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The 7 top antarctica cruises for 2024 + tips from an expert.

Plan your next epic adventure to the White Continent.

The Top Antarctica Cruises

The MS Roald Amundsen from Hurtigruten Expeditions in Orne Harbour, Antarctica.

Yuri Matisse Choufour | Courtesy of Hurtigruten Expeditions

Experience otherworldly beauty on an Antarctica cruise.

An expedition to Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for intrepid travelers who want to explore this remote destination at the bottom of the world. The landscapes are surreal, with eerily blue icebergs, towering ice-capped mountains, dramatic weather conditions that change within seconds and species of wildlife that exist nowhere else on Earth – it's hard to imagine until you've made the long journey yourself.

The fifth-largest continent is home to the largest ice sheet on the planet, the Antarctic Ice Sheet, as well as the Transantarctic Mountains, with peaks soaring more than 14,700 feet into the sky. West Antarctica has volcanoes that are part of a tectonically active area around the Pacific Ocean known as the "Ring of Fire." This incredibly diverse and magical part of the world also has the coldest temperature ever recorded at -135.8 degrees Fahrenheit in 2010.

U.S. News has compiled a selection of seven different Antarctic experiences to help you plan your bucket list adventure to the White Continent.

Book an Antarctica cruise on GoToSea , a service of U.S. News.

Atlas Ocean Voyages: 11-night Ushuaia Roundtrip

Atlas Ocean Voyages cruises kayaking in Antarctica.

Courtesy of Atlas Ocean Voyages

This 11-night expedition with Atlas is available on several dates in 2024. One highlight of the voyage is crossing the Antarctic Circle, along with four days exploring Antarctica and two days spent in the South Shetland Islands. You'll also have two days en route to Antarctica and two days on the return trip on the famed Drake Passage – also known as the "Drake Lake" (on smooth days) or the "Drake Shake" (when the seas are rough).

During your days at sea, take in all the onboard lectures and films about Antarctica, and head outside on the decks to see petrels and albatrosses soaring overhead. This is the perfect opportunity to practice your photography skills before reaching the Antarctic Peninsula, where you want to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.

Atlas' Jan. 14 expedition is on the line's newest ship, World Voyager. The purpose-built yacht-style vessel features a hydro-jet propulsion system that's quieter and less disruptive to the fragile ecosystem. This feature also provides the opportunity for guests to see more wildlife during up-close encounters. Pricing is all-inclusive on board the ship with free open bars; all meals, wines, spirits and craft beers; a stocked in-room minibar; all landings, Zodiac excursions and lectures; the use of kayaks, walking sticks, knee boots and binoculars; and a souvenir Atlas jacket to take home. Fares also include a one-night pre-cruise stay and private charter jet service round-trip from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Aurora Expeditions: Antarctic Peninsula in Depth

The Greg Mortimer from Aurora Expeditions in Antarctica.

Tyson Mayr | Courtesy of Aurora Expeditions

Aurora offers a 14-night Antarctic intensive voyage sailing round-trip from Ushuaia on Nov. 6, 2024, aboard the 132-passenger purpose-built expedition ship Greg Mortimer. This vessel was the first passenger ship to utilize the state-of-the-art Ulstein X-BOW, which provides a smoother, quicker and more efficient transit across the ocean. The ship also incorporates many environmentally conscious features, including low energy consumption and virtual anchoring, which protects the sea floor and minimizes damage caused by traditional anchors.

Guests will find expansive observation decks and hydraulic viewing platforms for optimal wildlife viewing on board. Other highlights of the expedition are nine full days to explore the Antarctic Peninsula in nearly 24 hours of daylight at the peak of summer. During this time, you can expect to see whales arriving to feed on the plentiful krill, fur seal pups and many entertaining penguins.

Prices are mostly all-inclusive, with a one-night hotel stay before boarding the ship; all meals, snacks and complimentary nonalcoholic beverages; beer and house wine at lunch and dinner; the use of Muck Boots for the expedition; all shore excursions and Zodiac cruises; educational lectures; and more. Adventurous explorers can add on activities (at an additional cost) such as sea kayaking, snowshoeing, camping, and skiing or snowboarding. The line also offers longer 20- to 24-day expeditions that include South Georgia Island.

Read: Sustainable Cruises: The Top Lines Making Progress

Hurtigruten Expeditions: Antarctica, Patagonia and Chilean Fjords Expedition

The MS Roald Amundsen Antarctica from Hurtigruten Expeditions in Antarctica at sunset.

Dan Avila | Courtesy of Hurtigruten Expeditions

For an extended adventure that includes crossing the Drake Passage twice, spending up to five days in Antarctica and then landing on Cape Horn in Chile (weather permitting), consider the 25-night grand expedition cruise aboard the Hutrigruten Expeditions' MS Roald Amundsen. Additional highlights are scenic cruising in Garibaldi Fjord in Alberto de Agostini National Park to see the Garibaldi Glacier; visiting the town of Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park ; and seeing the longest Southern Hemisphere glacier outside of Antarctica (which grows by as much as 150 feet a day), the Pio XI Glacier in Bernado O'Higgins National Park. This epic adventure begins March 9, 2024, in Buenos Aires and ends in Valparaíso, Chile.

The ship for the voyage, MS Roald Amundsen, is a hybrid vessel that reduces CO2 emissions by using electrical propulsion – and it's designed specifically for use in polar waters. The vessel carries just 500 guests (to adhere to regulations for visiting Antarctica) and features all exterior cabins with Scandinavian inspired decor. Guests will also find an Explorer lounge and bar, three dining venues, the Science Center, a sauna and spa, and other amenities. Fares are mostly all-inclusive, covering a complimentary expedition jacket; the use of expedition equipment like boots and trekking poles; landing activities; most dining options; and wine, beer and soft drinks at meals.

Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic: Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent

A small excursion boat off the Lindblad Excursions National Geographic Resolution ship on Peterman Island, Antarctica.

Ralph Lee Hopkins | Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions was the first company to bring citizen explorers to Antarctica in 1966, pioneering travel to this remote destination. The line's 13-night expedition to Antarctica is offered nearly 20 times throughout the summer season in 2024 on one of three ships. Depending on the ship, guests will have one evening in either Buenos Aires or Santiago, Chile , before flying to Ushuaia the next morning to embark the vessel.

With about five days to explore Antarctica, you'll have time to take in the awe-inspiring landscapes and look for seals and blue-eyed shags up close from Zodiacs. On land, watch thousands of Adélie and gentoo penguins as they playfully slide down the snow-covered hills on their bellies – one right after the other – diving headfirst into the icy waters. After the adventure, a private charter flight will return you to either Buenos Aires or Santiago before your return flight home.

The line's newest expedition vessel, National Geographic Resolution, accommodates just 138 guests – and there are two new cabins for solo cruisers . Guests on the Polar Class 5 vessel will have a National Geographic photographer and a Lindblad-National Geographic-certified photo instructor and video chronicler documenting the trip. Onboard amenities include a yoga studio, a wellness specialist, infinity-style hot tubs, two restaurants and a chef's table, and plenty of indoor and outdoor viewing areas. This ship also carries an ROV (a remotely operated vehicle) for underwater exploration and other high-tech video gear.

You can even book an overnight stay in an igloo (on a first-come, first-served basis) and spend the evening under the polar sky. Fares are mostly all-inclusive and include all onboard meals and most meals ashore; nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages; transfers; excursions; a complimentary jacket; and more.

Silversea: King George Island to King George Island (Antarctica Bridge)

The Silver Endeavor in Orne Harbour, Antarctica.

Courtesy of Silversea

Silversea's six-night Antarctica Bridge expedition takes guests round-trip by a business class flight directly to the Antarctica Peninsula, flying into King George Island from Punta Arenas, Chile. This itinerary is offered several times throughout the season for guests who don't have extensive time to travel – or are nervous about sailing the Drake Passage. Silversea 's pricing is all-inclusive, and guests can choose between door-to-door or port-to-port fares.

While the weather determines the specific itinerary in Antarctica, guests can expect to have several excursions in the Antarctic Sound and as many as nine excursions on the Antarctic Peninsula that include hiking, kayaking and scenic Zodiac cruises with the expedition team. There's also one excursion in the South Shetland Islands, where you can look for massive elephant seals. There will be an abundance of bird and animal viewing on wildlife-rich King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands, which is home to Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins as well as Weddell and leopard seals.

Oceanwide Expeditions and Swoop Antarctica: Quest for the Emperor Penguins of Snow Hill Island

Emperor penguins on Snow Hill Island in Antarctica.

Getty Images

Swoop Antarctica's 10-night adventure-filled journey takes wildlife and history enthusiasts into the ice-choked waters of the Weddell Sea, past towering tabular icebergs, in search of the emperor penguin's rookery on Snow Hill: one of the most remote penguin rookeries on the planet. The incredible itinerary also sails through the same waters where famed Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship, the Endurance, sank in 1915 – and to the rarely seen west slopes of the Antarctic Sound.

Other highlights include Zodiac and helicopter landings (weather permitting) to additional remote locales, including Seymour Island, where the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901 to 1904 spent a winter season; Brown Bluff, one of the most scenic places on the northern tip of the Antarctic Continent and home to a large Adélie penguin rookery; and the volcanic crater of Deception Island.

There are two sailings in November 2024 on board the 1A-class, ice-strengthened Oceanwide Expeditions' Ortelius: a 108-passenger former Russian research vessel. Fares includes all meals and nonalcoholic beverages, all Zodiac and shore excursions, educational lectures, helicopter transfers, and group transfers. Optional adventure activities, alcoholic beverages and other personal expenses are at an additional cost.

The onboard helicopter pad is one of the features of the vessel and is used on select expeditions in the Weddell and Ross seas. It's important to note that very few companies offer expeditions to the Weddell Sea that include Snow Hill Island. While Ortelius is not a luxury vessel like other ships mentioned in this list, it is a stable expedition-style ship built for these icy – and at times treacherous – waters and weather conditions.

Viking: Antarctica & South Georgia Island

Viking Octantis in Antarctica with large iceberg in foreground.

Courtesy of Viking

Viking's 18-night Antarctica and South Georgia Island expedition begins with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires followed by a flight the next morning to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. The first two stops on the expedition are in the Falkland Islands, where you'll find beautiful scenery with imposing cliffs, many types of marine birds and five species of penguins. In South Georgia, watch for king penguins and seals. Then, it's on to Antarctica for days 12 through 16. Guests will have the option to reserve a spot on the Viking DNV-classed submarine for a thrilling journey into the depths of the frigid waters in Antarctica. The return sailing, by way of the Drake Passage, disembarks in Ushuaia.

In 2024, this itinerary is available Jan. 31 and again Dec. 15 on Viking Octantis. The purpose-built Polar Class 6 vessel accommodates up to 378 guests and offers many of the same venues found on Viking's ocean ships, including the Explorers' Lounge, World Café, Mamsen's, Manfredi's Italian Restaurant and the Nordic Spa. There are also expedition-specific features, such as Expedition Central, the Science Lab and – for educational lectures and briefings – the Aula theater. Viking's fares are mostly all-inclusive, with all meals and wine and beer served with lunch and dinner; 24-hour specialty teas, coffees and nonalcoholic beverages; a keepsake Viking jacket; complimentary use of the excursion gear; and more.

Find an Antarctica cruise on GoToSea.

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Expert tips on Antarctica expeditions

There are many factors to consider when planning an Antarctica expedition, including where you want to travel to, the length of the trip and whether you want to sail the famed Drake Passage twice.

To provide helpful insights and information to plan your trip, U.S. News reached out to an expert in the region, Aurora Expeditions' expedition leader, Ashley Perrin , for tips on planning your adventure to the White Continent. Perrin has degrees in both geography and oceanography from the University of Southampton. She was appointed as the first woman boating officer in Antarctica by the British Antarctic Survey in 2009, and has led multiple expeditions to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands.

Which month is best (in your opinion) to travel to Antarctica and why? 

Perrin: "My favorite time to travel to Antarctica is the end of December or beginning of January, because the penguin chicks are starting to come out and you get the most wildlife spotting opportunities, with marine mammals, penguins and albatross – on top of the spectacular scenery."

What length of trip do you recommend for first-time visitors?

Perrin: "The 10- to 12-day Spirit of Antarctica or Antarctic Explorer (with Aurora Expeditions) is a fantastic introduction to the Antarctic Peninsula. If you had the additional time and opportunity, ideally you would also opt for a voyage that visits South Georgia. For many travelers, this is really the jewel in the crown of the Antarctic experience because of the incredible wildlife opportunities here."

What should you look for in an expedition ship/tour when planning a trip to Antarctica?

Perrin: "Travelers should look for a high-quality educational experience, including lectures and opportunities for Citizen Science. This is such a fascinating and important destination, and you want to ensure you can learn and take as much in as you can. A pivotal factor in this is also choosing a company that offers low passenger numbers.

"Travelers don't have enough of an understanding of the impact of this on their voyage. In the Antarctic Peninsula only 100 people are allowed on land at one time, while at some sites it is 30 to 50 people. Having smaller groups enables passengers to have more time off ship exploring and connecting with nature, and this has such a significant impact on your experience.

"If you like to be a little more active, I would also highly recommend an operator that offers activities, such as kayaking in Antarctica. This allows you to see Antarctica from a different viewpoint and the silence is amazing. You still have opportunities to do landings as well, so I think it's the best of both worlds."

Do you prefer the combination fly/sail for the Drake Passage or sailing the Drake Passage both ways?

Perrin: "I prefer to sail both ways as it's how you earn your right to get to Antarctica! You also get more opportunities to see wildlife like seabirds, and it gives you extra time to prepare for the Antarctic experience through pre-lectures and education. Travelers arrive with more of an understanding of what to expect."

Any other tips, advice or comments you'd like to share?

Perrin: "Do your research into the operator you are choosing and their different offerings – things like passenger numbers, expedition team experience and off ship activities – as these can all have a significant impact on the travel experience. There is also a big difference between traditional cruise operators and expedition operators and what travelers can expect. We ensure that our passengers are exploring and getting off the ship as much as possible.

"I would also add that it's important to do your research into the areas that you're most interested in. For example, it could be history, exploration and walking in someone's footsteps (such as Sir Ernest Shackleton), or the types of wildlife you might see. Having a deeper understanding of the history and the region really does enhance the experience once you are there."

Frequently Asked Questions

An expedition where you get off the ship and make landings on the Antarctic peninsula typically costs about $10,000 per person for a 10-night voyage. However, depending on the cruise line, the ship and dates of travel – and whether you sail or fly the Drake Passage – you could spend as much as $29,000 per person for a 12-night expedition or more. There are slightly lower prices for some expeditions, such as a few with Hurtigruten Expeditions, and you can find reduced fares and deals with lines like Atlas Ocean Voyages and Quark Expeditions. In addition, there are extended polar expeditions that range from a 14-night trip to the 94-night Pole-to-Pole Ultimate Bucket List Expedition Cruise with Hurtigruten Expeditions, which is priced at close to $48,000.

If you're not interested in getting off the ship in Antarctica to see penguins and seals up close (but no closer than 15 feet, according to the Antarctic Treaty), you can opt for a voyage on a large cruise ship that sails around the continent for a much lower cost. Just know that you won't be able to disembark at any point in Antarctica. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line has a 14-night Antarctica and South America voyage that makes a round trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina, for as low as $999 per person. You may be able to find even cheaper fares from lines such as Celebrity Cruises or Princess Cruises.

It's important to note that by the rules set forth in the Antarctic Treaty, only ships carrying 500 or less passengers are permitted to make landings on the Antarctica peninsula. The Antarctic Treaty, along with the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, has strict conservation protocols and regulates that no more than 100 passengers are allowed to go ashore at one time. The IAATO works with more than 100 Antarctica outfitters to create the guidelines and safety procedures to protect the fragile environment and wildlife in this remote part of the world.

The following cruise lines offer small ship expeditions in Antarctica with no more than 500 passengers. You can also look at tour companies – such as Abercrombie & Kent, G Adventures, Adventure Life and Swoop Antarctica – that exclusively charter ships or help navigate the decision-making process for their clients and book individual expeditions with the cruise lines.

  • Atlas Ocean Voyages
  • Aurora Expeditions
  • Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
  • Hurtigruten Expeditions
  • Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic
  • Quark Expeditions
  • Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours
  • Seabourn Cruise Line

These larger cruise lines offer sailings around the Antarctic Peninsula, which may include scenic cruising in and around the Gerlache Strait, Elephant Island, Paradise Bay and Schollart Channel.

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Princess Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International

The answer depends on the expedition. The majority of passengers will depart from South America in either Ushuaia, Argentina – which is also known as the "End of the World" – or Punta Arenas, Chile. Then it will take approximately two days to cross the Drake Passage to reach the Antarctic Peninsula. Some lines also offer chartered flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica, which only take about two hours. Some passengers who have taken the flight say it can be as unnerving as sailing the Drake Passage, since weather conditions can delay the flight for up to several days where you could potentially miss the trip.

Cruises on larger ships that only sail around the Antarctic Peninsula may embark in Buenos Aires; Santiago, Chile; Puerto Williams, Chile; Rio de Janeiro; ports in Florida or New Zealand; or even the South Shetland Islands.

The expedition and cruise season to Antarctica extends from November to March, which is during the austral summer in the Southern Hemisphere. But Antarctica is still the windiest, coldest and driest continent on Earth, so weather conditions are unpredictable and can change quickly – even during the summertime. One minute the sun may be out, and the next minute it can be snowing and extremely windy and cloudy.

Visitors in November can expect temperatures between a low of 25 degrees to a high of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperatures are typically in January, when you'll find days ranging between 33 to 36 degrees before they start to drop again in February.

Most expedition companies provide jackets that you can take home, so you won't need to bring a heavy parka if it's given to you on board. They may also provide waterproof boots that you'll need to use for wet landings. It's best to check with your expedition line to see what's available on the ship, what you can rent or buy, and what you'll need to pack and bring with you. Due to the unpredictable weather, it's advisable to bring different types of layers.

