1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2007
OUr cabin was described as "cozy". Try tiny. The separate bunks are small and the mattresses are not much more comfortable than an army cot.

The dinners were boring and very poorly organized. In some cases, if you ordered an alternate ... Read More

OUr cabin was described as "cozy". Try tiny. The separate bunks are small and the mattresses are not much more comfortable than an army cot.

The dinners were boring and very poorly organized. In some cases, if you ordered an alternate to the featured meal, you might wait for 20 minutes and by that time the other diners had finished their entrees.

The bathrooms were not supplied with washcloths and the quality of the towels were not worthy of a cruise that was so costly.

The price of the drinks in the bar was too high. I ordered a Martini that cost the equivalent of over eight USD and it was a poor excuse for a martini.

The excursions were overpriced. We went on an express bus from Cork to Waterford at a cost of about 20 Euros (around $29.00 USD) The ship's excursion, that covered exactly the same route, cost more than 4 times what we paid.

A provision for indoor smoking was not provided.

The hot tubs were tepid and even a small pool would have been nice.

The servers, cabin attendants and many of the engineering crew were from the Philippines and were most delightful and friendly.

Fram is a well-engineered vessel and we found her quite sea-kindly and rode well in moderate seas of up to 20 feet. Her stabilizer system provided excellent roll control with the seas coming from any direction. The noise level from the propulsion system was pleasantly subdued.

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Sail Date: February 2008
GET IN: the New York office of Hurtigrut has kinks; questions weren't answered, forms were sent late, promised fare adjustments have not been received. Our local travel agent ran great interference but stories of overbooking and bad info ... Read More
GET IN: the New York office of Hurtigrut has kinks; questions weren't answered, forms were sent late, promised fare adjustments have not been received. Our local travel agent ran great interference but stories of overbooking and bad info were commonplace. We were bumped from our preferred Jan 8 tour; were told that the sailing had been cancelled which was not true, more likely, we were a victim of an accidental iceberg contact and overbooking. Land services were good in Santiago, not so good in Ushuaia. Hurtigrut needs to not dump passengers at the dock with no place to go in either city; a dayroom for transferring passengers would be useful and was much needed.

SIT DOWN: LAN Airlines did a good job of getting us to Ushuaia. Our LAX connection was late so we were provided with dayrooms and meal vouchers. Ushuaia was interesting and Chile and Patagonia itself were worth a return trip. Embarkation was smooth; Fram was beautiful and the service was Norwegian/impeccable as always. The ship layout is much like other Hurtigrut ships, comfortable, efficient. The food served was hearty, Euro-style befitting our international passenger manifest. From the beginning address of Captain Andreasson thru the landings on the Peninsula we felt we had the safest boat and crew we saw anywhere in that amazing wilderness. The multilingual Expedition Staff was thoughtful, knowledgeable and approachable. The folks who got the most out of the landings were spry and fit, regardless of age.

SHUT UP: Hurtigrut sends extensive reading lists and info about what to bring and what to expect. READ THIS. Folks who had not provided themselves with good gear were cold and miserable. Wool DOES work better than polyprop or fleece. You WILL need seasickness remedies.We received great tips from some fascinating fellow passengers. A LOT of the experience was simply observing the last great wilderness--we spent lots of time with our jaws on the deck in wonder of the brutal magnificence of the White Continent.

HANG ON: We experienced Drake's Lake southbound; not so much northbound. Pack efficiently and bring good locks, your baggage is inaccessible for the transfers. Make sure you have "one hand for the ship." Leave your glitz behind and prepare to be awed by the experience. IT was truly the "trip of a lifetime."

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2008

My husband and I went on the MS Fram to the Antarctic and it was an experience. First let me say that this cruise is not for everyone. There is alot of down time while you are on the ship and there is not much to do except visit the ... Read More

My husband and I went on the MS Fram to the Antarctic and it was an experience. First let me say that this cruise is not for everyone. There is alot of down time while you are on the ship and there is not much to do except visit the observation lounge on the 7th floor and read or watch the beautiful views. This is something that I thought should be improved. They did have lectures but if that is not your thing then you could get a little stir crazy as we both did.

The ship itself was beautiful as it is new.. believe just around a year old. The room that we were in --cabin 330-- had an outside window but was much too small for two people. In my opinion you should upgrade if possible. We were told that the room was a good size but that was not the case... I had to have my husband leave in order to get dressed if that give you a clue... Since there is so much down time and only one other place on the boat to go to this was disappointing but we made the best of it. Also based on the price of the cruise I did expect a bit more. Be warned. They do have a hair dryer but it's a hose so if your not use to it ..well, let's just say if you have alot of hair it will take a while to get you dry.

The crew was wonderful!! Very kind and always willing to give you a hand. Especially the staff at the dining room. They were so pleasant and seemed to really enjoy their job.

