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We just returned from the Fram's Polar Circle Crossing (January 28 to February 11, 2015) and I thought I would post some information. We did not book through Hurtigruten, but everyone we talked to that did said they had the same experience - not getting any details until just before the trip.

 

This is fairly long and rambling - fair warning!!

 

First, let me say that the cruise was fantastic. Once we were on board, the staff and expedtion crew were the best we have had. I won't go into details about the landings here, since they are different on all the cruises, but there were a lot of questions that we had before we left that I thought I would address. Feel free to ask me anything else - I took photos of the cabin (309) and the boots, and anything else I could think of!

 

We booked a window "upspecified cabin" about 3 months before the cruise. We got our "documents" about a week before we left for Buenos Aires (we booked our flights independently, as well). The "documents" basically consisted of the "Travel Information" section from the website, but also gave the luggage limits for the BA to Ushuaia flights (1 checked bag for each person, not to exceed 23kg, and 1 piece hand luggage each, not to exceed 8kg). I am glad we had planned on packing lightly!! We didn't get our flight information until the day before - they had two flights, a reguarly scheduled LAN flight leaving at 4:40am, and a charter leaving at 8:20am. We were on the 4:40am, which required us leaving the hotel around 2:30. It seemed that if you had booked the National Park excursion in Ushuaia, you had a better chance of the later flight.

 

We booked (again independently) the Hotel Emperador, where our TA had said the Hurtigruten usually books their people. It was okay, but if I did it again, I would not book there. It is not really near anything. On our return, we booked the NH City Hotel and Tower, which is where we understood Hurtigruten booked their German speaking folks. It was very nice, and located a block from Plaza de Mayo, and an easy walk to San Telmo Market.

 

We didn't book the Hurtigruten transfer (USD$ 66/pp) to the local (AEP) airport. We took a taxi, and even with rounding up, it was 90 pesos for the outgoing trip, and 120 pesos for the return trip ($10/$14 USD).

 

The flight was an uneventful 3.5 hours to Ushuaia, and as we had not booked the excursion, we were on a bus that gave us an orientation and then dropped us off near the port. We were told to be back at the bus at 3:00pm (we left the bus around 9:40). In retrospect, I wish we would have taken the train trip, but we ended up walking around Ushuaia, stopping for a coffee early, and a beer later on. We went to the Maritime / Prison Museum and it was fairly interesting.

 

The bus drove us right up to the gangway of the Fram. One of the expedition staff came onto the bus and asked for our "Ebola Forms". We had received those, and once we gave them to her, we were allowed to embark. It was a very simple and quick process. The check-in was about 10 steps from the entrance, and as we were some of the first off the bus, we were checked in and got our cabin assignment in about 2 minutes.

 

Our cabin was on deck 3, which is where the gangway is, so quite simple. We then took our medical forms to reception on deck 4, and then wandered around the ship for 30 minutes. When we got back, our bags were outside the room. I want to mention that we did put a bottle of Scotch Whisky into our checked luggage, so we could enjoy a dram in the evenings. It made it with no problems. We bought the small Hurtigruten travel mugs and did take a dram into the hot tub after kayaking, but we shared with everybody!!

 

The cabin was small, with the two single beds - one folded up against the wall, and the other a sofa during the day. On the desk was a card with our dinner seating assignments - there are two seatings (6:00pm and 8:00pm). They seem to arrange people by nationality, but as we only had 4 nights of non-buffet, it was not a problem, and by the last couple of nights, people had rearranged themselves to sit where they wanted. There was a storage area under the TV Shelf that fit our suitcases with no problem. The bathroom was a standard small cruise ship bathroom. There is a single dispenser for an all purpose soap/shampoo in the shower, and a dispenser of hand soap next to the sink. No bath mat, and no washcloths. We took nylon bath scrubbies with us, and shampoo and conditioner, so we only used the shower soap as a body wash. We took good magnets with us, so we could hang the daily schedules on the walls, and if we did it again, I would take some bigger magnetic, or removable stick-up hooks, for our Hurtigruten coats. The floor in the bathroom is heated (button outside the bathroom door with red light), which helped to dry socks and undies partway through the trip. We never got wet on landings or cruising.

