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Live from the Venture - headed back to Antarctica


markandjie
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I am so sorry to hear your frustration with the lack of landings. I think a lot of it has to do with the expedition team and ship captain. We have Luciano Bernacchi  as expedition leader. I don’t mean to make you feel worse but we are on the Pursuit and have had multiple zodiac cruises (opportunities to see icebergs and penguins up close) and 4 actual landings. Deception island was a beautiful stop with lots of penguins and seals hanging out a couple days ago. We didn’t even arrive until 5pm and last zodiac ashore went at 9pm. It was still wonderful. You will enjoy it. 

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50 minutes ago, peachykiehn said:

We have Luciano Bernacchi  as expedition leader. I don’t mean to make you feel worse but we are on the Pursuit and have had multiple zodiac cruises (opportunities to see icebergs and penguins up close) and 4 actual landings

 

Thank you! I'm glad to hear there is wildlife to see at Deception Island!

 

I'm very jealous you have Lucci! We were with him on the Quest in 2015 and then just missed him in Greenland in July (he got off when we got on) and of course now. One of my favorite memories of him is captured below, when he helped our son spot the new chicks at Neko Harbor.

 

image.thumb.png.d44cad07f9b6222c25b98d133375eff3.png

 

Meanwhile on the Venture I think we just had our 23rd announcement about the Port Lockroy gift shop and the passport stamps we can get for the low price of 10 quid. 🙄

 

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Yes there is a spa, if you want massage treatments I would book before hand as it’s a very small staff and were fully booked on sea days prior to coming onboard. They do the normal 10/20/30 discounts and packages, I believe its oneworldspa that runs it. 

Edited by moofster85
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59 minutes ago, morganowl said:

Wow!  I am so thankful for these postings.  We are headed to the Pursuit for 1/18 sailing.  Another newby question:  Is there a spa program on board?  Massages available, or anything like a thermal suite?

 

 

There's also a steam room and dry sauna, both complementary. The dry sauna is particularly nice as it features large windows that allow you to enjoy the Antarctic scenery while bringing back up your core body temp after your zodiac cruise...I'm normally a 10 minutes max guy but the other day I don't think I broke a sweat until after the 10 minute mark.

 

Partial view...outside image NOT photoshopped...though it is Greenland and not Antarctica

 

image.thumb.png.2136dd7ae1584a6b16e1e23a66613b8d.png

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We are planning to take the Pursuit to Antarctica for the 1/18 sailing.  Can you give some insights into the quality of the Starlink connection?  I would like to be able to check my email at least once or twice a day.  Did you guys have extended periods without network connectivity?

 

 

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32 minutes ago, Kal R said:

 

We are planning to take the Pursuit to Antarctica for the 1/18 sailing.  Can you give some insights into the quality of the Starlink connection?  I would like to be able to check my email at least once or twice a day.  Did you guys have extended periods without network connectivity?

 

 

 

OMG, starlink is amazing. When we were down at 66 degrees south and most of the TV channels wouldn't work I did an Ookla speed test.

 

Screenshot_20231122-223219.thumb.png.5edffc17ed4ae4691d819dc16e71a3a9.png

 

So yeah, you'll be able to check email. Or whatever else you'd like to do.

 

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Tonight we finally had one of those moments that makes the whole trip feel worthwhile. (I suppose I should follow brand guidelines and call this a Seabourn Moment! 😉 )

 

Bridge officers spotted a pod of orcas in the distance and made an announcement. We generally steered in their direction and all of a sudden the 10+ orcas gathered up a bit and then changed direction and basically swam directly beneath the bow. I shot a quick video on my camera and used iMovie to export a low res version that will upload (the original 1 min video is 230mb). Doesn't really do the moment justice, but here it is:

 

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, markandjie said:

 

OMG, starlink is amazing. When we were down at 66 degrees south and most of the TV channels wouldn't work I did an Ookla speed test.

 

Screenshot_20231122-223219.thumb.png.5edffc17ed4ae4691d819dc16e71a3a9.png

 

So yeah, you'll be able to check email. Or whatever else you'd like to do.

 

Just to say I streamed all NFL games on Thanksgiving and the Black Friday game yesterday. No issues at all, very impressed with how well this worked close to the poles. 

