 20 minutes to shop in the town. This is enough time to visit practically every store!
We met at the assigned time and were taken to the ship which was very close by.
Philbill is offline  
Feb 19th, 2008, 04:32 AM
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Thanks for the compliment. Looking forward to reading the rest of your report.
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Feb 27th, 2008, 01:20 PM
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Back to this at last!!
I had researched the ships making the voyage and wanted stabilizers and luxury. This ship fit the bill after talking with my travel agent. My husband was pleasantly surprised as we boarded Corinthian II which is one of the old Renaissance ships. After being greeted with a glass of champagne, we were taken to our stateroom which was large and beautifully appointed. L'Occitane toiletries were in the bathroom and all the TVs had DVD players. We had a sofa and a coffee table too. I had booked the second level up in price and we were on Deck 3. If I recall correctly the Deck 6 suites were twice the price. Our room was smaller than the rest of the rooms on our deck which had two windows (we had one window and Deck 2 had only portholes). It cost a lot less too! We were very happy with it. I might comment that if you are considering this ship the windows had to be boarded up in the two front cabins of Deck 3 for the four days out and back through the Drake and the balcony doors in the suites on Deck 5 and 6 were also boarded up.
At our meeting we were given the great news that the drinks were all complimentary, a change made this year. We had boarded thinking that only wine at lunch and dinner was included.
We had eight fabulous expedition staff members and about 94 passengers. The staff were from all over the world (Ecuador, Canada, Scotland, USA, Argentina, France) and all had different areas of expertise. Our favourite was Trevor who duplicated Shackleton's trip and who now has a campsite in Scotland!! All were hooked on Antarctica and would come back year after year for the season. The ship had a Greek cook but a lot of the staff was from the Ukraine.
Back to the meeting..we were warned that rough waters were ahead and advised on how to Drake-Proof our cabins. All the drawers had holes drilled in one corner, and those long metal poles which we had been wondering about were for sliding into those holes! There were already patches to be seen on necks, but seriously those people had a very groggy few days until John, our leader, basically pleaded with the passengers to take them off so that they would be able to remember the experience!! We took Bonine but instead of the 1 to 2 tablets every 24 hours I only took a half of one. I would highly recommend this medication for potential sea sickness as once the queasyness starts it is too late for the drug to be effective (or so we were told). I had some drowsiness but I was not able to judge if that was from jet lag or the pill.
That night the ship rocked and I slid out of bed! Also, the cabinet door and the refrigerator door flew open and all the soft drinks rolled all over the floor. Neither of us wanted to get out of bed to pick them up, so we listened to the clunking of the cans as they rolled around until I eventually staggered out of bed.
In the morning I had a shower holding onto the hand rail as the ship rocked and washed my hair with one hand while hanging on for dear life with the other hand!! Several people were missing at breakfast...
Philbill is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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Hi Philbill,
I'm hanging on every word. We're booked on the Corinthian II next January. Thanks for taking the time to post, your efforts are very much appreciated.
Best Regards,
mz
maztoz77 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2008, 11:45 AM
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You are so lucky mz...it is a fabulous ship and voyage. Sorry the report is so slow coming. Thinkgs are busy as always.
Philbill is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2008, 09:25 PM
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Our passage through the Drake apparently constituted a "moderate" crossing!!! It seemed much rougher to us first time Drakers!! I was almost nervous to even go out on deck! There were hand rails in all of the hallways which was nice, and ropes were strung through wider, more open areas which provided welcome hand-holds! The elevator was off-limits during rough seas, but we walked everywhere anyway. The restaurant was on Deck 2, and the public rooms on Decks 3 and 4. The 'gym' (a few machines in a canvas tent-like structure) was on Deck 6. There was a beautician who also served as a masseuse and jill-of-all-trades. I had a manicure part way through the voyage and she did a nice job.
