23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
The company is wonderfully skilled at the cruise thing. The exploration team was varied in expertise and covered every aspect of animal, mineral and social knowledge. They put safety first and we always felt in good hands. They educated us ... Read More
The company is wonderfully skilled at the cruise thing. The exploration team was varied in expertise and covered every aspect of animal, mineral and social knowledge. They put safety first and we always felt in good hands. They educated us thoroughly on our landings, what to expect and encouraged exploration. The ship is designed for beautiful flow and both social and solitary activities. The many possible sitting areas and the view from the windows and decks would satisfy anyone. This is an exploration and expedition cruise. The cruise is for people interested in learning and being actively involved. This is not a cruise for those interested in being passively entertained or have a need to be pampered and treated like royalty. On this cruise you are encouraged to learn, read, listen, question, kayak, camp, walk, sleep and eat a wonderful array of food. The bread and desserts as well as the roasted lamb was wonderful. I slept like a baby. The ship's stabilizers prevented almost all side to side movement and with seas almost without waves for the three weeks I can't speak to how the ship handles during storms. We made all landings and even an extra stop at Deception Island because of our legendary good weather. But I did hear people at Port Stanley say that the bridge crew of Hurtigruten is more skilled and confident than many other tour companies and often makes landings when other ships are afraid to do so. Besides camping and photography lessons and reading with tea and cookies in hand, I loved all the watercolor lessons we were offered. From the hotel, and back to the hotel, ships staff made everything so easy. Nothing seemed impossible. And I did not meet one grumpy or unpleasant person onboard the ship. I am currently making plans for my next Fram with my son and also another Hurtigruten voyage with my mother. My only complain is for the Hurtigruten front office. Getting responses or questions answered by them is like pulling out your own teeth one at a time. Read Less
31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Firstly, I am not a travel writer or Author, I write as it comes to my head and this is my honest opinion. This was our first time cruising on Hurtigrutens Ms Fram. After reading all the reviews we were somewhat skeptical about our ... Read More
Firstly, I am not a travel writer or Author, I write as it comes to my head and this is my honest opinion. This was our first time cruising on Hurtigrutens Ms Fram. After reading all the reviews we were somewhat skeptical about our trip. We consider ourselves well traveled, this was our 7th Continent, 69th Country, 409th City (Ushuaia) and 14th Cruise. I cannot Thank Hurtigruten enough for providing us with a FANTASTIC experience, Fantastic Service and Unforgettable Trip. The Drake was kind to us although not the smoothest sailing but it was not hectic and with a little medication we made it with no more than a wobble here and there. WARNING - take your own Motion sickness meds and take them when boarding Fram, don't wait to you hit the Drake Passage. Our Stateroom Category M2 was very comfortable on Deck 6. The catering was very good and satisfied our pallets. Enough choice and to be honest we could have had buffet over the whole period. The bread was top class, freshly baked and such a variety. Salads great, Ice cream and desserts great. Water, coffee, tea and Hot chocolate available all day at no charge. Dining staff were very good and attentive. The Expedition team were fantastic and who needs Las Vegas entertainment when on an expedition, there was something for everyone and we learned so much about this wonderful continent thanks to the on-board team of experts in this field. There was a very entertaining evening that the staff put on toward the end of the cruise. Just love the Fram Choir. For those who need to be entertained, I would suggest you go on a Carnival Cruise or go to Las Vegas. This IS AN EXPEDITION. Our first landing went extremely well and we made every landing planned for the whole 12 days. Muck boots are very comfortable and at no charge either. Obviously changes have been made on Hurtigruten regarding charges and this did make a difference to passengers. Polar circle boats were easy to access and with experienced staff there were no problems at all. I can highly recommend Hurtigrutens Ms Fram for anyone lucky enough to be able to venture to this exclusive part of our planet. The weather was great, 3 short days of snow but this gave us the real feel of Antarctica, rest of the time was sunshine and fine days. Of course its cold but with all the correct clothing it was perfect. Read the tips on what to wear and you will be fine. Read the documents for your cruise online and you will inform yourselves about what you can expect and what is needed by the company and all should run smoothly. If you are reading this then you have access to the internet so go ahead and inform yourself. Its no good going on a trip like this and not being satisfied with only 6 flavors of Ice Cream, really!?? We were lucky to see thousands of penguins, loads of whales and seals. Many different bird species. On our way back toward the Drake Passage we encountered about 10 Orca/Killer whales attacking an elephant seal that had sort refuge on the ledge of a floating iceberg - the captain stopped the ship and encircled the iceberg for about an hour and a half - what an experience. We are back just over a week now and I am still pinching myself that what we experienced was real and experienced on this very planet Earth. Thank you Hurtigruten, Thank you Ms Fram and all those on board that made this journey/expedition so great. Here's wishing that if you are reading this that you have plans to travel to the Antarctic and that your trip will be as fantastic as ours. I can highly recommend Hurtigruten. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