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We had an intense stop at Deception Island today. We arrived around noon and had to wait for a Nat Geo ship to clear our desired spot, Whalers Bay. As we waited and then got the first group onshore the winds picked up considerably. This limited the distance we could walk but did make for some very epic Antarctica-like weather conditions. Credit to the expedition team, they persevered through the elements and got everyone ashore who wanted to go (though they had to cancel kayaking and some of the sub dives). This was just our third landing for the trip, so I think there might have been a mutiny had they cancelled some of the color groups.

 

The whaling station itself had interesting structures, though we weren't allowed close to any of them except an old warehouse. They did serve as an excellent backdrop for photos, though:

image.thumb.png.ff5b0f32d29ae6f62dadd8b8e3917bb1.png

 

There was a fur seal on the beach, but by the time we got there he'd moved a bit further away and wasn't facing us, so I'll have to wait for Daniel Fox's photos to get a good one. We did see a few penguins, including a very cute couple who got PG-level affectionate right there on the beach.

6M8A6316.thumb.jpg.41851e6c600ad41d791c0cafb3184a99.jpg

 

We're now headed back north towards the Drake, where we're expecting 4 meter swells. I've got some broader thoughts on the trip that I'll put in words in the coming days. A lot of it I think is around expectations for an expedition ship vs Quest & Sojourn...I expect much more expedition-oriented focus and activities on these trips, and the fact is as best I can tell we're getting a less impressive expedition experience now than we did in Antarctica on the Quest or Alaska on the Sojourn. Unclear whether the root cause is my elevated expectations, issues with expedition team staffing given competition in the industry, luck of the draw on weather and itinerary, something else, or perhaps all of the above. 

 

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22 hours ago, markandjie said:

Tonight we finally had one of those moments that makes the whole trip feel worthwhile. (I suppose I should follow brand guidelines and call this a Seabourn Moment! 😉 )

 

Bridge officers spotted a pod of orcas in the distance and made an announcement. We generally steered in their direction and all of a sudden the 10+ orcas gathered up a bit and then changed direction and basically swam directly beneath the bow. I shot a quick video on my camera and used iMovie to export a low res version that will upload (the original 1 min video is 230mb). Doesn't really do the moment justice, but here it is:

 

Wow! That was incredible.I’m cruising to Antarctica on HAL this January (so not a full expedition cruise like yours) but I hope to have a moment like this or close to this!  

 

Enjoying your LIVE blog!

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2 hours ago, markandjie said:

luck of the draw on weather

 

I know on our Quest cruise at the beginning of the year weather played a huge part in our lack of landings in Antarctica. We only managed one landing and a zodiac drive by though some colour groups managed two landings before the weather turned bad and the other colour groups were cancelled. Thankfully South Georgia and Falkland landings were successful.

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3 hours ago, markandjie said:

We're now headed back north towards the Drake, where we're expecting 4 meter swells. I've got some broader thoughts on the trip that I'll put in words in the coming days. A lot of it I think is around expectations for an expedition ship vs Quest & Sojourn...I expect much more expedition-oriented focus and activities on these trips, and the fact is as best I can tell we're getting a less impressive expedition experience now than we did in Antarctica on the Quest or Alaska on the Sojourn. Unclear whether the root cause is my elevated expectations, issues with expedition team staffing given competition in the industry, luck of the draw on weather and itinerary, something else, or perhaps all of the above. 

 

We were on Quest's Dec 2015 - Jan 2016 Antarctic cruise with you and think it would be hard to match it, other than getting to actually land on Salisbury Plain in South Georgia which we hope to do on Venture this coming February/March.

Edited by 15Day+
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12 hours ago, markandjie said:

We're now headed back north towards the Drake, where we're expecting 4 meter swells. I've got some broader thoughts on the trip that I'll put in words in the coming days. A lot of it I think is around expectations for an expedition ship vs Quest & Sojourn...I expect much more expedition-oriented focus and activities on these trips, and the fact is as best I can tell we're getting a less impressive expedition experience now than we did in Antarctica on the Quest or Alaska on the Sojourn. Unclear whether the root cause is my elevated expectations, issues with expedition team staffing given competition in the industry, luck of the draw on weather and itinerary, something else, or perhaps all of the above. 

 


couldn’t agree more here, just so much down time with nothing to do. I’m disappointed by the lack of activities beyond trivia and the occasional talk. 4.5 hours on land and 5 hours in a zodiac across 10 days just isn’t enough activity. I’m happy we went and enjoyed the time with my wife but many of the others I spoke to felt the same way. I did more on a standard Silverseas cruise around Iceland than I did here. Happy to check it off the list and on to more!

