Sunday, 2 February 2014

CRUISING to Antarctica


There are many ways to cruise to Antarctica .  The main choices seem to be to take a cruise from Ushuaia with a company such as Adventure Life with prices from about $4000 for 5 days or a conventional cruise ship  with prices from $1600 for 20 nights.  

A quick search for Antarctic cruises through Vacations to go will give you a rough idea of current prices.  Most trips now go from Buenos Aires.  To give you an idea of prices today's best deal is 14 nights on the Celebrity Infinity starting at $1299.

The biggest difference is that on Ushuaia cruises you get to go ashore whereas on conventional cruises you just tour Antarctica but still get magnificent views of scenery, icebergs and wildlife.  Conventional cruises certainly represent far better value day per day and you also get to visit many other places as well.

In 2009 we did a 20-day Antarctica cruise.  This is our itinerary and information about the price
we paid through Smart Cruiser along with our comments.



Cruiseline: Holland America Line - Ship Name: Veendam (we sailed with HAL to Alaska and found them to be a nice size ship without being too big.  The food was excellent and it was nice to have a decent sized cinema onboard, their cabins are bigger than many of the other lines)

Departure Date: Monday, December 21, 2009, Departure Port: Valparaiso (Santiago), Chile (This means we get to spend Christmas and New Year on board so no worries about food and organising parties etc)

Length of cruise: 20 Nights (our longest cruise to date)

Stateroom Number: GUAR (this means that your room will be allocated later and although the guarantee the minimum category that you booked you often get an upgrade but cannot select exactly which cabin number you have, whenever we have taken this option it has worked in our favour)

Category: Large Outside Stateroom (H)  (We prefer an outside cabin as we can tell what time of night and day it is and often do a bit of sightseeing from our window. Also you only have neighbours on 2 sides whereas inside cabins you can be surrounded.  However if there is a big difference in price between  outside and inside we would take the inside)

Dining Preference: Early Upper Dining (Waitlisted)  - (If you don't get your dining preference then as soon as you get on the ship you have the option to change it, we have always been able to change to the sitting and table size that we wanted)

Departure Port Date Arrival Time Departure Time - Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile 12-21-2009 -- 5:00 pm

At Sea 12-22-2009 -- --

Puerto Montt, Chile 12-23-2009 8:00 am 5:00 pm

Darwin Channel Chilean Fjords Cruising Only 12-24-2009 -- --

Amalia Glacier Canal Sarmiento Cruising Only 12-25-2009 -- --

Strait Of Magellan Cruising Only 12-26-2009 -- --

Punta Arenas, Chile 12-26-2009 6:00 am 7:00 pm

Cockburn And Beagle Channels Cruising Only 12-26-2009 -- --

Ushuaia, Argentina 12-27-2009 1:00 pm 7:00 pm

Cape Horn And Drake Passage Cruising Only 12-28-2009 -- --

Wilhelm Archipelago Cruising Only 12-29-2009 8:00 am --

South Shetland Islands Cruising Only 12-30-2009 -- --

The Antarctic Sound Cruising Only 12-31-2009 -- 8:00 pm

At Sea 01-01-2010 -- --

Pt. Stanley, Falkland Islands 01-02-2010 7:00 am 1:00 pm

At Sea 01-03-2010 -- --

At Sea 01-04-2010 -- --

Buenos Aires, Argentina 01-05-2010 6:00 am 9:00 pm

Montevideo, Uruguay 01-06-2010 8:00 am 6:00 pm (Due to rough seas we couldn't land)

At Sea 01-07-2010 -- --

At Sea 01-08-2010 -- --

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 01-09-2010 7:00 am --

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 01-10-2010 5:00 am --

Cost for the 2 people

Total Fare: $3493.12 USD

Total Taxes/Fees: $451.54 USD

Total: $3944.66 USD

We noticed that since we booked at the above fare (the lead in price was $1600 in an inside cabin) the price has actually gone up.  Around 3 months ahead of time seems to give you the best discount on this type of cruise.

TIPS

Get on n board as soon as you can to start using the facilities and enjoying the food.

Go to the presentations for things like the spa area as they have free raffles with prizes (we once won a mud pack treatment).

Enjoy free champagne at the art presentations and auction.  


Keep swimwear in your carry on baggage as it can take many hours for your luggage to be delivered to your room and you may miss out on using the pool.  Better still travel light and just carry all your luggage on with you.

HAL allow you take wine on board to be consumed in your cabin but not spirits.

Try the free liquor samples at the duty free shops.

Attend the meetings about the short excursions to get the maps and ideas of things to do even if you are not booking the ships trips.

Research on the Internet to find out ahead of time what trips can be on in each port independently.

To this day we have yet to go on a better cruise, well worth the splurge in our opinion.  

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