We, three ladies, booked the cruise with Hurtigruten through our agent in Hong Kong. So, the cost covers one night in Buenos Aires (BA) and the 14 days trip. Before the trip, I read enough review about the Fram. Of course, there are ... Read More
We, three ladies, booked the cruise with Hurtigruten through our agent in Hong Kong. So, the cost covers one night in Buenos Aires (BA) and the 14 days trip. Before the trip, I read enough review about the Fram. Of course, there are always mixed rating and comments of the same thing. So, with a little reservation, we went ahead, no choice, right! We were lucky that we get to stay in Emperor hotel in BA, a nice hotel. The register went well, only that we have to get our other information separately. It would be more efficient if all information can be given at one time and that the free wifi be given to us at the same time. Then, the arrangement for getting on board of the bus to the airport is a little low profile, we were not aware or no noticeable sign on boarding the bus. Together with the other Hurtigruten guests, we board on the plane, flew to Ushuaia, and finally on board of the ship. The guest register was a bit disorganize, may be guests can be lined up instead of a crowd jammed in front of the counter. Two major things being asked for are: to let Fram keeps the passport and how we prefer to pay our bill. I decided to make payment in cash and, thus, have to make a down payment of US$100. Then I was given a cabin access card with my name, photo and my birthday(some privacy data, no?) Ours is a standard four person cabin, though a bit crowded but still OK coz we are relatively smaller size as Asian. We wish Fram has upgraded us to a more spacious cabin especially when we heard that there are others being upgraded at the spot! Anyway, the cabin provides basic amenities. We are satisfied except that the cabin space is at least 15% smaller than expected. There are standard cruise activities that come with the fare as part of the package deal, and there are additional paid activities. We learnt about the paid activities first before getting information on the standard cruise activities. So, we booked some of the paid activities. After we've done the first standard activity, we think we better stick with the standard ones because of our energy level. All the standard activities were great, safe yet adventurous enough. We were right about our decision of just doing the standard ones, we enjoyed all of them but not feeling stressful. There were lecture, adventure stories telling and documentary film sections on the ship, so one will never feel bored. All activities were educational, a good balance of information, knowledge and fun. As we understand that Fram is an expedition ship we did not have high expectation as we do for other luxurious cruise, such as food, services, etc. And because of this, we found that all the meals were good! Lots of choices and above average quality to us as asian whose taste bud have been spoiled in our own city. We have no problem with the supply of water, tea, coffee and chocolate...which were provided in a 24 x 7 pantry or water bar. Of course, one will have to take a few steps. We did not order any alcohol drinks and have been having water only during all our meals until the last third day when all activities were done and the ship was heading back to Ushuaia. We had no worries of our health and energy condition then we started to have wine and beer every meal. Oh, even the boots were free of charge! Anyway, we brought our own. May be because we have a TV crew from Germany, and that the ship company wanted to make sure everyone is happily! But nothing is flawless, we were kept pick on using plastic bags to protect our camera by one of the expedition staff who was rude to us even in front of other guests. OK, we accept that is to protect Antarctica. BUT, we saw European and American guests using much bigger plastic bags to protect their canon like lenses!!! So large that one would not be able to not seeing these plastic bags!!! We felt being treated differently. We used the plastic bags because we read from some of reviews from different sources suggesting us using plastic bags to protect our camera. We thought that should not be a problem and we use the plastic bags in a way that it won't blow away unless together with the camera. Anyway, nothing is perfect. I suggest also put more smiles on ones face would be much better. I only see true smiling faces when we were stepping out of the ship on that last morning! Otherwise, I would definitely rate this cruise an excellent!. Last but not the least, the service crew members from Philippine were all very talented! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
