We Booked our trip

We are so excited....we booked our trip today. We will be on the december 8 2020 trip. Any information or advice is certainly welcome! Our 7th continent!!!!

Comments

  • We remain on the fence about this tour. Every tour we go on people say it was their favorite. We don’t want to go just because it will be our seventh continent, that will not impress us. I have only heard one negative from someone who said people got fed up of having to pile on all the clothing after a while on her tour and so didn’t go on some of the trips to the shore. I also don’t think it is good bang for the buck to spend so much time on the boat just getting there and back. I’ve just been to Buenos Aires and enjoyed it there. So going there again would be nice.
    I have seen penguins in many locations on the planet so you can’t necessarily wow me about them. Can anyone else persuade me otherwise, we do love nature, we have been to Patagonia and enjoyed the glaciers and icebergs there. I love to see plant life and I guess there is not much of that on Antarctica. We spoke to one of the professional photographers employed by Tauck who photographed the Tauck tour there and he almost persuaded us a couple of weeks ago. Just other places we want to see first.
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Cathy and Steve, scroll through the past posts on the forum, there are lots of tips there.
  • Yep, that Drake passage. I feel as if I am in Antarctica right now, I guess that’s why the forum is active today. I’ve been out once and I have to go into the city tonight which I am now not looking forward to, but here at least the roads are dry. So much salt has been put on the roads,they are totally white. I’m afraid my car will rust away...
    We don’t really have a bucket list as such, partly because we keep wanting to go back to places we have already been. We have visited just over 30 states in the US. Plan on doing more down the road. I have three years on you, body not giving up yet.????
  • We just got back and the weather was great and the Drake was easier than expected (But then, pretty much everyone was doped up with patches or Dramamine). Is the trip worth it - I will say it wasn't my idea to go in the first place but really did enjoy the "Alaska on Steroids" perspective that we saw. Yes, penguins everywhere, seals adrift very common, and especially one day, the number of whales was impressive - both near the ship and with the Zodiacs. The ship and exhibition team had ongoing lectures and were always on hand to give answers (They were the zodiac drivers).
  • We have a bucket list that is very long but includes....all states...all continents. Next year we will finish both. Unfortunately...as we check things off of the list...we keep adding to it...lol. So I have a feeling we will never be finished, But that is not a bad thing. Planning is always so much fun, and researching new places is enlightening. We all have our own reasons why we want to travel to different places. Most of our friends have never been out of the USA. I cannot imagine not wanting to see other countries but that is their preference.

    So in 2020, we are doing a Regent cruise to Australia and now a Tauck cruise to Antartica.

    If you are doing SYD-AKL on the Voyager in January we will be on there as well!
  • I just returned from the same sailing with Atlanta Dave. No doubt you've read multiple comments on this forum recommending layers as the best way to pack. In Buenos Aires the weather was 80-90, hot and humid, Ushuaia was in the 50's and quite windy, in Antarctica we had great weather, 4 sunny days out of 5, averaging a pleasant 25-30 degrees, but it would be wise to be ready for colder temps. If you pack with layers that you can add or remove as need be, you should be fine. I found the ship to be a bit cool, but not uncomfortably so. Many of us wore sweaters or fleeces while aboard. If you have specific questions, post another response and I'll answer if I can. Enjoy, this is an awe-inspiring adventure!
  • I think Neccessary Gear stinks
  • In theory, I would love to see Antarctica, but it is just too cold. I am a Texas girl, and I know I could not handle even the balmy 25-30 degree sunny days for all day, days at a time. There is so much boat time from BA, and Mr. Dixie refuses even to consider the Drake passage. We loved Alaska both on land and on cruise, and we adore seeing beautiful scenery. The Ancartcia is not for us, so we are planning a Regent or Oceania cruise along the coast of Norway and maybe a trip to Iceland instead.
    Enjoy your trips and stay warm.
    Nancy
  • edited February 8
    Here's my highly personal, and subjective, 2 cents: I spent months reading articles on what to pack for Antarctica and finally decided I was over-thinking the whole the thing. Candidly, I simply didn't want to purchase all sorts of
    specialized and expensive gear that I would never use again. At the end of the day I only purchased 4 items: Helly Hansen Men's Voss Pants - $26 on Amazon, UPmagic Waterproof Men's Ski Gloves - $17 on Amazon, an $8 pair of Hanes thermal long underwear and a package of 20 hand and foot warmers $15 on Amazon.