In case you are wondering why I am not raving about the wild life, it is because I wanted to give an overview of the ship, as the ship for me on any voyage is very important. The food is also important! I have to say that I was disappointed with the quality of some of the meat. I felt that some of the meals, especially the lunches, were a little cafeteria-like. Sometimes the food was overcooked (I'm very critical by the way!). On the other hand, we also had some fabulous food especially some of the vegetarian offerings, and the cheeses and desserts were excellent. I am not fond of buffets, and breakfast and lunch were buffet-style, although eggs to order were available at breakfast. The quality of the included wine was very good, and there was also a wine list available with wines at an extra charge. I did not look at it, but the wine provided was of a much higher quality than on the Galapagos cruise, for example. The food was also SO MUCH better than the Russia river cruise we were on a few months' ago.
The birds were beautiful that first day and we saw everything from the albatrosses to petrels. We had at least two lectures each day and on the first day at sea these were 'Seabirds of the Southern Ocean' and 'Marine Mammals'. We also saw thirty minute segments of 'Life in the Freezer' each day. What I liked about the lectures is that they were so diverse and usually about 45 minutes long (maximum) which was perfect. Other films were also shown and naturalists were outside on deck at specified times, as well as at various times throughout the days. There was never a problem with having to look for one of the expedition staff as they were very visible throughout the cruise. Their varied areas of expertise was amazing and I cannot imagine a more knowledgeable group of expedition staff members. The passengers were also a very varied, fascinating and well-travelled group of people and they helped to enhance the entire trip!
On the second sea day we were on deck entranced by the icebergs which were glorious. I'm sure I took hundreds (well not quite) of photoes out on deck. I would not have thought it possible to view so many different sizes, shapes, formations and colours and we were out there for hours! Birds were plentiful...
We had been told that we might be able to land on Penguin Island that afternoon, but because of the high winds we could not. We were disappointed but enjoyed the cruise through Admiralty Inlet. Reception, dinner, Russian pianist in the bar together with some passenger impromptu entertainment and so to bed......
Philbill is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 03:02 PM
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"and so to bed......"

Guess we'll have to set you an early wake-up call to get the next installment
This accursed internet business isn't so bad after all.... It's so enjoyable to share adventures! Keep it coming PhilBill.
maztoz77 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 08:20 PM
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Okay: the alarm worked but other mundane local happenings intervened, so here is the next installment!!
I cannot write a brief report to save my life, but I will try.
Thursday, January 24th brought us to Brown Bluff after ice conditions ruled out Paulet Island. Seals were on ice floes as we sailed by, and we were like children on the first day of school all decked out in our new red parkas and waterproof gear way ahead of our first landing. The parkas were awaiting us in our cabins when we boarded, and MOST of us took them home as souvenirs to hang in closets!!!! We left our wellies on board to make room!
(Note to maztoz..a few of us smart cookies had these laundered onboard for $5 after the last landing!! Ski pants too!! Laundry was very reasonable with socks and underwear 50 cents a pair!!) Living in California and a non-skier meant that I had no cothing for wet and cold, so I went on the internet and bought the odd coloured sale items from Backcountry and Sierra Trading!! Eenusa has a great packing list so check out her postings. We did need hiking/ski poles which are not listed. We did a lot of trekking up steep slopes and they helped enormously both in the deep snow and on the rocky surfaces. I did not take poles, but luckily they had spare ones on board. I really only used one. Some of the passengers bought them in Ushuaia and left them on board. But back to the wonderment of Antarctica!!
This was the mainland, and so I landed on my 7th continent!! The groups were called to go to the lounge in turn (the order varied on each landing) but we were sitting on the bed too excited to wait to dress!! The zodiac trips were all very easy, even if it was rough, as we usually had 4 sets of hands to guide us on and off the zodiacs. At times we boarded from Deck 3 and at times from Deck 2. Our first sightings of Adelies and Gentoos were awesome. We saw hundreds of fluffy chicks of various stages of development in creches and lots of adults. It was very warm in all of our gear (we didn't know that after today's sun we would subsequently experience wind, rain, snow and sleet...all part of the total experience and it didn't detract at all from our enjoyment). We landed later that day at Kinnes Cove but I missed seeing the couple of Chinstrap penguins. I have to admit I know nothing about birds, but they were once again in great abundance. It was all so great to experience and I was so happy I had a point and click digital camera and I could truly bask in wonderment and experience the 'out of this world' feeling. Each group of penguins was so unique that I never got tired of watching them and laughing at the their antics, such as when they line up and do a 'domino' effect of falling into the water! Our expedition leader was a great fan of poetry, so we had a recitation of 'The Cremation of Sam McGee' at our evening briefing. We soon got into the hang of afternoon tea, lecture (today's on the history of Antarctica and the explorers), happy hour, briefing, dinner etc. and had a great time dining with different people at each meal.