This is a fantastic way to experience the Antarctic, the Falklands and South Georgia. If you want to go on an expedition to see wildlife and nature this is for you; if you want dancing girls with feathers and dinners with tuxedos and black ... Read More
This is a fantastic way to experience the Antarctic, the Falklands and South Georgia. If you want to go on an expedition to see wildlife and nature this is for you; if you want dancing girls with feathers and dinners with tuxedos and black cocktail dresses then book another sort of trip. This is a professional operation with an excellent boat and expedition crew. Personally, I pay good money to avoid dancing girls with feather but YMMV. We saw penguins unnumbered, humpback whales bubble netting, whales surfacing next to the ship (!!!), seals hunting penguins returning to the rookery, Rock Hopper penguins kamikazimg off the cliffs to avoid seals, fantastic hospitality of the Falkland Island residents, Hour Glass dolphins viewed from the observation deck, Wilson's Storm Petrels and Falkland Island Steamer Ducks doing what they do naturally, visits to British 1950s Antarctic Stations and a fascinating impromptu talk by a Norwegian ex-whaler (and I am a card carrying anti-whaler!). The only problem is should we be travelling to this delicate and fragile eco-system? We would be back again (for the third time) but for wrestling with our conscience about whether we should be travelling here at all. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
First let me say it should tell you something that I'm posting this 3 years later. That's how disappointing this cruise was. Second, Antarctica is incredible, this cruise line does get you there, and it's worth going - despite the ... Read More
First let me say it should tell you something that I'm posting this 3 years later. That's how disappointing this cruise was. Second, Antarctica is incredible, this cruise line does get you there, and it's worth going - despite the incredible disappointment of the cruise company to deliver a quality safe experience in my opinion. And it is all about the hospitality in this case. If you want to just go on an expedition cruise and not care about food, towels, coffee, comfort... then sure. This is fine. But for the price and with just a little effort they could do so much better. People save their whole livest to get to Antarctica. Why not make an effort. The basics: The ship is fine. I am more concerned with seaworthy and safety in this case. However, the common area is pathetically sad. It's like a small bad lounge in a drab little Euro-hotel. Bad coffee. Stale cookies. It all feels like an uninviting afterthought. Just one aspect of failed hospitality effort that never really brought the cruise together nor made one feel welcomed. The food was terrible. Which at first I figured we were at the end of the world and supplies were limited. But when we explored Ushuaia we found plenty of fresh produce, good coffee, pastries... at reasonable prices. Clearly Hurtigruten could have sourced better. There were literally fights in the dining area. Over what I can't even imagine. All the food tasted like hospital food. Really sad. There is nothing that says luxury at all. The towels were small, worn, scratchy and scarce. Yes we went to an amazing place and got to go on an incredible adventure. I'll always cherish that. But they could have done so much better with the slightest awareness of hospitality. At one point, wanting to create an experience for myself and friends we made on the trip, I paid our guide to pluck a piece of calved glacier ice from the water. I created a moment in the bar where we chiseled-off a piece of that prehistoric ice that contained compressed air bubbles from millennia ago. When you poured a liquor over it you could hear those bubble effervesce. Simple. Magical. Special. Not vaguely in the awareness of our host. Lastly, be warned that if there's a medical emergency, your cruise is ruined. Too much to explain here, but research it. We were told that the cruise before ours lost 4 days for and emergency evacuation. One is supposed to have a doctor's note to go on this adventure. On several occasions we saw people put into very precarious positions by the crew. (Many of which kind of came off as junior-college level awkward dolts. The geologist was frankly weird and rude). These situations could have easily resulted in a crisis. For just one example: a clearly overweight, out of shape, knee brace person with cane teetering on the edge of a portable aluminum stair case while trying to get out of a heavily rocking raft in rubber boots onto a very slippery rocky shore with crashing waves. We actually did have a medical emergency that could have ruined our journey. A man that had several prior hip / knee surgeries fell on the boat. But thankfully there happened to be an anesthesiologist and a surgeon on board. And we were told his wife, having been through so many surgeries, provided critical assistance. Without all of that good fortune we would have ad to go to South Shetlands (if I recall) and wait for good weather and airlift. The ship is required to sit in port until weather clears enough for the plane to leave. Overall, we're thrilled we got to go. We loved it. It was worth the risk. But we make the most or any experience. The places we got to see were truly once in a lifetime. And the austere beauty of this other worldly place is unrivaled. It's just too bad that this company doesn't interested in making a sincere effort to make it special. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015

