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wizganesh Dec 7th, 2014 03:42 AM

Sea Spirit to Antarctica
Recently i traveled to Antarctica by Sea spirit, the cruise operated by Quark Adventures. Here is a review about the same for people planning to travel in Sea Spirit.

Capacity: max of 114 passengers, we had about 104 passengers in our trip. 14 odd experienced expedition staff, 70-80 staff on hotel and service staff + engineers and captains crew.

I stayed in Club deck, room 414, first room towards the front end of the cruise. My recommendation, irrespective of the cruise, is to book a bed/room towards the rear end of the deck, either club deck level equivalent or lower level. Staying at lower level and towards the centre of the cruise reduces the impact during drake. The front end of the cruise, especially during the drake is not fun. Things start flying in the room more dramatically, if drake is choppy.

At the Oceanus lounge, we used to have daily recaps or lectures. Also the place for briefing for kayakers and campers.

The most popular area was the club lounge (also the bar). It had a library with books which you could read there or novels can be taken to rooms. DVD library, if you wanted to watch something, then you could take the DVD box to reception and ask for the movie. Pretty useful on the first couple of days of crossing drake passage, but otherwise, most of us didn't find time or need. We watched 1 movie on 1st night, later we didn't even get a chance to browse through the collection.

Besides the library. there is a piano and guitar for anyone who is interested in playing music. A music player, some games and an open bar (standard drinks were free and any premium drink you had to pay the differential in price...most premium drinks were having an additional $1.25 to $2.

This was also a place for bar talks and captains cocktail parties. In this level you could walk through the entire deck, thus giving 360 degree view.

Restaurant was at the main deck level and another one in an open area on sports deck (on days where sea wasn't rough).

Food was usually buffet style for breakfast and lunch, while dinner used to be a 4 course meal. For people hungry between meals, club lounge always had cookies through the day and night. There were also pretzels and nuts kept on tables during the evenings. Appetizers used to be made available just before the daily recaps.

The food was fresh and good and it was interesting every single meal. Cooks woke up early and made fresh breads for breakfast.

Choice in the menu made sure that most preferences and diet pattern are catered to. The usual meal had a choice between two soups, two to three salads, and three to four mains. There was always a vegetarian option. The servers used to display the special desserts on the table before you made a choice and if you were not lured by the special of the day, there was ice creams and fruits.

There was also a light meal option (on some days) on the sports deck, where they used to serve burgers, hot dogs,salads and daily special from stroganoff to borscht to pelmeni et al.

Some days used to feature some special table - everything made of chocolate on one occassion and then there was a sushi night. All birthdays used to be celebrated with guitar music and songs and a specially baked cake.

If you are trying to lose the extra pounds, there is a gym that you can use or if you are just too cold, there is a warm jacuzzi. Each room also had bath robes which can just be handy in case you decide to go for jacuzzi.

The jackets or parkas, were one of the pleasant and helpful perks provided by Quark. The jackets were available in different sizes which one tries on day 1. Usually they recommend to take a size that is bigger as it allows you to layer up. These parkas were bright yellow, with a removable fleece layer inside making it warm underneath. The hood is adjustable to reduce any wind entering. Has many pockets to fit in small and essential stuff like gloves, wipes, sun screen etc/ These were gore-tex styled wind-proof, water-proof.

They also provided pairs of Arctic mucks which are sturdy knee high rubber boots that helped in "wet landing", (i.e., you stepped in water as soon as you get out of the zodiac). These also kept the feet warm in zodiac excursions or when we walked in land for hours in snow. Usually these are dipped in disinfectants pre boarding zodiacs and washed on return from the landing to remove any seeds or penguin poop or any foreign material and then treated through disinfectant. This ensures your rooms are stinking :).

Rooms were spacious, clean and very comfortable. Our room had two single beds, a small couch, closet (which we used to keep our bags and stuffs), TV, DVD player, fridge, ice box and glasses, bathroom with hair dryer, points for electric shavers or other electrical devices and so on,. Telephone to call the reception or doctor or restaurant.

The TV used to play one movie every night, but rest of the time it used to display the itinerary, which was quite useful.

During the drake crossing, especially on our return leg. the seas were rough and wind was around 60 knots, which made our closet door slam every few minutes and it broke. Wall hanging was also ready to fly, so we removed it and kept it behind the couch.

Common facilities included, at least 1 hand sanitizing unit on each floor. Barf bags were kept outside and inside the rooms and when the seas turned rough, I found it placed almost every 5-7 steps. 2 Water dispenser or fountains were kept outside the club and foldable water bottles were given as part of welcome kit, thus reducing the waste of plastic. The bottles could fit into parkas or had a carabiner to be tied with anything.

Supply of ginger ale in the bar was quite impressive, given that most people were drinking it during rough seas.

The experience was amazing and I can't recommend Sea Spirit or Quark enough,

For detailed blog with pictures - http://lifetimeantarctica.blogspot.c...ea-spirit.html

Eschew Dec 11th, 2014 11:56 PM

We are looking at Antarctica cruise for 2016, looking at a Feb date.
How hard was it to get to Ushuaia? How often did you actually get off the ship, if at all? Is teh ship an Ice breaker or just a cruise ship?

Celebrity offers a 12 day for about $6,000 leaving from Buenos Aires with stops at Falkland, Ushuaia etc but they are not allowed to let passengers off the ship at Antarctica.

Elizabeth_S Dec 12th, 2014 03:04 AM

Eschew - it's easy to fly to Ushuaia via Buenos Aires.

We were on a Quark ship as well as the OP - we were off the ship usually twice a day - either to a land based activity or for a long zodiac boat ride.

I believe the large ships aren't allowed to take passengers off.

Elizabeth_S Dec 12th, 2014 03:05 AM

Oops - hit send too soon. Quark has lots of specials throughout the year (they just had 2 for 1 Black Friday) so suggest you sign up for their emails or like their FB page.

Eschew Dec 13th, 2014 05:02 AM

Elizabeth, Thanks for the info. I will have to do more research as Antarctica is on the bucket list and would have to do it sooner than later while mind is willing and body able.

wizganesh Dec 28th, 2014 05:41 AM


Sorry for the delay in responding.

We got off almost twice a day. Most times we went to islands and hiked. Some days we were on zodiac cruises.

Nuclear Ice breaker ships are no longer allowed in Antarctic region, most ships are ice strengthened.

Getting to Ushuaia - you will have to take flights from Buenos Aires or El Calafate in Argentina. LAN and Aerolineas fly to Ushuaia within Argentina. It's better to land a day in advance, as flights may get cancelled if there is bad weather.

Cruises leave from Ushuaia almost every week. If you have the liberty of time, you could hunt for last minute deals in Ushuaia.

Large Ships (over 200 passengers), like Elizabeth mentioned, are not allowed to disembark passengers.

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