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@markandjie

I feel your pain.  We had the perfect Antarctica trip on Quest 2017/18. We didn't want to do it again for fear that another trip there couldn't live up to the perfection we experienced.  Nevermind all that, we are headed back in February followed by Cape to Cape, on SS Cloud.  Thanks to your excellent report, I have dialed my expectations way back. 

 

I can't remember if you told us who the expedition leader is. Care to share again?

 

On trying to cross the Antarctic circle - Does anyone really care except the marketing people?

 

Thanks again for your report. Look forward to follow up.

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15 minutes ago, highplanesdrifters said:

 

I can't remember if you told us who the expedition leader is. Care to share again?

 

On trying to cross the Antarctic circle - Does anyone really care except the marketing people?

 

Our EL is Nicki D'Souza. I think she's doing a good job in the communications and (from what I can see) management aspects of the role, it's just the choice of routes and resulting impacts on landings that's frustrating. And to your point, perhaps that's a directive from home office marketing vs something that's in her control. Very hard to say.

 

What's definitely true is that staffing the expedition team on multiple ships is straining Seabourn and there are brand new team members that are not up to the standard, at least not yet. If I think back to the Quest so many folks on that expedition team went on to big roles. I believe Robin West was actually our EL (at the least he was on the trip), plus we had Lucci, Brent, Greg Horn, Juan Carlos, Iggy Rojas (now at Silversea), Chris Srigley (now at A&K) etc etc. 

 

There are definitely bright spots. For example, we got to spend a lot of time with Daniel Fox this trip and he made an extra effort to engage with us and our two boys, one of whom is really into photography, which Daniel noticed and nurtured. Really made a big difference and they're still raving about a zodiac ride we had with him.

 

All in all still an amazing experience.

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22 hours ago, 15Day+ said:

other than getting to actually land on Salisbury Plain in South Georgia which we hope to do on Venture this coming February/March.

 

I'd highly recommend you read up on the impact of avian flu in South Georgia. From what we're hearing from expedition staff on the ship they believe it will soon be completely closed to landings. Apparently some sites there are already closed. 

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1 hour ago, markandjie said:

 

I'd highly recommend you read up on the impact of avian flu in South Georgia. From what we're hearing from expedition staff on the ship they believe it will soon be completely closed to landings. Apparently some sites there are already closed. 

Yes, I am watching closely https://www.swoop-antarctica.com/cruises/south-georgia/avian-flu

We are on the Venture in 3 weeks and have everything crossed.

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On 11/25/2023 at 5:32 PM, TravelBluebird said:

 

Wow! That was incredible.I’m cruising to Antarctica on HAL this January (so not a full expedition cruise like yours) but I hope to have a moment like this or close to this!  

 

Enjoying your LIVE blog!

How far south does a HAL ship go?Where does it start and end?Does it go through fjords?

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Holland America sails 22 days between Buenos Aires and San Antonio, Chile. The Antarctica route is weather dependent, I know their South America circumnavigation cruise this November sailed into the Lemaire Channel. HAL has no Zodiacs or landings in Antarctica.

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On 11/26/2023 at 6:56 AM, markandjie said:

 

Our EL is Nicki D'Souza. I think she's doing a good job in the communications and (from what I can see) management aspects of the role, it's just the choice of routes and resulting impacts on landings that's frustrating. And to your point, perhaps that's a directive from home office marketing vs something that's in her control. Very hard to say.

 

What's definitely true is that staffing the expedition team on multiple ships is straining Seabourn and there are brand new team members that are not up to the standard, at least not yet. If I think back to the Quest so many folks on that expedition team went on to big roles. I believe Robin West was actually our EL (at the least he was on the trip), plus we had Lucci, Brent, Greg Horn, Juan Carlos, Iggy Rojas (now at Silversea), Chris Srigley (now at A&K) etc etc. 

 

There are definitely bright spots. For example, we got to spend a lot of time with Daniel Fox this trip and he made an extra effort to engage with us and our two boys, one of whom is really into photography, which Daniel noticed and nurtured. Really made a big difference and they're still raving about a zodiac ride we had with him.

 

All in all still an amazing experience.

Thanks for the info.  Nice to hear that Daniel Fox gave the boys a special experience.  Looks like you got some quality time with the whales. Nice!

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