We started our expedition by flying from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia where we picked up Hurtigruten’s boat MS Fram. The boat is lovely, lots of pine and a fantastic observation lounge with floor to ceiling windows. Our suite was ... Read More

We started our expedition by flying from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia where we picked up Hurtigruten’s boat MS Fram. The boat is lovely, lots of pine and a fantastic observation lounge with floor to ceiling windows. Our suite was great, a good size, but beware, some of the inside cabins are very small.

We had an amazing holiday, we saw five different types of penguins (Gentoos, Chin-strap, Magenellic, Rockhopper and King) and lots of seals (Fur, Elephant and Leopard). We saw whales and dolphins and many different birds including albatross and caracars. The scenery is stunning, words cannot describe the sheer beauty of the magnificent icebergs against the cobalt blue skies as the sun’s rays warmed everyone and everything.

We endured Force 10s crossing Drake’s Passage, about half the passengers were ill; we couldn’t put into Deception Island because of the Force 11 gale. We had fabulous days when the sun shone and the sky was blue – dips in the on-deck Jacuzzi were a must even though it was -1 C and snowing at times. We had days when the fog obstinately stuck around all day.

The best bits were undoubtedly seeing this amazing continent and getting to walk on the Antarctic, South Georgia and the Falklands. It was a real privilege to be there and see the animals and birds and to walk in the footsteps of Shackleton. The staff were really good; the lectures were exceptionally good generally and helped to set the scene perfectly. Safety was paramount, especially important when the transfers to the remote islands were made by Polar Circle boats in lumpy seas.

There were many long days at sea filled by lectures and film shows. You might want to take your knitting and a good supply of reading material/puzzle books. There is a supply of jig-saw puzzles on board, but there is also a limit to how many you might want to do. You might also want to take a pack of cards and/or other travel games.

The food was OK, the set dinners were better than the buffets, which were the norm at other times. The food was a bit repetitive, the fish and meat often over-cooked. We were expecting something a bit better given the cost of the holiday.

We were also disappointed by the penny pinching/money grabbing approach. This was an expensive holiday – the Antarctic is an expensive place to visit. We did receive ‘free’ anoraks, but had to pay to hire boots for the shore excursions – there is a big focus on ensuring that cross contamination of flora and fauna is minimised. The boot hire was only about £15 per person for the whole trip, but this was on a holiday costing £25,000.

Excursions were also expensive: kayaking for less than two hours cost £100 per person; a trip in the Polar Circle boat was exciting but another £90 each. There was a queue to camp on the Antarctic, even though it cost £250 for a bottle of water and a night in a tent. Don’t even think about going on the Buenos Aires city tour, it’s only about £30 each but a complete waste of money, you can wander around BA by yourself - just be careful someone tried to rob us by claiming that we had bird mess on our backs that they would help us clean off. In truth our good Samaritan had squirted the ‘bird mess’ onto our backs hoping that the diversion would enable him to pick our pockets. It does seem that Hurtigruten take advantage of the ‘I will only do this once’ sentiment. We also don’t understand why only passengers who have booked suites are offered a glass of fizz on arrival, we stood in the same queues as passengers who hadn’t booked a suite, we were offered a drink and they were quite clearly told that it wasn’t for them – an embarrassing start to the trip. Similarly, we were given ‘free’ water, wine and beer at lunch and dinner because we were part of the ‘Suite Concept’. Everyone else was charged for water at approx £2 per person per day; you could buy a package for the whole trip that reduced the cost to about £1.50 per day. Similarly only those passengers in suites were provided with ‘smellies’ and tea/coffee making facilities in their cabins.

