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Review: Antarctica and the Falklands with Hurtigruten

Cruise - Expedition Cruise

Voyage of a lifetime

  • By SilverTraveller GypsyWanderer

    9 reviews

  • November 2019
  • Friend(s)
  • Regular holiday
  • Oceanview
  • Punto Arenas Chile

139 people found this review helpful

Antarctica. What can I say? What a trip! They say if you can describe it you have not been so please forgive my attempt to describe the indescribable.

The adventure begins when you board the Roald Amundsen, the first Hybrid ship in the world, launched this year. Yes, we were on it’s second voyage to Antarctica, boarding in Punto Arenas, Chile. We settled into our spacious, comfortable cabin, received instructions on where and when to pick up our free waterproof jackets and our group badges, Wandering Albatross, and explored the ship with her three restaurants, lecture theatre, science lab, art room, bar and lounge, on deck running track, infinity pool and hot tubs, and sauna with windows to the sea. Then we set off and were on deck waving goodbye to Punto Arenas. Let the adventure begin.

The Roald Amundsen carries 500 passengers but we were about 400, probably the average age being late sixties. The knowledgeable expedition crew organized landings and activities and were always there to help. Many of them seemed as excited as we were. Each trip is a new adventure as you never know what the weather and ice conditions will allow.

As well as the jackets we were provided with warm rubber boots and there were always walking poles available. The screens in our cabins gave the days itinerary as well as the app on our phones and, of course, the loud speaker gave information too. We were always listening for “There is a whale on the port side”.

We cruised down the Beagle Chanel, or Glacier Avenue, with the loud speaker giving us the names of, and telling us about each glacier as we passed, all cameras clicking. Our first highlight came very soon, being able to go ashore at Cape Horn, a first for the ship. Only one in ten voyages manage to do this as sea conditions are normally too rough to make landings. How exciting, I have walked on Cape Horn, the most southerly tip of the America’s.

Then the two-day crossing of the Drake Chanel. Fortunately we had the Drake Lake instead of the Drake Shake and made good time. Throughout the trip there were numerous lectures to attend, if we wished, covering every aspect of Antarctica. My only grouse is that Scot was left out. It is a Norwegian Ship but Scot is still part of the history of the continent.

And then we were there, Antarctica, the white continent, the coldest on Earth, the highest on Earth, and the most inaccessible on Earth. We were there, white blue icebergs, ice flows, pack ice, whales, albatross and other birds we had to travel so far south to see, penguins and seals. We heard the grind of ice against the ship, the crash of ice breaking free to form more incredibly shaped icebergs, and the wild life, penguins and birds.

We made landings every day, dressed in our polar gear, helped in and out of the Zodiacs, exploring the islands and main land Antarctica and having close encounters with penguins. We rammed into pack ice and were able to walk on it (something very few ships are able to do as they don’t have access). We cruised slowly through Le Marais channel, almost frozen, slowly crunching our way through and taking in the stunning scenery. We kayaked, snowshoed and Sue and I were lucky enough to be able to camp out for a night. Yes, I have camped on Antarctica!!! We visited a research station and tasted their homemade vodka, and we wandered at the whole incredible experience.

The trip ended with a three-day stop on the Falkland Islands to visit Port Stanley and two of the smaller islands before returning via the Magellan straights.

Now I am home looking through my photos, recapturing each magical day and wandering if I can ever top this trip for adventure, beauty and majesty.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 19 Comment(s)

  • GBG
    over 1 year ago
    My goodness, you have managed to describe the indescribable brilliantly. This has to be on my bucket list now.
  • coolonespa
    over 1 year ago
    For those looking at this and thinking they may want to go on an adventure like this, I've just looked an it says "Go on an expedition cruise with Hurtigruten in 2020/21 and save up to 25% per person if you book by 15 December 2019." That's a huge discount.
  • GypsyWanderer
    over 1 year ago
    @bluecat35
    Then do it. It was wonderful.
  • GypsyWanderer
    over 1 year ago
    @baconbap
    I have to have a partial knee replacement in the new year and managed. One hill I decided against but still went over and enjoyed just being there, watching the penguins and bird life. Also there was a lady with a zimmer frame. She always went ashore and did what she could. You choose how much you want to do or not do and how far you want to go.
  • baconbap
    over 1 year ago
    My husband can't walk long distances on rough terrain, but could get in and out of a zodiac. Would he be able to manage on this trip?
  • bluecat35
    over 1 year ago
    I would so like to do this trip
  • coolonespa
    over 1 year ago
    Thank you GypsyWanderer and jaxb for your responses and putting to rest one of my biggest concerns. I need to start seriously looking into a trip to Antarctica.
  • GypsyWanderer
    over 1 year ago
    @coolonespa
    YEs, that is right, only 100 on shore at one time but we did not go all together. The zodiacs carried about 12 and were going backwards and forwards. We were told when it was the turn of our group in the morning so we knew when to get ready in advance. We were given 2 hrs, 1hr, etc ashore depending on the stop, but in reality could take as little or long as we wanted. It worked very well.
  • jaxb
    over 1 year ago
    @coolonespa
    Time ashore was plenty, did not feel rushed, and on several occasions it was also supplemented by small boat cruising around the bay, seeing icebergs, seals, whales etc close up. The boat groups were very fairly rotated in sequence, with talks on board for those going ashore later. Don’t forget the advantage of height, seeing the land from the ships deck was also great, complementing the land and water-borne experiences
  • coolonespa
    over 1 year ago
    I enjoyed reading your review, sounds like a fabulous trip. As I understand it only 100 people are allowed ashore at any one time for environmental reasons. So how did that work on a ship of 400 people? Did you feel you had adequate time ashore at each stop?
  • GypsyWanderer
    over 1 year ago
    @jaxb
    So agree.
  • jaxb
    over 1 year ago
    We were there a couple of years ago on Midnatsol. A fabulous trip, like yours. What also impressed us was the quality and experience of the expedition team, absolutely world class.
  • GypsyWanderer
    over 1 year ago
    you are welcome @Su
  • Su
    over 1 year ago
    Oh wow! That sounds amazing! My husband and I have a huge bucket list of places to visit, and you’ve just added another one to it!
    We love exploring the natural world and are going on safari in Africa soon. A little warmer than your trip!
    Thanks for your review.
  • GypsyWanderer
    over 1 year ago
    @iwent

    Thank you.

  • iwent
    over 1 year ago
    Thank you so much GypsyWanderer. And who are those ridiculous people? Suggesting you can't describe this. I think you've done a marvellous job, and I'm joining the4ts and ESW in a small huddle of GREEN tinged people. I think we might look a little like some of those penguins you've captured, and for anyone who hasn't seen your forum thread I suggest they go straight to it. Labelled "Antartica", it has some brilliant photos.
    Hunt out the fourth pic on post 27 for a black-and-white one of the three of us. Thanks again GW.
  • GypsyWanderer
    over 1 year ago
    @the4ts Drake Lake is calm. We had that both ways. Drake shake is the opposite. Normally the passage is somewhere in between.
    Very stable, a large ship.
  • ESW
    over 1 year ago
    What a wonderful experience. I'm green with envy too!
  • the4ts
    over 1 year ago
    That sounds such an amazing trip and such a useful, detailed review. You got to camp out in Antarctica too! I am a very deep shade of green at the moment. Thank you for sharing this. I've never heard of the Drake Lake v Drake Shake :-)

    How stable was the boat overall? I know the seas can be pretty big out there at times.

    Hazel