Here are some of the items you'll want to pack:

Layers: Pack at least two top and two bottom quick-drying base layers (or more, depending on the length of your expedition) that wick moisture, such as those made of silk, wool or bamboo. It does get toasty when you're layered up and moving around ashore, so choose lightweight options that will layer easily under the rest of your clothing and keep you warm and dry. For your mid-layer top, go with a lightweight polar fleece or vest; for the bottom, quick-drying warm tights or fleece pants are a good option.

You'll also want to layer what's on your feet, starting with a wicking pair of socks made from silk or synthetic polypropylene, followed by a good pair of merino wool socks from a brand like Smartwool. Glove liners are another must, especially if your hands tend to get cold. If you can, buy insulated waterproof gloves with removable liners to save packing an extra item. You may also want to toss a few hand and foot warmers in the suitcase in case you need extra warmth. Bring a lighter pair of insulated gloves for warmer days off the ship.

And don't forget a lined wool beanie, a set of earmuffs, and a balaclava or fleece neck gaiter to keep your ears and face warm and your nose and mouth protected from the cold air and wind.

Waterproof gear: The parka and tall waterproof boots may be provided on the ship, but if they're not, you'll need to bring your own. You'll also need wind- and waterproof pants to go over your base layer and mid-layers. If they're tapered at the bottom, you should be able to tuck them into your boots. Perrin says this is one of the most important items you should purchase and pack for your expedition.

Comfy clothes ­and shoes for around the ship: Most people dress casual on Antarctica cruises, so bring clothes that will be comfortable for days and evenings around the ship. It can get rough when crossing the Drake Passage, so you'll want flat or low-heeled shoes for those days at sea.

Other items you'll want to pack:

  • Waterproof dry pack
  • Sea-Bands and medications for motion sickness
  • Camera and accessories with a waterproof cover
  • Hiking poles (unless the ship has them available)
  • Swimsuit (you may want to take the polar plunge!)
  • Other necessary medications
  • Hydrating lip balm and a good protective moisturizer
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Books on the history of early exploration in Antarctica and the incredible wildlife

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed on nearly every type of cruise ship built, including the newest megaships, paddle-wheelers on the Mississippi River, and an 18-stateroom river ship on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. She has also cruised on a traditional masted sailing ship and on a small luxury expedition vessel in Antarctica crossing the notorious Drake Passage twice. Pratesi covers the travel and culinary industries for major publications including U.S. News & World Report.

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  • Cruising / Norwegian (NCL) / Ports of Call / Ship Reviews

Trip Report: South America/Antarctica Itinerary on the NCL Star

by Prof. Cruise · Published January 23, 2024 · Updated February 7, 2024

A photo of penguins in Antarctica with the Norwegian Star in the background and text that reads: Trip Report: South America/Antarctica Itinerary on the NCL Star.

Trip Report, Review, and Ship Tour: South America/Antarctica Itinerary on the Norwegian Star

Introduction and itinerary.

Why we booked this cruise: This particular cruise checked off all the boxes on our list. Bucket list itinerary? CHECK. Cruise over Christmas, New Years, and my son’s birthday (this has become a tradition for us)? CHECK. Reasonable price? CHECK. Suitable for all the grandparents to join us (an expedition trip to Antarctica wasn’t something they would likely be comfortable with)? CHECK. Minimum of 14 days onboard or it doesn’t even count as a cruise (long cruises and b2b’s have ruined me)? CHECK. So we jumped on it, booking about a year in advance.

A photo of six people standing around a sign for Tierra del Fuego National Park.

We were a cruise party of 6 (I use the word “party” ironically as all of us were in bed by 9pm each night). Mr. Cruise and I were both thrilled and low key terrified when the grandparents agreed to join us. This would be the first time all of us (my husband, 11 year-old son, mom, and in-laws) traveled together and we were coming from three different cities with about 15 different airline connections to make during the winter and most crowded travel time of the year. What could possibly go wrong? Only about 45,000 things that had me Googling “how to make the best of Christmas in the Dallas airport with no luggage or gifts while figuring out how to board a cruise ship that left Buenos Aires without you, but with all your kid’s grandparents 3 days ago” at like 2 in the morning. But thankfully, after a resolved dental emergency two days before sailing, only one other thing actually went wrong (you’ll have to read to the end to find out what it was).

Our itnerary:

A photo of a cruise itinerary visiting ports in South America and Antarctica.

Our itinerary was as follows:

  • Day 1: Embarkation in Buenos Aires

Day 2: Montevideo, Uruguay

  • Day 3: Sea day

Day 4: Puerto Madryn, Argentina

  • Day 5: Sea day
  • Day 6: Punta Arenas, Chili

Day 7: Ushuaia, Argentina

Day 8: ushuaia, argentina.

  • Day 9: Sea day

Day 10: Antarctica, Paradise Island

Day 11: antarctica, elephant island.

  • Day 12: Sea day

Day 13: Stanley, Falkland Islands

  • Day 14: Sea day
  • Day 15: Sea day

Day 16: Punta del Este, Uruguay

  • Day 17: Debarkation in Buenos Aires

Flights and transfers: Some may be a bit intimidated by an itinerary like this, fearing the cost or hassle of flying somewhere so far to embark on a cruise. And if I’m being honest, even as a seasoned cruiser and international traveller, I was too. This would be our first visit to South America and none of us spoke any Spanish. As such, we decided to make all our air and transfer arrangements through NCL and also take advantage of a 2 for 1 airfare special they were running at the time of our original booking. This turned out to be financially beneficial, as when I searched independently for flights (for science, so I could report back to all of you), I couldn’t find anything close to the deal we got through NCL.

Upon first receiving our flight assignments I was disappointed to see that my mom and I would be flying on separate flights from my husband and son and that our itinerary also had us leaving Seattle at 5am and then waiting in the Dallas airport for nearly 12 hours for a connection. Not ideal, but I figured at least we’d have PLENTY of time to catch our connection to Buenos Aires and maybe I could pick up some gig work in Dallas for a day to earn some extra spending money (just kidding, but I did generate a fairy long and odd list of things I could do in an airport for 12 hours).

Thankfully NCL changed our flights to match my husband and son’s and our layover time was reduced from 12 hours to around 90 minutes (better, but how was I going to taste and rank every eating establishment in all five terminals in 90 minutes?).

Visas: As Americans, no visas were required for any of our port of calls.

A quick word about cost: As this was a”bucket list” cruise for us, we were prepared to spend more than we normally would (those who follow me know I’m cheaper than a half off fast food value meal and would cruise in a janitor’s closet should one be available for the right price). However, even needing two cabins (since I would be sharing with my mom and my husband with my son), we spent far less than we have on certain itineraries sailing from domestic ports. All in, including flights, transfers, and excursions, we spent around $3,000 per person for a 16-night bucket-list itinerary over Christmas and New Year’s (which are always priced higher). We received several price drops as our final payment date approached, so be sure to always watch prices and call your agent or NCL if they drop.

A note on the weather: While we had a few very warm port days, the weather overall was cool to downright freezing so I’d suggest packing very few warm weather clothing pieces and prioritize cold weather clothing and gear (you WILL need coats, hats, gloves, etc).

Day 1: Embarkation Day

A child sleeping on an airplane

For us, it was about 15 total hours in the air from Seattle to Buenos Aires, not counting time spent waiting in airports. And guess how many of those hours my kid slept? Zero. Well no, he did finally fall into blissful and unwakeable slumber literally 10 minutes before our wheels touched down in Buenos Aires and was heavier than a dead elephant to drag off the plane.

Our NCL bus transfers were easy and although our embarkation terminal changed at the last minute due to storm damage at our original location, we made it onboard the Star without any major issues. Our first day was spent settling into our cabins, making a few reservations, and exploring the ship. And, for me, eating like I hadn’t just told myself to “take it easy, you have 16 days to try everything.”

Here’s a tour of our inside cabin and a bonus tour of my in-laws club balcony cabin:

Montevideo, Uruguay was the first port of call on our 16-night South America/Antarctica itinerary on the Norwegian Star.  We booked a private city tour (Highlights of Montevideo) through Shore Excursions Group.  We saved significant money by both booking privately and purchasing a package deal that included four excursions at four different ports.  I strongly recommend avoiding cruise ship excursions if you’re comfortable doing so – they’re crowded, overpriced, and often not that great.  

Anyway, on our tour we visited Old Town, Independence Square, the Mausoleum of General Artigas, Parliament Palace, Mercado Agricola Montevideo (an iron-built indoor market), Battle Park, the La Carreta statue (a bronze monument depicting oxen pulling a covered wagon), the Estadio Centenario soccer stadium, and Pocitos Beach. It was a decent tour, but much of the commentary was in Spanish, so we didn’t learn as much as we’d hoped. 

Photo of a building with palm trees in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Also, don’t hate me, but it’s summer here and being from Seattle where our summer temps are mild, the sun and high 70’s we experienced today had us sprinting toward the ship pool like we were in flames.  Lol.

A photo of Pocitos Beach.

Tonight we dined at La Cucina, the Italian specialty restaurants on the Star.  I have good news for my regular followers who hate it when I cruise solo because they only see the vegetarian options – there  are four non-rabbits on this sailing with me who only get mildly annoyed when I yell at them mid bite to “spit that out so I can take a photo!” Here’s the menu:

The La Cucina menu on the Norwegian Star.

And here’s what we ordered:

Calamari from La Cucina on the Norwegian Star.

Day 3: Sea Day

Merry Christmas Eve from the Norwegian Star.  I spent most of this first sea day channeling my best 10 (almost 11) year-old.  My kid’s had a bit of trouble making friends due to language barriers, so despite having three grandparents onboard (whom I adore, but also invited primarily so I wouldn’t have to supervise or entertain my kid), I hung out with him pretty much all day (with the exception of a penguin lecture I attended with my mom), because either I’m super fun or a sucker or have mom guilt (normally I would have ditched him, but it was Christmas Eve).  

The arcade on the Norwegian Star.

Thankfully he eats a LOT of ice cream, which I also enjoy.  But that’s pretty much where our interests diverge.  If I were cruising solo I guarantee you wouldn’t find me spending 21/24 hours at the arcade with the remaining 3 spent shouting out numbers at Deal or No Deal, golfing, and peeing due to all the Fanta I’d drunk (it would be due to martinis).  

An ice cream cone on the Norwegian Star.

Anyway, we’re off to Christmas Eve dinner (no special Christmas Eve menu in the MDR on NCL – just the regular night 3 menu), to a Christmas sing-a-long (there’s been a real shortage of holiday activities so far), and then to our cabins where we’ll attempt to stay up all night to catch a glimpse of the jolly man, but will likely be out cold by 9:30pm. 

Tonight’s dinner menu in the MDR:

The night 3 menu on the Norwegian Star.

And here’s what we ordered:

Whole roasted sirloin on the Norwegian Star.

Merry Christmas!  Today at port in Puerto Madryn, Argentina we traveled two hours to the largest penguin colony in South America.  Punta Tombo is home to over a million magellanic penguins during the breeding season lasting from roughly September to April.  While this was one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen on a cruise, I was a little disappointed that none of the penguins were wearing top hats and bow ties in honor of Christmas. Still, I’d highly (HIGHLY) recommend this tour, booked privately through Shore Excursions Group.

A child standing next to a penguin at Punta Tombo.

Additional wildlife we saw in Madryn/Punta Tombo (normally we’d lose our minds for both of these, but the penguins upstaged them). The llama looking thing is not a fictional character invented in the weird, rhyming mind of a children’s book author, it’s a guanaco, a wild llama.  

Sea lions resting on some steps in Madryn.

We ate Christmas dinner in the MDR. Here’s a link to the special menu we enjoyed along with photos of what we ordered:

NCL Christmas Dinner Menu

Day 5: Sea Day

Today was our second “relaxing” day at sea.  I got demolished by a 10-year-old at Alice and Wonderland chess (have 5-6 martinis before playing giant deck chess for a similar effect), ping-pong, and shuffleboard and competed in “Complete Opposites” where I lost the game for my family when I couldn’t say the complete alphabet backwards. Remind me to add Xanax to my packing list the next time I cruise with these people! 

A child playing deck chess on the Norwegian Star.

Tonight we dined at Ginza, the complimentary Asian restaurant on the Star.  The food was tasty and it was a nice change from the MDR and buffet, but my favorite thing about it was the Wasabi cocktail (which isn’t at all what you’d expect- it’s a super sweet martini).  Seriously, I’ll fight anyone who doesn’t agree that it’s the best cocktail at sea, across any line. Anyway, here’s what we ordered:

Wasabi cocktail from Ginza, the complimentary Asian restaurant on the Norwegian Star.

Day 6: Punta Arenas, Chili (Cancelled)

My morning routine has been to hit the gym as soon as it opens at 5am.  If you’re going to be impressed, do so now before I tell you that I mostly just sit on a spin bike while binging The Crown on my iPad.  Then I hit O’Sheehan’s for my 1st of three breakfasts.  O’Sheehans is a complimentary 24 hour pub on the Star serving breakfast, lunch/dinner, and late night fare.  Here’s the breakfast menu along with some food pics:

O'Sheehans breakfast menu.

“Everything is beautiful and I am so sad. This is how the heart makes a duet of wonder and grief. The light spraying through the lace of the fern is as delicate as the fibers of memory forming their web around the knot in my throat. The breeze makes the birds move from branch to branch as this ache makes me look for those l’ve lost in the next room, in the next song, in the laugh of the next stranger. In the very center, under it all, what we have that no one can take away and all that we’ve lost face each other. It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured by a holiness that exists inside everything. I am so sad and everything is beautiful.” -Adrift by Mark Nepo

Today marks the 13th anniversary of my beloved dad’s death from cancer.  I woke up to this sunrise and missed him so acutely, heartbroken that he isn’t here to see it, that he’s missed so much.  Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.  

A beautiful sunset as seen from the Promenade deck of the Norwegian Star.

Much like my emotions today, up and down, were the ocean swells, necessitating that we cancel our scheduled port of call in Punta Arenas, Chili (meaning we wouldn’t be visiting Chili at all on this sailing – I guess a good excuse to book another South America cruise).  We made the most of an extra sea day by playing “Cards Against Humanity” (thankfully most of our fellow cruisers don’t speak English or they might have really questioned the appropriateness of our lunchtime conversation) and taking in the views (from indoors) of the Chilean fjords.

A family playing a game on the Norwegian Star.

At dinner we had a Diet Coke toast in honor of my dad (that was his favorite beverage) and I’m writing this from the bathtub in my in-laws club balcony cabin where I chuckled at the memory of my dad cutting a hole in the wall of his bathroom so he could watch his Sunday morning political shows from the bath.  Up and down with barf bags at the ready, full of sorrow and love and a deep appreciation of this beautiful planet I’ve been so privileged to experience so much of, thankful for the touching words of support I’ve received from so many of you today, I’m signing off for now, eager and hopeful for tomorrow. 

Tonight’s dinner in the MDR:

Dinner menu on the Norwegian Star.

We spent today exploring Tierra del Fuego National Park near Ushuaia (also known as “The End of the World”). You’ll notice the extreme change in temperature this far south – we’ve gone from shorts to parkas in just a few days.

Horses and a lush green meadow at Tierra del Fuego National Park.

We’re docked in Ushuaia for a second day.  And what a day it’s been!  Mr Cruise and I are celebrating “keeping a human alive for 11 years with minimal trauma day” and we spent the morning observing prolific wildlife (thousands of penguins and dozens of sea lions were the highlights) as we sailed aboard a catamaran through the Beagle Channel (via a private tour booked through Shore Excursions Group). We died. Dead. Gone.

Two men and a young boy on a catamaran.

Tonight we’re off to Teppanyaki to celebrate Mr Cruise and I (and the 11th birthday of the best cruising buddy a gal could ask for!  Join me in wishing H a happy 11th!). 

A young goy smiling on a catamaran.

So, Teppanyaki.  Eating at a Japanese hibachi grill in South America with a Filipino chef.  Go figure. But what I really couldn’t get past was the fact that my son ordered fruit for his birthday dessert. FRUIT!  So while everyone else in my family was sharing memories of my son’s birth 11 year ago, I was questioning whether the whole thing even happened.  Like, “how could you possibly be my child?!?” Anyway, I tried to pause my existential questioning long enough to enjoy the show and my meal, which was ok, but nothing special (note to vegetarians that the miso soup and the mustard sauce are not vegetarian – I really wish NCL made better use of food labels to make it easier for those with dietary restrictions).  Here’s what we ordered along with a few action shots and the menu:

A chef preparing a meal at Teppanyaki on the Norwegian Star.

Day 9: Sea Day

Today we entered the infamous Drake Passage en route to Antarctica.  While swells were high at times, it turned out 200 seasick patches and a ginger drip were overkill and by late afternoon seas calmed enough for me to enjoy a lovely (albeit brisk) evening walk on the promenade deck.  During our day at sea mom and I enjoyed two fascinating lectures by two of the four onboard naturalists – one on early Antarctic exploration and one on the Southern Ocean.

A young boy playing chess on the Norwegian Star.

We ate lunch and dinner in the MDR and my kid, once again, destroyed me at chess.  We spotted our first enormous iceberg, which dwarfed the bergs we’re used to seeing in Alaska.  

The outdoor promenade deck on the Norwegian Star

Regarding lunch in the MDR, it appears there are 3 different lunch menus that rotate on longer itineraries.  Here was today’s and what we ordered (and didn’t order, but received anyway):

MDR lunch menu on the Norwegian Star.

Mom ordered the peanut butter cup cheesecake, but was told for the 2nd time that it wasn’t available and had been replaced by the lava cake.  I ordered the mocha pot de crème and the raspberry panna cotta, but also received the chocolate lava cake. That’s okay, I gobbled it up and felt justified heading up to the buffet for mocha cake and Victoria cake and some pistachio ice cream.

Here’s what we ordered for dinner in the MDR:

Vegetable tempura rice roll on the Norwegian Star.