Food was not my taste and I felt they had very limited options if you do not eat meat. We told them in advance of our restrictions and we were assured that there would always be a veggie option available but that was not the case.. in fact they put meat in everything including the vegetables. You could ask for a veggie option but that often took a long time to get from the kitchen. I also found the food to be very heavy --not very healthy.. they needed a lighter menu -- especially since you are not that active on the boat.

The excursions were great but I wished there were more. It was well organized but you only get one hour on land... and if your lucky you get two landings in one day. Since the weather was a bit challenging we missed one complete day of landings and then the captain decided that there was an opportunity to go the Arctic Circle so they cancelled a compete day of landings.. Some people were very excited.. I would have rather done more landings. I came for the wildlife. I also wished that you could cruise the glaciers more up close on the Arctic boats they used. We are younger than most of the people on the boat (average age seemed to be around 65-70 years old..) we are in our early 40's-- so again for us..we would have liked to have been more active.

Bring water proof pants.. and pack accordingly.... The boat is kept warm so you do not need as much warm weather gear as you might think. There is a laundry room on the boat that you can use for free and it was quick and painless.

It was a good cruise for the money... they should offer more entertainment on the boat instead of having the crew sing to us but if you know up front you can bring things along to keep you busy.

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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2008
I selected Fram because she was a new ship. Actually, she is very well engineered, but the interior is terrible, old fashioned and cheap. The cabins are the worst I have ever seen on any cruise ship. Small and poorly decorated, worse than ... Read More
I selected Fram because she was a new ship. Actually, she is very well engineered, but the interior is terrible, old fashioned and cheap. The cabins are the worst I have ever seen on any cruise ship. Small and poorly decorated, worse than your average overnight Ferry. There is nothing else to do on this ship entertainmentwise. It is very boring! The bar prices are outrageous and the drinks are rather poor (they use cheap wine and poor ingredients, but the bar prices are the highest you can imagine). The worst thing was the disgusting Norwegian-style cuisine. They seemed never to have heard of finesse, taste, spices and choice. It was basically the same boring selection every day. Soups were generally avoid of taste, there was no vegetarian choice on the buffet, pasta and vegetables were generally overcooked and prepared without any spices nor finesse. I have never experienced such bad food anywhere in the world. Did you ever wonder why there is no Norwegian restaurant in your neighborhood? Well, hereĀ“s why: their cuisine is uneatable for our taste buds. You just wonder why they force their crappy Norwegian food on international guests going to Antarctica? Do they want you to experience how poorly the early explorers had to live down there? Come on board Fram and experience yourself! Well, having said all the bad things about this ship (and I would never go on Fram or any other Hurtigruten ship again) there were some good points. Lectures were excellent, given by a great team of experienced staff. The landings in Antarctica were great and so was the scenery. Next time I chose a different ship, though.

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Sail Date: January 2009
I spent 11 nights on an Antarctic trip below the Antarctic Circle on the Fram after booking with through Cruise Norway in NY. It was a replacement trip for a cruise canceled last year(2008)after she struck an iceberg in the Antarctic. Due ... Read More
I spent 11 nights on an Antarctic trip below the Antarctic Circle on the Fram after booking with through Cruise Norway in NY. It was a replacement trip for a cruise canceled last year(2008)after she struck an iceberg in the Antarctic. Due to some issues with Hurtigruten in NY and reading some of the reviews, I had some doubts about the trip

However, the entire trip was beautifully handled from Miami to BA to Ushuaia, aboard the Fram and back again to Miami. I must admit, this was my first cruise of any kind, so I have little to compare it to, except what my friends and relatives have told and shown me about their trips on conventional cruise ships.

First, the cabin. Unless you had a suite, the cabins were very small. With the beds down in sleeping position, there was about 16 inches between the beds. When they were up, you had a couch and a fairly roomy space. The bath was small, but adequate, and about the size of other cruise ships, in photos that I've seen. We had 2 closets a small desk, refrigerator and a luggage storage area. The suites were much larger and appeared to be very comfortable. We had a large window on the port side with an excellent shade for darkening the room on the very bright nights.

The food was very good and highly varied. The only persons who might have a problem would be vegans, or very strict vegetarians, as much of the food included meat, cheese or fish. There were excellent varieties of salads, fresh fruits and vegetables, although the latter were usually served plain. The meals (except 3) were all buffet, so you made your own choices among many options. The three served meals were excellent and even gourmet, in style, quality and presentation. The desserts and baked goods were extremely varied and always excellent. If anything ran out, a simple request to any dining staff would result in a refill. If you dined late after a landing (or just a late riser), they would close each food line as you completed the course and wait for you to finish.

As January 26th was Australian Day, the chef prepared a special meal for the Australians at a special table set up for the event. My grandson and I were invited as "honorary Aussies." The kitchen prepared Aussie meat pies, rack of lamb, mashed potatoes and peas and even the dessert was made specially prepared with Lamingtons and Pavlovas

The common areas consisted of a large wall-to-wall ceiling-to-floor window lounge on Deck 7 along with a small fitness area and 2 hot tubs. There was a large sauna and locker and shower facilities on Deck 8. The restaurant was on Deck 4 which also included the reception desk, coffee shop, gift shop, Internet area and presentation rooms. Wireless was only available only in this area. The desk was staffed 24/7 and coffee, tea, hot chocolate, water and cookies & pastries were available 24/7 without charge. They had a fairly good selection of beers and wines at meals and in the lounge, although alcoholic beverages and soft drinks were an extra charge.

