Peregrine Antarctica trip

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Antarctica. What an adventure! Yes, it’s far away and it’s expensive to get there, but, as the last of the seven continents, for us, Antarctica was calling. So when my husband, Jerry, and I received literature from Galapagos Travel (783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Ste. 49, Aptos, CA 95003; 800/969-9014 or 831/689-9192) about a trip there in January ’07, we decided to check it out. We had traveled with Galapagos Travel in June ’04 and we trusted them to pick an ecologically minded ship with a good itinerary.

Nili and Jerry at Iguazú Falls, Argentina.

 

Our 17-day cruise, Jan. 9-25, 2007, was aboard the 106-passenger Akademik Sergei Vavilov, a ship reinforced for ice and run by Peregrine Adventures of Melbourne, Australia. The itinerary included one day in the Falklands, three days in South Georgia and four around the Antarctic Peninsula. We liked the idea of the small ship and the longer itinerary, so we signed on and were extremely happy with our choice.

The Falklands and South Georgia are much richer in wildlife than Antarctica, yet many cruises skip these islands. Their delights included our seeing rockhopper penguins, huge colonies of king penguins (a half-million birds), elephant seals and aggressive fur seals and visiting Shackleton’s grave. Our shore excursions were leisurely, so we were able spend hours watching adult, juvenile and baby penguins interacting, walking and fighting.

The days at sea had lectures by naturalists and historians. From the deck we watched albatross flying overhead and saw many whales. Each time a whale was spotted, excitement ran high on deck, but the most exciting whale experience occurred while cruising in the Zodiacs — a large number of whales surfaced only a few feet away.

The scenery in Anarctica was superb as we cruised through the majestic Lemaire Channel, with rugged mountains on each side of the boat and magnificent glaciers.

Chinstrap penguins on Elephant Island in the South Shetlands. Photo: Nili Olay

 

The Vavilov was originally built as a Russian scientific ship and was reconfigured as a passenger ship. There was a comfortable lounge on the top floor with good visibility and a pleasant library. We were allowed on the bridge at all times except when there were tricky piloting maneuvers. We had full use of all the decks except during stormy weather.

Having only 106 passengers allowed everyone to go onshore at the same time or cruise together in Zodiacs. This meant that we had more shore time than passengers traveling on larger ships. The atmosphere was relaxed and informal. The quality of the expedition crew was excellent. They were informative, friendly and helpful.

We wore our warm clothes and always had jacket, hat and gloves at the ready so we could run on deck to look at birds or mammals as we cruised.

This type of cruising should not be confused with a Caribbean cruise. Landings all involved getting into Zodiacs (small inflatable boats) and then going through the surf to a beach. When the weather was rough, this took a bit of agility, and some passengers voiced a wish that they had taken the cruise when they were younger.

Galapagos Travel booked us an excellent 2-night/3-day pretrip extension to Iguazú Falls, meeting up with the Galapagos Travel pretrip group on the 4th and returning with them to Buenos Aires on the 6th.

We stayed at Hotel Das Cataratas in Foz du Iguazú on the Brazilian side, which is located in the national park. This allowed us to view the falls early in the morning and late at night without the crowds. It was absolutely magical viewing them at 7 a.m. with the sun dancing off the falls

I would recommend a pretrip of this length; we had enough time to view the falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinean sides, go on a boat ride under the falls and visit the bird sanctuary.

We also had a few days in Buenos Aires, a delightful city that is more European in flavor than South American. As part of our package we stayed at Hotel Emperador (Avenue del Libertador 420, Buenos Aires, Argentina). It is well located, with most of the city’s attractions within walking distance or an inexpensive taxi ride away.

Zodiac cruise in Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctic Peninsula. Photo: Jerry Vetowich

 

We ate at three restaurants in Buenos Aires that deserve mention. We had a fabulous steak dinner at Posta Recoleta Bodegon (Junin 1767) in the Recoleta area (about $25 per person, including drinks, appetizers, steak and vegetables); two light meals at the Libre (Avenue Del Libertador 690), just a short walk from the hotel (a pizza for about $10 fed both of us, plus beverage), and delicious hot chocolate for $1.50 each at Café Tortoni (Avenida de Mayo 825).

Here are our total costs for our Jan. 1-26 trip:

• 17-day/16-night cruise, Ushuaia to Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica, $12,090 per person for a cabin with private facilities. (Rates range from $8,590 to $14,490.)

• Eight-night pretrip to Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls and Ushuaia, $1,558.50 per person (including round-trip Buenos Aires-Iguazu Falls flight).

• Buenos Aires-Ushuaia round-trip airfare, $322.50 per person.

• New York-Buenos Aires round-trip airfare, $1,047.50 per person.

Booking through Galapagos Travel offered the advantage of excellent pretrip information and personalized service. For instance, a sizable final payment was due while I was on an extended Southeast Asia trip. I had left credit card info with them, but my credit card company refused the charge because they knew I was out of the country. Galapagos Travel informed me of the problem and told me not to worry, that we would deal with the payment when I returned two weeks later. Need I say more?

I will be happy to answer any questions about the trip or supply information about what to pack; e-mail c/o ITN.