 

After unpacking, we went up to the observation lounge and each had a glass of white wine (76NOK for two). Dinner was a buffet, and we purchased a wine package (12 bottles + 1 free bottle) for 2700NOK. The package includes a carafe of mineral water at lunch and at dinner. Since we drink wine every night, it seemed like a decent deal. If anyone is interested, I have a list of the packages that I can send you. We were pretty wiped out after being up at 0200, so we decided to go to bed around 9:00. At 9:20, they annouced that at 9:30, there would be a welcome in the observation lounge. It ended up being not just a welcome, but introduction to staff and an outline of the plan for the next two weeks. We would not have wanted to miss it. A little advance notice would have been nice!! We found that there would be some activity almost every night starting at 9:30 or 10:00. The announcements come over your TV if you have the navigation screen up. Most channels were in Spanish (we watched the SuperBowl in Spanish), so we didn't bother to watch anything other than the navigation.

 

The next morning, after breakfast, the boat groups were posted - your boat group (1-7) is the group you will go ashore with, and every activity is designated by boat group. They are assigned by language - I think there were 2 English speaking boat groups, and the rest were German speaking. About 24-28 people per boat group. They rotate the boat groups - Activity 1 (receiving your blue coat) started with Boat Group 1. Activity #2 (getting your boots) started with Boat Group 2. The first actual landing started with Boat Group #3, etc. We then had lectures, 1 about optional excursions (hiking, kayaking, camping, ice cruising). They are done by lottery, although they try to fit everyone in - we had 2 groups hiking, and I believe 6 ice cruising, 3 kayaking, and 2 camping, although due to weather, the second camping group did not get to camp. We hiked, camped and kayaked. Twice, when landings weren't possible, they did "ice cruising for everyone".

 

Our cruise had 207 people from 17 countries: 78 German7, 18 Norway, 34 UK, 20 US, 9 France, 7 Austria, 7 Denmark, 6 Sweden, 5 Canada, 5 Italy, 4 Estonia, 3 Mexico, 3 Switzerland, 2 Finland, 2 Netherlands, 1 Romania. It was great to get to know them.

 

The coats are nice quality Helly Hansen coats, but they are just wind proof - the offer no insulating at all. The boots are comfortable enough, and quite warm (I wore 1 pair lightweight wool ankle socks, and 1 pair calf height Smartwool Trekker socks and never had cold feet), but they are heavy, and during the 7km hike to above 360m, they got very heavy feeling!

 

For all landings, plan on wearing a couple of layers under your coat, and some warm leggings under your windproof/waterproof pants. We wore smartwool lightweight base layer, with a half-zip midweight smartwool shirt over it, and the blue jacket over that. On the bottom, we wore fleece pants and Marmot Precip water/windproof pants over them. We only wore wool long underwear under the fleece when kayaking. Expect to wear the waterproof pants every time you go ashore - you will have the penguin poop sprayed off the bottoms when you get back to the ship.

 

When your group is called for a landing, you go down to Deck 2, and put on your boots (they are stored on a rack there), a life vest, and then go to the launch area to be checked out - they scan your room key as you leave, and again as you return. The launch area is very well set up, and there are always friendly folks ready to help you into or out of the Polar Cirkle boats. When you get to the landing site, you are helped off by the staff (usually a rock or a small set of stairs), and directed to an expedition person that tells you where you can and can't go, and how long you have. I think the shortest was 30 minutes, and the longest was 2 hours.

 

During the time between landings (once at the peninsula, we attempted 2 a day), there were lectures, movies, and time to talk to your fellow explorers. Since ours was a crossing the circle cruise, we went a lot further south than usual, and for the first time ever, Fram was allowed to visit the UK Rothera research base.

 

The staff did a great job of getting you to shore, and you never felt like you were being rushed. Our group went further than the other group on our hike, and when we got back to landing, the staff still let those of us that wanted to swim, swim! Even though it was obvious everybody else was back on the ship, about 8 of us put on swimsuits and jumped into the water - talk about taking your breath away!!!