Internet access is chargeable but rarely available; so just don’t assume that you will have access. Bar prices are also high, £4+ for a small beer, £5+ for a gin & tonic, £25 for a bottle of wine.

We also had a multi-national group of about 200 passengers (the boat can hold about 300) who were interesting to meet – a special sort of person is attracted to this special holiday. We did have a large contingent of about fifty Chinese passengers on our boat – they made up about 25% of the passengers. The experience was not very positive; they frequently took over the lounge/bar area and were very noisy in the dining room. Landings were also marred by their refusal to abide by the rules. Passengers were split into six teams for landings; the first landing started with team 1 going first, followed by teams 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6. The teams were expected to return in the same order. On the second landing team 2 went first followed by teams 3, 4, 5, 6 & 1. This rotation continued so that each team was given the chance to be first on the islands or last off. However, the Chinese passengers would often refuse to leave the islands at their allotted time forcing other passengers to return early.

This was the most wonderful holiday; I will long remember standing in the sea with baby seals nudging my legs in curiosity, the sight of ‘baby’ albatross as big as their rockhopper penguin neighbours and the absolutely stunningly beautiful iceberg alley. A wow holiday, it could have been perfect with a little less penny pinching and better behaviour from the Chinese passengers.

 

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14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015

First off, be clear about it: there is no cheap way to go to the Antarctic. We chose the Hurtigruten Fram because we had cruised with them before and had great confidence in their competence. There are more luxurious and expensive ships ... Read More

First off, be clear about it: there is no cheap way to go to the Antarctic. We chose the Hurtigruten Fram because we had cruised with them before and had great confidence in their competence. There are more luxurious and expensive ships but none that are more seaworthy. A very good value.

The cruise officially began in Buenos Aires. We spent a week there on our own so had not purchased an airport transfer from Hurtigruten for the charter flight to Ushuaia. This became the source of some stress when we belatedly learned that our flight was to depart at 4:40 AM, meaning finding a cab on our own at 2:00 AM. If we had known about the ridiculously early flight in advance, we would have spent the last night in Buenos Aires with the Fram group.

We were met at the airport in Ushuaia by Fram personnel. No problem with check-in on the ship, and our luggage was already in our cabin when we arrived.

As been mentioned before, the standard cabin on the Fram is astonishingly tiny. There are two berths with very little space between them. During the day one berth is turned up and the other becomes a couch, to allow for more floor space. There is adequate storage space, but it is mostly in open cubbyholes. Travelers used to large cruise ships will be shocked. The "superior outside stateroom" is much larger and nicer, with a queen-sized bed and large bathroom, but is of course more expensive. We have cruised on the Fram before, and to save money had paid for an "unspecified inside cabin." After all, we never spend any time in the cabin on an expedition cruise. As it turned out, we were upgraded to a "superior" cabin, our good fortune this time.

The Fram is a lovely ship, especially built for polar conditions. For this cruise it was completely booked with 224 passengers. Public rooms are very attractive. There is a large observation lounge on Deck 7 forward, a wonderful place to watch the scenery in a hostile climate. Deck 4 is the nerve center of the vessel, with the dining room with windows on three sides; two lecture halls; a cafe with drinks and snacks; a shop offering cold-weather gear and a few souvenirs and essentials; and the administrative center. There are large windows on both sides. The ship also has an outdoor hot tub and a fitness room with a sauna.

Outside on Decks 5 and 8 are large observation areas. Of course, in the Antarctic these were used primarily when something especially exciting was going on, such as whale watching or threading our way through gigantic icebergs.

We were generally fortunate with weather. The notorious Drake Passage was glassy smooth on the two-day cruise south, and we were able to make two landings a day in Antarctica. (On the return trip over the Drake, it blew a full gale, force 8 on the Beaufort Scale.) The temperature on the Antarctic peninsula hovered around freezing twenty-four hours a day. There is no real darkness this time of year. For shore excursions we wore layers and shed them if there was no wind and the sun was out. Then it seemed surprisingly warm. When it was windy, or when we were in the 8-passenger "Polar Zirkel" boats, we needed all our cold-weather gear, including waterproof parkas (a gift from Hurtigruten) and pants. We also wore study rubber boots for all excursions. These were available for rent from the ship at a reasonable cost.

