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My trip on Vavilov

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I went on the Vavilov on a 10 day "quest for the antarctic circle" voyage over New Years.  This won't be a full review, but I used these boards to try and find information, so I thought I'd give what happened to me in case anyone can use the information.


1) I loved the ship. It was a nice, clean, perfectly adequate ship.  I was in a triple cabin, and ended up on top bunk (the only one I didn't want) but everything was nice.  The bathrooms down the hall weren't bad at all- everyone just used the big fluffy robes.

2) The food was good- buffet salad at lunch and dinner.  Breakfast was a buffet.  Lunch and dinner had 3 choices for a main (2 meated, 1 veggie).  I'm a picky eater and never had a problem.  Desserts were mostly good, I'm not a soup person.

3) Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner were provided.  I didn't expect conditioner to be provided.

4) The doctor on board has the medicine for seasickness and it actually had a fairly substantial med bay.  I was impressed.  I wouldn't be surprised if they could have taken out my appendix on board.  It struck me how well prepared it was because it made me realize that they think that they might need it.  

5) The staff was amazing.  They were super fun, each was knowledgeable, they sounded like drunken hyenas sometimes on the radio (which I thought was great) because they were always teasing each other.  I really enjoyed the staff and would go on another trip with any one of them.  Our photographer gave a talk on one of his projects, and the staff was more interested in the talk than all the passengers.  And the passengers were very interested.

6) No one weighed my carry on bag (which was a concern for me because I had so much camera gear!).

7) Pack layers- I overpacked, but I was coming from Arizona.  When you pack layers, make sure that they all go over each other.  Some people struggled with that when we were trying to go camping.

8) Expect the unexpected.  3 families on our trip had tried to go to Antarctica last year and their trip got cancelled after their charter flight was cancelled 5 days in a row.  We had our first (commercial) flight cancelled and had to wait a day.  We lost out on exploring Stanley because of that.  The weather made us not be able to land.  I took this trip thinking that I'd get 14 excursions in Antarctica... and we only got 7.  we had some bad weather, the delay, trying to beat the ice down to the circle, etc.  There was a time that the entire boat (including staff) was getting antsy.  

9) Prices were ~ $8/cocktail, $5 for happy hour wine, $2 for a soda.  I didn't see a laundry list.  Hats/shirt prices were very expensive ($200/jacket, $25 for a shirt).  Expect every base to have a gift shop and cost even MORE.  

10) People came from all over.  One of my bunkmates was from Russia and spoke minimal English.  It was way better than my non existent Russian, but she kept to herself.  Mayalsia, NZ, Australia, US, England, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, etc.  I loved the people.  I got to know everyone by sight, but only hung out with ~30?  

11) Photography conditions were amazing.  We could share, but only a few people did, and you had to go to each of the 4 computers- they weren't linked.  There was a video of best of photos and the ship's photographers photos that was given to everyone, but we didn't get low res pictures of ourselves taken by the photographer.  He took amazing people pictures, which I wish I had done more of.  I didn't need more than my 18-400 lens on a crop sensor camera, and no low light lens.  People think my pictures are "National Geographic" quality.  Some people took point and shoots, most had DSLR, a fair amount had an extra gopro.  Most people had a dedicated camera though, not a phone or tablet. 

12) Email- it was $30 for text based.  I was happy to have it, but you need to have your email addresses because it's not your typical email.  I could email my parents and my bf. No photos could go through (officially it was a 200kb limit per day).

13) Timing of trip- I picked this one because it said there would be baby chicks of the penguins.  Make sure you pick your timing based on what you want to see.  I saw mostly bigger chicks, but one landing had barely hatching chicks.  That was nice to see as well.

14) Apparently you can get a PhD in counting penguins.  There were 2 grad students on the boat doing just that.  I also got to be good friends with someone who was commuting down to Port Lockroy to work.  Antarctica is a cooperative place and that was nice to see.


Long and short- this was the most challenging trip I've ever been on (especially getting down there, I had major rerouted flights, lost my luggage, thought I wouldn't have clothes, etc... and it felt like it took 10 days to do nothing before we could land at the end). But after I came back and the thoughts have rattled around in my mind, I think it's by far the best trip I ever took.  I'd recommend this ship, this company, and this place.  I'm already trying to figure out if I should do the Arctic or go back to the Antarctic again.  


Let me know if you have any questions on this ship or my experience!


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Thanks for the review ... Antarctica requires going with the flow, and looks like you did that very well.  Mother Nature is in charge.  We had one or two missed landings because of it when we went with Quark in 2007, but otherwise great weather until it was time for the trip back across the Drake to Ushuaia ... that one was a doozy.  When we went to the Ross Sea in 2015, we had more missed landings even though we were in the Peninsula region about the same time of the year.  You just never know.  Sorry about the flight issues ... seems par for the course in Argentina.  The tower at the Buenos Aires airport had a work slowdown the day we were heading down to Ushuaia, but we got there the same day we were originally supposed to ... though in the wee hours instead of the late afternoon.  Our one bag didn’t make it though.  Luckily, we had planned 3 days in Ushuaia before joining Quark so we did eventually get the bag and didn’t have to go shopping for essentials.


Would love to see your photos if you have them online.

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Ditto on the photos - think I was on the same ship back in 1998 and traveled with mostly Austrialians and loved it


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Here are some of my favorite photos.  I took only about 3000 in 2.5 weeks :)

JEN_0025 (2).jpg



JEN_0359 (2).jpg













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