Today we arrive in Antarctica where we will spend the day sailing Gerlache Strait, Paradise Bay, and the Danco Coast.  I’m almost too excited to eat 3 breakfasts this morning. Almost…

Later . We’ve arrived in Antarctica and I’ve made another dramatic slash though one of the few remaining items on my bucket list: seeing penguins on ice (while hard to capture in photos, the little black dots on the iceberg below are penguins and could be seen clearly through binoculars).

Penguins floating on ice in Antarctica.

Today we visited the Gerlache Strait, Paradise Bay, and the Danco Coast where we viewed towering ice and snow covered peaks, glaciers, and enormous icebergs.  In terms of wildlife, we spotted at least a dozen humpback whales, orcas, gentoo penguins both swimming and chilling on icebergs, and other varieties of sea birds.  Weather conditions have been perfect – clear with partial sun and almost no wind. What a magnificent end to 2023 (good luck 2024, this is going to be hard to top!).

Paradise Bay, Antarctica.

Tonight we enjoyed a special New Year’s Eve dinner menu in the MDR.  Here’s a link to the menu and photos of what we ordered:

NCL New Year’s Eve Menu

Ringing in the new year at sea!  Those who saw the Instagram video I posted of the New Year’s countdown and balloon drop in the ship’s atrium were impressed with my ability to stay up so many hours past my typical bedtime of 9pm.  I embraced their praise while failing to mention that I set my alarm for 11:45pm and was returned to blissful slumber by 12:15am.  But during that 30 minutes, I learned a lot about what goes on on a cruise ship in the wee hours.  Lots of drinking (complimentary champagne was provided), dancing, boisterous merriment, and cranky, over-tired children.  If it’s all the same to you, I prefer sleep. Lol. 

A New Year's Eve party on the NCL Star.

After hitting the gym, I took a two hour nap to make up for my 30 minutes of New Year’s partying (which consisted of snapping one selfie of mom and I where we tried to look alert and then watching the balloon drop before calling it a night).  

Prof Cruise and her mom at a New Year's Eve party on the NCL Star.

Then we attended a fascinating lecture about Shackleton to provide some context for our visit to Elephant Island later in the afternoon.  And while seeing the sight where Shackleton’s crew survived for four months before being rescued, fin whales stole the show today.  Off the shores of Elephant Island, upwards of 50 fin whales surrounded our ship to feed, many getting so close you could see them under the water before they came up for air.  

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Prof Cruise (@profcruise)

It was a surreal and magical experience.  We also saw hundreds of thousands of penguins swimming, on icebergs, and in colonies on the shores of Elephant Island and many species of sea birds.  After today I’d answer the question, “is large ship cruising to Antarctica worth it?” with an emphatic YES! 

Elephant Island, Antarctica.

As far as dining, we lunched in the MDR and ate dinner, for a second time, at La Cucina.  Here was the lunch menu along with what we ordered:

MDR lunch menu on the Norwegian Star.

Day 12: Sea Day

While I sprint through casinos with the speed of a cheetah on uppers, my husband and in-laws have spent a good deal of time there on this long sailing and have reported that it’s remained surprisingly uncrowned. That was until last night when almost no one could believe the incredible luck we had on our return trip through the Drake Passage, famous (infamous?) on YouTube for large puke-inducing swells and strong wind. The seas remained calm all day with almost no wind and all outdoor decks (including the wraparound promenade deck) stayed open.  So last night hordes flocked to the casino hoping to cash in on favorable luck.  Heck, I even tried my luck before losing a nickel and vowing never to do anything so reckless again. Lol.  

Anyway, before my devastating loss of the cost of 1/4000th of a cruise (which is how I measure every financial transaction), I attended two fascinating lectures given by our expedition (naturalist) team on continental drift and the natural history of the Falkland Islands (which we’re visiting next), ate every hour or so followed by a short promenade deck walk to justify eating again, and enjoyed a “Broadway Cabaret” performance in the Bliss Lounge by our production show cast.  

A photo of a screen in the main theater of the NCL Star with a slide projected that reads: Subarctic paradise, The Natural History of the Falkland Islands.

At 8pm, I was hit with an overwhelming craving for vegetable fried rice which, at home in Seattle would result in approximately $40 dollars in delivery fees plus the (exorbitant) cost of the actual rice.  But I just hit up Ginza for a full service meal of rice and tapioca pudding for a total cost of $0.  Oh cruising, how I love you.

Vegetable fried rice at Ginza on the Norwegian Star.

Our luck continued today as we anchored near Stanley in the Falkland Islands and tendered to town (this port is frequently missed due to wind and large swells) where we enjoyed partial sun, temperatures in the high 50’s/low 60’s, and no wind.  We paid $20 each to take a bus a few miles outside of Stanley to an area called “Gypsy Cove.”  There we split into two groups with H and I heading out on a small, less groomed trail to the right in search of an adventure.  We came across a wildlife warden who said she could grant us access to a vast, pristine white sand beach if we went through a process of sanitizing our shoes to prevent any contamination of the fragile ecosystem of the area.  

Once on the beach, which we had almost completely to ourselves, we spent hours running up and sliding down giant sand dunes, looking for interesting shells and bones and wildlife, making sand angels, and laughing and talking and running on the beach.  While it’s been wonderful having all the grandparents with us this year, I treasured some one-on-one time with my guy.

A young boy doing a "sand angel" on a beach at Gypsy Cove, Falkland Islands.

Later we met back up with Mr Cruise where we completed a loop trail around Gypsy Cove taking in sweeping vistas and observing dozens of penguins (including our first king penguin) and other sea birds.  We even spotted our ship in the distance and snapped some great photos of her.  

An overlook with views of a beach at Gypsy Cove, Falkland Islands.

But H’s favorite part of the day (and mine too if I’m being honest) was when a penguin waddled out from his burrow a few feet from us, looked right at us, then turned around to face his butt in our direction and projectile pooped before waddling right back into his burrow.  I feel that way about humans sometimes too, buddy!  

A penguin returning to a burrow.

It was another magical day, one many wouldn’t picture when thinking of cruising (it really IS possible to avoid crowded touristy areas, Diamonds International, and overpriced, poor quality excursions). Book a cruise and go on an adventure! 

Dinner. Here’s what our table for six looked like at Cagney’s (NCL’s steakhouse) tonight: three colossal porterhouse steaks next to two plates of all veggie sides (my son and I are vegetarians), and one petite filet.  It was sort of like a three bears situation: too much meat, too little meat, and one juuuuuust right.  I went harder than anyone for the towering chocolate cake though, lest you accuse me of being stodgy and healthy.  

We used three Platinum vouchers to pay for our meal (on NCL, those at the Platinum loyalty level and above get two free meals at specialty restaurants, with one including a complimentary bottle of wine).  It was a fabulous dinner all around, but I’d have keeled over dead had I been expected to pay retail for it (our total bill including the 3 bottles of wine came to nearly $800 and it was soooo satisfying to see it all zeroed out).  Here are photos of what we ordered:

Jumbo shrimp trio at Cagney's on the Norwegian Star.

Day 14: Sea Day

Forgive me for striking a more somber tone for today’s post, but life (and cruising) isn’t always puppies and apple pie (and buffet crepes and sunset promenade deck walks).  Yesterday I attended the last of the formal lectures presented by our expedition (naturalist) team.  The first one was about the race to the pole between Great Britain and Norway and included two teams consisting of audience members representing the two countries in a game of trivia.  It was light and informative and fun (puppies and apple pie).  The second lecture addressed melting ice and the effects on global animal and human populations and while not entirely void of hope, offered a stark picture of the future of this wildly beautiful and fragile place we all share, that connects us, that every human will pass down to future generations.  

A photo of a screen in the main theater of the NCL Star with a slide projected that reads: The Race to the Pole

Two things struck me.  First, how impactful travel can be (even cruise travel which many criticize as not being immersive enough) at transforming abstract concepts and places and problems and stories we read about in articles and see in images into something that deeply resonates with us – that we can’t ignore or downplay or justify.  We’ve breathed in the air, we’ve broken bread with the people, we’ve touched a place and been touched by it.   Now we feel like we have a stake in it, so we’re more likely to act in ways to protect it.  

And second, as I watched my son marvel at dozens of fin whales feeding on krill and penguins floating by on an iceberg and ice sheets that dwarf the skyscrapers we see from our windows in downtown Seattle, I ached wondering if he’ll have these same experiences with his own children and grandchildren or if, by then, it will all be gone.  But then I returned to hope.  Hope that we can be the best version of ourselves as humans.  That we can blur the many lines that divide us and come together to do the difficult, but possible work that needs to be done to save this place.  I cling to the hope that one day my son will put his arm around his grandchild as they watch in awe at the ice and the whales and the penguins that remain because our generation fought to protect the magic of this place, this wild, beautiful, fragile planet.  For us, but mostly for them. 

Dinner at O’Sheehans (complimentary 24 hour pub serving breakfast, lunch/dinner, and late night fare):

Caesar salad at O'Sheehans on the Norwegian Star.

Day 15: Sea Day

Today was our final “relaxing day at sea” and now that my kid has finally decided I’m not cool enough to hang with, it actually *was* relaxing.  I walked, I ate, I ate, I ate, I ate.  Then at 10am I attended a Q and A session with our expedition (naturalist team) where I was too chicken to ask what I really wanted to know: how can I score a gig as a cruise ship Antarctica naturalist with zero credentials or qualifications.  

A team of 4 scientists giving a lecture in front of a screen with a map of Antarctica on the NCL Star.

Thankfully mine was the only dumb question and it was a fascinating and entertaining session.  Kudos to NCL for bringing on such a brilliant and engaging team of scientists – they really added tremendously to the experience.

MDR dinner:

Pineapple and berries at the MDR on the NCL Star.

Note that, despite looking like a severed limb, the black cherry strudel with vanilla ice cream was delicious.

Today we took a 2 hour bike tour in our last port of call, Punta del Este, Uruguay (booked privately through Shore Excursions group).  At this point my body is like, “pick a season, woman!” Hot, literal ice sheets, and back to hot. Lol. We enjoyed our tour and the city, known as the Monte Carlo of South America, but because this was a tender port, we had to wait over an hour past our stated meeting time for everyone booked on the tour to arrive from the ship (we had priority due to our Platinum loyalty status, but those who used tender tickets had a much longer wait to get off).  My advice if you’re going to book a private tour in Punta del Este is to book something later in the morning or afternoon (ours was scheduled for 9am). 

Palm trees and a lighthouse in Punta del Este, Uruguay

Back to Buenos Aires tomorrow where we have a final tour and airport transfer booked through NCL, then home. Mr. Cruise is worried Henry (our dog) has forgotten him and is bringing him two South American beef sticks (like he’s going to inquire who or where they’re from before inhaling them). Ha!

Crepe station on the buffet of the NCL Star.

Day 17: Debarkation, Buenos Aires

Cry for me Argentina, the truth is I’ve left you. On our last day in South America, we visited many significant sights around Buenos Aires including La Recoleta Cemetery where Evita is buried (I find death terrifying, but death *rituals* fascinating).  

La Recoleta Cemetery

We also explored the colorful, artsy La Boca neighborhood which stood in contrast to the French architecture seen in much of the city.  

We booked this tour through NCL and it included a delicious buffet lunch with wine and an airport transfer.  While I normally avoid cruise ship excursions, this one was well worth the money (especially with the $50 excursion discount we received as part of our fare). 

Colorful buildings in the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

A photo of a positive Covid test.

A challenging final leg of air travel plus two positive Covid tests (Mr. Cruise and I – everyone else in our group is negative so far) appears to be the universe reminding me that spectacular days only exist because of the mundane and hard ones.  So after 16 spectacular days at sea, we’ll use this time in isolation to reflect, be grateful, and plan our next adventure!  

Norwegian Star Ship Tour

Here’s a comprehensive, fully narrated tour of the NCL Star (don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel):

A Brief Norwegian Star Review

If you prefer your ships like I prefer desserts (HUGE with lots of frosting and sprinkles), you might find the size and amenities on the Star lacking. However, I prefer smaller ships, so I found the Star suited me well (and even if it didn’t, this cruise was all about the itinerary and I’d book it again even if I hadn’t loved the ship).

Things I loved about the Norwegian Star:

  • Size and layout (with the exception deck 6 which was tricky to navigate due to one of the MDR’s being plopped down right in the middle of it).
  • Complimentary dining venues: We loved having O’Sheehan’s and Ginza onboard in addition to the MDR’s and buffet.
  • Food quality. There were some misses, but overall the food quality was quite good. We especially loved the made-to-order soup station, cheese board, crepes, and cobblers on the buffet and the hard ice cream available at Topsiders (or on the buffet when it’s too cold outside).
  • Lectures. I loved the lectures provided by our 4 person expedition/naturalist team. I wish every NCL sailing included this.
  • Good gym hours: 5am-9pm.
  • Promenade deck. The Star has a wraparound outdoor promenade deck (deck 7) which I enjoyed walking around to take in the views or work off 1/10,000th of the calories I consumed each day.
  • Arcade, sport court, golf cage, deck games. While my kid never attended the kid’s club, he loved using his arcade pass for unlimited arcade games and enjoyed the sport court, golf cage, and variety of deck games. He really missed having water slides (they were removed from the Star a few years ago), but there were enough other activities to mostly keep him entertained.

Things I didn’t love about the Norwegian Star:

  • Music in the atrium. Most of musicians who performed in the atrium were positioned on deck 8 above the coffee shop, meaning you couldn’t see them from the atrium. Why bother having live musicians if you can’t actually watch them?
  • No observation lounge. The Star does not have large forward facing observation lounge like most other NCL (and non-NCL) ships.
  • Hot gym. So many areas of the ship were chilly, but for some reason the gym (the one place you want chilly) was HOT.
  • Entertainment/activities. NCL continues to miss the mark when it comes to activities and entertainment on smaller ships (I love the broadway shows on the large ships). I’d say around 80% of activities were revenue-generating things like bingo, Deal or No Deal, or other events sponsored by the shops, spa, or casino that aren’t very interesting and are mostly designed to get you to buy stuff you don’t want or need. And for the first time ever, I didn’t attend a single evening show in the theater – I’d either seen the shows many times before or they just didn’t sound that great. A few nights there was just a movie shown in the theater (although there were no afternoon movies on sea days which would have actually been appreciated).
  • Only one pool shared by kids and adults. Ours was mostly a cool weather itinerary, but on the warm days the pool was VERY crowded with kids and adults.
  • Lack of food labels and limited vegetarian options. At this point NCL is the least vegetarian-friendly line I sail. Several restaurants don’t have a single vegetarian entree and lack of food labels at the buffet and several restaurants makes eating vegetarian (or gluten, dairy, or sugar free) challenging.
  • Very slow dinner service in the MDR.
  • Overworked cabin stewards and no turndown service. Our steward had so many cabins to clean, often ours wasn’t completed until well into the evening. He was extremely positive and friendly, but the level of service just wasn’t comparable to other lines (no evening turndown service, we asked for extra towels and never received them, etc).

More Information about the Excursions we Booked

For those who want more information about the exact excursions we booked, I have included the full name, description, and cost below. All were booked privately through Shore Excursions Group except for the last one in Buenos Aires which we booked through NCL and included an airport transfer. Note that we booked a 4 excursion package through Shore Excursions Group that included the first four tours below for $411 per person (I have also included the a la carte price for each tour).

December 23: Montevideo, Uruguay Highlights of Montevideo $50.00

Experience personal attention, away from the large group tours offered by the cruise lines, when you book the Highlights of Montevideo City tour. This comprehensive tour includes visiting the Old Town (Ciudad Vieja), Port Market, Parliament Palace and much more. 

Begin directly at the pier and board your comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle and be provided with excellent local, knowledgeable guides. The eclectic city of Montevideo is also the capital of Uruguay and the 8th city on the 2013 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index for Latin America. 

Your first stop is in the historic Old Town, where you can view beautiful buildings from colonial times. The old part of the town is held by Spanish military fortifications whose stone walls set the boundaries of the fortified San Felipe y Santiago city by the guarded fortress named Ciudadela. See also the Solis Theatre, The Cabildo, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Museo Torres Garcia and other museums. There are also many galleries, cafes and antique shops in the area. 

Next you will see Plaza Independencia (Independence Square) close to the city center. On this square you will see the statue and the Mausoleum of General Artigas, a Uruguayan national hero. Also view the Presidential offices, Palacio Estevez, Palacio Salvo and the Ciudadela Gate. Continuing you will see the Parliament Palace, inaugurated in 1925. The symbolism and neoclassical architectural style represents the democratic values of the country. 

From the Parliament area, you will take a scenic ride to Mercado Agricola Montevideo (MAM), one of the last iron-built markets in the Montevideo. What began as a humble fruit and vegetable stand in 1913 has since expanded twice into a shopping mall a city block in length offering a variety of goods. You will find today there are still vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2006 the building was refurbished and helped to revitalize the entire neighborhood. 

After your introduction to some of the history of Montevideo you will next travel to the Obelisco De Los Constituyentes. This bronze and granite obelisk was inaugurated in 1938 as a tribute to the writers of the nation’s first constitution, dating to 1830. The sculptor of this work of art is the famous Jose Luis Zorrilla de San Martin. 

Continue to the area named Parque Batlle, or Battle Park, where you can stroll through the largest public park and green space in the city. While here, pause at La Carreta, a stunning bronze monument depicting oxen pulling a covered wagon that was created in 1934 by Jose Belloni. Next to the monument you will also see the famous Estadio Centenario, the soccer stadium inaugurated in 1930 for the World Cup in which Uruguay was victorious. On July 18, 1983 it was declared by FIFA as a World Football Historical Monument, being the only construction of its kind in the world. 

Buceo neighborhood gives you the chance to see the naval combat of 1814 that was fought with the victory of Admiral Guillermo Brown that marked an important moment in the wars for independence for South America. You will be able to appreciate the building of the Damaso Antonio Larranaga Zoological Museum, known today as the Oceanographic Museum, built in 1925 with its Arab style that was originally built as Cafe Morisco. Later make your way to the beautiful sands of Pocitos Beach and pose for a photo at the Montevideo sign. Admire the picturesque view from here as you look upon Pocitos Bay. 