 

We had one evening and night of very rough seas - a channel toward Marguerite Bay was clogged with ice, so we had to go around Adelaide Island in the open ocean. They could not put the stabilizers out due to ice in the water, so Fram danced a lot! Luckily it was not a buffet night - we had wine bottles falling over at dinner, and everything at the reception desk was on the floor. In bed, it felt like you were standing up one minute, and standing on your head the next! The next morning, the Captain said we had 10 meter seas, and 66 mph winds.

 

Once comment on being on deck 3 - we were the 5th cabin from the front, and we could hear the anchor chain being brought up or let down (loud enough not to hear announcements on the TV), and when going through the ice, you hear it scraping down the side.

 

There were two landings we could not do because of ice blocking the landing sites. The expedition team was ready with extra lectures, and on one, we did ice cruising - each boat group got about 30 minutes of cruising around through the ice - it was great being down at the ice level!

 

We found the meals to be quite good - standard breakfast things, along with a lot of fish in sauces for breakfast, lunch always has a soup, a good salad selection, a pasta and a couple of main dishes - lamb, reindeer, beef, and always a fish.

 

The ship itself was quite comfortable, and the dress is very casual. The documents from Hurtigruten suggest a jacket for the first and last dinners, but we only saw a few people that did that - there was a group with the high-end suites that all dressed nicer for dinner. 95% of us wore what we had worn during the day. The observation room gets quite warm during the day, and we never had to wear a sweater anywhere on the ship. We packed very lightweight down jackets (MontBell UL) and would carry them with us for the quick run onto deck to see whales!

 

If you have any questions about anything, let me know!

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We just returned from the Fram's Polar Circle Crossing (January 28 to February 11, 2015) and I thought I would post some information. We did not book through Hurtigruten, but everyone we talked to that did said they had the same experience - not getting any details until just before the trip.

 

This is fairly long and rambling - fair warning!!

 

First, let me say that the cruise was fantastic. Once we were on board, the staff and expedtion crew were the best we have had. I won't go into details about the landings here, since they are different on all the cruises, but there were a lot of questions that we had before we left that I thought I would address. Feel free to ask me anything else - I took photos of the cabin (309) and the boots, and anything else I could think of!

 

We booked a window "upspecified cabin" about 3 months before the cruise. We got our "documents" about a week before we left for Buenos Aires (we booked our flights independently, as well). The "documents" basically consisted of the "Travel Information" section from the website, but also gave the luggage limits for the BA to Ushuaia flights (1 checked bag for each person, not to exceed 23kg, and 1 piece hand luggage each, not to exceed 8kg). I am glad we had planned on packing lightly!! We didn't get our flight information until the day before - they had two flights, a reguarly scheduled LAN flight leaving at 4:40am, and a charter leaving at 8:20am. We were on the 4:40am, which required us leaving the hotel around 2:30. It seemed that if you had booked the National Park excursion in Ushuaia, you had a better chance of the later flight.

 

We booked (again independently) the Hotel Emperador, where our TA had said the Hurtigruten usually books their people. It was okay, but if I did it again, I would not book there. It is not really near anything. On our return, we booked the NH City Hotel and Tower, which is where we understood Hurtigruten booked their German speaking folks. It was very nice, and located a block from Plaza de Mayo, and an easy walk to San Telmo Market.

 

We didn't book the Hurtigruten transfer (USD$ 66/pp) to the local (AEP) airport. We took a taxi, and even with rounding up, it was 90 pesos for the outgoing trip, and 120 pesos for the return trip ($10/$14 USD).

 

The flight was an uneventful 3.5 hours to Ushuaia, and as we had not booked the excursion, we were on a bus that gave us an orientation and then dropped us off near the port. We were told to be back at the bus at 3:00pm (we left the bus around 9:40). In retrospect, I wish we would have taken the train trip, but we ended up walking around Ushuaia, stopping for a coffee early, and a beer later on. We went to the Maritime / Prison Museum and it was fairly interesting.