Each member of the Crew, Dining, Housekeeping & Expedition Staff was very enthusiastic and accommodated every request possible. The landings, as many as 3 per day, were conducted in Polar Cirkel boats which are stiffer than Zodiacs and never got us wet (we had very moderate seas). The ship has a water level loading platform on Deck 2, that allows you to enter the boats with a simple step-on & step-off procedure.

The Fram provided us with parkas, (really waterproof hooded shells) and boots (referred to by many as "Wellies") in all sizes. The boots were almost always dry and comfortable, once you selected the right size, though you had to be careful in your selection if you were in the last group of the day.

Lastly, there was a convenient laundry room on Deck 3, where you could get the sweat and penguin poo off of your long johns and outerwear. About a buck for a wash and dryers were free. There was also service laundry, but we never used or needed it.

So, despite my misgivings, I had the best trip of my entire life on a ship I was concerned about embarking upon. Perhaps my review may have been different if I were a more experienced cruiser, but I really doubt it as I spoke with more than half the passengers (very experienced travelers and cruisers) on a daily basis during and after the trip and everyone had the same opinion. Great Ship. No casino, no entertainment, 1 restaurant 249 passengers out of a possible 318, but never a dull moment. Never got more then 30 minutes in one of the three books I brought

Thanks for listening and take my advice to "Go south young man/woman, Go south, on the Fram!

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10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2009
Antarctica is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is amazing, beautiful, breathtaking.

Hurtigruten represents unprofessionalism and poor service. This is very frustrating for such an expensive undertaking ($15,000 plus)

Example ... Read More

Antarctica is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is amazing, beautiful, breathtaking.

Hurtigruten represents unprofessionalism and poor service. This is very frustrating for such an expensive undertaking ($15,000 plus)

Example #1 --- Hurtigruten books airline ticket for the wrong day for my father. It is bizarre that Hurtigruten can not follow their own agenda that they created.

Example #2 --- Hurtigruten provides a single bed for my father and I. i love my Dad, but really would like two beds.

Example #3 --- I write Rolf Logan, Director of sales a letter sharing with him my experience. He never responds. This is an example of the apple not falling far from the tree. If the executives do not care about their customers, you shouldn't be surprised that lower leverl employees to not excel at service.

Example #4 --- Despite all this, I was attempting to book a cruise with Hurtigruten to Norway for June. After two weeks of emailing the staff, I decided to sign up with Celebrity for another location. Hurtigruten's staff would take sometime 5 days to respond to emails, provide incorrect information, or simply ignore questions.

Antartica is a must see. The variable is the serivice provided by the cruise line. Please do not depend on Hurtigruten.

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2009
We joined the Hurtigruten tour in Buenos Aires with an overnight stay. The Hurtigruten staff were there to meet and assist all passengers. One American lady had actually had her handbag stolen and the staff excorted her to the Embassy ... Read More
We joined the Hurtigruten tour in Buenos Aires with an overnight stay. The Hurtigruten staff were there to meet and assist all passengers. One American lady had actually had her handbag stolen and the staff excorted her to the Embassy where she was able to get a replacement passport.

We went by bus to the port and the booking in procedure for the FRAM was very efficient. All staff were very friendly and helpful - from the house staff through to the Captain.

We had 11 landings in all. Three landings in the Falklands where we encountered penguins in the thousands. Mainly Rock Hoppers. It was nesting season and it was fascinating to watch the love making and the gathering of stones etc for their nests. Living in harmony with the penguins were the albatross also nesting. Port Stanley was an interesting village to visit.

Our next three landings were in South Georgia. Incredible scenery which certainly lived up to everything that I had ever read about it. Once again there were thousands of penguins. Here we encountered the King Penguins accompanied by their furry brown chicks. It is quite incredible the way the Mums are able to recognize their young by their call. This was certainly worth the trip to our 7th continent.

We had five landings in Antarctica and saw five different types of penguins. The three other type not yet mentioned were the Chinstrap, this species has a white face. This is separated from the white belly by a thin dark line running under the lower part of the chin - therefore the name. The Gentoo are characterised by a white patch around and behind the eye that joins on the crown and the orange-red lower mandible is also a distinct feature, and the Adelie which is all black and white and is recognised by its white eye-ring.

We had been divided into seven groups and the landings were made using Polar Cirkel boats. The groups were rotated which meant that each group had their turn to be the first to land. This was so well organised and a real credit to the expedition team who worked tirelessly to ensure that we all had an unforgetable experience. Three of the landings were to research stations and we were able to speak with the local researchers and buy souvenirs.