Conclude your tour traveling to the Punta Carretas neighborhood and make a stop at the 62-foot tall Punta Brava Lighthouse, also known as the Punta Carretas Lighthouse. If time allows you may be able to enter the lighthouse and climb to the top if you like. 

Make a stop for a brief look at the Port Market, (Mercado del Puerto) and admire the iron structure that was built in Liverpool. At present, this area is one of the most typical gastronomic centers of the city where locals and visitors can taste the delicious Uruguayan meat which is cooked on the big barbecues. A great number of artists also perform in the surrounding area turning the streets into large theaters. Return along the River Plate enjoying city views back to port area and your ship. 

December 25: Puerto Madryn, Argentina Exclusive Punta Tombo Penguins $179.00

A half-million Magellanic penguins are waiting for you in Punta Tombo, South America’s largest penguin colony.

This tour begins with a two-hour drive to the Punta Tombo peninsula in the Argentinean province of Chubut. There you will find hundreds of thousands of Magellanic penguins. The two-mile-long, 1,969-feet-wide peninsula is covered with sand, clay, and gravel.

Between September and April, a large number of Magellanic penguins come to this site to incubate their eggs and prepare their offspring for migration – the largest such colony in South America. Couples stand in front of their nests, protecting the eggs from birds and other predators, and occasionally one adult goes to the sea for food.

Other wildlife encountered in the area includes sea birds (mainly seagulls, chimangos and cormorants), rheas and guanacos.

As you walk along the trail inhabited by penguins on both sides, you will be able to observe the different phases of these birds’ lives. Because of the proximity of the path to the nests, visitors may enjoy and learn from the penguin behavior. The path has benches for visitors to be able to rest and enjoy the view in this isolated place, far from towns and free of human interventions in the landscape.

After this once-in-a-lifetime experience, the tour returns to Puerto Madryn and your ship.

Please note: The length of your stay at the Punta Tombo will be determined by the tour guide according to the ship’s sailing time and following the circulation policies imposed by the reserve administration (usually no more than 90-100 minutes per group).

December 27: Punta Arenas, Chile Exclusive Highlights of Punta Arenas $75.00

Punta Arenas in Chile is the first human settlement that has remained permanently in Austral Patagonia. Now that’s something truly special.

Discover the special charm of this extreme town, formed from the contribution of different cultures that left a deep impression full of rich history and traditions. Today, its citizens are primarily descendants of immigrants from Croatia, Spain, Italy, Germany, England and the Isle of Chiloe in southern Chile.

Punta Arenas (“Sandy Point”) is a commune and the capital city of Chile’s southernmost region, Magallanes and Antarctica Chilena, and has a population of just under 120,000. The city was officially renamed Magallanes in 1927, but in 1938 it was changed back to Punta Arenas. It is the largest city below the southern 46th parallel. Sitting by the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas was in the past indisputably considered the world’s southernmost city.

The Punta Arenas Highlights Tour will take you to Cerro Mirador, where you can get a panoramic view of the city and the strait. You will also visit the ãoz Gamero Square, surrounded by mansions from the times of the great cattle traders, and the Magellan Monument, represented with a group of natives (Onas) surrounding it on its base.

You will also have the opportunity to visit the Maggiorino Borgatello Museum. Founded by Salesian missionaries, the museum provides a comprehensive overview of the region’s history, flora and fauna, and the habitat of its indigenous people.

The Punta Arenas tour concludes with a stop on the main square before returning to the port and your ship.

December 28: Ushuaia, Argentina Tierra del Fuego National Park $129.00

Inside Tierra del Fuego National Park, you’ll discover the beautiful rivers, peat bogs, and animals that call Panoramic Point, Lago Roca Lake, and Lapataia Bay home. Book this Ushuaia tour of Tierra del Fuego now for an informative and scenic adventure at a low price.

After a ten-mile drive west of Ushuaia, your professional guide will lead you across the valley from the Pipo River, arriving at Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) National Park. This 150,000-acre park, established in 1960, extends from the Beagle Channel in the south, along the Chilean border, to Lago Fagnano Lake in the north.

While the vast majority of the park is virtually untouched, there are sections of the forest that were exposed to fire in the past. Today, these sections appear almost ghost-like in contrast against the backdrop of lush green vegetation.

You’ll see Panoramic Point, Lago Roca lake, and Lapataia Bay, which remain in the same state when observed in 1833 by explorer Charles Darwin aboard the British ship HMS Beagle.

December 29: Ushuaia, Argentina Beagle Channel by Catamaran $69.00

A well-equipped catamaran navigates picturesque Beagle Channel with you and other fortunate guests. Passing Isla de Los Pajaros (Bird Island), you’ll see various species of water birds. The catamaran will then cruise around Isla de Los Lobos (Sea Wolves Island), home to a large number of seals and sea lions. Book this Ushuaia tour now for an incredible Argentine experience at a low price.

The waterways of the Beagle Channel form a strait in the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago. An English-speaking guide will narrate the adventure as your licensed captain sails along to the Bird Island. This Provincial Reserve protects various species of water birds of high biological value, namely the Black-browed Albatross, Steam Ducks, and Gray Gaviotas.

As stunning rock formations and mountain peaks loom in the background, you’ll cruise on to Sea Wolves Island, a stone outcrop home to a huge number of seals and sea lions, which can be seen hunting, playing, and resting.

While temperatures can be low during this quest, the catamaran is equipped with an enclosed area for your viewing pleasure. Book this Tierra del Fuego tour now for your next great shore excursion.

January 6: Punta del Este, Uruguay Bike Punta del Este $65.00

Take this Uruguay, Punta del Este guided bicycle tour and you’ll agree: few places can boast the beauty, natural and man-made, that Punta del Este offers.

Few resorts in South America rival Punta del Este for glamour. It might be geographically located in Uruguay, but it’s where the glitterati and elite of Buenos Aires make their homes for the summer. This beautiful Uruguayan resort area has become an exquisite place to see.

On this tour you will enjoy a bike ride on flat areas that demand a low level of strength. Your guide will provide you with all the necessary equipment, including reflective vests for your safety. You will be guided along safe paths and visit Mansa Beach, where sea lions can be observed. You will also see the city’s symbolic lighthouse, which dates back to 1860. The lighthouse is 147 feet tall, and the crystal panels that are part of its illumination system were brought from France.

Another highlight of the tour is the church Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria, a beautiful sky-blue and white Victorian structure.

Other points of interest are: the Four Seas point, Punta Salina (where the famous and only navy battle of River Plate between German and British ships took place), English beach, Emir beach, Punta Vapor (where the first mass was held in 1516), and the famous monument known as “The Hand.”

Guests will be able to stop along the way at every attraction to allow for photo opportunities. Punta del Este’s charm, nature, well-kept gardens adorned with colorful flowers, and the Atlantic Ocean’s beautiful sandy beaches make it a perfect location for a smooth bike ride.

Please Note: This tour operates rain or shine; except in cases where a yellow alert/thunderstorm warning is issued.

January 6: Punta del Este, Uruguay Punta del Este Highlights $55.00

The picturesque seaside city of Punta del Este in the Maldonado Department is fast becoming the Monte Carlo of South America.

Make like a local as you experience every corner of this majestic area, from its sandy beaches to busy city streets. Head to the 45-meter-high lighthouse, built in 1860 with volcanic sand from Rome.

Stroll past upscale shops and restaurants along the famed Avenida Gorlero and peruse the local handicrafts while at Plaza Artigas.

You’ll go across La Barra Bridge and experience the sensation of driving over the famous wave-like bridges. Created by Leonel Viera in 1965, this bridge served to expand the area of Punta del Este and helped pioneer the design of concrete segment bridges of this kind.

On this tour you will also see gleaming yachts at the Port, Brava Beach coast, stunning homes of the rich and famous in residential districts as San Rafael, the romantic Hotel L-Auberge, Beverly Hills, the iconic Casa Pueblo and Carlos Paez Vilaro Museum, and much more including the iconic La Mano sculpture. Throughout your journey your guide will share the history and culture of this popular tourist destination.

January 7: Buenos Aires Buenos Aires Highlights With Transfer (booked through NCL) $119

This tour is a great option for those with flights after 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. who wish to gain a greater understanding of Argentina’s wonderfully cultured capital by visiting a range of neighborhoods and landmarks before being dropped at the airport. 

After departing from the pier, you will head to Recoleta & Palermo to drive around these unique residential neighborhoods while learning about the Porteño’s lifestyle from your local guide. 

Next, you will visit Plaza de Mayo, arguably the country’s most famous square. Its name refers to the revolution that began nearby in May 1810 and led to Argentina’s independence from Spain. Some of the surrounding buildings are just as celebrated, including the salmon-colored executive mansion known as Casa Rosado. You will also see the glorious Metropolitan Cathedral, which is adorned with frescoes and elaborate artwork. 

Then, it’s on to the neighborhood La Boca where you can stroll along El Caminito, a cobblestone street full of expressive brightly colored buildings. La Boca, meaning “the mouth,” was the site of city’s first harbor at the mouth of the Riachuelo River. Some claim the tango originated here around 1870, and tango dancers are often seen performing impromptu in the streets. 

Finally, a traditional Argentine lunch at the Puerto Madero waterfront awaits you, after which you will transfer to the Ezeiza International Airport for your flight home. Arrival at the airport is approximately 2:00 p.m. 

And with that…

Class Dismissed!

Homework (10 points): Ask any questions you have about this itinerary or the Norwegian Star to the comments. OR share any experience you have with either.

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12 Responses

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Thanks so much for the report. Plan to keep checking NCl to see if they will offer it again in 2024 as this is a must see for us. Much appreciated.

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So glad I found your post! We sail on Star 2/18. You’ve answered so many of my questions! But I have a couple more! We sail the Chilean Fjords after leaving Punta Arenas (assuming we are the lucky ones and don’t have it cancelled!). All aboard is 4pm. How long will we want to be sightseeing the Fjords? When you sail Paradise Bay how long we will want to be sightseeing…does it last into dinner? It sounded like when we will want to be sightseeing Elephant Island it will just be in the afternoon, correct? Is it mostly over by dinner? Thank you so much!

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Hi Christine!

I’m so excited for you! This was among my favorite cruises ever and I hope it is for you too. I wasn’t all that impressed with what we saw of the Chilean Fjords and you definitely won’t miss much if you eat dinner during the time you’re sailing through them. Paradise Bay was all day, but was over by dinner. Elephant Island was in the afternoon and also over by dinner. We eat early and never missed anything due to dinner. Have the best cruise! Please report back with how you liked it!

You obviously picked up on my Dinner Theme! haha. We have specialty restaurants booked and I was worried that we wouldn’t want to eat while there was important sightseeing to be done! I read a post somewhere that mosquitos were terrible! Did you find that to be the case?

Yes! But only in Buenos Aires on debarkation day. We didn’t notice them anywhere else. Definitely pack some bug wipes.

Will d! Thank you!

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Hi! Are most of the tours you mentioned walking tours? My sister can’t walk much, so I’m wondering.

The penguin tour required about a mile of total walking, so that one probably wouldn’t be ideal (although you’re on your own and can walk as much or little of the path as you wish – my mom has a bad hip and walked the whole thing). All the other “highlights” and city tours would be just fine. There wasn’t much walking at the stops and some people didn’t get off the bus at all and still enjoyed the tours. Have a fantastic cruise!

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This is so exciting, I am thinking of going next year. Were you able to land on Elephant Island? It sounds so wonderful .

No, the larger cruise ships just do “sail arounds” in Antarctica. You’d have to go with one of the smaller expedition ships for a “feet on the ground” experience on Elephant Island. It was still a pretty incredible though! Highly recommended!

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About Prof. Cruise

norwegian antarctica cruise review

Given name Sarah, but also answers to Prof. Cruise. Retired after 10 years as a college professor to focus full-time on her primary research interest: travel. With a concentration in cruising.  Home port: Seattle.  Mom of a shaggy-haired dog and a shaggy-haired human.  Lover of books and dessert.  Fancies herself a bit of a comedian – you’ve been warned.

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norwegian antarctica cruise review

By alanstarr , March 2, 2023 in Norwegian Cruise Line

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" Thank you for sharing your review with everyone at Cruise Critic. Please consider submitting it to the site for publication as well: Click: Write a Review on any page! "

alanstarr was awarded the badge 'Great Review'

Never done an official review of a cruise before, but thought I’d at least post some random thoughts, as there’s not much info here about the Star and Antarctica.

OVERALL – It was an amazing trip. We were blessed with great weather almost throughout the entire two weeks. Got the “Drake lake” instead of the “Drake shake” both ways. Our first day cruising the Peninsula, there was 100km visibility and we could actually see the continent itself. We did have to skip the Falklands because of rough seas for tendering, but that really didn’t diminish the overall cruise for me.

SERVICE – I know there have been lots of complaints about service onboard some ships lately. That was certainly not the case here. From top to bottom, all the crew seemed to be in good moods and happy to serve. There was almost no waiting at any bar or restaurant, despite the fact the cruise was sold out. Cabin stewards still did turndown service. Other than a crowded buffet at times, there were no real crowding issues.

FOOD – I mostly did the buffet, along with 2 MDR dinners and 4 specialty restaurants. I do feel like the buffet food is down just a notch from previous cruises. Some of the dishes that contain chicken or pork were really overcooked. The prime rib was pretty inedible. But for the most part, everything was okay, about the level of a mall food court or a low-level chain restaurant. Of course, everyone has their favorites; as often mentioned, Indian dishes are always a great option. They often had noodle soups available, great to warm you up on those chilly days. And I happen to really like their chicken salad for some reason. 

As far as specialty restaurants go, La Cucina continues to be my favorite. Love the Bolognese lasagna and their filet. Cagney’s was also good as usual. Ginzu sushi continues to be okay, but not great. It really should be better, given the level that its supposed to be. Moderno was very good, although I had to specifically request the two filet mignon dishes, they never came around in my first hour of eating. (Cost cutting, or just bad timing on my part? Dunno.)

ENTERTAINMENT – As always, a mixed bag, based largely on personal preferences. I absolutely loved “Paradis”, fantastic show. “What The World Needs Now” was enjoyable; Burt Bacharach had just passed away that week, so it was especially apt. “Band On The Run” didn’t do much for me, but in general I’m not a fan of jukebox musicals. The tango/gaucho troupe were VERY good. The ballroom dancing pair were also good, but not my cup of tea. A couple singers and a magic act filled out the bills, all were talented but a bit unremarkable. No comedians.

INTERNET – As usual, it was pretty bad. Loading the free CC pages could take 5-10 minutes. But I’ve come to expect it now. I had 300 free minutes, which I parsed out on sea days just to check emails and FB. 

CABIN – I had a 5502, which is a porthole OV at the front of the boat. First time cruising where I didn’t have a balcony. I was worried about that a bit, as I spend a lot of time on my balcony usually. But given the weather conditions most days, I don’t feel like I missed out on much. I found a nice little nook up at H2O, where you’re outside but protected from the wind, and spent many hours there. Room itself felt a little bigger than I expected, thought I would feel cramped. As a solo traveler, I had the bed pushed against one of the walls, and that helped out. There was only one night with rough seas that was problem in being up front – not the rocking, which doesn’t bother me. But the loud banging as the ship hit the waves was incredibly disruptive, and I actually used earplugs to sleep for the first time in my life. But it was just that one night, otherwise it was fine.

LECTURERS – We had three folks onboard who rotated giving various talks twice on every sea day, always on a different topic. Torre was a biologist who talked about wildlife, Joe was a geologist, and Liam a historian. Torre and Joe were fantastic! Liam was just okay – it was like he was just reading a book report most of the time. I commented that Joe took a boring subject (rocks) and made it really interesting, while Liam took an exciting topic (mostly Shackleton) and made it boring. Having these talks onboard was really special, and it really enhanced the entire experience of the cruise.

EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION – Getting on was a breeze, I had a later boarding time (3pm), and had minimal wait. Getting off took about 30 minutes of standing in line; not horrible, but a little annoying. I was self-assist both times.  

Didn’t use the gym or spa, so I can’t comment on those. And I’m not a gambler, so never visited the casino.   

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bluesea777

Thanks for the review. Any photos, please?

3,000+ Club

On the same cruise and, up until the last minute cancellation at Stanley, it was easily working toward being one on the greatest cruises of all time! (was actually in the theater, excursion ticket in hand, sticker on my shirt when the announcement came...so sad!). But still a fantastic cruise, for reasons already given.

Buenos Aires airport and port, for future cruisers, are a little different. There is a port shuttle to/from the ship, no walking in the port- a real consideration if you plan to carry your luggage. If  you are taking a NCL post-cruise excursion or using the airport transfer, they take your checked bags directly to the airport and you pick them up there, not the port.

If you are flying out the evening your cruise ends, beware!  The Gaucho post cruise excursion gets to the airport about 5 pm - 7 full buses, some 300+ people all trying to check in at the same time. And the AA windows weren't open yet as flights didn't leave until 9 or later. And for some reason, we weren't allowed to take liquids on the plane - even water bought after going through security.  They actually searched everyone's carryon at the gate.

And if you want the Gaucho post-cruise excursion, book early - heard there were 40 people on the waiting list!  Venue is large but limited - maybe 300-350 people.

31 minutes ago, bluesea777 said: Thanks for the review. Any photos, please?    

Room5502.thumb.jpg.670e0d5b6e76653d01fd5c5f84fc2358.jpg

Photos of Antarctica, etc. We have been on the Star twice.  😉

ushuaia.thumb.jpg.de617e3ab16f903fab9ae0e4d98d7a3d.jpg

Admiralty Bay quick panorama

Straight of Magellan quick panorama 

One day we saw over 100 whales! (Verified by two different counts!)

1 hour ago, julig22 said: And for some reason, we weren't allowed to take liquids on the plane - even water bought after going through security.  They actually searched everyone's carryon at the gate.