    I am very sensitive to the cold and yet I never opened the package of hand and foot warmers. I rarely needed to wear the waterproof gloves. Mostly aboard the Zodiacs due to splashing, but even that was minimal on our sailings, otherwise I found them too heavy, bulky and unnecesary. Mostly I wore a thin pair of gloves I already owned that I use for driving and biking. About 10-15% of the time I found gloves unnecessary. Granted, we had pleasant weather: 25-30 degrees and sunny. It's an extremely dry cold, not as penetrating as a wet cold. I also brought along a pair of mid-weight gloves I already owned, and did use those several times.

    The waterproof pants I purchased were perfect and inexpensive. Many other people on the ship, including crew members, had on Helly Hansen pants as well. They make more expensive styles, totally unnecessary in my opinion. They are an absolute must, however, as you will get some spray on you (the amount will depend on the wind and waves) and you will almost certainly make water landings (we made at least 5), whereby you are stepping out of the Zodiac into water that sometimes comes midway up your leg. Every landing is different depending on the waves, water and ice. The waterproof boots provided by Tauck and Ponant will keep your feet totally dry.

    As far as clothing for the Zodiac excursions I dressed as follows. Thick wool socks layered over thin cotton socks, thermal underwear, blue jeans, waterproof pants, long-sleeve t-shirt, flannel shirt, sweat-shirt, lightweight hooded fleece jacket, Polar Parka (provided to you by Tauck / Ponant), neck gaiter (a scarf would work), sailor style watch cap that I could pull down over my ears. I also took earmuffs, but wore them only once.

    My experience will differ from yours as every sailing and every Zodiac excursion will vary depending on time of year and weather. We had good weather and once ashore on many of our landings we did considerable walking, often up steep hills on rocks, packed snow and/or soft snow, sometimes knee deep. These walks can be strenuous, so you end up working up a sweat. Many times I found it necessary to remove the fleece and/or sweatshirt during a landing. Believe it or not, there were a few people on some of the landings who took off their top layers and went in shirtsleeves!

    I did not bother with walking sticks. There were a handful of occasions where steep trails or deep snow would have made a walking stick useful, but on balance, I'm glad I didn't bother to buy or transport them. They can be a
    nuisance. I would estimate 20 - 25% of the people on our trip had walking sticks. Be guided by your physical condition and stability on your feet.

    I brought a small pair of binoculars, used them once. In hindsight, I wouldn't have taken them. Having said that, there are opportunities to view birds, whales, landscape, etc. I just couldn't be bothered dragging them out as mostly I was taking pictures and didn't want to juggle binoculars and a camera.

    Hope this helps. If I didn't address a specific question, let me know.
  • Just added this trip to our travel plan for 2021. Hope the stock market recovers. (;-). The comments about states and continents caused me to do a survey. All fifty states, six of seven continents, and I made no effort to count the countries. I’ve been to many places that are a little difficult to get to ... like Midway, Wake, and Kwajalein. By the way there is no such place as Midway Island. (Google it.). It is Midway atoll, the prominent islands being Sand Island, and Eastern Island. During WWII the runways were on Eastern Island, and most other facilities on Sand Island. After the war new runways were built on Sand Island, and Eastern Island was basically abandoned. The Naval Air Station Midway was on Sand Island. Home of the famous Gooney Bird. So this trip would be my ‘seven continents’ trip.

  • Calaf...thank you so much. This was most helpful!

    I do have a question for you...when you got back to the ship after the excursion....what did you do with your clothes? One lady on the facebook forum...told me that they left the outerwear in the hallway due to the smell. However she did not tell me...if they just left it there all night or just for a little while or whatever.