We were amazed that we were able to have fresh fruit throughout the cruise. The food was delicious and we ate too much.

The cruise was excellent value and we would highly recommend the Hurtigruten company and the FRAM. It is certainly worth the extra money to be able to go by a smaller ship and do the landings. As the larger cruise ships are limited as to how close they can sail to the shoreline and the rookerys are usually located away from the shoreline the penguin sightings would be mainly by binoculars and could not possibly compare with being within a few metres of them.

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Sail Date: December 2009
It had been my dream for many years to visit Antarctica but hubby was never too keen until he read 'Shackleton's Centenary Expedition'. This would be perfect for both of us. We read some previous reviews which were quite damming and we ... Read More
It had been my dream for many years to visit Antarctica but hubby was never too keen until he read 'Shackleton's Centenary Expedition'. This would be perfect for both of us. We read some previous reviews which were quite damming and we were not impressed but were prepared to accept 'expedition ship' cruise style. We needn't have been concerned.

Everything about the ship was perfect. Yes the cabins were small but quite ample for our needs. The shower was the best we'd had and the beds were comfy and spotlessly clean. The expedition team were truly professional and most helpful for the whole trip. The lectures were interesting and prepared us well for our landings of which there were many. Each landing was different and the wildlife unbelievable. At sea the scenery was almost indescribeable, you had to see it to believe it. Our most favourite day was at Deception Island where we took part in the 4 mile hike across the island to the breeding colony of chin strap penguins. Having said that every day we went ashore was amazing.

When at sea for whole days there was plenty of board games to play, books to read and lectures to attend and even the gym or jacuzzi.

At the end of the trip our flight was delayed and we were invited to go back on board for lunch (which was still of the same standard as our first meal - excellent). This was in spite of the fact that Fram was being prepared for her next voyage.

I have only one thing left to say, 'Thank you for an amazing trip to the end of the world'.

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Sail Date: December 2009
We had wanted to take an expedition style cruise to Antarctica for a while now. Having traveled previously on Hurtigruten along the Norwegian coast a number of years ago, when they started cruising to Antarctica last year at reasonable ... Read More
We had wanted to take an expedition style cruise to Antarctica for a while now. Having traveled previously on Hurtigruten along the Norwegian coast a number of years ago, when they started cruising to Antarctica last year at reasonable prices we were definitely interested. Antarctica promised to be a remote and unusual adventure with unique scenery and wildlife.

The Fram is a new ship (went into service in 2007) and is very comfortable with attractive Scandinavian modern style, and excellent public spaces, especially the observation deck on the 7th deck with comfortable chairs and floor to ceiling windows, and the 4th deck dining room, also with extensive windows and views.

Cabins:

We signed up for QJ mini suite with limited view. (Cabins below suite category are very SMALL--be aware of this before you book one). Initially we got less than we had expected or paid for: suite 503 instead of being a limited view suite was a NO view suite, with superstructure almost completely blocking the window and any views except at an extreme angle. After complaining to the Hotel Director, who confirmed that this should have been booked only as a no-view suite (as should the comparable one on the port side of the ship) and then, vehemently, to the Chief Purser, we were switched to suite 516, which was perfectly fine. Moderately roomy, with a comfortable queen bed, adequate floor space, good bathroom with shower, this suite had a decent outside view with only minor obstruction. Note: all the deck 5 QJ cabins have an accessible deck directly outside, so there is limited privacy unless the drapes are drawn.

Perks of having a suite on this cruise: 2 free shore excursions (Tierra del Fuego National Park and a tango show in Buenos Aires for us); a bottle of French Champagne in the suite, and free beverages with lunch and dinner (soft drinks, beer, mediocre wine).

Service: The dining room and cabin crew seemed to be almost exclusively Filipino. The staff were uniformly pleasant, courteous, and helpful, a real plus. We thought overall service levels were equivalent to the highly rated and expensive cruise lines like Regent and Silversea.

Shore excursions: Two a day while in Antarctica, and we didn't miss any because of bad weather which sometimes happening. These were the highlight of the cruise. Only 100 passengers are allowed ashore at one time, due to Antarctic regulations. So excursions were limited to 1 hour shore time. The Polar Cerkel boats which took us ashore are nicer than Zodiacs, with better protection from wind and spray. During the excursions, we could walk around on the snow and ice, climb small hills, walk past penguin rookeries (Gentoo, Adellie and Chinstrap Penguins) and past elephant seals and Antarctic birds. Vistas were spectacular, vast fields of white snow, white and blue snow and ice, icebergs, distant and mostly hidden mountains. It was foggy the entire trip, so we could never see the mountain peaks, which remained partially hidden and mysterious.

Food: This was usually good, never great. Most meals were buffet style, and we always were able to find something palatable. My vegetarian brother-in-law did fine. Best were the salads, fresh fruits, meat dishes. Not as much herring as I would have expected in a Norwegian line. (On the Norwegian coastal cruise there was abundant delicious herring preparations, salmon...) On the few set meals there was an alternate main dish offered (which had to be requested in advance, though).