I have had that happen at a couple of different international airports when flying back to the US - I think it depends a bit on how secure the airline (and maybe TSA) feels the airport really is, or what the policy is for that country - it is possible they would have allowed liquid through the main security if it is not restricted on flights within the country/region. So if the US policy is more strict, they need to do a second check.

Turtles06

Thanks for taking the time to post a review, and share your lovely photos!  I'm sorry you missed the Falklands, but glad you still had a great trip. 

3 hours ago, alanstarr said: Got the “Drake lake” instead of the “Drake shake” both ways.

Ah, too bad.  You missed this (which I enjoyed, but I realize is not fun for most people):

DrakePassage2-6-13whiteout.thumb.jpg.993dcd94b9c260bd052438f95c224bf7.jpg

  • 3 weeks later...

We are doing the Scandinavian cruise on the Star in May. I've read such bad reviews on the ship everywhere.  Is it really looking as worn as I've read?

  • 4 months later...

ziggyuk

Hi   @alanstarr  thanks for the review we are doing this trip in January 2024, I was wondering if the Lecturers (Torre, Joe & Liam) you mention were official NCL lectures?

1 hour ago, ziggyuk said: Hi   @alanstarr  thanks for the review we are doing this trip in January 2024, I was wondering if the Lecturers (Torre, Joe & Liam) you mention were official NCL lectures?

Pretty sure they were independent. A couple seemed to be there for the season, but I think my cruise was Liam's first time. 

2 minutes ago, alanstarr said:   Pretty sure they were independent. A couple seemed to be there for the season, but I think my cruise was Liam's first time. 

Thank you, good to hear, I have not experienced this on NCL with the exception of a ranger in Glacier Bay Alaska, looking forward to it  🤩

Starlight Durban Cruising

Starlight Durban Cruising

For this cruise, what sort of "winter-Arctic" clothing did you take and use . We're booked for Feb 2025.

5 hours ago, Starlight Durban Cruising said: For this cruise, what sort of "winter-Arctic" clothing did you take and use . We're booked for Feb 2025.  

I'm hardly the one to ask about fashion advice! But I guess my best advice would be "layers". The biggest issue is that in Buenos Aires, there was a heat wave and it was in the 90's, so you have to pack for everything. One the days I wanted to spend a lot of time outdoors, I would just double-up on socks and thermal shirts, plus wear good gloves/hat. 

I found a nice hidden spot at the back of the ship in Spice H2O, right near the gym exit. It was protected from the wind, and you could still do lots of sightseeing through the windows from there without freezing, even when raining.   

  • 3 months later...

I will speak to some of this, as we were on the same cruise.  The staff was amazing.  While we have had a couple of NCL's this year where the service is lacking due to staff:customer ratios, this was not the case on the Star and Antarctica.   In terms of clothing - we brought way more than we needed.  We could have easily taken only half.  And this is from a FLA gal who does not like it below 70*.  The ship itself is well insulated.  So the only need for outer clothing layers is for the excursions and walking out on deck.  Although the 1st day of Elephant Island, they served hot cocoa and churros up on the pool deck.  My husband only wore a single long-sleeved shirt with a winter vest on most of our days outside.   Keep in mind that Buenos Aries will be having summer, so plan for 80* on the beginning and end days.  And do take the time to stay a few days before and after if your schedule allows.  There is so much we want to go back to Argentina for now.  After all you are flying so far and just skipping a lovely portion of the trip. In terms of 'being worn' we did not find that to be the case.  It was refurbished in 2021.   I hope that helps and have a great time!  

  • 1 month later...

EldaJ

Hi … I am going on this trip in a couple of weeks . I was wondering if you needed taller waterproof boots to disembark from the zodiac , trying to keep the suitcase to the minimum ( not my forte ) .

52 minutes ago, EldaJ said: Hi … I am going on this trip in a couple of weeks . I was wondering if you needed taller waterproof boots to disembark from the zodiac , trying to keep the suitcase to the minimum ( not my forte ) . Thanks 

Might want to be a little more specific as to what excursion you are taking?  I sincerely hope you aren't thinking you'll take a zodiac to land in Antarctica?

In general, most excursion operators provide boots, dry suits, rain gear as needed.

Thanks .. lol . was thinking side trips 

On 1/19/2024 at 2:38 PM, EldaJ said: Thanks .. lol . was thinking side trips 

Well, this boat goes to the waters of Antarctica, it does not allow you to walk upon the land of the continent.  The excursions will all be in either Stanley Falkland Is (*which we missed due to bad weather*) or South America.  Half of which were docks.  The tenders were large and there was no need for extra gear.

Oh thank you for that info . Exactly what I wanted to know . 

According to Cruise Hive, this year's cruise, leaving in a few weeks, just changed the hours in port on every day and changed which day they would hit the Falklands.  No reason was given.

mking8288

That article came up in one of my news feed/alert 3 days ago - link here so others do not have to search for it 

https://www.cruisehive.com/norwegian-adjusts-every-port-of-call-on-upcoming-cruise/122744

Reasons given - unfortunately, at times modifications are made to optimize the itinerary or to accommodate certain circumstances,” to enhance the guest experience, the itinerary has been revised.” "with the time in every port of call adjusted."  

to "sail and sustain" for one's (in)convenience.

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Travel Addicts Life

Review: Cruise to Antarctica and South America

Have you been considering a cruise to South America or Antarctica, or both?  In this review, we go on to describe our entire trip that we call a “ trip of a lifetime. ” Notably, we started planning for this incredible cruise almost two years prior.  We were onboard the Island Princess in May of 2018 when we heard that Princess cruises were introducing Antarctica in their South American itineraries for the first time in nearly ten years. No surprise, but we booked this cruise right away.

The itinerary was quite intriguing, with the right mix of ports of call in South America.  Additionally, there were to be four scenic cruising days in Antarctica.  Our departure date, January 5th, 2020.

Protests and Riots in Santiago de Chile

Santiago de Chile would be our starting point.  To be sure, we would be embarking on the Coral Princess cruise ship in San Antonio, about 90 minutes from Santiago.  Unfortunately, Santiago offered us some minor discomfort a couple of months before our departure.  For example, significant protests started to become more and more common in the city.  Additionally, the President said they were at “War.” Further, a state of emergency was declared, and a curfew imposed .

Naturally, we monitored the situation in Santiago carefully and begun to take precautions.  For example, we immediately booked a backup hotel, by the airport, just in case our downtown location was becoming unsafe.  For sure, it ended up being a good idea as the price of the hotel at the airport eventually quadrupled closer to the cruise date.

Our Poor Hotel, Ransacked

Then, just before Christmas, we heard our hotel, The Crowne Plaza in downtown Santiago, was shut down because protesters practically destroyed it.  It was just our luck as the hotel was literally in “ground zero” of the protest.  As a result, we had to make a booking at another hotel in a different location, just outside downtown.  This new hotel proved to be in a much quieter and safer area.

Crowne Plaza Destroyed by Protesters in Santiago - January, 2019 - Hopefully not an omen on our cruise to Antarctica and South America

What Should We Pack for our Cruise to South America and Antarctica?

First things first: A cruise to South America is pretty standard.  But, a cruise to both South America AND Antarctica is highly unusual.  To be sure, the Coral Princess’ route the Antarctic Peninsula occurred only three times of the 2019-2020 season.  Additionally, considering the weather in Santiago and Buenos Aires would be 30C (86F) and Antarctica 0C (32F), we were faced with our first problem: what should we bring?  For example, what kind of clothes would we need?  We were practically traveling from the beautiful warm summer of Santiago de Chile to the freezing icy cold weather of the Antarctica Peninsula and back to heat.

I usually found packing for a cruise effortless, not this time.  Indeed, we ended up bringing almost every single piece of clothes we have, and then some!

Flight to Santiago De Chile

After almost two years of planning, we boarded our 14.5-hour flight from Paris to Santiago De Chile!  The excitement was high!  And, there’s no better way to start a trip of a lifetime than on an Air France (787-9) Dreamliner, with Champagne in hand!  Cheers!

On the Plane

We arrived in Santiago around 9 pm, exhausted after such a long flight.  We try to find flight itineraries that get us to our destination in the evening, as it helps us avoid jet lag!

Our shuttle waited for us, and promptly took us and our bags to the hotel.  In no time, we went to bed, knowing we’d be ready for our new adventure to begin the morning after.

The Next Morning: Free Walking Tour in Santiago

In the morning, we were happy to meet our friends from Canada in the lobby and immediately started to explore the city.

We discovered that some volunteers were organizing a free walking tour of the city, and we decided to take it.  To be sure, it was an excellent tour.  The guide took us to all the famous monuments in the city, giving us some history and tips about what we were seeing. Our guide was both personable and knowledgeable, and we were able to see almost all downtown in four hours.

The tour included a stop for lunch in a friendly and hip part of town where we had the best beef empanada ever!

Unfortunately, the signs of the recent protests were everywhere. The city got covered in graffiti, and in some areas, you could still smell and feel the effects of the tear gas.

A church in Santiago - a few days before our Cruise to Antarctica

We enjoyed our walking tour, and we thought that our tour guide deserved a tip for his work. Overall the city was quite lovely and the people very friendly. We never felt unsafe during our tour.

The Morning After – Embarkation Day!

The morning after, our driver took us to the port of San Antonio for the embarkation on our cruise ship, the Coral Princess.  Notably, we were surprised at how much colder it was in San Antonio, Chile –  just 150km west of Santiago.

Day 1: Embarking on our Cruise to Antarctica & South America

Embarkation day on our cruise to Antarctica and South America

A Little About the Coral Princess

The Coral Princess and her sister ship, the Island Princess, got built to be able to transit the old locks of the Panama Canal.  As a result, the ship is narrow and long.  The Coral can accommodate up to 2000 guests and 895 crew, as per Princess’s website. Princess states that Medallion is scheduled for completion on the Coral in Oct 2020.

I look forward to giving it a try on the new Enchanted Princess this summer (At the time of this writing, the Enchanted Princess is still a few months away from inauguration).

Coral Princess in Ushuaia - On Our Cruise to South America and Antarctica

Embarkation was both comfortable and efficient.

Our Cabin B520 on The Coral Princess Cruise Ship – Taking us to South America and Antarctica

In no time, we had arrived in our cabin, B520, on the Coral Princess cruise ship.

Princess Cruises Balcony Cabin

Unfortunately, after the safety drill, the Captain announced our departure would be delayed 24 hours due to a refueling problem.  Additionally, a dramatic storm in the west would require that our itinerary be modified.  As a result, the port of Punta Arenas got canceled, and we’d move on.  Further, the Captain informed us that they were monitoring the storm and making adjustments to the itinerary to keep us both safe and comfortable on our cruise to Antarctica and South America.

To be sure, there were a few passengers who were upset about skipping Punta Arenas.  You see, Punta Arenas was the hub for the flight into the Antarctic Peninsula.  As a result of the cancellation, these passengers were not able to set foot on Antarctica as they had hoped.  Rick and I didn’t mind as we were told by someone who had previously visited that there wasn’t much to see.  To be sure, we felt that safety was more important.

Day 2: Still in the Port of San Antonio, Chile

While we were warned of potentially rough-seas on this cruise to Antarctica and South America, mainly through the Drake passage, we spent the first evening in port.  The running joke of the ship was that we had very smooth sailing last night.  We hadn’t moved an inch!

Many passengers chose to take advantage of the additional day in San Antonio and proceeded to take some local excursions.  Rick and I, however, decided to stay on board and explore the ship.

Some Photos Inside the Coral Princess

Rick and Andrea at the Martini Event on the Cruise to South America

The following afternoon we finally set sail and started our adventure.

Toward the evening, our Captain announced that the storm was getting more prominent with waves up to 8 meters high, and for that reason, they made further adjustments to our itinerary.  They decided to stop in the city of Puerto Montt, Chile, and cut our scenic cruise of Antarctica one day shorter.

Itineray

Day 5: First Stop on our Cruise to Antarctica – Puerto Montt

Our first sea days toward Puerto Montt were quite rough.  Indeed, we saw some rather big waves. To be sure though, not as big as the one that we would have experienced had there been no adjustments to the itinerary not have been made.  Then, by the afternoon of the second sea day, we finally entered the sheltered water of the bay of Puerto Montt.  Finally, it was relieving to have calm seas once again.

Puerto Montt Bay

We decided to take a tour in Puerto Montt to the Osorno Volcano and the town of Puerto Varas. Unfortunately, the excursion was not very pleasant due to the torrential rain. We were not able to see the volcano at all.  Further, the temperature felt something like -5C.  To be sure, it was freezing and damp.  After, our bus stopped at the Petrohué Waterfalls.  Unfortunately, the rain was heavy, and we were not able to enjoy much of the excursion.

Our tour guide said Puerto Montt gets 300 days of rain.  Certainly, and in our opinion, this excursion should either have been canceled due to the weather. Alternatively, someone could have offered the passengers some umbrellas.

Osorno Volcano on our first Port: Puerto Montt on our Cruise to Antarctica

Day 7: Breathtaking Strait of Magellan

After leaving Puerto Montt, we had another rough day at sea before entering the sheltered water of the Strait of Magellan .  Indeed, this was an incredible sight.  For example, the mountain peaks of the Andes , most of the covered by massive glaciers, were creating deep fjords.  To be sure, I have to admit it was a beautiful sailing, and it reminded me of the Inside Passage in the Pacific Northwest.

Unfortunately, many of the peaks got covered by clouds.  Additionally, navigating in the strait was incredibly smooth, and it was delightful after being in very rough seas for so long.

Albatros flying in the Strait of Magellan

In the afternoon, our Captain gave us a very informative lecture about the Antarctica portion of our cruise. Then, during the talk, he showed us our revised itinerary and what we were about to see. Also, he informed us that sailing the infamous Drake Passage was going to be smooth … on the way down!  Unfortunately, no such assurances were made for the portion of the cruise back to South America (Falklands & Montevideo).

Day 8: The Charming Town of Ushuaia – The Last Stop Before Reaching Antarctica on Our Cruise

The following morning we woke up in the Argentian town of Ushuaia .  Indeed, Ushuaia was our last port of call on the West side of South America before cruising to Antarctica.

We disembarked first thing in the morning and proceeded to take a nice walk in town.  Also, we reserved an excursion for later in the afternoon to “the end of the world.”

Ushuaia is the capital of the “La Tierra Del Fuego” district.  Also, in the past, Ushuaia was used as a penal colony.  Then, the prison closed in 1947. Nowadays, the prision has a new life as a museum.

Walking in the streets of Ushuaia is both pleasant and exciting.  Moreover, it reminded me of walking in Juneau, Alaska.

A shipwreck in Ushuaia

Excursion to the End of The World

Then, later in the afternoon, we took the excursion to the “end of the world.”  Interestingly, we took the road that was built by inmates.  Notably, it’s the southern tip of the Pan-America Highway . This incredibly long road starts in Prudhoe Bay Alaska and ends 30,000km later in Ushuaia, Argentina.

During our excursion, we entered the “ Tierra del Fuego” National Park.   Here, we stopped several times to see some incredible mountain peaks, beautiful bays, and many birds.

Our excursion to the end of the world

We absolutely enjoyed Ushuaia and the National Park.  Indeed, it was a great stop before the five sea days ahead of us.  Time to brush on up on what to do on sea days!

Leaving Ushuaia

Day 9: Cruising around Cape Horn – And Down to Antarctica

Early in the morning, the Captain woke us up, announcing that we were approaching Cape Horn. And, due to the pleasant sea conditions, we were able to get up close to it.   Then, we quickly ran to the top deck to have a good view of the southern tip of the South American Continent. I have to admit, sailing there really gave me a feeling of reaching the end of the world.

Cape Horn - Leaving South America on our Cruise to Antarctica

Bye Bye South America & Chilean Pilots

After sailing for about an hour around the cape, we dropped off our Chilean Pilot and entered the Drake Passage.  Excitingly, our cruise to Antarctica is now getting real!

Pilot leaving at Cape Horn - Now we cruise to Antarctica!

Here we were about to reach the peak of our adventure.  Surely, we were to be sailing the famous Drake Passage towards Antarctica.  Thankfully, the Captain mentioned the ocean would be smooth and the cruising pleasant, all the way down to the Antarctic Peninsula.  Contrastingly, no such warranty was made for the journey back to South America!

Drake Passage - Cruising to Antarctica

Entering the Antarctic Sea

The Captain announced that we would cross the 60th parallel, the limit of the Antarctica Treaty Waters, around 8 pm.  Then, around the same time, we would reach a point where the water temperature drops to 1 degree Celsius.  Indeed, that was the real gateway to Antarctica.

Google Map showing our current location Cruising to Antarctica

The excitement, at that point, was getting high.

Updated Antarctic Peninsula Route Plotted By The Cruise Ship

Our Itinerary through the Antarctic Peninsula

That evening, we received our final itinerary for cruising in Antarctica.

 Day 10: Entering Antarctica!  Finally!

We knew we were close to Antarctica because the air was freezing, dry, and we started seeing big chunks of ice floating in the ocean.  Excitingly, our ship was scheduled to enter the Neumayer Channel at noon.  So, we went for our usual walk around the ship.  To be sure, we could feel the excitement among fellow passengers.  Indeed, more people than usual were outside on the promenade looking to spot something.

I checked Google maps.  Wow, we were to reach the Antarctica Peninsula!  And, after two years of planning and preparations, Antarctica was in sight.

Getting close - Our cruise well in to the Antarctic sea

Around 11:30 am we spotted the first lonely iceberg! That was it. We made it to Antarctica!

The first Iceberg on our cruise to Antarctica

We rushed back to our cabin to get geared up and ready for Antarctica.  Then, at noon, we began to see some fantastic mountains covered by massive glaciers. Incredible peaks were poking out the clouds, and the deep blue ice was shining. Wow, what a sight!

