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Atravelynn

Safari to FALKLANDS, SOUTH GEORGIA, ANTARCTICA--a relative bargain

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Atravelynn
2 hours ago, xyz99 said:

What an amazing trip, and as always great TR with lots of good photos, details and things we all wanted to know about (and answers to some questions I would not even think to ask). Antarctica is on "the list" but not sure at this point if we will ever get there. The cost alone is a big deterrent.

Any idea, how would the cost change for 2? Would it just double?  If you and another woman booked the triple share your combined cost would be double what the third person sharing would pay.  But if you booked a double cabin, it would cost less on a per person basis than a solo booking the  double cabin.  Here are some pricing examples:   

 

The same Falklands-S.Georgia-Antarctica trip as I did, but leaving from Chile, so it is 3 more days on board, departing in Oct 2020 is $11,696 per person in a triple share; the least expensive double on that cruise is $15,476 per person.  If you wanted that least expensive double for a solo traveler, it would be 1.7 x $15,476 = $26,309 for the solo traveler.   To give you an idea of how fast those triple-shares book...for the January 2021 departure, almost the same dates as I did, only 1 single share berth is available now.

Here is the website of Polar Cruises for Sea Spirit.  https://www.polarcruises.com/antarctica/ships/premium-expedition-ships/sea-spirit

Just Antarctica without the Falklands and South Georgia is much less, $6746 is the lowest I see on the Polar Cruises Sea Spirit website.  The lowest I found anywhere was $5653 in a very basic quad-share on a different ship.

https://travelwild.com/cruises/antarctica/antarctic-peninsula-cruises/antarctic-peninsula-whale-watching-voyage/

 

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Did you feel 21 days was too long?  No - there was one lady who did our itinerary and then was leaving the next day for 11 days just Antarctica (and South Shetlands).  Lots of us were jealous of her.  Were you at any point bored, or just "eh, another penguin"?  Because we saw 7 different kinds of penguins--and they were doing different things from feeding chicks to jumping on/off icebergs to fighting--it was always new.  Plus the environments between the Falklands, South Georgia, the South Shetland Islands, and Antarctica were different.  We also enjoyed watching seals, other birds, whales and spectacular scenery.   Judging from the behavior and reactions of the others on board, everyone was enthused about all the outings and the VARIETY they offered.  The itinerary is designed for variety.

 

When on the ship, how do you get into a zodiac, (easy--explained below)  do you get wet?  Not wet through to your skin (unless you do the polar plunge and jump off the ship in your bathing suit).  We got hit with waves in the zodiac but our gear kept us dry.  I hate being wet and cold, so I avoided the polar plunge, and was never wet and cold.  Is it difficult, do you need to be in good shape?  We had people of various ages (I'd say median age about 60), shapes, and fitness levels and everyone was easily able to do all the landings by zodiac that they wanted.  You get help in and out of the zodiac, so no sea legs are needed.  The crew was helpful and patient and everything was set up to make it easy to get in and out of the zodiac without falls.  The last thing the crew wants is an injury so they take extra safety measures.   Boarding the zodiac from the ship is quite easy because 3 different people grab your wrists and you grab theirs as you are led down a couple of stairs into the zodiac that is tied right next to the ship. The last staff member does not let go until you are sitting in your spot in the zodiac.  At the landing site, getting out is structured and orderly, done one by one, with assistance, in very shallow water that does not go over the boots.   Legs always point toward the motor before swinging them in or out of the zodiac.  There is lots of help getting back in at the end of the shore activity and you can always ask for a little extra boost or an arm to steady you.  During all boarding and exiting of the zodiacs, you hand your gear to a staff member.  That way you don't drop it in the water and it does not tilt you off balance.  Before using the zodiacs the first time, everything was explained.  Anyone wanting more assurance or extra instruction joined a special group for extra zodiac tutoring.  Since I did not join that group I am not sure what they did, but the staff made it very clear that they wanted everyone to be comfortable  with the zodiac transfer and they would do their part to be sure everyone was.

As far as the level of fitness needed for the landings, only the first landing required a walk of about a mile and there was an option to drive that.  The rest you were in control of how far you went and there were seals and/or penguins all over, so it was not necessary to go to the end of the designated walking areas.  A few sites had high hills that you could climb or not.  Walking sticks that were provided to everyone if they wanted one helped, especially when there was slippery ice and snow.  There was never a need to go fast.

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Thank you so much for all this, I think I want to go back and read from the beginning again. Slower :)  If you read slow enough, it will be time for YOUR turn for Antarctica.

 

 

Edited by Atravelynn

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xyz99

SO much good info here...thank you!!! I hope my turn for my time in Antarctica will come, this definitely makes the research easier .

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Soukous

I don't know if I will ever get to Antarctica but if I do start planning a trip, and there is some serious pressure being exerted by my better half, this report is a great place to start the research.

Thanks @Atravelynn for yet another TR full of information and detail.

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Atravelynn
On 7/1/2019 at 4:17 PM, xyz99 said:

SO much good info here...thank you!!! I hope my turn for my time in Antarctica will come, this definitely makes the research easier .  Great, that was one of my purposes.

 

12 hours ago, Soukous said:

I don't know if I will ever get to Antarctica but if I do start planning a trip, and there is some serious pressure being exerted by my better half, this report is a great place to start the research.