 

The bus drove us right up to the gangway of the Fram. One of the expedition staff came onto the bus and asked for our "Ebola Forms". We had received those, and once we gave them to her, we were allowed to embark. It was a very simple and quick process. The check-in was about 10 steps from the entrance, and as we were some of the first off the bus, we were checked in and got our cabin assignment in about 2 minutes.

 

Our cabin was on deck 3, which is where the gangway is, so quite simple. We then took our medical forms to reception on deck 4, and then wandered around the ship for 30 minutes. When we got back, our bags were outside the room. I want to mention that we did put a bottle of Scotch Whisky into our checked luggage, so we could enjoy a dram in the evenings. It made it with no problems. We bought the small Hurtigruten travel mugs and did take a dram into the hot tub after kayaking, but we shared with everybody!!

 

The cabin was small, with the two single beds - one folded up against the wall, and the other a sofa during the day. On the desk was a card with our dinner seating assignments - there are two seatings (6:00pm and 8:00pm). They seem to arrange people by nationality, but as we only had 4 nights of non-buffet, it was not a problem, and by the last couple of nights, people had rearranged themselves to sit where they wanted. There was a storage area under the TV Shelf that fit our suitcases with no problem. The bathroom was a standard small cruise ship bathroom. There is a single dispenser for an all purpose soap/shampoo in the shower, and a dispenser of hand soap next to the sink. No bath mat, and no washcloths. We took nylon bath scrubbies with us, and shampoo and conditioner, so we only used the shower soap as a body wash. We took good magnets with us, so we could hang the daily schedules on the walls, and if we did it again, I would take some bigger magnetic, or removable stick-up hooks, for our Hurtigruten coats. The floor in the bathroom is heated (button outside the bathroom door with red light), which helped to dry socks and undies partway through the trip. We never got wet on landings or cruising.

 

After unpacking, we went up to the observation lounge and each had a glass of white wine (76NOK for two). Dinner was a buffet, and we purchased a wine package (12 bottles + 1 free bottle) for 2700NOK. The package includes a carafe of mineral water at lunch and at dinner. Since we drink wine every night, it seemed like a decent deal. If anyone is interested, I have a list of the packages that I can send you. We were pretty wiped out after being up at 0200, so we decided to go to bed around 9:00. At 9:20, they annouced that at 9:30, there would be a welcome in the observation lounge. It ended up being not just a welcome, but introduction to staff and an outline of the plan for the next two weeks. We would not have wanted to miss it. A little advance notice would have been nice!! We found that there would be some activity almost every night starting at 9:30 or 10:00. The announcements come over your TV if you have the navigation screen up. Most channels were in Spanish (we watched the SuperBowl in Spanish), so we didn't bother to watch anything other than the navigation.

 

The next morning, after breakfast, the boat groups were posted - your boat group (1-7) is the group you will go ashore with, and every activity is designated by boat group. They are assigned by language - I think there were 2 English speaking boat groups, and the rest were German speaking. About 24-28 people per boat group. They rotate the boat groups - Activity 1 (receiving your blue coat) started with Boat Group 1. Activity #2 (getting your boots) started with Boat Group 2. The first actual landing started with Boat Group #3, etc. We then had lectures, 1 about optional excursions (hiking, kayaking, camping, ice cruising). They are done by lottery, although they try to fit everyone in - we had 2 groups hiking, and I believe 6 ice cruising, 3 kayaking, and 2 camping, although due to weather, the second camping group did not get to camp. We hiked, camped and kayaked. Twice, when landings weren't possible, they did "ice cruising for everyone".

 

Our cruise had 207 people from 17 countries: 78 German7, 18 Norway, 34 UK, 20 US, 9 France, 7 Austria, 7 Denmark, 6 Sweden, 5 Canada, 5 Italy, 4 Estonia, 3 Mexico, 3 Switzerland, 2 Finland, 2 Netherlands, 1 Romania. It was great to get to know them.

 

The coats are nice quality Helly Hansen coats, but they are just wind proof - the offer no insulating at all. The boots are comfortable enough, and quite warm (I wore 1 pair lightweight wool ankle socks, and 1 pair calf height Smartwool Trekker socks and never had cold feet), but they are heavy, and during the 7km hike to above 360m, they got very heavy feeling!