Lectures: disappointing. We stopped going after the first few, as the lecturers weren't that interesting, mostly around Antarctic history. Not nearly enough about wildlife, our primary interest. Too anecdotal.

Entertainment: none that we went to, so I can't comment. Not much expected by us or offered.

Fitness: There is an adequately equipped fitness room which my wife used regularly. On decks 7 and 8 there are limited walking areas with excellent views. Two outdoor jacuzzis which we never had the opportunity to use.

Passengers: younger than we had expected,many people in their 40's and 50's and a few even younger. At least half seemed to be from the US, then about a third or more German, with some Asian, French and UK passengers as well. Announcements and lectures were offered in English and German.

Overall, we were all very pleased. The ship offered an extremely comfortable way to see this remote part of the world. Views from the ship were often spectacular, especially going (twice, once each way) through the Lemaire Channel. The shore excursions met all our expectations.

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2010
TRIP JOURNAL USHUAIA TO BUENOS AIRES ANTARCTICA EXPEDITION ONBOARD THE MV FRAM FEBRUARY 22 - MARCH 12, 2010

Flew Continental to BA 3 days early, non-eventful flight.

Used German Landau for guide in BA, excellent, $120 for the ... Read More

TRIP JOURNAL USHUAIA TO BUENOS AIRES ANTARCTICA EXPEDITION ONBOARD THE MV FRAM FEBRUARY 22 - MARCH 12, 2010

Flew Continental to BA 3 days early, non-eventful flight.

Used German Landau for guide in BA, excellent, $120 for the day, germanele@gmail.com. If you come on a weekend don't miss the market at St. Telmo, and the excellent craft market alongside Recoleta cemetery. Joined up with Hurtigruten at Panamericano Hotel, hotel lobby very nice, but our room was a bit shabby. Arrogant receptionist at desk, even the Porter told me he was "a bad guy". We stayed at the Casasur for two days prior to Panamericano, EXCELLENT hotel, free city tour, CO breakfast, wifi in all rooms free. We would highly recommend if going early to BA, very close to the obelisk but half the price of the PA and great friendly staff.

Feb 23

Awoke early to have CO breakfast at hotel, boarded the buses where they gave us our boarding passes. Short trip to airport, quick security, waited about 45 min to board, unassigned seating, there was 168 pax on plane, (full). There are +/- 210 passengers' total. Hurtigruten states to only check one bag each and give a red ribbon to tie around handles. We asked if we could check 3, they said to go ahead but not to mention it to anyone. We had a 3.5 hour flight to Ushuaia, very beautiful sight to see when landing over the water and across the Andes that stretch from east to west at this area. Had to reclaim luggage at the airport then outside to one of several tours, either pay to go to NP. or take the city orientation tour for free. You can't just go and board the ship. We took the city orientation tour, had lunch, and bought some items, returned to the bus that was close to the ship. Loaded onto the bus for the short drive to the ship, two lines formed to get our ID cards, then to deck 4 to get the cards validated with our CC, turn in the medical forms to the Dr., and pick up our blue jackets. Staff estimates your size and then just try one on to be sure fit is ok. Muster drill outside on deck at 2030, trained on how to put on a survival suit and a life jacket. We paid closer attention than on other cruises, remembering what happened to the "Little Red Boat" in AA waters. Remember to wear warm clothing from BA as it is cold and windy in Ushuaia. Seeing the lights of Ushuaia recede as we left and knowing not what we would encounter was thrilling to say the least.

Feb 24 Drake, Rattle & Roll

From the time we cleared the protected inland waters, the Fram has been in heavy rolling seas. The waves here are running from west to east, and our ship is sailing north to south in the trough. Anything not fastened down has been sliding back and forth. We had both put on our ear patches 4 hours before boarding and they seemed to work fine overnight and into the morning. However, about noon the seas really picked up and my wife was thrown out of her reading chair in our cabin. I came close to being tossed from my bunk but caught myself the last minute. I also became sick when the waves got so big. Our deck has been constantly sprayed with water from the force 12 and greater gales that is blowing the tops off of the huge waves. There have been a lot of sea birds in our wake and we have seen huge petrels up close and many other sea birds. Almost no one at breakfast this am, and only a few more at lunch. Later tonight at dinner one passenger was thrown out of his chair backwards, and a woman was thrown into a glass panel causing a big knot to appear on her head. We were in the dining room near a window when the ship suddenly drops and we look out to see that we are in the bottom of the trough and a wall of water considerably over our heads fast approaching. We all gaped in panic at seeing the water when the ship began to rise again and we crested the wave. We had to hold on to the edge of the table several times when the ship rolled so much that chairs, dinner ware and anything not fastened down was sliding back and forth. Some pax used their napkins to tie the legs of their chairs together to keep from being thrown around as the ship rocked back and forth so much. Seas are expected to worsen and waves now 12 meters or greater and wind speed of +/- 50m/sec' with the Beaufort scale greater than 12.