It's hard to describe the eight days we actually spent in the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctica is not a place, it's an experience. Twice-daily excursions brought us into close contact with three species of nesting penguins, who have no fear of humans and will walk right up to you. We also had close encounters with seals on land and on icebergs. The scenery is beyond spectacular. We've all seen pictures and videos of glaciers and icebergs, but no pictures can capture the reality of being there.

We visited a couple of inhabited islands and got a change to understand what it's like to live there. Some historic sites were included, such as a former whalers' processing station, and Elephant Island, where Shackleton's crew managed to survive for 4 1/2 months awaiting rescue. Lectures on the wildlife, geology, and history of the region by members of the outstanding Expedition Team put things in context.

In addition to the included daily shore excursions, there were optional kayaking trips and "boat cruising" in the small boats. There was also one long guided hike, and the chance to spend a night ashore in a tent. These optional excursions cost extra but provided an even more intimate experience with this unique environment.

There was no evening entertainment per se: a "Crew's Show," a Tango demonstration, some relevant movies, etc. We were too tired after the busy days to have any interest in evening activities, and I never heard anyone complain about the lack of entertainment.

Breakfast and lunch were always buffets; there were two official dinner seatings, but because of the extensive shore excursions, all but three dinners were buffets. Service was excellent throughout.

I have read complaints elsewhere about food aboard the Fram. It certainly does not measure up to the standards of a traditional cruise ship. However, we found that there were plenty of options, including lactose-free and gluten-free. The beef was not great, and vegetables tended to be overcooked, but the fish, cheeses, salads, breads, and desserts were outstanding. And does anyone expect meals on an expedition cruise to play the important role that they do on, say, a Mediterranean cruise? We were quite satisfied.

Passengers were a diverse group. Probably more than half were American, but there were large contingents from Germany and France, and we also met South Africans, Australians, Japanese, and Indians, to name a few. This was a very well-traveled assortment of lively, adventurous people, as you would expect on a cruise to the Antarctic.

We've been on many cruises, including some to rather exotic places (Greenland, Svalbard, Galapagos, Amazon), but Antarctica will always stand out in my mind. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity of experiencing it. It is totally unlike anywhere else on earth, absolutely indescribable.

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15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014

We have recently returned from an Antarctic cruise on the Fram. This is sold as a 19 day cruise but although day one starts by having to be at the local airport in Buenos Aires at 3 a.m. you don't actually get onto the ship until 4 p.m. ... Read More

We have recently returned from an Antarctic cruise on the Fram. This is sold as a 19 day cruise but although day one starts by having to be at the local airport in Buenos Aires at 3 a.m. you don't actually get onto the ship until 4 p.m. and on day 19 you are going to be leaving the ship at about 7.30 a.m. So, effectively it is a 17 day cruise.

The Fram is an excellent ship for the job, being large enough to be comfortable but small enough to get into places that bigger liners would never get to or be allowed to go to, South Georgia for instance has a limit of 100 people ashore at any one time at most of the places we stopped at. Try that on a 2 - 3000 passenger liner.

We were blessed with good weather and we landed at almost all of the places intended, however, Hurtigriten do like to make the most of a 'captive audience'. They offered us organised trips at Ushuaia and on the Falklands. All of them seemed quite expensive for what they were so we only pre-booked one which was at Port Stanley. It was fairly interesting, a visit to a penguin colony, but given that we visited numerous others for no extra cost on South Georgia and the Antarctic Islands subsequently this trip was a waste of money, and time as you don't get long in Stanley.

Other extras were offered once on board: snowshoeing, kayaking, trips in the Polarcircle RIBs and several hikes. All of these were quite expensive for what they were for instance about £75 for a 2 hour cruise in the RIBs just to see the sights along the shore, almost £100 each for two and a half hours kayaking which, with 5 two-man kayaks earned the line about £1000 for the use of the boats plus two guides. Even the hikes which usually have over 50 people on them will cost you around £25 per person when you might think that they could throw in a guided walk of a few miles free of extra cost especially when you consider that the 'trainee' members of the Expedition Crew are not even being paid by the Line but are doing their jobs unsalaried just to gain experience.