    Can you also tell me...were you disappointed in anyway about anything? What were your highlights? Did you fly in to Buenos Aires early? How were your flights? Anything you feel like sharing Steve and I will appreciate! I apologize now...if i am bugging you...I truly appreciate your firsthand knowledge

    Cathy and Steve,
    Happy to respond. Give me a day or two to formulate my response to these latest questions.
    -Calaf
  • Small world. I’m having my right knee replaced next month and hopefully the left in the late summer or early fall. From what I have read, I will need knees for Antartica, and I would like to be able to ski again. I hope to be fully ambulatory before our Tauck/Le Ponant trip in 2020 from Monte Carlo to Malta. With a little luck and some hard work at the gym I may even be able to ski a little late next season. Right now I can walk on level ground just fine, but stairs and hills are a problem. So right now I rely heavily on accurate tour descriptions. (;-)
  • Calaf wrote:
    Cathy and Steve,

    Calaf...thank you so much. This was most helpful!

    I do have a question for you...when you got back to the ship after the excursion....what did you do with your clothes? One lady on the facebook forum...told me that they left the outerwear in the hallway due to the smell. However she did not tell me...if they just left it there all night or just for a little while or whatever.

    Can you also tell me...were you disappointed in anyway about anything? What were your highlights? Did you fly in to Buenos Aires early? How were your flights? Anything you feel like sharing Steve and I will appreciate! I apologize now...if i am bugging you...I truly appreciate your firsthand knowledge

    Happy to respond. Give me a day or two to formulate my response to these latest questions.
    -Calaf

    There was usually 4 to 6 hours between the morning and afternoon Zodiac excursions. During this time there were lectures, events, lunch, etc. So after the morning excursion I preferred to change out of my expedition clothing. I didn't find it necessary to leave my clothing outside the room, nor did I notice others doing so. Yes, the penguins smelled bad, but in my opinion not as horrible as some reports say. I suppose it depends on the size of the rookery, etc. I found that after 10 or 15 minutes I was generally unaware of the smell. I suppose if you sat in the snow, or otherwise got penguin poop on your clothing, then yes, that might pose a problem. The other concern is your boots, but upon returning to the ship everyone must walk through a flowing water hose, then scrub their boots in a water tub, then walk through a disinfectant bath, thereby eliminating any debris and smell. No one took their boots into their cabin as a rubberized mat is placed outside every cabin to place them on. All travelers are requested to not wear their boots walking through the ship, so you will walk from your room to the lounge departure point, and back, in shoes you can leave there, or stocking feet. In my case, I used an extra pair of the disposable slippers provided in every cabin.

    I flew into Buenos Aires 2 days early, using a Tauck "gift of time" night and adding one of my own. Normally I would only arrive one day early, but flying out of Philadelphia in January risks an ill-timed snowstorm and flight cancellations. I added the extra day as "storm insurance". Flights were fine: American Airlines - Phila - Miami - Buenos Aires and return. The internal flights from B.A. to Ushuaia were just okay. They were on-time, always a good thing, 3 1/2 hours each way. Food service is minimal (a bag of chips and soft-drinks); the seats are very narrow with limited leg-room. The flight from B.A. to Ushuaia requires an EARLY morning start. Breakfast was 4:15am and hotel departure 5:00am.

    I would have been totally satisfied without the added days in Buenos Aires. I hadn't been there previously, and I'm happy to have visited, but I can't number it among my most favorite of cities. The Hilton was well located and perfectly acceptable. I found the service to be excellent; the rooms were fine, if not basic, the breakfast buffet average. Just know it's not of the higher standard hotels Tauck often uses. For my money this trip was all about Antarctica; staying in a 5 star hotel was unnecessary. There is a higher-priced hotel option available that I saw no reason to elect. We were a group of 104 travelers of which 2/3 stayed at the Hilton.

