We had always wanted to visit Antarctica but had been put off by the cost. We do not like large impersonal ships so directed our search solely to smaller ships. We wanted to visit as much as possible if we were to make the expense worthwhile and found a cruise with Hurtigruten that fitted all our requirements.
After changing the booking and rooms several times we opted for the Christmas and New year voyage on MS Fram. We flew British Airways direct to Buenos Aires and found our way to the hotel where we spent one night. The next day we were taken to the airport for our flight to Ushuaia where we boarded our ship. We had booked a suite and whilst small was perfect and comfortable in every way. We were glad of the extra space we had compared to the cabins. Definitely worthwhile doing if you can.
MS Fram is an expedition ship so don’t expect things like swimming pools and Casinos etc. It does have a small gym, sauna and jacuzzi. Rather expect information about the places you are to visit including talks about the wildlife and history by the expedition crew. On a daily basis you can find expedition members on deck to assist with identification of the birds and whales you are certain to see. The ship did however have internet access which the suites had unlimited access for free but could be purchased as an extra for the cabins. We found it wonderful to be able to make video calls to our family at Christmas and be able to show them round the ship.
The cruise visited the Falkland Islands first mooring at West Point first and then Stanley. Stanley is a fascinating place to visit especially for us Brits especially with the recent history of the Falklands War. We felt very much at home in Stanley with the familiar currency language and the British feel about the place.
After the Falklands we sailed to South Georgia, another British Overseas Territory. There are several places that are planned in the itinerary with the highlights being Stromness and Grytviken. In Grytviken is the graveyard where Sir Ernest Shackleton is buried. There you can also find the Norwegian Whalers church where we held a Christmas Carol Service.
Next was sailing to the Southern Continent itself. The ship visited as many places as possible. On Deception Island I even managed to swim in the cold Antarctic waters under the watchful eye of the ships doctor and a kayaking in the cold waters was also a highlight of the trip.
The Antarctic is every bit as beautiful as the pictures show, full of wildlife and spectacular views. I would recommend anyone to add this to your bucket list. It’s expensive if done properly but we saved for two years to go and it was worth every penny. Our ship the MS Fram is due for a refit but, we didn’t find it tired in any way and a refit will only enhance what is already there. There is a certain level of fitness required and a medical questionnaire from your doctor is required but don’t let that put you off; you can take part in as many of the landings or activities as you wish.