They rely, of course on the "well, I'll only be here once" thought that goes through our minds and makes us pay these silly extra costs.

Then there's the bar prices. I didn't want a 'booze cruise' but it would have been nice to have a beer at the end of an active day or a bottle of wine with dinner but with Carlsberg lager (the only beer they had and one that I don't like) costing almost £7 per pint and Chilean 'plonk' that sells in Buenos Aires supermarkets for about £5 a bottle being priced at around £25 per bottle on the ship I had a very 'dry' holiday. Obviously it is not that people who can afford the cruise can't afford the drinks but I object to being 'milked' in this way especially when the Line presumably buys the stuff as 'Bonded Stores', that is to say, without having to pay duty on it.

They also x-ray your cases when you come aboard, including hand-luggage. This is not as you might think to protect you from guns and bombs. It is to protect their bar profits by spotting and removing any alcohol you may have brought with you.

To add insult to injury they also charge for water to drink in the restaurant but they offer a 'deal' whereby you can pay about £20 per head for the privilege of having a carafe of 'mineral' water on your table every evening. This deal is supposed to be per person whereas, of course, it should be per couple but having had a very early start (up at 01.45 a.m.) to catch the flight to Ushuaia I allowed myself to be bounced into agreeing to it for each of us so we paid almost £40 in total.

It is a real shame that Hurtugruten feel the need to rip-off their clients in these petty ways as the cruise itself was everything we could have hoped for but the constant feeling that you are being 'milked' leaves a nasty taste that even their very expensive water cannot wash away.

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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014

Going to Antartcica is expensive. Hurtigruten is a good lower budget alternative

Main complaint: Land services. We, and others in the ship, had bad experiences with the flights from BA to Ushuaia and their associated ... Read More

Going to Antartcica is expensive. Hurtigruten is a good lower budget alternative

Main complaint: Land services. We, and others in the ship, had bad experiences with the flights from BA to Ushuaia and their associated 'excursions'. Getting information out of Hurtigruten and their local land operator was virtually impossible. We found out our Ushuaia departure flight time less than 10 hours before we left - at 2:30 in the morning! Wouldn't have been a problem if we had been prepared and not booked a tango show for that night. Just be decent and give people the information and then then can be prepared or make alternative arrangements themselves. My advice is to get to Ushuaia on your own and don't book with the cruise. Also, the Escondido Lake 'excursion' was an absolute rip off. The bus drove out to a roadside outlook of a lake and returned. That was it. Avoid any land segments- badly organized and no value for money. There are also plenty of nice hotels in BA and there is no need to stay at the Emperador.

Cabin: It was small but ok. We had a large window to look out to on deck 6 which made watching the scenery easy. The bathroom is quite small and there is limited storage. The good news is that you don't need any fancy clothing. Jeans and fleeces are fine at any time. Take quick dry fabrics because they will get wet during landing and there is much space to dry clothes. Thankfully items dried very quickly.

Food: It was fine, nothing special. Don't expect fancy cruise food. Service was OK but there are a lot of rules which the staff will remind you of readily. We had to pay for drinks including water. We did buy a water package which meant that we got a carafe of the same water that came out of the tap. It was conveniently if you are a big water drinker but totally unnecessary. I eat mostly vegitarian and didn't have trouble finding things to eat. Remember that you will be in the middle of nowhere and expecting fresh fruits and veggies is not that realistic

Entertainment: It was mostly lectures which were good. The big problem was that they were so well attended it was difficult to find a seat. This is really and educational style trip and so don't expect a lot of entertainment.

Cruise Excursions: Amazing and made the trip worth while. We felt completely safe with the expedition staff. We also paid a number of extras including kayaking, which was so worth while. This is where to spend a little extra money, rather than on drinks! Getting geared up to go on the excursion can be a little frenzied because people are anxious to get on land. Definitely rent boots, they were comfortable and good quality. As a tip, leave your life jacket with your boots on the drying rack, that way you don't have to adjust a new life vest each trip.

It was a great trip - just keep your expectations of the ship low, make your own travel arrangements to Ushuaia, and let the scenery, wildlife and history make the trip fantastic !

 

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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014

My husband and I were very pleased with our cruise to Antarctica aboard the Fram. The expedition staff is great and our suite (634) was spacious and comfortable.