    Nothing in particular disappointed. The highlights of the trip were numerous. Among them: that first look at Antarctica, literally stepping foot onto the 7th Continent, that first whale sighting, getting up close and personal with penguins, seals and whales, the Zodiac expedition when we were surrounded by 20 or more whales, the magnificent sunrises and sunsets...

    Tauck handled all the logistics of this complex trip wonderfully and our 3 tour guides were excellent. On our final day we arrived back in Buenos Aires a little after 12 noon. All of us had flights that left 8pm or later, based on Tauck's advice. Rather than abandon us at the airport to 8 hour, or longer, waits, Tauck took us to a very nice lunch and Gaucho show. They then transferred us to the airport around 4:30pm.

    I found the ship to be comfortable, modern and well appointed. My cabin was perfect, with a comfortable king-size bed, more than adequate storage space, a Nespresso coffee maker, tea pot, fully stocked minibar, and large flat-screen TV offering a decent (not Netflix) selection of movies. The crew, staff, Expedition Team, food and service were all of high caliber, contributing to an excellent experience.

    Be advised the ship will take your passport upon arrival and hold it throughout the cruise, returning it the morning of departure, due to Antarctic regulations. Embarkation and disembarkation were handled smoothly and efficiently. You can settle your shipboard account in dollars, euros or by credit card. They will not take Argentinian pesos. I withdrew a small amount of pesos from an ATM my first day in B.A. and used what was left against my hotel bill rather than be left with unusable pesos.
  • Miami to B.A. Flight was 9 1/2 hours. Going down I had a 3 hour layover - no worries. Coming back I had a similar layover but AA changed the flight leaving me less than two,hours. I called to change to a later flight but they wouldn't allow it based on the ticket I bought. They claimed I would have enough time. I was concerned because you have to clear immigration and customs in Miami and then claim your baggage and re-check it onto your onward flight. I have Global Entry so clearing immigration took less than 5 minutes. Fortunately my bag came quickly and the baggage claim and re-check process was quick and efficient. I made the flight with almost an hour to spare.

    My camera is a 9 year old Digital Canon with a built in zoom that I bought for my first trip to Africa. It's a dinosaur by today's standards but it still takes great pictures, perfectly good for my needs. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, is my motto. There were quite a few people on the trip that had serious camera gear with them. I would recommend you start a new thread asking for camera advice for Antarctica. My guess is you'd get some good responses.
  • CathyandSteve - First - Caleb is giving good feedback. The only place we differ is that we brought hiking sticks and used them quite a bit, but probably would have been ok without them. We are regular hikers and use them quite a bit so am use to using them. I wouldn't bring them if you don't use them already. I actually got a special stick that had a camera mount built in so it acted like a mono-pod for some of those zoom shots I took where being steady is important - something to consider. It was <$20 for a single stick at Walmart.
    As far a drying clothes, we brought collapsible hangers and hung our wet stuff from the vents. Think about it - every layer you are wearing getting sweaty x two people! It looked like we were having a garage sale! There isn't much air movement in the room but the air is dry and things dried fairly well if not cotton. Didn't notice any smell issues but left the boots outside and you want to make sure you stand them up so they can breath inside. If you bring extra liners for them, you can pull them out to dry as well. Each day we wore less layers. In the end - I was only wearing a long sleeve t-shirt and a thicker fleece shirt and the parka did the rest. For pants, I bought some waterproof pants for hunting years ago and just used them - but they didn't breath at all like some of the more expensive "ski pants" do but that was ok. Under those pants I just wore full length running pants that I use for my daily running when it's below 40 in Atlanta (About the same warmth as long underwear). That seemed to be enough most days and one one windier day I threw on a pair of "zipper pants" over the running pants - came back sweaty, but I do sweat more than most.

    Disappointments - Didn't get to see killer whales - but there were a lot of humpbacks. Buenos is nice but really a lot to do there that is special - its just nice to walk around. The park along the river is also a nice <2 hour walk (free) but you don't see much - one of those situations were the close trees/bushes make it so you can't see far - but there are a couple of nice views. Ushuaia was probably better than expected but we didn't get much time there either before or after the at sea period.

