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Live from the Venture - headed back to Antarctica


markandjie
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11 hours ago, Laylam said:

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.

Thanks for the link.  That is tough news.  Looks like only Gritviken is open for landings.  We have 5 days there in March.  Most disappointed.  Please keep us posted on your experience.

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13 hours 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. 

Well that’s sad news but understandable. It sounds like we might get another zodiac ride along the beach like we did in Jan 2016…

image.thumb.jpeg.68aef3508a819a1917086bcb3211dc78.jpeg

 

Hopefully it will clear up for our 3rd attempt to visit Salisbury Plain on Venture in Nov 2025. 🤞

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The dolphins we met at the entrance to the Beagle really did form a sort of grand finale for the cruise. We had a final evening on the ship while docked in Ushuaia, and it was clear many of the crew were excited to get off the ship to hit up the bars and nightclubs on their one night off before heading back south to do it again. We were treated to the expedition video, which is always a fun way to relive the trip with all our fellow passengers, and I think the new videographer, Morne, did a fine job with it: https://*****.com/3r8f4z3h

 

They started getting folks off the ship at 8:30a for the charter back to Buenos Aires, with the objective I believe of having everyone off by 9:30. There was apparently a bus tour that spent some time in and around Ushuaia before flying out later, but it was either sold out prior to our booking or we just missed it. So, we were in the first group and had a few hour wait at the Ushuaia airport. We experienced some epic turbulence on the way out (not sure I've ever had my head hit the wall of the plane before!) but then an otherwise uneventful flight. It was a beautiful day and fun to see Venture and Pursuit lined up on the pier (rear two ships on the side closest to the plane):

PXL_20231128_150833419.thumb.jpg.861e4f3e056d18340d0a4ce21d10ad40.jpg

 

We arrived in Buenos Aires with about 2 hours to kill before the United counter opened. There was an offer to go to a local restaurant but we elected to stay at the airport. Glad we did, as we heard it took forever to get there, the restaurant was not good, and they had hardly any time there before returning to the airport.

 

Sadly our requested upgrades didn't clear and we were stuck in economy for the 10+ hours from BA to Houston. Surprisingly, so were many fellow Seabourn passengers, so we had good company.

 

Home safely now, thought I'd add some reflections on the cruise:

Staffing is an issue, and apparently it's worse on the Venture/Pursuit in Antarctica because:

 - These ships have the lowest staff:passenger ratios in the fleet, and that's a structural limitation based on crew cabins. Some of this is offset by having a more automated and modern ship that requires fewer staff to operate, but I think it's felt in customer-facing roles as well.

 - Crew don't want to do Antarctica because they can't get off the ship on a regular basis.

 

The new ships broke some aspects of the Ventures/Expedition model that we really loved, especially kayaking. Again, because of crew capacity it's unlikely these can be easily fixed as they can't just add expedition team members. And inexperienced staff is an issue here as well. I had a very disappointing incident with an expedition team member that is far and away the worst I've been treated by any Seabourn employee ever and the apologies I received from the chain of command were tepid at best.

 

So much of your experience on these ships will be dictated by the Expedition Leader, and there is zero way of knowing in advance who that might be. The Pursuit was in Antarctica one more day than us (6 vs 5) but had double the landings. I believe they only had 1 day that was limited to a single activity for the day...we had 3 (out of 5!!!). You can blame the weather, but apparently no other ship in the area thought it wise to go so far south except ours...and that cost us.

 

We still had a memorable time and the boys loved the trip. Do I regret spending the time and money to go? Definitely not. But, we're going to do some research and try to identify another offering that provides the combination of luxury and expedition that we're looking for. Everyone is looking for something a bit different and I'm afraid that in our case Seabourn has moved further from rather than closer to the mark.

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6 hours ago, markandjie said:

I had a very disappointing incident with an expedition team member that is far and away the worst I've been treated by any Seabourn employee ever and the apologies I received from the chain of command were tepid at best.

Friends of ours were on the previous voyage and complained to us about one expedition fellow who was, among other descriptors, condescending and seemed to have a chip on his shoulder, and talked negatively about others staff.  Could be the same person as I would hope it was just one person.  

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I was on the previous Venture cruise and we did not experience issues with staff shortage. A lot of staff however signed off after our cruise so I know there was some turnover. Our interaction with expedition staff members was exemplary.  We did miss a couple of landings due to weather which is to be expected. My understanding is sites in Antarctica have to be booked well in advance which might have influenced the decision to go south. Our only major complaint about our cruise was the food. The food described on the menu is not served and quality. Cannon of lamb vs lamb chops, Ribeye steak prep vs prime rib of beef, and I can go on. Food quality has a long way to go to match the rest of the experience. We like the expedition cruise experience but will take a break from cruising next year, hoping Seabourn will step up its game.  

