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Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

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Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

Will be on board sea adventurer late December (believe its used to be called Clipper Adventure) to Antarctica

Anyone who has riden the boat before, care to offer some advices? also how are the staff/food/other amenities on board

Thanks

Melbourne, Australia
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for Perth, Antarctic Adventures
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1. Re: Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

Booked to travel on it in 14 months time. Have travelled with quark twice before and know many of their expedition team members well so from that perspective I can guarantee you will be travelling with extremely experienced polar experts who have been in the region for 10 to 20 years each and have a great passion for the region and ensuring your happiness there.

Traditionally on the quark ships the food is varied, good quality and plentiful. And they dealt with allergies and gluten free for people well.

klasf
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2. Re: Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

Our trip to Antarctica was unforgettable; it truly is the last untouched, unspoiled place in the world. We booked our trip through Quark directly, receiving a 25% discount for early booking. Below is a list of pluses and minuses of Quark’s performance– there are more minuses than pluses, however I still gave the overall trip 4 stars. The minuses are just a few items that I wish I was aware of in advance.

Pluses:

• The food was incredible, this was a wonderful surprise. Breakfast was hot and cold buffet plus made to order eggs. Lunch was buffet. Dinner was served, included choice of soup, salad, entrée and dessert. Every evening 3 choices available – fish, meant (usually red), and veggie option. Chef will also adjust for dietary needs, ie low sodium. Friend mentioned kitchen unsuccessfully tried to prepare gluten free meals, however this option needs evolving – if gluten sensitive just be careful.

• On board doctor (Dr. Chris) very good – gave us sea sick meds

• Sr staff very experienced, evident that client satisfaction is first priority. All staff really cares about Antarctic wildlife and sustainability. Special call out to bird guy Chris.

• Large and well priced wine list and bar. Allowed to bring adult drinks on board (room had 2 wine fridges!)

Minuses:

• Longer than advertised to cross Drake. Sold on trip with 8 excursions; only had 5 due to bad weather. Spent 2 weeks getting to/from Antarctica for only 2.5 days of activities. Weather not made a huge deal until we got to boat. Lots of “if the weather agres,” however I was told there’d be 8 excursions.

• Booked directly through Quark – Cara Nunnenmacher. Cara was unresponsive and unhelpful. All quark reps work 9-5 EST, so if you live in CA (like me) then the time diff is a big disadvantage. Complained about Cara’s responsiveness to her supervisor to no reply. Cara did not book one of our Ushuaia excursion in time and we missed out. Ended up working with Richard Angelidis who was much better, Avoid Cara at all costs.

• Jr staff (kayak guides, shop girls, etc) sit with you at dinner. I understand that Quark wants you to get to know staff, but making small talk with these 20-something hippies is really tiresome, especially after a long day of excursions. None of them were very interesting – in the end I got the impression it was my duty to keep conversation going and not the other way around. Plus, they all drank way too much which was uncomfortable for me as a guest. In the bar after dinner they would all blast Neil Young and sit at their own table. Seemed like they too were on vacation.

• Zodiac driver experience inconsistent. Had 4/5 excursions with Sr staff, which was wonderful. Had one excursion with Vladimir, who stopped to boat for 20 minutes to take pictures with his own camera despite all ppl in board bored. Later on, the gift shop advertised “signed CD” of orginal photos from Vlad. Annoyed that my vacay was delayed for his side business. Other zodiac drivers Rick and Alex were wonderful.

• Bought penguin corkscrew from gift shop – it broke on the 4th bottle we opened in our room. We threw it away before the trip was over.

• In room DVD player broke – took 24 hours to replace (after 3rd request). Did not have remote for new DVD player so nothing worked. Advertised “flat screen” TV is 13”. The IT guy is the captain’s asst.

Things they don’t tell you:

• I felt most people were unprepared for the cold – some ppl wore HIGH HEELS the first day on the ship, other wore denim in the boats and were freezing. The parka Quark provides is not enough, make sure to bring sufficient layers. As one boat-mate said – if you don’t own a “buff” you have not brought enough clothing.

• You need to be in good physical condition/have flexibility or agility. 2 of the 3 landings included uphill hiking, which I noticed was an issue for some older travelers. There’s a lot of bending and balance getting in/out of boats.

• You will most likely get sea-sick – I would say 70% of the boat was sick during the Drake passage. Perhaps not throwing up, but uncomfortable. Make sure to get something from your doctor, just in case,. Same goes for those who think because they have been on previous cruises without issue (like me).

Hope this helps – email me with any questions!

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

Thanks so much for the balanced information- very useful. What is a buff?? Do Quark provide any gear apart from the parka- like rubber boots etc?? Did you buy any gear from Quark, and if so, what did you think of it in terms of value for money?

Can you give me any info on cabin types? We are thinking of the standard lower deck cabin with a porthole- will it be okay do you think?

I have had no luck in emailing Quark- no responses at all!! How did you contact them (I'm in Australia).

Was drinking water and tea and coffee available freely, or did it have to be bought?

Did you have any problems with your camera in the cold conditions?

Many thanks- I'm sure I'll think of more questions, so be warned!

Melbourne, Australia
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for Perth, Antarctic Adventures
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4. Re: Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

Impossible - Your quark parka (which has a removable zippered fleece inside it) and muck boots are supplied - the rest you bring yourself or rent in ushuaia.

