Classic Antarctica Cruise: MV Ushuaia
This Classic Antarctic expedition cruise on board the MV USHUAIA offers the ideal introduction to the White Continent. The itinerary is expertly planned to take best advantage of the amazing wildlife and spectacular scenery during each part of the Antarctic season. This is a truly unique and unforgettable experience and no two voyages are the same. Your Expedition Leader and their team will show you busy penguin colonies and spectacular seabirds, seals and whales amidst the imposing mountain ranges, ice-filled channels, and beautifully shaped icebergs and glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula
- Ideal first trip to Antarctica.
- Majestic mountains, ice and scenery of the Antarctic Peninsula
- Small and ice strengthened expedition vessel
- Learn about Antarctica with expert onboard lecturers
- See Antarctic wildlife such as penguins, seals and whales
However, there are a few areas in which I was not satisfied. The following is a comprehensive critic describing facts. I intended to produce a constructive feedback to be considered and help improve different areas. In some parts I refer to the Welcome aboard the Ushuaia leaflet.
1. The expedition guides quality of presentations and level of English were questionable. You have written that you selected them for their professional accomplishments and reputation (Lecturers section, page 5). However, the level of English of almost all of them was below average. Many times they could not structure adequately a simple sentence, they did not know basic words and pronunciation was poor. Frequently passengers had to help them, which is not expected from reputable professionals. Similarly, the quality of the Power Point presentations was poor. Not high contrast between background and text (considering that the room used for lectures allows a lot of light from the windows), flow of content was disorganised, lecturers did not engage with all the passengers, and lecturers walking around while crossing the Drake Passage affected their focus, so the presentations were actually long and boring.
Additionally, there were frequent problems and delays when handling multimedia equipment before every presentation. Professionals will always be prepared and have experience handling such equipment.
2. The expedition leader’s level of English. Knowing that most of the passengers are non-Spanish speakers, the level of English expected was much more than the one observed. Even more knowing that the expedition leader’s wife is a language teacher. Regarding his presentation, it started with three videos from YouTube that anyone could watch another time. It lasted one hour but there was an obvious lack of content and it seemed that including the videos was only for the sake of having a one-hour lecture.
One day the expedition leader organised a competition as we approached the peninsula, which made people feel more engaged and excited after two full days of sailing. Unfortunately, they called it off after one of the explorer guides “won”, which was really strange and honestly seemed staged. I approached to one expedition guide who was actually registering my name for the competition, then he approached to another guide to ask him the procedure to register entries, however the latter said that the competition was called off. I was upset because they did not informed us, so I came forward to discuss it with the expedition leader, but he simply said that it was called off, which was very disappointing.
3. In the Wildlife Watch section (page 8), you have written “…if we are fortunate enough to sight wildlife, we will announce it from the bridge, regardless of the hour. If you wish to go back to sleep please do so!”. It was a shame that sight happened and it was actually not announced. Moreover, later on the day the expedition leader informed everyone that there was a sight but that they decided not to announce it because it was at 4 am! I believe that was outrageous.
4. I have seen videos in which passengers travelling with other agencies/ships actually go in the zodiacs and approach whales for a beautiful experience. In our trip there were two occasions in which it was possible to do the same. In one the captain even slowed down and turned back but the decision of the zodiacs was not taken. In another trip organised to go around in the zodiacs, there were three groups of two zodiacs going to different routes in the same bay. On the radio I heard that there was a whale sighting, I even saw it in the distance and how two zodiacs went into that direction. I asked the driver (crew member) why we could not go as well, and he simply said that zodiacs should always remain in pairs (?). I understand that, but that is why they have radios and actually communicated that there was a sighting. I also understand safety, but to be honest, there is no risk in approaching to a certain distance to be able to see a whale from sea level. If you do not plan it, then it will simply never happen. Decisions should be taken to make it happen.
5. In the Zodiac safety guidelines, number 8 reads (page 9): “Please remain seated while taking photographs. Your zodiac driver will often stop to enable you to take pictures”. Most zodiacs’ drivers were crew members and they could not keep order in terms of reminding people to remain seated for safety reasons, either because they did not speak English, or they felt it was not their responsibility.
6. We were provided with a leaflet called Guidance for Visitors to the Antarctic per person. It is not necessary and most of the people did not read it. I strongly believe it is a waste of paper and ink.
To sum up, my feedback is: do not oversell or say things will happen when they actually will not. It causes people to feel deceived and highly doubt about the quality and reliability of your services. Something was expected but facts showed something different and that left a negative impression.
Expedition guides and crew members are the ultimately point in direct contact with the passengers. For many of us this was the trip of our lives and nowadays every passenger is a blogger commenting and rating everything. Your staff should be fully aware of this to provide an excellent service and experience.
It was a beautiful experience and I am very thankful you helped me to make it possible. I know I want to do it again and I would love to travel with you again because the overall experience was positive from the very beginning, but honestly the points previously highlighted should be improved/taken into consideration.
This vessel is proving increasingly popular and offers excellent value for your money. Lots of departures to choose from - book now and experience an ideal introduction to Antarctica!
OverviewThis Classic Antarctic expedition cruise on board the MV USHUAIA offers the ideal introduction to the White Continent. The itinerary is expertly planned to take best advantage of the amazing wildlife and spectacular scenery during each part of the Antarctic season. This is a truly unique and unforgettable experience and no two voyages are the same. Your Expedition Leader and their team will show you busy penguin colonies and spectacular seabirds, seals and whales amidst the imposing mountain ranges, ice-filled channels, and beautifully shaped icebergs and glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula.
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Expedition Vessel: M/V Ushuaia
Originally built for the United States agency NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), the USHUAIA has been refurbished to accommodate a maximum of 84 passengers in 41 comfortable twin cabins and suites. The ice-strengthened polar vessel USHUAIA is very well appointed and provides ample deck space and an open bridge policy. The full complement of inflatable landing craft ensures superb landings and wildlife viewing opportunities on the otherwise inaccessible coastline. All cabins include ample storage space. Public areas feature a large dining room (one sitting), an observation lounge and bar, a conference room with modern multimedia equipment, a well-stocked library, a changing room and a small infirmary. The expert captain, officers and crew are highly experienced in Antarctic navigation and have a great love of nature. A specialist team of international expedition leaders and lecturers are all extremely knowledgeable, enthusiastic, helpful and dedicated to the protection of the environment. Chefs prepare excellent cuisine including many local specialties and the bar is well-stocked with carefully selected wines and spirits.
- Voyage to Antarctica sailing from Ushuaia
- All meals throughout the voyage aboard the MV Ushuaia.
- All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by zodiac.
- Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
- All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program.
- Comprehensive pre-departure material.
- Detailed post-expedition log.
- Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights
- Pre- and post land arrangements
- Transfers to / from the vessel
- Passport and visa expenses
- Government arrival and departure taxes
- Meals ashore
- Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (strongly recommended)
- Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as bar and beverage charges and telecommunication charges
- The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages (guidelines will be provided).