 

For all landings, plan on wearing a couple of layers under your coat, and some warm leggings under your windproof/waterproof pants. We wore smartwool lightweight base layer, with a half-zip midweight smartwool shirt over it, and the blue jacket over that. On the bottom, we wore fleece pants and Marmot Precip water/windproof pants over them. We only wore wool long underwear under the fleece when kayaking. Expect to wear the waterproof pants every time you go ashore - you will have the penguin poop sprayed off the bottoms when you get back to the ship.

 

When your group is called for a landing, you go down to Deck 2, and put on your boots (they are stored on a rack there), a life vest, and then go to the launch area to be checked out - they scan your room key as you leave, and again as you return. The launch area is very well set up, and there are always friendly folks ready to help you into or out of the Polar Cirkle boats. When you get to the landing site, you are helped off by the staff (usually a rock or a small set of stairs), and directed to an expedition person that tells you where you can and can't go, and how long you have. I think the shortest was 30 minutes, and the longest was 2 hours.

 

During the time between landings (once at the peninsula, we attempted 2 a day), there were lectures, movies, and time to talk to your fellow explorers. Since ours was a crossing the circle cruise, we went a lot further south than usual, and for the first time ever, Fram was allowed to visit the UK Rothera research base.

 

The staff did a great job of getting you to shore, and you never felt like you were being rushed. Our group went further than the other group on our hike, and when we got back to landing, the staff still let those of us that wanted to swim, swim! Even though it was obvious everybody else was back on the ship, about 8 of us put on swimsuits and jumped into the water - talk about taking your breath away!!!

 

We had one evening and night of very rough seas - a channel toward Marguerite Bay was clogged with ice, so we had to go around Adelaide Island in the open ocean. They could not put the stabilizers out due to ice in the water, so Fram danced a lot! Luckily it was not a buffet night - we had wine bottles falling over at dinner, and everything at the reception desk was on the floor. In bed, it felt like you were standing up one minute, and standing on your head the next! The next morning, the Captain said we had 10 meter seas, and 66 mph winds.

 

Once comment on being on deck 3 - we were the 5th cabin from the front, and we could hear the anchor chain being brought up or let down (loud enough not to hear announcements on the TV), and when going through the ice, you hear it scraping down the side.

 

There were two landings we could not do because of ice blocking the landing sites. The expedition team was ready with extra lectures, and on one, we did ice cruising - each boat group got about 30 minutes of cruising around through the ice - it was great being down at the ice level!

 

We found the meals to be quite good - standard breakfast things, along with a lot of fish in sauces for breakfast, lunch always has a soup, a good salad selection, a pasta and a couple of main dishes - lamb, reindeer, beef, and always a fish.

 

The ship itself was quite comfortable, and the dress is very casual. The documents from Hurtigruten suggest a jacket for the first and last dinners, but we only saw a few people that did that - there was a group with the high-end suites that all dressed nicer for dinner. 95% of us wore what we had worn during the day. The observation room gets quite warm during the day, and we never had to wear a sweater anywhere on the ship. We packed very lightweight down jackets (MontBell UL) and would carry them with us for the quick run onto deck to see whales!

 

If you have any questions about anything, let me know!

 

Thank you for your review...we go January 2017... Long wait...I also would prefer to not stay at hotel emperador...I'm curious if they grant a credit if you make your own arrangements? I would also like to make my own flight arrangements to Ushuaia

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I also would prefer to not stay at hotel emperador...I'm curious if they grant a credit if you make your own arrangements? I would also like to make my own flight arrangements to Ushuaia

 

We usually fly in two or three days early and only use the Emperador for the 'inclusive' night. We use their Ushuaia flights and transfers so that the problems are theirs if there are any delays or other issues.

 

BTW, it makes for easier navigation and reading if you don't quote the whole of a trip report...

Edited by digitl

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Thanks for the review! I am taking a trip on Hurtigruten with several family members this fall. I would love to see the wine list. My email is erinmarie424 @ yahoo.com.

 

Did they have the water and coffee packages as well? Do you remember those prices?