Thanks @Atravelynn for yet another TR full of information and detail. You are welcome.  Maybe if you have a significant round number or multiple of 5 anniversary coming up, you and your better half could celebrate in Antarctica.

 

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BieneMaja

@Atravelynn thank you very much for this detailed trip report! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and seeing your photos. I have already traveled to Antarctica last year in February / March (timed to see as many whales as possible), so shortly after you. We spent 11 days on the Peninsula and it was absolutely fabulous. I have wanted to go to Antarctica since I was a kid seeing documentaries on TV and finally the dream came true...

It was so great that I am already signed up for trip number two next year! This time I'll do 6 landing days in South Georgia and 6 landing days on the Antarctic peninsula. I already know many people who will be on that trip as well, both passengers and expedition staff, so I already know it's going to be great again. For any of you thinking about an Antarctica trip, let me know if you're interested to join, would be fantastic to do a ST get together! Later this year I'll also do a trip to the Falkland Islands for two weeks land based. I'm super excited about both trips and can't wait to get back to Antarctica! I just love the polar regions. Have been on the Sea Spirit as well in Franz Josef Land in the Russian Arctic and went to the Canadian Arctic on a different trip (three places along the Hudson Bay coast in winter). Guess I need to start another trip report soon ;)

Edited by BieneMaja

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Atravelynn

@BieneMaja, my goodness you did get hooked on that part of the world.  I hope you saw the whales.  That is the perfect time to go.  What ship and what dates is your 6 + 6 trip?  When are you going to the Falklands and is there an operator you can suggest?

 

Your timing of later this year and next year may be a little soon for me to return, darn.  But it appears you may be a regular visitor, so something might work.

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BieneMaja

@Atravelynn absolutely, it is just like with Africa! I just loved all the polar regions I have visited so far and am looking forward to hopefully many more visits! We did see many whales - lots of humpacks, including some bubblenet feeding which was absolutely amazing, orcas, minke whales and more. I can't even remember a single day down along the peninsula where we did not see whales. On one occasion, we were super lucky and three humpback whales approached us and checked out those people in the zodiacs. At first, they did spyhopping, then approached closer. They were really in touching distance, moved reeeeeeeally slowly, turned around so they could really see us when passing the zodiac (we could see their eyes really close), it was fabulous. I think the highlight of the trip for me.

 

Like you, I have done tons of research (already started with it 16 years ago - but that's another story) and chose a small boat with max. 100 passengers so everyone can land at once. Also, I chose an operator that really provides the maximum amount of time possible ashore. On my first trip (also with the same people), we usually had 3 hour zodiac rides (shorter ones were an option too) and 4 hour landings, and if anything exciting happened they were flexible and kept us in the action longer, went out earlier, etc. One early morning two shipmates and I spotted orcas for the first time and they made an announcement for everyone, then we stayed with the orcas for a little while before continuing on. So we spent a lot of time outside and also stayed on the bow and the top deck to just watch the action passing by. I even got up every morning for sunrise because they were so beautiful! The next trip will be October / November 2021 with a full charter of the Plancius, but despite being able to carry more people there will be max 100 passengers so everyone can be off the ship for as long as possible. They will do another charter of the Plancius with the same route in October / November 2022 if that is more feasible for you. Let me know if it's of interest and I can put you in touch with the charterer. I know a lot of the expedition staff aboard already and know they are top notch guides and there are scientists as well. We had a couple of whale scientists on the Antarctica cruise last year and I learned a lot from them.

 

For the Falklands, I am going with a wildlife photographer who will be taking 7 people with him (fully booked already) but it will likely be his last trip. I'll ask him if he will do another one and let you know. If I really love it there (which might very well be the case...), I'm thinking about going to the Falklands for another week or two before going on the South Georgia & Antarctica cruise in October 2021 as we'll depart from Stanley anyways with the ship - if that would be of interest to you, let me know and I'll keep you updated :)

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BieneMaja

I hope I'm not hijacking your trip report, I just wanted to share two photos to illustrate the whale sightings and one more that I really love. I was very honored and super excited to have two of them published by National Geographic on their website last year. Couldn't believe it ;) Another addition to the already absolutely amazing trip...

 

The following photo is from the very close whale encounter that we had with the three humpbacks. In this photo, you only see one of them but you can see how big they are! The white-ish part on the bottom right hand side is the pectoral flipper. Would you have thought that a 30mm lens on a medium format camera (which is equivalent to a 24mm lens on a full frame DSLR) is too long for a whale???

552650545_NinaWaffenschmidt-0000888.jpg.24af57db0abd2be98303f1e75c39724a.jpg

 

Whale fluke in front of a beautiful glacier:

1622922926_NinaWaffenschmidt-7355.jpg.cd7cab2377c083134dbb2691d02e74f5.jpg

 

Magnificent ice berg:

1556077517_NinaWaffenschmidt-0000879.jpg.e754f1e8a754b7872e51d853781033f7.jpg

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Atravelynn

That's a closeup whale.  Thanks for all the info.  It does look intriguing. 

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BieneMaja

@Atravelynn you are very welcome! Let me know if there is anything I can help with. And I'd love to get to know you in person one day, maybe we'll find a trip we can do together :)

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