Entering the Neumayer Channel on our Cruise to Antarctica

Cruising the Neumayer Channel

We started sailing the Neumayer Channel shortly after. This channel was stunning. We were sailing in this narrow channel surrounded by majestic mountains covered in thick layers of deep blue ice. The ship was moving very slowly, allowing us to soak in the beauty that was surrounding us. The wind was frigid, but we didn’t care. We were completely mesmerized by what we were seeing. I was taking hundreds and hundreds of photos having difficulties deciding what I wanted to photograph. Everything was so beautiful.  Being here felt like I was in another world.

Neumayer Channel

While sailing, we passed by a big penguin colony and observed a seal peacefully resting on a big chunk of ice.

Penguin Colony in the Neumayer Channel - Antarctica

Entering the Gerlache Straight

At the end of the channel, we entered the Gerlache Strait. This strait had incredibly calm water with low clouds and hundreds of icebergs of all sizes. The view was incredible. What mesmerized me the most was the deep silence of the area. Everything looked frozen, even the time. It’s an awkward feeling to describe, but I felt like I was outside our planet, somewhere I could only imagine existing in science fiction. Some of the icebergs had penguins on them just sitting there looking at our giant cruise ship passing by.

Antarctic Icebergs on board the Coral Princess

We saw a few whales swimming between icebergs calmly and serene.

A Whale on our cruise to Antarctica - by an iceberg

After leaving Gerlache Strait, we had a few hours before reaching our next stop Charlotte Bay. That allowed me to download the 2000 photos I took and recharge the battery of my camera. I was still mesmerized by the incredible beauty we saw in just a few hours in Antarctica.

Bonus: Best Cabin Type for Antarctica

Balcony Cabin on board the Coral Princess on our Cruise to Antarctica and South America

Picking the best cabin types on a sea-intensive cruise is crucial.  Certainly, a Cruise to Antarctica is certainly sea-intensive, and for these types of cruises, we recommend a balcony cabin.

By contrast, port-intensive cruises such as our recent 21 Day Mediterranean Cruise are different.  For example, generally, port-intensive cruises don’t necessarily require a balcony as you generally only cruise at night.

If you really want to be picky, we recommend Starboard side Balcony cabins on cruises from Santiago to Buenos Aires.  If your cruise to Antarctica or South America starts in Buenos Aires and ends in Santiago, then we recommend Portside balcony cabins for optimal viewing pleasure.

While we are on this topic, we would highly advise against inside/oceanview cabins on sea-intensive routes, in particular on Antarctica routes.  You will find that booking a balcony cabin allows you the best opportunity to see the amazing wildlife, icebergs and everything else that Antarctica has to offer.

Scenic Cruising: Charlotte Bay

Around 7 pm, we entered Charlotte Bay , our last destination for the first day in Antarctica.  In the bay, we had water as smooth as glass with majestic mountains in the background. The bay was full of icebergs of all sizes. Some of those icebergs were as big as three-story tall buildings. The icebergs featured deep blue colors both in and out of the sea. The feeling once again was of complete calm and serenity in these smooth waters. We were also able to see a few whales jumping out of the water and feeding.

Whales visible on our cruise in Charlotte Bay, Antarctica

We sailed in the bay for a few hours.  The sun was beginning to set on the horizon, and the sunset colors started to tint the sky. The ice looked even more surreal.

Cruising Charlotte bay Antarctica on the Coral Princess

Our first day in the Antarctica peninsula was almost over. We went to bed very excited and looking forward to another day in the magical continent.

We set the alarm clock for 6 am because, at that time, we were reaching our next destination Deception Island . Unfortunately, once we reached the island, the fog was thick, and the visibility was only a few meters. For that reason, the Captain decided to move on to our next destination.

Day 11: Scenic Cruising in Admiralty Bay

We were entering Admiralty bay around 1030am. On this island, we could see two important scientific bases in Antarctica, the new Brasilian base and the Polish base. The Captain announced that he was able to speak with the scientists in the Polish bay. Consequently, he invited them on board at noon for an interview.  The interview proved to be quite exciting.

After sailing very close to the brand new Brasilian Base, we reached the deepest part of the bay where some massive glaciers were ending in the ocean. The view was quite impressive. We sailed in the calm waters by the glaciers for sometime before approaching the Polish base, the Arctowski Station , to let the scientists on board.

Glaciers in Antartica - Admiralty Bay on our Cruise to Antarctica

The Polish Scientists Interview

The scientists came on board around lunchtime, and the Captain started his interview. It was quite fascinating to hear how the selection process is to became a scientist in the base. They stayed with us for about an hour than they left, and we were on our way to our next and final destination in Antarctica Elephant Island.

Scientists Leaving our cruise ship

A time-lapse video of us Cruising Admiralty Bay, Antarctica

Cruising By Elephant Island, Antarctica

Our cruise ship reached Elephant Island Antarctica around 7:30 pm.  To be sure, Elephant Island is famous for being the refuge of the Endurance Expedition in 1916.

By the time we reached the island, the sun was out and getting low on the horizon, coloring the sky of a beautiful orange. Indeed, Elephant Island is rocky and mountainous.  Also, it features some rather impressive glaciers.   Best of all, we sailed very close to it and got to see the island with a stunning sunset.  And as per usual, a few more icebergs were seen floating around.

Antartica - Elephant Island

Cruising by Elephant Island was bittersweet because we knew that our time in Antarctica was over and we were leaving that magical place.

After sunset, we were back in the Drake Passage sailing towards our next destination, the Falkland Islands. Unfortunately, the passage was not as smooth as we had on the way down. In fact, by lunchtime, the following day, the ocean was getting rough.

Day 12: Fun Day at Sea!

We had a lot of sea days on this cruise.  To be sure, it was no surprise.  But, we used the time wisely.  For example, we started putting together our memories of the trip as it was nearing the end.  Indeed, here are some photos of the fantastic crew who went out of their way to keep us both informed and incredibly comfortable.

Formal night - got to meet the Captain

Day 13: Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands: The first cruise port in South America after Antarctica

After a pretty rough day at sea, we finally arrived at Port Stanley, the principal town in the Falkland Islands . The view from our balcony was quite interesting. We could see the little village of Port Stanley with its colorful houses.

We decided to explore the town before our excursion to Bluff Cove Penguin Rockery in the afternoon. The city is very British, with the typical red phone booth, the Royal Mailboxes, and old England architecture. We enjoyed our walk. We stopped by the church, and we were able to have a friendly long chat about the Islands with the priest. At lunchtime, we had a typical British Pub lunch in a very typical pub.

Rick and Andrea by a British Telephone Booth in Stanley, Falkland Islands on our Cruise to South America

What’s the Best Part about our Cruise to South America?  The Penguin Excursion!

At 2 pm, we had our cruise penguin excursion planned. To be sure, the penguin excursion was one of the most fun excursions we have ever done! It started with a short bus ride from Port Stanley to the Bluff Cove Farm. From there we took 4 x 4 Rover to the beach. Once we arrived at the penguin rookery, we were mesmerized by the incredible number of Gentoos penguins . It was amazing seeing all those beautiful animals up close. The penguins have no fear of humans, and they were walking around us freely. There were a lot of baby penguins walking among the adults — or feeding on their parents. We saw a vast amount of King Penguins nesting, as well.

Bluff Cove Penguin Rookery, 4 by 4 drive on our Cruise to South America

After an hour with the penguins, we were served tea, delicious scones, and cakes before our trip back to Port Stanley.

Undoubtedly, today is one that I will never forget.

Day 15: Sea Day / Coral Princess Ship Tour

On the 15th day, we got invited to visit the different areas of the Coral Princess.  The tour was a delight and a big surprise.  Naturally, we thank those who are responsible for setting it up (You know who you are).

First, we got to visit the bridge, where one of the officers told us about the steering, navigation, and propulsion systems.  Then, the Master in Command, Capt. Todd McBain came out to tell us more about the ship and our cruise.

Then we went on to visit the Galley, where all the food gets made for the dining rooms.  Last, we got to visit the laundry facilities.  To be sure, the laundry section was the most fascinating to me as I had never seen it before.

On future sailings, I look forward to checking out the M1 and the Engine room, however, that might take a little extra work 🙂

Here are some photos from this day.

Rick Andrea and Capt Todd McBain on the Bridge of the Coral Princess - on our Cruise to Antarctica and South America

Day 16: Montevideo- Our 2nd to Last Top on our Cruise to South America & Antarctica

Our adventure was approaching the end. We sailed two more days before reaching the cute port town of Montevideo. By then, the sun was back in the sky, and the temperature was warming up quickly. We did not plan any excursion in Montevideo, but we decided to explore the city and enjoy it.

Photo of a Door in Montevideo - a port of call on our Cruise to Antarctica

The city is rather small but very nice. It has some great colonial architecture. People in Montevideo are very friendly and helpful. The highlight of the town was the Mercado del Puerto . This cute little market is full of restaurants with a large woodfire grill where several cuts of meat are grilling. The smell is intoxicating, and the food is delicious. We decided to have a nice lunch there, and we were thrilled we did.

Montevideo Uruguay Market

Unfortunately, it was time to start packing. Our adventure was almost over. We only had a short sail to Buenos Aires, and then it was time to disembark.

Day 17: The Final Stop on Our Cruise in South America – Buenos Aires

We disembarked in Buenos Aires around 9 am. The weather was warm but with a little rain. After checking in at the hotel, we decided to go out and explore the city.

Our hotel wasn’t too far from Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada .

Casa Rosada Buenos Aires on our Cruise to South America

Just 10 minutes of walking. In the same piazza, we took a good look at the Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires. The church where the Bishop Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, used to be.

Catedral Metropolitana on our Cruise to South America

We then hopped in a taxi to go to a restaurant that was recommended us by a friend.   The restaurant was just across the street from the famous Recoleta Cemetery. After lunch, we decided to have a look at it. Wow, the cemetery was not at all what I expected. The cemetery features ornate mausoleums with statues and columns. We walked to the most famous grave of all, the Eva Peron one.

Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires

Eva Peron Grave - on our Cruise to South America

It is quite an In the evening we decided to go for a drink in Plaza Dorrego. T is probably my favorite place in Buenos Aires. In this beautiful little piazza, friendly and calm, where it is possible to sit outside and have a drink while watching dancers dancing the Tango.

Tango in Buenos Aires - on our Cruise to South America

For dinner, we decided to go to the Puerto Madero area. Here, you will find the old port docks area that is now getting converted into an area with restaurants and nightlife. It is the perfect spot for a night stroll.

La Boca, Buenos Aires

The next morning, we visited the La Boca area of Buenos Aires. La Boca used to be the first port of Buenos Aires. La Boca got Neglected in the 1980s and 1990s. Then, it reinvented itself with extravagant explosions of kitsch. To be sure, nothing is sophisticated or subtle in La Boca: brightly painted walls, caricature figurines, papier-mache shop greeters, and gaudy graffiti scream in your face. Still, as a spectacle, it’s a treat. La Boca’s streets are a living, breathing performance art gallery for the 21st century. No one should leave Buenos Aires without this visual assault.

We walked at El Caminito La Boca’s most recognizable street, directly translates as “little walkway” and refers to an alley lined with the restored “conventillos” or colorfully painted tenements made of wood and corrugated zinc. Although the area has undoubtedly lost some of its authenticity (many say it has transformed into a tourist trap), it’s still worth visiting. Indeed, you’ll encounter elegant dancers tangoing to live music against a backdrop of local artists and stall owners hawking their wares.

La boca area - Buenos Aires

Palermo District & Plaza Dorrego

Umbrellas in Buenos Aires, our last stop on our cruise to south america and Antarctica

After spending the morning at La Boca, we ended up back in Plaza Dorrego for a cold beer and Tango viewing.

On our last night in Buenos Aires, we decided to go for dinner in the Palermo district. This area has some charming streets for a night walk full of restaurants and pubs.

Palermo District our last stop in buenos aires on our cruise to Antarctica and South America

The morning after, we had a few hours before going to the airport, and we decided to go for a walk to La Torre Monumental, the train station, and the Falkland war memorial. The area is very friendly and manicured, with a beautiful park perfect for a stroll.

Ficus Tree in Buenos Aires - on our Cruise to South America

That’s it our time in Buenos Aires was over, we had to make our way to the airport. Our incredible adventure was over.

Reflecting on our Cruise to Antarctica and South America

Overall, this was a fantastic adventure. For example, we saw some very unusual and magical places and met new friends and bonded with some old friends.  Surely, we had a great time both onboard and on land.  As usual, I was sad to leave the ship, but I am looking forward to our next adventure soon.  Finally, I want to especially thank our Master in Command, Captain Todd McBain for keeping us posted on a regular basis on what was going on with the cruise.  To be sure, it was the first time, for me, that a Captain was so detailed on everything that was related to our cruise.

-Happy Traveling

Rick and Andrea in front of an Iceberg on their Cruise to Antarctica

Andrea was born and raised in Northern Italy. At the age of 30, he moved to Vancouver Canada. Over the years he traveled extensively in North America, Europe, Central America, and Asia. He is passionate about traveling, cruising, and travel photography. He likes to write about his traveling and shows his travel photos.

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16 Comments

What a great blog! Excellent photos and well-written, entertaining and informative text. Thank you for sharing! In case you’re interested, I keep a photo blog of all my cruises, going back 30 years or so with different companies but nowadays pretty much always with Princess. I hope you like the photos. Cheers, Tim.

Thanks for your amazing review, myself and my husband did the cruise after you and were blown away by the wonderful weather and fantastic scenery

Hi Andrea, I love the penguins!. How much is this whole trip with the cruise?

Hello Jacky, It depends on what kind of cabin you pick, If you are ok with an inside cabin you can do the 16 days for as low as $3500

Thank you for the best review I have read in my 25 cruises with princess We will be boarding the coral on March 5 in santiago Chile ending in FLL We will not visit Antarctica on our cruise but we have a few more ports and Overnights Thanks agan……from Cranston, Rhode Island…USA

Great post! Thanks for sharing the details, pics, videos and insights!

Thanks for this review. I’ve had Antarctica on my list for years, and penguins are a must. I can’t use RIBs and so wondered what a non-landing Antarctic experience would be like. Your review ticks all my boxes, so maybe this coming winter for me:)

Hi Andrea Great blog! Thanks for sharing. We are booked on this cruise January 2021. When exactly did you travel? Thank you. We left Santiago on January 5th

Hi Karen, we left Santiago on January 5th arrived in Buenos Aires on January 21st.

Hi Andrea! Amazing trip and super helpful write up! I’m looking to book the same cruise and also be able to work from the ship on some sea days. Was wondering if you happened to use the wifi for things like streaming and video calls while you were on the boat and how your experience was? Brian

Hi Brian, thank you for your comment. We did use the wifi on board and it was ok. I was able to videocall, but it was a bit choppy. Unfortunately we have been back on another ship last August and the wifi was horrible. Andrea

What’s the difference between going with Princess Cruises vs regular expedition cruises that cost over $10,000 ?

Usually with the expedition cruises you are going with much smaller ships and you can actually get at shore in Antarctica.

So Princess doesn’t offer excursions that bring you to shore?

When we went, they only offered one from Puntarenas Chile, a plane ride to a base in Antarctica

Just wondering why you recommend a starboard side stateroom when cruising Santiago to Bueno Aires? I would think port side would be more scenic. Appreciate your thoughts.

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Is this the ultimate Antarctica cruise ship? Our take on Lindblad's new vessel

Gene Sloan

Editor's Note

I was about three days into a 10-night voyage to Antarctica on the new National Geographic Resolution when I began to understand just how special a vessel it was.

We were plowing through one of the thickest ice fields that I have ever experienced during a polar sailing. A sea of white surrounded us. And the Lindblad Expeditions ship was bumping through it like it didn't have a care in the world.

From an observation deck overlooking National Geographic Resolution's bow, I watched, mesmerized, as the 126-passenger vessel pushed aside giant slabs of ice with ease.

For more cruise guides, tips and news, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter.

Then the two-month-old ship did something even more awesome. It ran right into a seemingly endless sheet of snow-topped ice that stretched off to the horizon.

The vessel slowly ground to a halt, firmly embedded in the ice.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

A few passengers standing near me thought it might have been an accident. But it wasn't.

A few minutes later, a little door swung open at the front of the ship and out popped several of our expedition guides.

In a relatively rare and wonderful moment of Antarctica touring, we had made "landfall" on a sheet of fast ice — sea ice that is "fastened" to the coastline. Unlike drift (or pack) ice, fast ice doesn't move with currents and wind, and it is relatively stable.

Stable enough, it turns out, to walk on.

Soon our guides were calling for us to join them. Bundled up against the cold, we followed them out that little door to romp around in the thick snow that lay over the ice like a blanket.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

What followed was an hour-long celebration that included lots of selfie-taking, snow angel-making and a few impromptu snowball fights. Some passengers hiked a circular path stomped out in the snow by our guides. Others just gazed in awe at the larger-than-life scene all around: Snow, ice, glaciers and mountains as far as the eye could see.

Even for people like me who have traveled by ship through polar regions many times, it was a special moment — one made possible by the remarkable abilities of this new vessel.

A faster, more maneuverable ship

National Geographic Resolution is an expedition cruise ship — a type of cruise ship that is specifically designed for adventurous travel to remote, hard-to-reach places such as Antarctica. It's also a particularly hardy and versatile one.

Not every expedition cruise vessel is capable of pushing itself into fast ice in Antarctica to give passengers a chance to walk above the frozen sea. Those that are usually only do it early in the Antarctica cruise season, when fast ice is more plentiful.

Related: An untamed wilderness: Discovering the wild dreamscape of Antarctica

By late January, when I first arrived in Antarctica to test out National Geographic Resolution, the fast ice mostly had melted away in the northernmost areas of the Antarctic Peninsula that draw the bulk of Antarctica expedition vessels. To get us into the ice, the ship had to travel farther south than some expedition ships will go in Antarctica, to an ice-clogged waterway known as Lallemand Fjord.

Lallemand Fjord was so far south that we had to cross the Antarctic Circle — the latitude where the sun never sets at the height of the austral summer — to get there.