Feb 25

Our IAATO meeting early this AM, we were told this crossing of the Drake was the 2d worse this year. Late yesterday evening and into the night the storm continued, at dinner a huge wave came up to deck 5 level. The morning came with fewer waves and wind but still a bit rough. We had our backpacks vacuumed this morning, picked up our life vests which we are to keep with us the entire voyage and briefed on our first landing hopefully tonight at Deception Island. Per ship's personnel we are behind time due to leaving Ushuaia late and slow going across the Drake. During our morning meeting the guide discussed our clothing for the excursions and believe it or not many folks claimed they knew nothing about bringing waterproof shell pants. Later some tried to buy some at the small store onboard but they had only smaller sizes. Excitement is building onboard as we get closer to the continent and into calmer water.

Feb 26th. Touchdown

Late last evening, we made it to Deception Island for our first landing. Seas were very smooth once we got out of the passage. We had our first close encounter with fur seals and penguins, although most of the penguins had already gone. There were a lot of great photo opportunities. The ship sailed all last night to make our landing at Port Lockroy. This morning, there were hundreds if not thousands of penguins all about. They are so familiar with humans they walk right past you without the smallest care. More large icebergs this morning up close, very beautiful to see at such close distances. We bought arm patches at the little store; there is not much here to buy, trinkets, T's, etc. They only allow 64 people ashore here versus the 96 on the other excursions due to the small size of the island. It is very rocky and a bit tricky to walk on with ice. A passenger fell on the slick, ice covered rocks but appeared to not be seriously injured. The ship was covered in ice and snow this morning when we awoke to take more photos of our entrance to Port Lockroy. Outside air temp. has been in the low 40.s, we have reduced the amount of gear we wear now when going out. The process to get on/off the Polarcirkle boats is extremely efficient and quick. We discovered the wind here on your face is a bit stingy so in hindsight we should have brought balaclavas instead of the wool beanies. We noticed the excursion staff all wear the balaclavas in addition to clothing wrapped completely around their faces and full goggles as well. Wraparound glasses or goggles would be best as snow and spray gets into our eyes when on the polarcirkle boats.

This afternoon, we landed at Almirante Brown station, an unoccupied area with a few buildings but hundreds of Gentoo penguins. We had to be careful and watch every step as they are everywhere and honk loudly if annoyed. At the end of the land visit, we were taken for a ride in the polarcirkle boats to see Sea Terns', Weddell Seals and a huge leopard seal basking on a small patch of ice. He only cast a wary eye at us but did not leave and we had plenty of photos taken here. On the way to the PM landing, we went through Paradise Cove, an ABSOLUTELY beautiful place, lots of icebergs, minke whales, a few humpback whales, penguins and sea birds. This area is magnificent and there were a lot of photo ops. Tonight we sailed through the Lemaire Channel, which is a big disappointment as we go through at night and will miss "Kodak Alley".

Feb 27th - Cuverville Islands

After sailing all night we arrived at the islands early this morning and began the excursions at 0900. There are 1000's of Gentoo penguins, and the excursion guide had to chase off a fur seal that was getting a bit aggressive. The area around the island is very beautiful and we had sun most of the day. There were huge trapped icebergs here and extraordinary sights everywhere. We are heading now into Gerlache Strait and will pass Wilhelmnina Bay in the process. The captain has indicated we may see many whales during our voyage to Elephant Island so we are hopeful to spot a few.

Gerlache strait proved to be what the Captain said, very beautiful, but paled in comparison to Wilhelmina Bay, which was absolutely gorgeous. The captain indicated we had some extra time so we pulled right up in the bay and he killed the engines for a while when we spotted several whales. We had mostly sunny weather, and we saw many humpback whales and seals on almost every small piece of floating ice. Many penguins were also swimming by. Near evening on our way out we saw 3 humpback whales in a pack right alongside the ship. They began feeding nearby and the lucky few who were out on deck got many great photos. The captain brought the ship to a stop for those on deck and the ship's photographers were getting some great shots for the DVD of our sailing. Tonight we are headed to Elephant Island, where we do not get to land but will do some scenic cruising. We are seeing a lot of whales as we make our journey towards tomorrow's destination.

Feb 28th. - En route to the Elephant Islands and onto South Georgia.

Back to heavy seas again, though not as bad as the Drake crossing. Ship announcement that the winds are expected to increase tonight or tomorrow and a request by the staff to secure all loose items in our cabins. Winds are now at 32m/sec per the bridge. Meetings held on shore excursion options for the Falklands and Buenos Aires. Not much to do today, saw another passenger with a sling around her arm so we expect there are several who have taken falls. We are seeing some spectacular icebergs as we approach Elephant Island. 1830 hours Feb 28th - over the loud speaker in the Dining Hall. "Good evening ladies and gentlemen. You can now tell your friends you are rounding Point Wild in hurricane strength winds. As we clear the Point we expect the winds to increase from their current strength of 34m/sec. Now is the time to take your seasick medicine if you prefer." Seas are very heavy now and strengthening. The Ship is rolling considerably.