Philbill is offline  
Mar 4th, 2008, 12:38 PM
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Brief!? Who wants brief? This is fabulous! And such great advice. We'll certainly have the parkas cleaned since we will use them again (red is my color My ski pants are old friends, no way I'd leave them behind. Trekking poles are a necessity (old knees) thanks for confirming their usefulness. It's wonderful to hear a non-Birder talk with such excitement about the birds! Can you imagine how giddy an avid Birder will be?! More please...
maztoz77 is offline  
Mar 4th, 2008, 02:21 PM
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Just wrote a long report and hit backspace and lost it all...later!!
Philbill is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 01:27 PM
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Gak! Please don't lose heart! That happens to everybody at least once, after which you will do your typing "off site" then cut&paste before dropping text into a box. Since I'm stuck on the sofa with the flu you are my major source of amusement
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Mar 5th, 2008, 01:33 PM
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The next day we sailed down the Gerlache Strait and after a lecture which I missed, we ventured outside to don our boots. By this time I had borrowed a pair from the ship as it was so difficult to pull and tug on the pair I had brought. Putting on and taking off boots outside on deck wearing all the gear is not easy!! The people with overshoes had a much easier job, but our travel agent had recommended wellies. It still took two of us but in a couple of days I would have this down to a fine art! The moral is get large enough boots!! My problem is a very high instep and WW width! I wore a pair of liner socks and a pair of smartwool thick socks and together with a foot warmer my feet were warm! I wore pink silk long underwear (another close out bargain) and a medium fleece top and pants followed by insulated ski pants and the parka and I was toasty warm (in fact too warm the first day!). I bought a 'hood' type of fleece hat in Ushuaia which goes over the head and has a neck piece (what I call a balaclava but you may not know what that is). It was the absolute best as my ears and neck were covered and I didn't wear any of the pull-on ski type of fleece hats. I only wore pink (closeout colour!!) liner gloves and left my bulky ski gloves in the cabin. I had a hand warmer in my pocket to coddle the camera(!) and I grabbed hold of it if I felt cold. When all are en masse in red parkas with hoods and mostly navy blue ski pants, my gloves stood out and so everyone knew who I was. It was very difficult at times to recognize people in their full expedition gear with hoods up!!
We were in the zodiac going over to Cuverville Island and saw a pair of Humpback Whales. We were so excited and our driver did a great job ensuring that we hung around and saw as much as possible. We landed on the island in the rain anxious to view the largest Gentoo colony in Antarctica (we were told about 10,000 breeding pairs). The terrain was so different from the day before and we were to find that in days to come we might land on sand or rocks, climb high mountains (well they were definitely higher than hills!!), scramble over slippery boulders or stand on the rim of a volcano. It was so diverse. In the afternoon we went into Neko Harbour where we were greeted by a huge Weddell Seal and roosting Gentoos. Options were to hike down the beach to better observe a glacier (from which a mass of ice broke loose) or what was labelled 'a hike up the slopes above the beach for the energetically inclined'. What an understatement as we sunk into several inches of snow with each step. I only managed half way (this was the only hike which I did not complete) and after sinking knee high I waved my husband onward and I turned back. It was fun watching the line of hikers gradually wend its way to the top and become smaller and smaller!!
For you birders, some of the birds we had seen by this point from the boat and on land were Cape Petrals, Wandering Albatross, Light-mantled Albatross and Snow Petrals.
Philbill is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 09:48 PM
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maztoz77..I am so happy to be your major source of amusement!! One could not hope for a greater purpose in life!
On my other (long) thread I am typing on Word (or some such thing) and cutting and pasting. I thought that this was to be one long paragraph so never did that, but the report is creeping on and on. I will try to report on another day tomorrow. (There are some things that I cannot tell you as the expedition staff likes to have some surprises!!) Some notes about after dinner and the piano entertainment in the lounge bar: The girls in the bar make very strong drinks, so I always had to remind them to make them weaker for me! They made a great version of a margarita...which come to think of it I could just welcome right about now............