NILI OLAY

New York, NY

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Antarctica. What an adventure! Yes, it’s far away and it’s expensive to get there, but, as the last of the seven continents, for us, Antarctica was calling. So when my husband, Jerry, and I received literature from Galapagos Travel (783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Ste. 49, Aptos, CA 95003; 800/969-9014 or 831/689-9192) about a trip there in January ’07, we decided to check it out. We had traveled with Galapagos Travel in June ’04 and we trusted them to pick an ecologically minded ship with a good itinerary.

Nili and Jerry at Iguazú Falls, Argentina.

 

Our 17-day cruise, Jan. 9-25, 2007, was aboard the 106-passenger Akademik Sergei Vavilov, a ship reinforced for ice and run by Peregrine Adventures of Melbourne, Australia. The itinerary included one day in the Falklands, three days in South Georgia and four around the Antarctic Peninsula. We liked the idea of the small ship and the longer itinerary, so we signed on and were extremely happy with our choice.

The Falklands and South Georgia are much richer in wildlife than Antarctica, yet many cruises skip these islands. Their delights included our seeing rockhopper penguins, huge colonies of king penguins (a half-million birds), elephant seals and aggressive fur seals and visiting Shackleton’s grave. Our shore excursions were leisurely, so we were able spend hours watching adult, juvenile and baby penguins interacting, walking and fighting.

The days at sea had lectures by naturalists and historians. From the deck we watched albatross flying overhead and saw many whales. Each time a whale was spotted, excitement ran high on deck, but the most exciting whale experience occurred while cruising in the Zodiacs — a large number of whales surfaced only a few feet away.

The scenery in Anarctica was superb as we cruised through the majestic Lemaire Channel, with rugged mountains on each side of the boat and magnificent glaciers.

Chinstrap penguins on Elephant Island in the South Shetlands. Photo: Nili Olay

 

The Vavilov was originally built as a Russian scientific ship and was reconfigured as a passenger ship. There was a comfortable lounge on the top floor with good visibility and a pleasant library. We were allowed on the bridge at all times except when there were tricky piloting maneuvers. We had full use of all the decks except during stormy weather.

Having only 106 passengers allowed everyone to go onshore at the same time or cruise together in Zodiacs. This meant that we had more shore time than passengers traveling on larger ships. The atmosphere was relaxed and informal. The quality of the expedition crew was excellent. They were informative, friendly and helpful.

We wore our warm clothes and always had jacket, hat and gloves at the ready so we could run on deck to look at birds or mammals as we cruised.

This type of cruising should not be confused with a Caribbean cruise. Landings all involved getting into Zodiacs (small inflatable boats) and then going through the surf to a beach. When the weather was rough, this took a bit of agility, and some passengers voiced a wish that they had taken the cruise when they were younger.

Galapagos Travel booked us an excellent 2-night/3-day pretrip extension to Iguazú Falls, meeting up with the Galapagos Travel pretrip group on the 4th and returning with them to Buenos Aires on the 6th.

We stayed at Hotel Das Cataratas in Foz du Iguazú on the Brazilian side, which is located in the national park. This allowed us to view the falls early in the morning and late at night without the crowds. It was absolutely magical viewing them at 7 a.m. with the sun dancing off the falls

I would recommend a pretrip of this length; we had enough time to view the falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinean sides, go on a boat ride under the falls and visit the bird sanctuary.

We also had a few days in Buenos Aires, a delightful city that is more European in flavor than South American. As part of our package we stayed at Hotel Emperador (Avenue del Libertador 420, Buenos Aires, Argentina). It is well located, with most of the city’s attractions within walking distance or an inexpensive taxi ride away.

Zodiac cruise in Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctic Peninsula. Photo: Jerry Vetowich

 

We ate at three restaurants in Buenos Aires that deserve mention. We had a fabulous steak dinner at Posta Recoleta Bodegon (Junin 1767) in the Recoleta area (about $25 per person, including drinks, appetizers, steak and vegetables); two light meals at the Libre (Avenue Del Libertador 690), just a short walk from the hotel (a pizza for about $10 fed both of us, plus beverage), and delicious hot chocolate for $1.50 each at Café Tortoni (Avenida de Mayo 825).

Here are our total costs for our Jan. 1-26 trip:

• 17-day/16-night cruise, Ushuaia to Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica, $12,090 per person for a cabin with private facilities. (Rates range from $8,590 to $14,490.)

• Eight-night pretrip to Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls and Ushuaia, $1,558.50 per person (including round-trip Buenos Aires-Iguazu Falls flight).

• Buenos Aires-Ushuaia round-trip airfare, $322.50 per person.

• New York-Buenos Aires round-trip airfare, $1,047.50 per person.

Booking through Galapagos Travel offered the advantage of excellent pretrip information and personalized service. For instance, a sizable final payment was due while I was on an extended Southeast Asia trip. I had left credit card info with them, but my credit card company refused the charge because they knew I was out of the country. Galapagos Travel informed me of the problem and told me not to worry, that we would deal with the payment when I returned two weeks later. Need I say more?

I will be happy to answer any questions about the trip or supply information about what to pack; e-mail c/o ITN.

NILI OLAY

New York, NY