We only could do that, and get so deep into the ice, because National Geographic Resolution is tougher, faster and more maneuverable than most existing expedition cruise ships.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

Built by Ulstein, a Norwegian shipbuilding company known for producing hardy vessels, National Geographic Resolution boasts an extra-strong hull that lets it bump through ice that would stop many lesser ships. It carries a polar class rating of PC 5 Category A, a notch above most Antarctica cruise vessels.

The ship has powerful engines that let it travel at more than 16 knots even in rough seas — several knots more than is typical for most expedition vessels. This gives it a wider range when traveling in Antarctica.

In addition, National Geographic Resolution can spin completely around in place, thanks to two Azipod thrusters that hang down below the vessel and can rotate a full 360 degrees. This allows it to better maneuver in ice-clogged areas than older expedition vessels with traditional propeller propulsion systems.

The extra maneuverability means National Geographic Resolution not only can get into an ice-clogged area such as Lallemand Fjord, but — more importantly — can also get out.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

Wind and currents can quickly pack drifting ice around a vessel that's buried nose-first in fast ice, making backing out tricky. Vessels with traditional propeller systems that try to reverse their way out of such situations risk damaging their propellers.

But when it came time to leave Lallemand Fjord, National Geographic Resolution's seasoned captain, Martin Graser, was able to use the ship's Azipod thrusters to spin it around almost in place so it could break out of the ice facing forward.

A smoother ride across the Drake

The marvels of National Geographic Resolution don't end there.

Another notable — and very noticeable — feature of the ship is its distinctive sloping bow, which looks almost as if it were accidentally put on upside down.

As I saw during my voyage, the patented Ulstein design, dubbed an X-bow, cuts through waves in a way that makes it much more comfortable in rough seas than older expedition ships.

This can be a big deal on Antarctica voyages, which usually begin with a nearly two-day ride across the often-rough body of water between South America and Antarctica known as the Drake Passage.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

More than 600 miles across, the Drake Passage often is roiled with waves 10 or 20 feet high, which can bounce around expedition vessels in what Antarctica aficionados call the Drake Shake.

As I've experienced myself on a previous trip to Antarctica, the churn in the Drake Passage occasionally can be even more extreme. Waves up to 30 or even 40 feet high at times are not uncommon — something known as the Drake Quake.

On last week's sailing, the Drake was relatively mild on the way down to Antarctica. But it raged for a time on the way back, with waves topping out at nearly 20 feet. It was then that the X-bow's advantage became clear.

While the ship still pitched forward and back in the waves, it was a smoother rise and fall, without the big bow slaps against the waves you get with traditional bows in heavy seas — something that can send shudders through an entire vessel.

For someone concerned about seasickness, that can make all the difference.

Related: These 8 books are must-reads before an Antarctica trip

Faster to the splendor

Our day of walking atop fast ice in Lallemand Fjord came fewer than 72 hours after departing Ushuaia, Argentina, the hub for most Antarctica-bound expedition cruise vessels. But it wasn't our first epic experience in Antarctica.

Thanks to National Geographic Resolution's speediness, we already had had two other major outings even before we dashed south below the Antarctic Circle.

The day before reaching Lallemand Fjord, after a Drake Passage crossing that lasted barely 40 hours, we had pulled into one of the most stunningly beautiful spots in all of the continent, the ice-filled Lemaire Channel.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

A few hours later, we landed at nearby Petermann Island, famous for a colony of thousands of gentoo penguins.

Normally, an expedition cruise vessel heading to Antarctica might not reach the Lemaire Channel and Petermann Island until three or four days into the trip. But with an ability to travel at nearly 17 knots, National Geographic Resolution had reached them far faster.

Lined with glaciers and towering cliffs, the 8-mile-long Lemaire Channel and its environs is one of the great sights of Antarctica, and we used the extra time we had gained from our speedy crossing of the Drake to soak it in.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

As passengers looked on from National Geographic Resolution's top decks, Captain Graser carefully navigated the ship down the waterway, past ice so heavy he wasn't sure at first he'd be able to make it through.

It was a scene almost too beautiful to comprehend.

The experience didn't end there. After we reached the far end of the channel, the ship's expedition leader, Shaun Powell, announced we would be venturing out in Zodiacs to steal an even closer look at the ice. (As is typical for expedition ships that visit Antarctica, National Geographic Resolution carries a small fleet of the lightweight, inflatable boats for such exploring.)

Boarding the Zodiacs at a side door near the ship's waterline, we soon were darting around ice chunks of all shapes and sizes, from small transparent "growlers" just a few feet across to larger "bergy bits" as big as a house and even bigger icebergs.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

Some were all white; some were laced with spectacular streaks of blue. Some, much to our delight, were topped with lounging seals.

The outing continued until late afternoon, when we returned to the ship to prepare for dinner. While we were dining, Graser moved the vessel to a spot just off Petermann Island, for an after-dinner landing to see the penguins.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

Thus began seven days of daily landings and waterborne exploring by Zodiac boats that brought repeated encounters with penguins — often in large numbers — as well as sightings of whales, seals and all sorts of petrels, terns, skuas and other birds.

Fewer than 48 hours after departing Ushuaia, we already were in the heart of Antarctica's wonder zone.

Related: This new luxury tour gets you to Antarctica faster than most

From the Antarctic Circle to the Weddell Sea

As is typical for Antarctica trips, the seven days of exploring mostly took place along the Antarctic Peninsula, a staggeringly beautiful, 800-mile-long stretch of soaring mountains, glaciers, fjords and icebergs.

Thanks to the ship's speed and navigating capabilities, it was a wider-ranging exploration than is sometimes the case.

After pushing south below the Antarctic Circle over the first few days of the trip, we returned northward over the next few days to explore the northwestern parts of the peninsula and, eventually, its eastern side along the Weddell Sea — a part of Antarctica that not all expedition ships regularly visit.

Every day brought something a little different as we stopped at a wide variety of sites. At Neko Harbor, a picture-perfect, mountain-lined bay flanked by a glacier calving into the sea, we landed by Zodiac late one evening to marvel at large numbers of gentoo penguins.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

The next morning, in the Gerlache Strait, we ran across an armada of humpback whales. We stopped for hours to watch them — first from the decks of National Geographic Resolution and then from Zodiac boats. Just hours later, we stumbled across a pod of orcas.

Later in the week, after rounding the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula to James Ross Island, some of us kayaked in a tranquil bay fed by waterfalls descending from a glacier, while others explored by Zodiac.

Related: I just went kayaking in Antarctica — and it was the most calm I've felt all year

norwegian antarctica cruise review

At nearby Brown Bluff and Devil Island, we gaped at large numbers of Adelie penguins as well as gentoo penguins. At Aitcho Island in the South Shetland Islands, we saw yet another type of penguin, the chinstrap.

It was, no doubt, a very wide mix of experiences.

Maximizing the experience

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a few more notable things about the design of National Geographic Resolution that contribute to it being able to offer such a wide-ranging exploration.

For starters, it has one of the best Zodiac launch set-ups I've ever seen. The ship's 13 Zodiacs tuck away very close to the waterline, in an indoor "garage" with giant doors that open to the water. This allows them to be deployed more quickly than on some expedition ships.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

In addition, Resolution boasts both a rear-facing marina and side doors at the waterline for loading passengers into Zodiacs — a redundancy that gives the ship an edge in running Zodiac operations amid wind and waves. Many expedition vessels have either a marina or side doors, but not both.

Add in the fact that Resolution has a dynamic positioning system that lets it hover in place during Zodiac operations without having to anchor, and the result is a vessel that can land passengers in places like Antarctica much more efficiently than other expedition cruise ships.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

Such efficiency plays right into the Lindblad style of expedition cruising, where it's all about maximizing the experience in any given destination, even if that means changing plans on the fly.

As I saw last week during our humpback whale encounter in the Gerlache Strait, the ability to stop the ship on a dime and get passengers out quickly in Zodiacs to take in an unexpected sight can make all the difference in turning an ordinary day into an extraordinary one.

Related: An Antarctica packing list

When Powell, the expedition leader, realized the humpback whales would be sticking around for a while, he was able to make a quick call to put down the Zodiacs to get us out among them. It led to an epic two hours of up-close whale viewing that included the opportunity to watch the massive creatures working together to bubble-net feed on schools of Antarctic krill — a type of coordinated feeding in which they circle their prey with rings of blown bubbles.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

The whale encounter went on so long that some of the ship's hotel staff eventually came out in a Zodiac with hot chocolate to pass to passengers looking for a warm-up. They also brought out Kahlua, Frangelico and a few other liqueurs to splash into it — a lovely touch.

An adventure focus

Much to my delight, National Geographic Resolution also is designed with lots of interior and exterior observation areas where passengers can get up-close views of passing scenery and wildlife.

The bow of the vessel, in particular, is awash in outdoor viewing platforms that stretch over three decks. An indoor observation lounge at the bow offers views in three directions, and the ship's forward-facing bridge also is open to passengers.

This may not seem like a big thing. But in a place like Antarctica, it's all about the views, and you want a ship that is open as much as possible to the outdoors. Sadly, not every modern expedition ship has been built with this in mind.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

National Geographic Resolution also sails with an impressive stash of adventure gear for exploring, including the previously mentioned kayaks, snowshoes and cross-country skis.

Also on board: a remotely operated underwater vehicle, which a two-person team permanently based on the ship can use to capture images of creatures that are far below the ship.

A stylish and comfortable ship

National Geographic Resolution isn't meant to be a luxury ship. It doesn't offer butlers with every cabin, as one luxury vessel sailing to Antarctica does . Yet it's still a stylish and comfortable ship — more so than many expedition vessels.

For a vessel designed to carry just 126 passengers, National Geographic Resolution offers a generous array of eateries and lounges, all with a soothing, Scandinavian-influenced design. Plus, it features a small but inviting spa and a fitness center that is large for a ship of this size.

The spa, notably, has saunas with glass walls offering views to the ocean as well as a separate yoga studio -- something you don't normally find on an expedition ship.

Just outside the spa, on an outer deck, are two innovative glass-walled "igloos" where passengers can spend the night under the stars on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Related: I just spent the night in an 'igloo' in Antarctica — here's how you can, too

norwegian antarctica cruise review

As I experienced during my 10-night sailing, the ship's two main eateries have a focus on locally sourced and sustainable cuisine from South America that is well prepared. The ship also has a high-end chef's table experience, with a six-course tasting menu. Every passenger gets to try it once per sailing, at no extra charge.

National Geographic Resolution's 69 cabins and suites have the same clean-lined, Scandinavian-influenced decor as its public venues and feature lots of cleverly designed storage spaces that come in handy on longer Antarctica sailings. Most come with balconies — something that used to be rare for expedition vessels. About 20% are large suites, with a similar number of solo cabins.

The luxury of small-group exploring

While National Geographic Resolution isn't marketed as a luxury vessel, it does offer a rare and luxurious touch — the intimacy that comes with a vessel designed for just 126 people. This is something that can be a real advantage on an expedition trip to a place like Antarctica.

In expedition cruising, sometimes the ultimate luxury is being in a small group.

Related: The best new cruise ships sailing to Antarctica

Even if National Geographic Resolution is operating at 100% capacity, with every one of its 126 berths filled, its expedition guides can quickly get all of its passengers off the ship onto Zodiacs and on their way to see penguins and other wildlife. That isn't the case with bigger expedition ships that often carry at least 200 and sometimes even 400 or 500 people.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

In Antarctica, in particular, the size of a vessel matters when it comes to the quality of the experience, as expedition ships in Antarctica are limited to landing 100 passengers at a time by international treaty.

The more passengers an expedition ship has on board in Antarctica, the more its expedition guides have to break them up into separate groups for landings, greatly slowing down the process of exploring at any single landing site.

The result is that passengers on smaller ships in Antarctica get to see far more wildlife and scenery up close than passengers on bigger ships.

A costly trip

As is the case with all Antarctica trips, voyages on National Geographic Resolution are expensive. Fares for 11-night Antarctica cruises on the vessel start at $16,780 per person, based on double occupancy — more than $1,500 per day.

That said, the fares bundle together a lot of extras, including a pre-cruise, one-night hotel stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Santiago, Chile; flights from Buenos Aires or Santiago to Ushuaia, Argentina; drinks, including spirits and wines; and prepaid gratuities.

norwegian antarctica cruise review

Frequent travelers might be able to ease the financial burden a bit. As part of a 3-year-old partnership between Hyatt and Lindblad, World of Hyatt members can pay for a Lindblad cruise using Hyatt points — or earn 5 base points per dollar on eligible spending (excluding incidentals), plus the standard bonuses for Hyatt elite members, as well as elite tier-qualifying night credits. All members — regardless of status — will enjoy a $250 onboard credit to use on incidentals.

Bottom line

National Geographic Resolution is one of two nearly identical vessels that Lindblad Expeditions has unveiled in quick succession. The other, the 126-passenger National Geographic Endurance, also has debuted in recent months and is sailing in Antarctica. It was built at Ulstein in Norway to the same basic specifications.

Lindblad has built up a lot of expertise in polar cruising over many decades of offering ship-based trips to places like Antarctica — an expertise that shows in the way it designed National Geographic Resolution. Along with its sister vessel, the ship is one of the most versatile around for exploring the destination and other polar regions. After four trips to the White Continent, I'm convinced it's truly the ultimate Antarctica cruise ship.

Planning an Antarctica cruise expedition? Start with these stories:

  • Dreaming of Antarctica: How to book the trip of a lifetime
  • Skip the Drake Passage: What it's like flying to Antarctica on a chartered plane
  • 7 tips for visiting Antarctica before it's too late
  • The ultimate packing list for an Antarctica trip
  • These 8 books are must reads before any Antarctica trip

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Find the best cruise for you

Featured cruise deals, cruising guide, why take a cruise vacation.

If you have a place on your bucket list, chances are, a cruise will get you there – provided the destination is along a coastline or inland waterway. Cruises cover the world, taking millions of passengers each year to regions such as the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Alaska, Europe, the Mediterranean and even Antarctica. Cruising offers a tremendous value, with trips that include your lodging, meals and entertainment – all rolled into one. Some luxury cruise lines even offer fully inclusive vacations, which cover drinks and tours ashore. And best of all, cruising means seeing the world conveniently after unpacking only once.

Cruises also provide a wonderful option for families, with many ships offering things like waterslides, mini-golf courses and fun clubs for kids, tweens and teens. While most are free, nursery programs can cost extra. Planning is easy: Pick your destination and the right ship (and line) for your travel style. The cruise line makes it simple, offering packages to help you save on extras like alcohol, shore tours or even airfare.

Travelers say they choose to cruise because cruising often costs less per night when compared with land vacations at a hotel, where they'll have to book -- and pay for -- every extra.

What are Tips for Finding Cheap Cruises?

If you're a flexible traveler, you'll have a better chance of finding cheap cruises. Take a cruise that doesn't sail over the summer or holidays, when prices are highest. Book an inside cabin, or take your chances with a "guarantee cabin," ideal for passengers who aren't picky about their stateroom location but really want the lowest price available. Book cabins on lower decks, which often come with lower prices than those rooms on higher floors – that is staterooms over suites.

Cruise brands such as Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International offer rates that might drop as low as $75 per person per night -- and sometimes even lower.

If you want a real bargain, consider a transatlantic or repositioning cruise. These cruises are one-way or open-jaw trips, that start in one port and finish at another. You can score a deal sailing from Florida to Europe, for example, or even from New York to Florida. Just be aware, you'll probably have to pay a bit more for airfare to return.

What are Tips to Finding Last-Minute Cruise Deals?

While being flexible date wise will always get you the best last-minute cruise deals, it's particularly helpful if you live near a cruise port and can quickly drive there. That way you'll probably be able to jump on those deals that might pop up just a week or two before the ship is scheduled to sail.

Or if you don't have flexibility with either departure dates or embarkation locations, be willing to compromise on exact destinations. This will allow you to find a wider range of last-minute deals traveling to locations in their off-season or so-called shoulder season.

Do plenty of research and know what your ideal cruise is and costs on average, so both are already on your radar. When you see it drop, pounce! (Many cruise lines update pricing several times per day, so preparation is crucial.)

Best cruises in 2024

There's truly a cruise style and ship for everyone, and that has never been more the case than in 2024, as vessels continue to come in an array of sizes – from riverboats and expedition vessels to the largest-ever mega ships. And it's not an exaggeration to say some are loaded with so many activities that you couldn't possibly enjoy them all in a single sailing.

Families will find plenty of options and activities onboard big ships, which have transformed cruising, making the vessels as exciting as the destinations themselves. The Caribbean is always a great option for families, offering lots of sunshine, great beaches and culture. Alaska, famous for its incredible vistas and abundant wildlife, is also a solid family cruise option. Consider cruise brands such as Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and even Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line for a great multi-generational voyage.

Or on the smaller side, by comparison, river cruising remains a hot ticket item this year, with exciting routes that send eager guests down the Danube or Rhine rivers in Europe or to lesser-frequented locations, like the Mekong River in Cambodia or Vietnam, or soon the Magdalena River in Colombia. Popular river cruises embark in timeless cities like Amsterdam, Budapest and Lisbon. River cruise lines to consider encompass Viking, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Emerald Cruises, Tauck, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Riverside Luxury Cruises, as well as American Cruise Lines for a domestic alternative.

If you're an adventurer at heart, an expedition cruise might be best for you. These voyages, often onboard small ships (only a few hundred passengers tops), offer an intimate experience that brings passengers right up next to glaciers, whales, penguins and iguanas. Ships visit tiny spots all over the world – from pole to pole – including the Arctic, Alaska, Australia, Greenland, the Galapagos and, of course, Antarctica. Passengers will spend their time zodiacing, kayaking, hiking, biking and exploring with expert guides and knowledgeable naturalists. Expedition travelers love cruise lines such as Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, UnCruise Adventures, Silversea, HX (formerly Hurtigruten Expeditions), Ponant and Quark Expeditions, as well as an ever-expanding list that now even extends to Seabourn and Viking.