March 1st - At sea en route to South Georgia. The weather has not been cooperating and we are experiencing huge waves. Most seem to have their sea legs and it is a bit easier getting around even on this pitching, rolling deck. Lectures held today on a variety of subjects.

March 2d - Continuing our journey to South Georgia. Seas are still very heavy, but the wind has died down some and is now at 20m/sec. Still the seas are very heavy and the Fram is being tossed about quite a bit. The Fram may be one of the larger ships that make landings in AA, but she is still very small when compared to the huge ships that do the "drive by" sailings of AA. This afternoon the observation lounge on deck 7 was full of passengers when a huge wave hit broadside, sending people, chairs and anything else not secured flying to port. One woman suffered a cut to her head that required 3 stitches, and a man had his hand crushed between two of the heavy chairs.

March 3d - South Georgia in Sight

The captain made an effort early this morning to cruise through some fjords as we approached SG, but weather did not cooperate. The clouds have opened enough to allow some well received sunshine, but winds are picking up again as we make our way for our first landing at Grytviken on SG. We are seeing more wildlife as we get closer to the island. There were many albatross in our wake and we had a great time getting shots as they flew close to the ship. Many other birds also seen but the Albatross had everyone's attention. We had a beautiful arrival into Grytviken this afternoon. The whole ship was allowed to disembark instead of just a few groups as before. We were put ashore at the spot of Shackletons' grave where we saw fur seals, elephant seals, and penguins. We then walked around the cove to be picked up at King Edward Point, and en route saw many seals, King penguins, ducks, all types of sea birds and much wildlife. It was a great sunny day, but windy even onshore surrounded by the high mountains. The remains of an old whaling station are here, as well as a nice museum and gift shop.

March 4th - Fortuna Bay/Katabatic Winds

We were scheduled to stop at Fortuna Bay but the wind picked up as we entered the bay so unable to land. The ship waited a while to see if the winds would subside, but instead they increased. Suddenly a Katabatic wind came down from the surrounding mountains so hard it blew a wall of mist & water as high as the ship across the bay and onto the ship itself. We had been warned this could happen and now saw for ourselves how powerful this wind can be. There were shouts from those on the bow who experienced this wind full force. We sailed out of Fortuna to try a landing at Stromness Bay but this proved fruitless as the winds were just as bad. We sailed around awhile before sailing back to Fortuna Bay where we were able to land in the afternoon. We saw hundreds if not thousands of King Penguins, all size chicks', Fur & Elephant seals and many other seabirds. So far this is the largest amount of wildlife that we have seen in one place.

March 5 & 6:

Enroute to the Falkland Islands, the Captain warned of heavy seas tonight as we leave South Georgia. We did indeed have a very rough night sailing and on into the next day. The next two days we are sailing for the Falklands, temps are getting warmer and the seas have settled down a lot since that first night.

March 7th - Port Stanley

Arrived at PS this AM, weather is very nice. Many opted to take one of the tours arranged by the ship, we did not. There is not a lot to see at the port itself, so in hindsight, a tour would be a better choice. Tomorrow the ship has two landings on the Islands, where we are expected to see much wildlife, and which includes a short hike across part of the island to see Rock hopper penguins.

March 8th - New Island & Westpoint Island

We had a very nice sunny day and our first landing at New Island. A short hike of one mile brought us to a colony of Rockhopper penguins. There were many hundreds along with cormorants, albatross and many other birds. We later repositioned to Westpoint Island for our second landing. This was a much longer hike this time of 1.5 miles each way, but well worth the exercise to see hundreds of fledging albatross, Rockhopper penguins and sea lions at a rookery on the other side of the island. The owners of the island welcomed us and gave many free rides to the rookery. As we set sail for Buenos Aires, there are many kinds of albatross in our wake and many whale sightings.

March 9th, 10th & 11th - At Sea

More presentations by the ship's excursion team on Antarctica, and time to reflect on our recent experiences. Weather became warmer and seas much smoother. Glad to be heading home but also sad to be leaving such a mystical place.

March 12th - Buenos Aires

We picked up a local pilot early last night, and docked right on time at our berth. Hurtigruten did a great job of getting everyone off the ship and to the hotel. NOTE: We were warned by the attendant on the bus not to leave any smaller bags in the lobby of the hotel, only the larger suitcases, as they are roped off by the hotel staff until room assignments are made. One pax left her small backpack that held her cameras and gear, and someone made off with it unknown to hotel staff. She lost all of her camera gear and all of the photos she had taken of the trip.