The Russian wine in the bar was not nearly as good as the wine in the dining room....
We are keeping in touch with a few of the people we met, and again meeting such fascinating co-passengers made for a fabulous time on the ship.
Hope you are feeling better....
Philbill is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 08:54 AM
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Too bad we live so far apart. Casa Maztoz offers the purest, freshest BEST Margaritas to be found on the Planet.
Good advice on the wine, save it for dinner, have the martini during toddy-time!
Between you and eenusa, i may survive this germ from h*ll.
maztoz77 is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 09:14 AM
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I saw in another thread you had been on the Celebrity Xpedition to the Galapagos. This ship (CII) is more upscale and the staterooms are much nicer. The wine is better too!! We went when Celebrity first started out there. Having said that I LOVED our Galapagos trip and would highly recommend it to anyone. I probably would repeat that before I would Antarctica because of the range of animals and birds and the unbelievable lack of fear of man.
I have a hard time being put on the spot and asked where is my favourite destination. I admire those travellers who smile sweetly and respond that is is the trip that they are currently taking. Each destination has so much to offer. How can you compare Africa with the Galapagos with Antarctica with Egypt and so on and so on!!!??? Okay, I have to admit it is fun trying to weigh up all the positives of different countries and places!! Maybe a medicinal margarita is what you need right now!!
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Mar 7th, 2008, 09:08 AM
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How nice to hear! We found the Xpedition cabins perfectly adequate, but then again we only "saw" the cabin for 20 minutes a day. We used it to sleep and shower only.
Before you finish your wonderful report Philbill, please think hard and list anything you wish you had done differently, or any items you forgot. Keep it coming!
maztoz77 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 10:46 AM
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Oops yes, we wore the wrist bands too to ward off sea sickness and I'm sure they helped. The following day we reached the southernmost point of our expedition, Vernadsky Station. The Ukraine took over the station in 1996, paying the British one pound for it! We had a tour of the base (the exercise room was full of 'Playboy' type pictures) and we could buy postcards and have them mailed from the base. I am not sure whether they have yet arrived (the ones from Port Lockroy took a few weeks but they were delivered!). They had the odd souvenir for sale and we got the last two ski type fleece hats which were great. There is a full bar and I'm sure the current men-only crew stationed there made good use of it! They staff the base year-round and research (including ozone research) is carried out. We then made our second landing of our 'double landing' that morning on Winter Island where we visited Wordie House. The hut was furnished with artifacts including cans of food etc. and was most interesting. We hiked up a hill behind the hut for fabulous views. In the afternoon we landed on Petermann Island at Port Circumcision. There were three researchers living in a tent on the island, but they are not allowed to enter the Argentinian refuge hut which is close by to them!! This island is where the southernmost Gentoo colony is located and we also ventured through snow drifts and scrambled across slippery cliffs to study the Blue-eyed Shags with their chicks. I hate to mention this, but I really didn't get the significance of the 'blue eyes' although we saw many of these shags over the days. The blue either wasn't too evident or I just couldn't see it but the naturalists raved over the beauty of these birds! Exhausted we returned to the ship where as always we were met with a drink of some sort. My favourite was the hot chocolate which was the best I have ever tasted and that day I promptly went up to the bar and had some Baileys added! Other days it could be bouillon or brandy or a liqueur. A very nice touch!
Philbill is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 08:15 PM
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I'm so busy so have not had time to finish the report, but I don't think that I am giving enough attention to the absolutely fabulous feeling of being in areas of such beauty and phenomenal sights of penguins, birds, whales, seals, icebergs etc..
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Apr 30th, 2008, 02:41 PM
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Philbill!
Wherefore art thou?
maztoz77 is offline  
May 7th, 2008, 06:35 PM
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maztoz..how kind of you to note that I was missing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have been away for a month on a 20 day cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome and then on to a wedding in Geyserville after I returned (we left from LAX after I traipsed through customs and immigration!!)
I will continue after jet lag has taken its appropriate toll. I am going on a 4 day mini cruise on Monday so bear with me as our next long vacation isn't for another few weeks.
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