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South Georgia and Antartica small ship options

NC
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1,114 posts
48 reviews
62 helpful votes
South Georgia and Antartica small ship options
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We've decided to go to Antarctica now that we're retired. I've been reading a lot of posts and the advice I keep seeing is to go to SG and FI if you can, stay as long as you can and get a small boat. The problem is that I'm not seeing a bunch of difference in length of stays in the trips that include SG and FI, at least in the smaller ships.

I don't care at all about the room, other than preferring an in cabin bathroom, or food, as long as we have enough and don't get food poisoning. All I am interested in is the amount of time we have on land/zodiac. There are a few options that we might even be able to take advantage of this year if I can decide before they are gone.

I'm looking at Oceanwide FI, SG, ANT on the Hondius. It has 2 days in FI, 4 days SG, 1 day South Orkney Island, a one day "Last push to the Antarctic" and 3 days in the Antarctic but I don;t know what I'm gaining/losing by going to South Orkney Island at the expense of a day in Antarctica, or what the "Last Push to Antarctica" will be like. Is it just another sea day?

I'm also looking at:

G Adventures Spirit of Shackleton with 5 days in Antarctica, 4 days SG and 2 days FI but $8K more.

Quark Epic Antarctic Crossing the Circle via FI & SG with 2 day FI, 4 days SG and 7 days Antarctica for $10K more, but it is a bigger ship and is in less than a month, so I don't know if I can pull that together and how much more other things will cost.

Lastly is Huntigruten In-Depth Antarctica from Punta Arenas on the MS Fram with 2 days FI, 5 days SG and 5 days in Antarctica for $2000 more if we went Feb 18 and $6000 more if we went Jan 7th, although teh flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas in included so may save some. Is getting an extra day in SG and Antarctica worth the larger ship? Leaving out of Punta Arenas is also interesting.

Any thoughts on these options or does anyone know of a small, non-luxury ship that I'm missing, it doesn't have to be this year.

3 replies to this topic
Oslo, Norway
Destination Expert
for Oslo, Antarctic Adventures
Level Contributor
2,210 posts
87 reviews
133 helpful votes
1. Re: South Georgia and Antartica small ship options
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I have done a similar trip on Fram and an Antarctic-only trip with GAdv. Also a Ross Sea with Oceanwide, but on the smaller Ortelius, not Hondius. I would definitely prefer GAdv over Fram (and possibly Hondius) because the size difference was noticeable. We spent a lot of time on Fram waiting for landing rotations, and I felt like I had a lot more shore time with G. Also, G has expedition staff drive the zodiacs instead of crew, so you get guiding and can ask questions during scenic cruising operations.

Fram and Hondius are both a lot newer and nicer. And I did enjoy the trip on Fram. I just liked G better. And if I found a really good deal I would sail Hondius because I had good experiences with Oceanwide. Not sure how zodiac operations are handled on their bigger ships though.

Re: South Orkneys, we visited on our Fram trip and stopped at Base Orcadas. For me, the biggest selling point was ticking off an unusual travel destination on my visited list, so I wouldn’t consider it a must-see.

Western Australia...
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87 posts
2. Re: South Georgia and Antartica small ship options
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Wise decision to go to Antarctica and one I’m sure you won’t regret!

We have done two of the options you’ve listed: the G Adventures Spirit of Shackleton and Quark Epic Antarctica Crossing the Circle.

You could not go wrong with either of these two trips. The major difference between the two is that the Quark one attempts to cross the Circle. There will be many posters here who say that this is no big deal. But our experience was fabulous, an amazing sunny day, unbelievable scenery and a captain who wanted us to enjoy every moment of that day, including for those mad enough to do so, a polar plunge south of the Circle. But there are no guarantees that your day would be similar, I would not base my decision purely on the circle crossing.

The G Spirit of Shackleton was every bit as enjoyable. I agree with Kaisatsu’s point about zodiac drivers being your expedition crew.

It’s been said here many times - go for the longest trip you can afford and preferably on a smaller ship. Also, check carefully the number of days allocated to South Georgia, a place not to be missed!

Whatever you decide will be wonderful.

NC
Level Contributor
1,114 posts
48 reviews
62 helpful votes
3. Re: South Georgia and Antartica small ship options
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Thanks to both of you for the feedback. While it would be nice to say I've done it, I don't have any particular interest in Crossing the Circle. I mainly liked the Quark Epic because it had 7 days in the Antarctic, while all the other cruises I saw had 4, or sometimes 5 days. I was surprised that the Cross the Circle cruises I found started in Dec. I expected them to be later in Jan when the ice has cleared more. From reading other posts, it sounds like they do other things if they can't go that far south anyway so it's still worth the extra days. I was really surprised to see that most cruises only spend 4 days. With all the expense and trouble to get there, I would have thought they would stay longer. OTOH, more days/cruise means more people so it's probably best for the environment that they don't stay longer.

So many things to consider, especially with such an expensive trip! I saw Black Fri sales when I first started looking into this and I've done practically nothing else for the past 2 1/2 days trying to see if I could work out something for this year. I couldn't even sleep two nights ago! The trip I think I want at the beginning of my research is never what I want at the end so I've decided to give up trying to work something out for this season and take time to decide exactly what I want. A trip to Antarctica and SGI is too big and too expensive to rush into. The main problem is that it looks like pricing is much higher for next season and it's already insanely expensive.

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