But for the most decadent form of travel, luxury cruises offer all-inclusive experiences onboard small to median-sized ships (usually under a thousand passengers) with perks like butlers, high-end amenities and personalized, intuitive service, not to mention the finest dining at sea. Ships often feature luxury touches like marble and crystal decor, intimate spaces and beautiful spas. Because luxury ships tend to be on the smaller size, they can often reach off-the-beaten-path destinations bigger ships simply cannot access -- ports like St. Tropez or Guadeloupe. If you're looking for a luxury cruise, consider Crystal, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Explora Journeys, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and upcoming Four Seasons Yachts.

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norwegian antarctica cruise review

10 Best Cruise Lines For Every Type Of Traveler

  • Choose from the 10 best cruise lines based on your preferences, whether you're a foodie, thrill-seeker, or mature traveler.
  • Each cruise line offers tailored experiences, from cultural encounters to luxury amenities, ensuring a memorable trip at sea.
  • Whether you're a solo traveler looking for new friends or a family seeking nonstop fun, there's a cruise line that caters to your needs.

A memorable vacation at sea is a dream for almost every type of traveler, whether it's a short trip lasting a few hours or an extended getaway of several days or even weeks. Fortunately, the best cruise lines around the world provide a wide range of cruises, so there is certainly a suitable option for any kind of traveler. Having said that, with so many options available, it might not be as simple to find the best one!

To make the selection a bit easier, this list features the 10 best cruise lines for every type of traveler, ranging from the best cruise for families to the one catering to only adults, like Viking Cruises , the luxury ones to the super cheap cruises worth booking , and more. Each of these cruise lines offers tailored experiences catering to a wide range of preferences.

UPDATE: 2024/05/09 12:14 EST BY COCO DOLLANGANGER

These ten best cruise lines for every type of traveler offer tailored experiences and cater to a wide range of preferences, ensuring a memorable trip. Each entry has been updated with more vibrant photos and more detailed experiences for smooth sailing across the ocean!

Each cruise line on this list has been hand-picked based on a variety of standards, including price, destinations, and experience. We considered US News Cruise Lines rankings, and reviews on cruisecritic.com , a TripAdvisor company, while choosing the best cruise lines. We included a variety of cruise lines, including adult-only, solo, family, luxury, and many other options. Simply choose the one that most fits your needs and have an amazing seaside vacation.

10 Best US Virgin Islands Cruises For Seafaring Escapades

Oceania cruises, best for foodies.

Looking for the cruise line with the best food? Oceania is the answer! It has won numerous awards for its dining and is also one of the best luxury cruise lines in the US , with a 3.8/5 rating. The cruise line's executive culinary director has also helped the line achieve culinary perfection.

While specialty restaurants serve a variety of international cuisines, hands-on cooking classes and the Culinary Center allow guests to learn the art of fine dining, and Culinary Discovery Tours enable foodies to visit regional markets and enjoy real culinary experiences at different ports. Along with that, great amenities, activities, and entertainment, as well as personalized service with attention to detail, contribute to an unforgettable sea vacation.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Best for entertainment.

The atmosphere on Norwegian's ships is nonstop excitement and thrills, with features like the longest go-kart track at sea, an outdoor nightclub, and original Broadway musicals. There is the Donna Summer Musical and the world's first free-fall dry slide at sea on the Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima , a thrill-seeker's dream. Every ship has several dining options; even dinner shows are part of the line's theatrical dining experience.

Add to this, numerous bars, discos, bowling alleys, family entertainment, and whatnot, and a Norwegian journey is loaded with fun and amusement. With all of this and more, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is a leader in cruise entertainment, providing a wide range of innovative options to suit the preferences of each guest.

Holland America Line

Best for mature travelers.

Holland America Line is a popular option for elderly passengers (50+) seeking a memorable and relaxing vacation because of its outstanding service, fine dining, and sophisticated onboard experience. The mid-sized ships in its fleet, which can accommodate up to 1,400–2,600 guests, ensure a more individualized and intimate experience.

Another benefit for senior passengers is Holland America's "As You Wish" dining option, which allows them to select the time and location of their meals every evening. While itineraries focus on history, arts, and local traditions, the onboard Rolling Stone Rock Room, Explorer's Lounge, and many other recreation opportunities enhance the whole trip experience.

Furthermore, a 3.9/5 rating highlights its excellence, making it the perfect option for seniors looking for a sophisticated and culturally immersive cruise experience.

Best for cultural experiences

When it comes to providing innovative itineraries and cultural encounters, Azamara is among the best cruise lines in the US . It has an excellent rating of 4.2/5 as well. With overnights and late departures, it provides the longest possible stay in port.

Another benefit is the AzAmazing Evenings Ashore Program , which includes private concerts or cultural performances in unique venues, helping its guests dive into the world's different cultures and traditions. While docked at different ports, Azamara cruises offer immersive shore excursions, such as walking tours, museum visits, and wine tastings.

It is likewise renowned for its intimate ships (with a capacity of around 700 guests), plush staterooms, fine dining, fitness facilities, lounges, and nightly dance and music events.

Antarctica Cruises: Why Go (And How Much It Costs)

Cunard cruises, best for solo travelers.

Single and ready to mingle? Cunard , with a rating of 3.8/5 , is surely one of the best cruise lines for solo travelers looking for a rejuvenating escape or to make lots of new friends. Throughout the trip, the cruise line offers a plethora of free activities, especially for single passengers, including coffee mornings and drink receptions.

Solo travelers can enjoy meals and shore excursions, either alone or with fellow travelers. There are single cabins available without any additional expenses. The line's famed White Star Service assures that solo guests receive personalized attention. Its worldwide itineraries make it an unrivaled option for independent travelers, allowing solo adventurers to explore the world in style.

Celebrity Cruises

Best for budget travelers.

Celebrity Cruises offers the latest luxury amenities, exquisite experiences, delectable cuisine, and exceptional service. It ranks #2 in Best Cruise Lines for the Money because its fares on the Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries are significantly lower than those of rival cruise lines while providing excellent value for the amenities.

Furthermore, its great rating of 4.1/5 attests to its excellence. Also, many onboard packages are available, ranging from dining to all-inclusive, that don't compromise enjoyment or entertainment. An all-inclusive package is the best option for individuals on a limited budget, with savings ranging from $200 to $800.

Also, many 3-day trips are under $300, so options are unlimited for a budget sea vacation, making it one of the cheapest cruise lines in the world .

Seabourn Cruises

Best for luxury.

Seabourn offers the ultimate cruise experience with its intimate ships that welcome only 458 to 600 guests (depending on the ship) and a selection of luxurious amenities. Luxuries like all-oceanfront suites, world-class recreation, top-rated entertainment, upscale dining options, including menus crafted by a Michelin-starred chef, and personalized service rank it #2 in Best Luxury Cruise Lines and give it a 4.1/5 rating.

The best part is that everything is included in the cruise price, including meals, enrichment activities, fitness classes, and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), making a trip hassle-free. Furthermore, Seabourn's itineraries also focus on immersive cultural experiences and provide optional shore excursions.

10 Best St Thomas Cruises Where You Can Sail Into Paradise

Virgin voyages, best for value.

Ranked #1 in Best Cruise Lines for the Money by US News, Virgin Voyages offers luxury experiences not offered by other cruise liners on the market. Its ships exude magnificence with their lively ambiance, upscale dining, luxuriously designed staterooms, wellness programs, recreation, and entertainment.

The cruise line sails to over 100 destinations worldwide, including the Caribbean, Europe, and the Transatlantic. Its superb all-inclusive experience makes a seaside holiday hassle-free and goes beyond the typical cruise experience.

The cruise company, with a rating of 4.1/5 , is an excellent option for anyone seeking a romantic getaway or a chance to spend some time away from children, as it is exclusively adult-only, welcoming guests 18 years of age and older, and passengers need to follow some intense rules onboard the Virgin Voyages .

Viking Ocean Cruises

Best for couples.

For those looking for the best adult-only cruise lines with the best passenger reviews , Viking Oceans is certainly the best choice. It offers a wonderful holiday full of amenities, entertainment, and leisure without children (only guests aged 18 and over are permitted on the ship).

This all-inclusive adult-only cruise line offers ocean and expedition cruises all over the world, although it is better known as one of the largest river fleets in the industry. Viking's emphasis on luxury, including well-appointed staterooms, a Nordic spa, gourmet dining, cultural experiences, and amazing Scandinavian decor, adds a romantic touch to the journey.

It has a 4.6/5 rating and is ranked #1 in Best Cruise Lines for Couples by US News, making it ideal for couples seeking a memorable escape at sea.

Royal Caribbean International

Best for family fun.

With a fantastic selection of family-friendly activities and amenities, Royal Caribbean International is undoubtedly an excellent option for family vacations. It guarantees nonstop enjoyment with exhilarating water parks, ice skating rinks, and FlowRider surf simulators.

Nighttime shows, bars, and lounges cater to older guests, while the Adventure Ocean program entertains kids and teens alike. Spacious staterooms and family-friendly dining enhance the overall experience. The cruise company is ranked #2 on U.S. News's list of the Best Cruise Lines for Families and also has a rating of 3.9/5.

However, Royal Caribbean International is considered the best for families traveling with teens and tweens, while with a rating of 4.2/5 , Disney Cruise Line is the best for families with younger kids under 10 years, despite being relatively expensive.

10 Best Cruise Lines For Every Type Of Traveler

IMAGES

  1. Check Out These New 2021 Cruises to Antarctica and Iceland

    norwegian antarctica cruise review

  2. Best Antarctica Cruises 2024-2025

    norwegian antarctica cruise review

  3. Best Antarctica Cruise Lines

    norwegian antarctica cruise review

  4. 25 BEST Antarctica Cruises 2021 (Prices + Itineraries): Cruises to

    norwegian antarctica cruise review

  5. Luxury Cruise Connections

    norwegian antarctica cruise review

  6. Cruises to Antarctica: What to bring and everything you need to know

    norwegian antarctica cruise review

VIDEO

  1. antarctica cruise: our last continent

  2. Antarctica Cruise Cost Explained!

  3. Antarctica Cruise Day 2, Feb. 5, 2024 at Montevideo, Uruguay

  4. By By ANTARCTICA Cruise 🇦🇶 #yatridoctor #travel #antarctica #india

  5. Most Expensive & Hilarious Cruise 🚢. Antarctica Cruise l #antarctica #viral #shortvideo #shortfeed

  6. Alaska Cruise Review

COMMENTS

  1. Norwegian Antarctica Cruise Reviews (2024 UPDATED): Ratings of

    Norwegian Antarctica Cruises: Read 6 Norwegian Antarctica cruise reviews. Find great deals, tips and tricks on Cruise Critic to help plan your cruise.

  2. The 7 Top Antarctica Cruises for 2024 + Tips From an Expert

    For example, Norwegian Cruise Line has a 14-night Antarctica and South America voyage that makes a round trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina, for as low as $999 per person.

  3. Trip Report: South America/Antarctica Itinerary on the NCL Star

    Trip Report, Review, and Ship Tour: South America/Antarctica Itinerary on the Norwegian Star Introduction and Itinerary. Why we booked this cruise: This particular cruise checked off all the boxes on our list. Bucket list itinerary? CHECK. Cruise over Christmas, New Years, and my son's birthday (this has become a tradition for us)? CHECK.

  4. Antarctica Norwegian Star Antarctica Cruise Reviews

    1-6 of 6 Antarctica Norwegian Star Antarctica Cruise Reviews. Mixed experience. Review for aAntarctica Cruise on Norwegian Star. linda__ 6-10 Cruises • Age 60s. While we had a wonderful time and felt safe on board, there were a number of areas the cruise line missed the mark: 1. We paid for an upgraded dinner at Teppenyaki restaurant.

  5. NCL Star review

    Never done an official review of a cruise before, but thought I'd at least post some random thoughts, as there's not much info here about the Star and Antarctica. OVERALL - It was an amazing trip. We were blessed with great weather almost throughout the entire two weeks. Got the "Drake lake" inst...

  6. Antarctica with Norwegian January 2022

    Re: Antarctica with Norwegian January 2022. I looked at the route of the Norwegian Star for Jan. 16 2022 this morning, and they are still listing Stanley as one of the stops. The people I've been able to contact at Stanley say they haven't heard of any ships that will dock in January.

  7. Norwegian Star

    Norwegian Star. 158 reviews. 1-866-234-7350 Website. All photos (646) Traveler ( 626) Common Areas ( 271) Dining and Bars ( 97) Itineraries for this ship. Itinerary.

  8. Norwegian Star Cruise Review by annalissareis

    Verified Review. 14 Night Antarctica & South America (Buenos Aires Roundtrip) Sail date: January 21, 2024. Ship: Norwegian Star. Cabin type: Balcony. Cabin number: 9180. Traveled as: Family (young children) Reviewed: 4 months ago. Embarking on an Antarctic cruise is a journey like no other, and my recent expedition with Norwegian Cruise Line ...

  9. 2021 Antarctica Cruises: Discover the Falkland ...

    The cruise season in Antarctica is short when compared to other destinations. In fact, Norwegian's 2021 Antarctica cruises depart only in January. Because tourism is limited and travellers can explore Antarctica only on a cruise ship, these itineraries will sell out quickly. To take advantage of the best deals and secure the top cabin picks ...

  10. Norwegian Star Cruise Review by rickm87

    Read the Norwegian Star review by Cruiseline.com member rickm87 from February 12, 2023 of the 14 Night Antarctica & South America (Buenos Aires Roundtrip) cruise. ... CRUISE ADMIRALTY BAY, ANTARCTICA. 5 out of 5. Cruise Elephant Island, Shetland Islands. 5 out of 5. Disembarkation.

  11. Norwegian Cruise Reviews (2024 UPDATED): Ratings of Norwegian Cruise Line

    1 - 10 of 41,427 Norwegian Cruise Reviews. The Bliss is great for 12 year olds. But if you ain't 12, or aren't drunk all day and don't care, it's a chore just to grab a bite. There's only 2 ...

  12. Best Antarctica Cruises 2024-2025

    Get ready to set sail aboard Norwegian Star and discover the southernmost edge of the South Pole, Antarctica. Embark on an expedition cruise and witness breathtaking icebergs and penguins by the beach from the top deck, all as you take in once-in-a-lifetime moments. Don't miss cruising Antarctica and experiencing some of the most exhilarating ...

  13. Norwegian Star Cruise Review by avril55

    14 Night Antarctica & South America (Buenos Aires Roundtrip) Sail date: February 18, 2024. Ship: Norwegian Star. Cabin type: Oceanview. Cabin number: 4620. Traveled as: Large Group. Reviewed: 2 months ago. We went on this cruise for the itinerary and it didn't disappoint some fabulous places the ship is a bit disappointing but all ships are ...

  14. Review: Cruise to Antarctica and South America

    Certainly, a Cruise to Antarctica is certainly sea-intensive, and for these types of cruises, we recommend a balcony cabin. By contrast, port-intensive cruises such as our recent 21 Day Mediterranean Cruise are different. For example, generally, port-intensive cruises don't necessarily require a balcony as you generally only cruise at night.

  15. 2021 Antarctica Cruises: Discover the Falkland ...

    The cruise season in Antarctica is short when compared to other destinations. In fact, Norwegian's 2021 Antarctica cruises depart only in January. Because tourism is limited and travellers can explore Antarctica only on a cruise ship, these itineraries will sell out quickly. To take advantage of the best deals and secure the top cabin picks ...

  16. Check Out These New 2021 Cruises to Antarctica and Iceland

    March 18, 2020. Check Out These New 2021 Cruises to Antarctica and Iceland. Share: Starting in January 2021, Norwegian will be cruising to Antarctica and returning to Iceland with expanded options. This will be the first time Norwegian sails to Antarctica, which will provide guests with a unique opportunity to be part of cruising history.

  17. Is this the ultimate Antarctica cruise ship? Our take on Lindblad's new

    It carries a polar class rating of PC 5 Category A, a notch above most Antarctica cruise vessels. The ship has powerful engines that let it travel at more than 16 knots even in rough seas — several knots more than is typical for most expedition vessels. This gives it a wider range when traveling in Antarctica.

  18. Norwegian Star Cruise Review by MAZ1934

    2.3 out of 5. 14 Night Antarctica & South America (Buenos Aires Roundtrip) Sail date: January 29, 2023. Ship: Norwegian Star. Cabin type: Balcony. Cabin number: 9170. Traveled as: Couple. Reviewed: 1 year ago. DONOT cruise on Norwegian, very poor managed cruise line , poor entertainment options , zero common since and cruise line simply doesn't ...

  19. Cruises & Cruise Deals

    Cruise deals for Alaska, Hawaii, Bahamas, Europe, or Caribbean Cruises. Weekend getaways and great cruise specials. Enjoy Freestyle cruising with Norwegian Cruise Line.

  20. Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Ship Review

    A comprehensive review of the Norwegian Breakaway from Cruise Critic experts. We cover to cabins, dining, entertainment and activities, complete with ratings.

  21. Cruises

    Write cruise reviews. Share your opinion with our travel community ... Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and even Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line for a great multi-generational voyage. ... Australia, Greenland, the Galapagos and, of course, Antarctica. Passengers will spend their ...

  22. 10 Best Cruise Lines For Every Type Of Traveler

    Choose from the 10 best cruise lines based on your preferences, whether you're a foodie, thrill-seeker, or mature traveler. Each cruise line offers tailored experiences, from cultural encounters ...

  23. Norwegian Viva Cruise Ship Review

    Check out Cruise Critic's expert review of the Norwegian Viva cruise ship for the best insider tips on deck plans, cabins, food, entertainment and more.

  24. Norwegian Getaway Cruise Reviews

    1-10 of 3,295 Norwegian Getaway Cruise Reviews. Wonderful week on the NCL Getaway! May 2024. Review for aBaltic Sea Cruise on Norwegian Getaway. LisaandDaveheenan. 2-5 Cruises • Age 60s.

  25. Norwegian Prima Cruise Ship

    Check out Cruise Critic expert's review of the Norwegian Prima cruise ship for the best insider tips on deck plans, cabins, food, entertainment and more.