    We got to Bueno a day early and just walked the town that first day. You don't want to arrive the same day that the tour starts - some of our group did that and had to immediately join the tour and not even check in. Most people need to recover a night after a red-eye flight. With one day early you have a 1/2 day in the PM that day, the morning free the next day (Which is officially the first day of the tour) and another partial day on the third day (The official 2nd day) - so it's hard to book much of any tour or anything else of significance with only partial days so we had two 1/2 days walking the city and one half day in the park area. It wasn't exciting, but it was relaxing to just walk around. The evenings cooled a little and it was nice being up on the pool level watching the sunset over the city.

    Language - Our Spanish abilities are basically non-existent and it surprised us, for an area with so many tourists, how finding people that spoke much English was also limited in both retail and restaurants. We considered it to be part of the fun but when they had to keep getting the cook for us to get drinks and food at a nearby restaurant it became challenging at times.

    The outlets in Argentina were different than what we brought adapters for but the hotel was able to give us a nice, multi-plug version. The ship had one 110 outlet (Bring a multi-plug if you want to charge more than one thing at a time) and another lower power one in the bathroom.

    Surprise - They had two "Captain Nights" and a "Wear Black and White" night for dinner that we didn't know about. Not a big deal, but we felt a little unprepared for "dress-up" nights. This is not a suit/gown situation, but some dressed a little nicer.

    Highlight - "Whale day" as I call it where we were at a bay where you could hardly look in any direction for more than a couple minutes and not see a group of whales - sometimes 2, sometimes 6ish. One came right along the ship for a great view looking down and then it was to the Zodiacs to ride along side them. I knew about the sounds of the blowhole but got to hear a lot of other low frequency moans/groans/breathing - pretty cool. Not sure how common this is at any particular place or time but even the crew seemed pretty excited.

    Probably enough for now - Let me know if you have more questions. - Dave
  • I just remembered one thing - the flight to and from Buenos to Ushuaia only had one snack of some chip offered for the flight (Either sweet or salty till they run out of one or the other). You eat breakfast before and have lunch after so it's not a big deal, but it's good to know there isn't more than that snack with a single drink severing offered for a 3+ hour flight. You can bring bottled water through security for these flights, but on the flight back to the US, they won't even let you bring a water bottle you buy in the concourse. They did extra bag checks before we boarded too.

    Parkas - We wanted to keep them but adding such a big item x 2 to already full bags can be a challenge. We had a light duffel from a previous Tauck trip that we packed in our bag and we ended up using that. I was going to let that be my carry on but they ended up letting us check it. The parkas aren't really that heavy (4 lbs maybe), but roll up to still be the size of a small shoebox at least (You roll it into the hood and then cinch the hood tight).
  • Camera lens - What you want and need most is ZOOM! Neither of us had an official SLR but my wife has a Nikon P700 with 60 zoom and I have a Cannon with 730SX 40x and you still are reaching out as far as you can to get whale shots. At the same time, the scenic side of it - you can 't get wide enough. If you haven't worked with your camera on beaches/snow it would be good to read up on it as you may want to tweak your exposure, add filters (if you can) or change the settings for best shots. Because of the long days, your periods of sunrise and sunset are longer than normal and we had some beautiful periods of each as the sun worked it's way through different cloud layers as they moved.