I recommend you make your own arrangements for hotel and ... Read More

My husband and I were very pleased with our cruise to Antarctica aboard the Fram. The expedition staff is great and our suite (634) was spacious and comfortable.

I recommend you make your own arrangements for hotel and transportation in Buenos Aries. Hurtigruten wanted $500 per person for transportation between airports and to book a room at the Emperador Hotel for the first and last nights of our trip. I booked the hotel online myself for $125 plus taxes per night. Cabs are easy to get on your own. This saved us approximately $650. I do recommend you book at the Emperador because it's a very good hotel and Hurtigruten uses it for their hospitality base in Buenos Aries so you can talk to one of their representatives in person once you arrive.

We booked a day trip to Tierra del Fuego upon arrival to Ushuaia. I paid a bit more to book it through Hurtigruten because I didn't want to take a chance that another tour provider would not get us back in time for final boarding. The park tour was very good and well worth the time and money.

It turns out I didn't need to worry about the ship sailing without us. Our scheduled 6:00 p.m. departure was delayed until 1:00 a.m. because a customs issue between Hurtigruten and the Argentine government. I'm not sure who was at fault but another passenger told me the same thing happened to them on another cruise line in Ushuaia two years ago.

I recommend you bring something for sea sickness with you. The Drake passage can be very rough or very calm. Our southern crossing was pretty rough with 60+ knot winds and 20 foot seas. I used to live on a sailboat and had never been sea sick before but I would have had a miserable crossing without the patch. If you use a patch for sea sickness make sure you keep a bottle of water next to your bed. Most people experience significant dry mouth with the patch.

We thought the food and service in the dining hall was fine. Not gourmet but not bad at all. I wish they had offered more than one brand of beer and a few more vegetarian choices but I had plenty at every meal. My omnivore husband enjoyed almost everything he tried. My only complaint about this aspect of the cruise is that Hurtigruten charges for water at the table. We had a suite so it was included for us but most of the passengers were taken aback that something as basic as water was not complementary. It really doesn't make sense when you can get cookies, tea and coffee free all day near the lecture hall but have to pay for water at your meals.

The expedition staff was terrific. They provided a full schedule of interesting lectures between landings and did a fantastic job when we were ashore. The crew that gets passengers ready to go to shore and drives the Polarcirkles were very good and absolutely safety conscious. Speaking of the Polarcirkles, they are really nice with high sides to help keep passengers dry and have good, sturdy rails to hold on. The boots they provide for going ashore are very good. But, like the tap water, use of the boots should be included in the price of the cruise. I would rather they charge a little more up-front so it doesn't feel like I'm being nickled and dimed. Okay, I'm done complaining because those really are only two things I didn't like.

They have a small but well equipped gym that we used almost every day. Random magic moment: I was in the gym one morning listening to my iPod while using the treadmill. Just as "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" started playing we motored by an ice floe covered with penguins and then a humpback whale breached right in front of me. There are two heated jacuzzis and a sauna right outside the gym.

The planned itinerary had to be changed a couple of times during our cruise but the staff chose alternatives that had to be every bit as good as the original plans and I didn't hear any complaints. The first change was because our planned landing site was iced in but the back up site was fabulous. The second change was more substantial because of a health crisis aboard the ship. We had to abruptly head to the South Shetland Islands to get a crew member who had suffered a stroke to an island with an air strip so he could be evacuated to a hospital in Chile. Even then, our alternative landings at Half Moon Bay and Admiralty Bay in the South Shetlands were wonderful. In fact, if we hadn't gone to Half Moon we would not have gotten to see a Macaroni penguin at all.

One of the reviews here mentioned a charge for seeing the ship's doctor. I fell and needed to get patched up for a minor injury. The doctor and her assistant were very nice and took good care of me. The provided a brace, analgesic cream, and ibuprofen at no charge.

We have done expedition cruises in the Galapagos, the Amazon, and the Seychelles as well as safaris in Kenya and South Africa. This Antarctic cruise ranks close to the top for me. It is absolutely thrilling to see so many penguins, whales and seals up close. We also enjoyed getting to know our fellow passengers as most were incredibly well traveled and had great stories to tell.

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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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