March 13th - Homeward Bound

Hurtigruten schedules busses to the airport depending on the time of your flight, which is about every hour. Our flight was not until 2150, our scheduled bus was set to leave the hotel at 1800. We decided to take the 1700 bus and were glad we did so. Security at EZE is rather lack compared to the screening we are used to in the U.S. We checked bags, waited in long lines to get through security, but then even longer lines to go through customs. By the time we got to our gate we did not have that much time left, and as required by US law, everyone was re-screened again with pat downs and opening of all hand baggage prior to boarding. We were not charged the $18 exit fee that we expected to be charged at the airport; however, upon our initial arrival to Argentina, we did have to pay $131.00 each to enter the country.

Notes on ship & gear.

The food is lacking somewhat, and the chefs recycle much of it. If there are left over scrambled eggs one day, the next day they are used in a different recipe. Same is true for beef, vegetables and other items. There is not a lot of variety, the beef that we have eaten is fairly poor, although one dinner of ribs was excellent, and the chicken is generally okay. I must admit after being on the ship this long it is becoming a chore to go to dinner. I will hand it to the chef though, the soups are usually very good but do contain leftovers from the day before. Breakfast is the same every day and fried eggs that should be hot are stone cold. We did not expect much in the way of food when we signed on so our expectations were met.

The ship is very clean; the staff does a great job in the cabins.

Laundry has to be done by the staff.

Dining room has fixed hours, there is no continuous buffet like on larger cruise ships. No grill for burgers, pizza, etc., there is coffee/drinks available on deck 7 in the lounge.

Dining hours are 0730 - 0930, 1200 - 1430, 1800 - 2200. Only a few meals are assigned seating, most are open seating. On assigned seating nights, you can request the alternate meal if you ask the headwaiter before 1430 that day. Menus are posted at the entrance to the dining room. You can also order breakfast from a menu if you prefer, but don't expect a lot of options.

The only shop onboard is very small, plan on bringing everything you may need. Prices for any items they sell are on the expensive side. They do have some clothing and some very nice picture books.

There is a very small internet cafe, you have to buy minutes. They are not exactly cheap and signal availability is hit/miss. It took me over 10 minutes just to check my email, hopefully this will get better with clear skies or when we get to port.

We did not bring hiking shoes but should have as they are recommended for the Falklands.

What worked for us:

Keep in mind when you are going - the average temperature for us not counting the wind factor was 35 to 40F. The wind on deck and when in the zodiacs can be fierce. Most of the time with the chill factor, temps were below freezing, and the wind did not let up on land.

We each brought a lightweight thermal underwear set, a nylon pant over that, and a water resistant lined shell pant over that. We later dropped the nylon pant and just wore our jeans over the thermals and under the shell.

A spare set of waterproof pants in case of damage to our first pair.

We each had two pair of gloves, a waterproof pair and a lightweight woolen pair.

We each had a woven beanie; however a balaclava would be much better. The wind on the face is the worst and the air down here is so dry it really dries your skin. A good lotion and sun screen is advised, at least 45 spf on the SS.

Wraparound sunglasses or goggles over your eyes, highly recommend to shield your face and eyes, as we experienced sleet, snow and rain and it gets in your eyes, especially when on the zodiacs.

We each brought two pair of thick fleece socks that we wore over a thin nylon sock. (One fleece pair and one nylon at a time), they worked great.

We each brought a thick fleece jacket that we wore over the thermal but under the shell jacket that the ship gave us. A thick sweater would work just as well. We got hot several times while on the excursions and depending on the weather would tweak our layers.

Clothing on the ship is purely at your discretion, most wore jeans/slacks and pullovers. No one dressed up for dinner, (exception was the Captain's dinner at the end, as dress was a bit more upscale)

There is no entertainment other than a small show put on by the crew members. There were many lectures on wildlife, Antarctica, whales, etc.

The ship provides the boots; they are numbered in European sizes so go by that or just try on until you get one that fits. Don't worry about leaving your everyday shoes in the boot room; just put them on the same pegs that hold the boots you choose. No one to my knowledge had missing shoes when they returned from the landings. We brought Crocs for our deck shoes as they are non-skid, and allow us to have on the heavier socks needed when going ashore.

We brought a few of our favorite snacks, as everything on board is expensive.

Ship's coffee is pretty bad, the instant in the cabins is better; we brought our own brand and a small coffee pot. (Just our choice as we like coffee)

We brought 4 cameras, along with chargers, cables, extra memory cards, etc. (Note: at least one person's camera that I know about could not take the cold and malfunctioned) Wipes to clean our cameras with, a few times they had salt spray from the zodiacs, and also rain/snow when on land. A backpack with a waterproof liner, or get a waterproof backpack, some landings were when it was raining/snowing so cameras could really get soaked if not protected. A portable hard drive A card reader A netbook Spare AA batteries where needed Two pair of binoculars, we highly recommend at least one pair A personal DVD player A Kindle Journal A hiking stick (some landings are on rough terrain and there are some options to hike up ice covered trails where a stick may prove useful.

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Fram Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.9
Dining 3.0 3.4
Entertainment 2.0 2.8
Public Rooms 3.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 2.0 3.5
Family 1.0 3.5
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.5
Rates 4.0 3.8

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