Quark does deal with Aussie bookers but its more logical to deal with their actual Aussie sister company Peregrine.

http://www.peregrineadventures.com

Water, tea, coffee etc is free and available on all Quark/Peregrine ships 24/7.

A buff - the most useable item you can own for travelling. I have 2 summer ones and a winter one and never travel without them

https://www.buyabuff.com

Camera: the cold can run down some batteries. Best to always have fully charged spares in your pockets.

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

Many thanks. Will get back to you with more questions as they arise.

Victoria, Canada
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6. Re: Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

Just got back from an amazing 19-day expedition on the Sea Adventurer! The ship is all one could hope for - and they must think we are all babies who need feeding every 2 hours! First, early morning "continental" breakfast in the lounge, then "real" breakfast in the dining room, later cookies in the lounge and at 12:30, a multi-course buffet lunch in the DR, then "tea" (sandwiches and cakes) at 3 and appetizers at 5 in the lounge, and at 6:30 or 7 a 4-course sit-down dinner in the dining room. Probably more food later in the evening for all I know, but I didn't make it much past 9 p.m.! There were always tea, coffee, hot chocolate and water available in the lounge, and I think 3 times free champagne or wine in the lounge before dinner (special occasions). The tap water in the cabins was supposed to be potable, but it was very discoloured, and we were advised to fill our water bottles from the filtered water dispensers in the lounge, so we did that. The cabins were basic, but comfortable. The bathrooms had dispensers for "conditioning" shampoo, bath gel (not very good - recommend you take a bar of soap), and liquid hand soap by the sink. There was a short laundry line in the shower (others said theirs had snapped), so if you're going to wash stuff in your room, I recommend taking a stretchy line with you, also good for wet gloves, etc. There were tissues (we didn't know if there would be, so we bought some in Ushuaia, I was sure someone would catch a cold, but we stayed healthy!) The ship had a major re-fit a few years ago, and the furniture is all comfortable and in most places anchored down in the lounges and dining room. One thing I was glad I took was a small clock with a lightable dial, as I hate waking up in the night and not knowing how much longer I have before the wake-up call! The ship's crew and "hotel" staff were all great, and the expedition team were very knowledgable and friendly. If you have any more specific questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them.

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

Hi Victorian,

Thanks for the useful detail on Sea Adventurer. I am just about to book the 'Antarctic Express- crossing the circle' cruise, which flies in and out of Punta Arenas and avoids the sea crossing. I'm not travelling until December 2013. It's new, and for wimps like me, but also has a good amount of time in Antarctica.

What deck and cabin did you have? I'm thinking of a lower deck cabin with porthole- the cheapest, but I would also think the most stable, being lower in the ship. Any comments would be appreciated- I can pay more, but it didn't seem worthwhile- I can't imagine I'll be opening a window!

Were you able to take a bottle of your own wine on board? How expensive were drinks?

Any tips on photography equipment would also be appreciated. Does your camera freeze over? Do you need a big zoom lens or tripod?

Do you (or perfectlyperth if you're still reading) have any recommendations for travel in Patagonia and or Punta Arenas? We are flying over from Sydney mainly for the Antarctic cruise, but wouldn't mind adding on a bit. We will fly into Santiago, and will probably keep to Chile- we spent eight weeks in South America this year. Thanks a lot.

Victoria, Canada
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8. Re: Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

We were on the second deck from the bottom, at the front with a porthole that didn't open (actually I don't think there were any windows that opened, not even in the public areas, where windows were even boarded over outside when we were heading into heavy seas). We were fine in our cabin, just loved the rocking motion, and when it was rough, lying down just seemed the right thing to do! Some people on the lowest deck joked that at times they felt they could do underwater photography through the porthole. We took 14 bottles of wine on board with us. We had had 4 days in Ushuaia and we rented a car, so we shopped, and we carried the wine on board. We paid the US$10 corkage fee if we took the wine into the lounge or dining room, but other people said the wine prices on board were reasonable. We just wanted to try out some of the interesting Argentinian wines we found. As far as cameras, I'm very much an amateur, I just stuck a spare battery in an inside pocket of the parka to keep warm, and when I wasn't using it, my camera, too. I spent a lot of time just watching. I didn't have a lot of zoom, but the animals are quite close (you're supposed to stay 5 metres away, but they can approach you!). My husband had a much better camera than mine, but his did not compare with some of the ones we saw with lenses that must have been over 2 feet long - and it always seemed as if the people with those long lenses wanted to be right up against the animals!

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

Wow,

Instant feedback- thanks so much. Very helpful info re the cabins. I've taken a look at some of the postings on cameras, and have a better idea. I'm not going to go hardcore on this.

Australia
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10. Re: Quark Expedition - Sea Adventurer

Victorian, thank you so much for your report.....

I am not going until Feb 2014, and I am wishing my life away.

I read with great interest the little things that matter, like tissues and shampoo, I am like you with the camera but am thinking of upgrading early next year to a better point and shoot.

Just out of interest, how many days were clear sailing?

And a rather silly question, did the scenery leave you breathless??

I have watched many YouTube videos and read a couple of books and just this morning read an article about the first men to climb mount minto but I guess nothing would prepare you for what you encounter.

If there is anything else you think of I am sure we would all love to read about it. Thank you once again.