    Another idea - At the beginning of the trip I encourage our Tauck group to all give me their emails and have set up photo sharing site that they have been invited to. About 30 of the people did that as we now waiting to see who are willing to share their shots (And are organized enough to do it in some reasonable amount of time). Shutter-fly is a good place for this for photos, but videos we need to find a different option as they don't support that. But with people planning on this, it makes it so people take more shots of each other of things you can't take of yourself.
  • I am still in research mode and have looked at 6-12 different ships/operators for my Dec 2021 trip to Antarctica. I keep coming back to Tauck/Ponant! Thanks to all for posting information about your experiences. A soon as the 2021/2022 season opens for booking, I'm going to contact Tauck.
  • cathyandsteve, the December 2020 trip is the one my husband and I are going on. We have several other trips planned this year and next, but still getting excited about doing Antarctica! Good to “meet” someone else who will be on the same trip! Thanks to everyone for the great tips. I need to read back on forum postings and make notes now!
  • MonicaB ... you don’t need to wait. We are on the ‘wishlist’ for 2021. If you get on the ‘wishlist’ they will call you before the trip is published for the public. We just finalized our booking for 2020 Treasures of the Med. which is still not yet published.

  • Yes, Drake Passage Is one of the most treacherous seas to be on. I am not sure about the insurance. This is one of the reasons I hesitate to take the tour. Plus I don’t think it is a good bang for the buck because it takes so long to get there. For us, Patagonia was a good compromise and one of our favorite tours. Tauck provides you with a special parka for the Antarctica tour and you rent rubber boots from them. A friend of a friend fell overboard on her trip to Antarctica but was rescued.

  • I am assuming that the Tauck insurance policy they sell you will cover the trip. I would check any personal
    Life insurance policy you have Incase a trip like this would make it invalid if anything happened to you. Recently, an acquaintance of ours had a stroke, but was in the ocean at the time. The insurance would not pay, they said it was not an accident. It was tragic.

  • I went on this trip in 2014. We were not confined to our rooms because the Drake Passage was relatively mild going to Antarctica and coming back. The motion was still noticeable on the ship, however. I elected to rent the boots, so the only special items I really needed were waterproof pants to go over my warm pants and a walking stick. There was no requirement, at least in 2014, for any special type of insurance. The Tauck insurance is always a good idea wherever you go.

  • I don’t have any life insurance either Cathy. I think Mr B would have more money if I wasn’t around. Once you get Medicare, things change, we now have an annual travel insurance as well as the Tauck one.
    I’ve only been very very seasick once and I think it was on very first Tauck tour, Rome, Sorrento and Amalfi Coast plus Capri, that trip is no longer operational. We were crossing over to Capri by hovercraft and a huge number of people were seasick.i felt I wanted to die when we goth there and dreaded the return but I was fine.my daughter used to get sick when we crossed the English Channel until we discovered sea bands and they worked a treat for her. I used them on our fist sailing trip in the BVI just in case but soon realized I am generally a sailor at heart🤪
    Check out this video

  • I'm with British on the bang for the buck. Antarctica is one of the most, if not the most expensive Tauck tour. For me spending that money, when 2 days each direction are spent transiting Drake Passage, just doesn't make sense. Like Sealord has commented in other forums, perhaps when I've been everywhere else in the world, then Antarctica will make my cut.

  • I think Sealord has booked this tour!

  • Many people on the forum and quite a few we have met on Tauck tours say the Antarctica tour is their favorite tour. Enjoy your tour Cathy. I guess if we had not fallen in love with Africa, we may have thought about going, but we still haven’t been to Alaska. As soon as we get back from an Africa tour, we start figuring out when we can go again. When so many countries require visas, you have to be so careful not to book a tour for when your passport is out for visas. If it wasn’t so difficult and if the Tauck tours didn’t fill up so quickly, I would love to take a last minute tour to one of the African countries. We met a couple on a tour who did the Botswana tour and a big group canceled literally last minute, so there were only about four of them on the tour! How exclusive that would be.

  • We just booked this trip yesterday from the wish list. They are calling all the wish list people right now. We are going January 16 of 2021 on Le Soleal. We thought about doing Africa again, but decided to do this first ... the seventh continent. There will be six of us, traveling with two other couples for three trips in a row.

  • edited August 2

    Sealord, did you look into any other companies for the Antarctica tour? This trip is high on my husband's bucket list.

  • Itskr. We are traveling with two other couples who we just traveled with to Spain and Portugal. We have also traveled with Ponant and we have cruised on Le Soleal before. All are known quantities that we are comfortable with.

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