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Ok, one last thing. I took a bunch of short video snippets here and there (LOVE new mirrorless cameras over DSLRs!) and decided to edit them into a montage to share with family. Figured I'd share here as well: 

 

 

Note there's no music as I thought hearing the background noise gives a more immersive experience. Plus I suck at editing videos so just getting a title screen in there felt like a win.  

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7 minutes ago, jmm said:

Thanks for the incredible Live From!  Did you fly back to AEP and bus to EZE or fly to EZE? How was the timing on getting to EZE or AEP.

Thanks!

 

We flew straight to EZE. Took a minute to get off the plane as we disembarked via stairs to waiting busses and then our bags took a bit to arrive. We made it to the international departure check-in area just before 4:30p.

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19 minutes ago, markandjie said:

 

We flew straight to EZE. Took a minute to get off the plane as we disembarked via stairs to waiting busses and then our bags took a bit to arrive. We made it to the international departure check-in area just before 4:30p.

 

When did you land at EZE?  (trying to get a data point on transfer time requirement between landing at EZE and checking in for onward international connection)

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21 minutes ago, markandjie said:

 

We flew straight to EZE. Took a minute to get off the plane as we disembarked via stairs to waiting busses and then our bags took a bit to arrive. We made it to the international departure check-in area just before 4:30p.

Thanks so much markandjie!!!

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6 minutes ago, sfvoyage said:

 

When did you land at EZE?  (trying to get a data point on transfer time requirement between landing at EZE and checking in for onward international connection)

 

Don't remember, but I checked my Google maps timeline and it says 3:24p. Seems about right. 

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I just finished going through your thread.  I appreciate all the work and frank commentary, about both the good and the not so good -- all very informative.

Also thank you for your careful photo *selections* and videos, i.e., for not posting every single image you took (tempting as it can be when one excitedly sails).  This helps make the ones you do post extra special.

And I don't think I've ever seen a live 'X-rated' penguin video before :).

 

Your kids are very lucky to have had such an experience while so young. 

I look forward to more trip reports from you in the future!

Edited by Catlover54
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Thanks for sharing your fantastic video. That Orca pod - insane!

 

 

 

13 hours ago, Catlover54 said:

Also thank you for your careful photo *selections* and videos, i.e., for not posting every single image you took (tempting as it can be when one excitedly sails).  This helps make the ones you do post extra special.

Hear hear.

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14 hours ago, Catlover54 said:

Also thank you for your careful photo *selections* and videos, i.e., for not posting every single image you took

 

My first travel blog was back in the old days of 2015 when bandwidth was hard to come by and not only did you have to be selective on photos but also usually had to export a low res version or your upload would time out. Got very accustomed to picking the couple of photos that represented the day. Regardless, you're very welcome and thank you for the nice note. 

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Thanks for your blog - we are doing Antarctica on the Venture in February and then taking it on to Cabo Verde, so found all you insights valuable.  We have only done one other Seabourn trip (Quest last August) so good to hear what to expect on the expedition ship, both good and bad.  Glad to hear about relaxed dress code, as we like to travel light, and warm gear will take up most of the space in our luggage.  Disappointed about the news from South Georgia, but more for the birds than for us.  Look forward to hearing about your next adventure.

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We are doing Antarctica on the Pursuit January 06th. 

 

Question about the complimentary Helly Hansen PolarShield® parka. 

 

Do the jackets come out large?
Better to order a size smaller or not?

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49 minutes ago, nast said:

We are doing Antarctica on the Pursuit January 06th. 

 

Question about the complimentary Helly Hansen PolarShield® parka. 

 

Do the jackets come out large?
Better to order a size smaller or not?

I'm on Venture now.  I think they run pretty true to size as both my wife and I kept the parkas we had originally ordered.  However, you can exchange your original parka for a different size the morning of the first sea day.  Make sure you do not remove the tags if you want to exchange.

 

Also, just to add, we are having a sensational time on Venture. As we have never travelled on Seabourn before, I cannot comment on whether the service or the food has declined, but I would rate both excellent.  The food in both the main dining room and the Colonnade has been superb.  There have been some unfortunate lapses in service, especially in the lounges and in the dining room, but overall I have no complaints. 

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Sounds like all in all the trip had some wonderful moments. We are booked on venture for Jan 30. Thank you for your great report and amazing videos and photos. My question is where the post office is to send the grandchildren a card.

We are really excited so any advice is appreciated.

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