 

Was there any storage in the bathroom (behind the mirror?). All the pictures I have seen show just a washbasin with a tiny vanity. Trying to figure out how to be able to keep things organized for two weeks. Fortunately we keep hair products to a minimum. :). Also can you give me an idea of the clothing storage space? Sorry for so many questions but I am having trouble finding good pictures online. Thanks!

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We just returned from the Fram's Polar Circle Crossing (January 28 to February 11, 2015) and I thought I would post some information. We did not book through Hurtigruten, but everyone we talked to that did said they had the same experience - not getting any details until just before the trip.

 

This is fairly long and rambling - fair warning!!

 

First, let me say that the cruise was fantastic. Once we were on board, the staff and expedtion crew were the best we have had. I won't go into details about the landings here, since they are different on all the cruises, but there were a lot of questions that we had before we left that I thought I would address. Feel free to ask me anything else - I took photos of the cabin (309) and the boots, and anything else I could think of!

 

We booked a window "upspecified cabin" about 3 months before the cruise. We got our "documents" about a week before we left for Buenos Aires (we booked our flights independently, as well). The "documents" basically consisted of the "Travel Information" section from the website, but also gave the luggage limits for the BA to Ushuaia flights (1 checked bag for each person, not to exceed 23kg, and 1 piece hand luggage each, not to exceed 8kg). I am glad we had planned on packing lightly!! We didn't get our flight information until the day before - they had two flights, a reguarly scheduled LAN flight leaving at 4:40am, and a charter leaving at 8:20am. We were on the 4:40am, which required us leaving the hotel around 2:30. It seemed that if you had booked the National Park excursion in Ushuaia, you had a better chance of the later flight.

 

We booked (again independently) the Hotel Emperador, where our TA had said the Hurtigruten usually books their people. It was okay, but if I did it again, I would not book there. It is not really near anything. On our return, we booked the NH City Hotel and Tower, which is where we understood Hurtigruten booked their German speaking folks. It was very nice, and located a block from Plaza de Mayo, and an easy walk to San Telmo Market.

 

We didn't book the Hurtigruten transfer (USD$ 66/pp) to the local (AEP) airport. We took a taxi, and even with rounding up, it was 90 pesos for the outgoing trip, and 120 pesos for the return trip ($10/$14 USD).

 

The flight was an uneventful 3.5 hours to Ushuaia, and as we had not booked the excursion, we were on a bus that gave us an orientation and then dropped us off near the port. We were told to be back at the bus at 3:00pm (we left the bus around 9:40). In retrospect, I wish we would have taken the train trip, but we ended up walking around Ushuaia, stopping for a coffee early, and a beer later on. We went to the Maritime / Prison Museum and it was fairly interesting.

 

The bus drove us right up to the gangway of the Fram. One of the expedition staff came onto the bus and asked for our "Ebola Forms". We had received those, and once we gave them to her, we were allowed to embark. It was a very simple and quick process. The check-in was about 10 steps from the entrance, and as we were some of the first off the bus, we were checked in and got our cabin assignment in about 2 minutes.

 

Our cabin was on deck 3, which is where the gangway is, so quite simple. We then took our medical forms to reception on deck 4, and then wandered around the ship for 30 minutes. When we got back, our bags were outside the room. I want to mention that we did put a bottle of Scotch Whisky into our checked luggage, so we could enjoy a dram in the evenings. It made it with no problems. We bought the small Hurtigruten travel mugs and did take a dram into the hot tub after kayaking, but we shared with everybody!!

 

The cabin was small, with the two single beds - one folded up against the wall, and the other a sofa during the day. On the desk was a card with our dinner seating assignments - there are two seatings (6:00pm and 8:00pm). They seem to arrange people by nationality, but as we only had 4 nights of non-buffet, it was not a problem, and by the last couple of nights, people had rearranged themselves to sit where they wanted. There was a storage area under the TV Shelf that fit our suitcases with no problem. The bathroom was a standard small cruise ship bathroom. There is a single dispenser for an all purpose soap/shampoo in the shower, and a dispenser of hand soap next to the sink. No bath mat, and no washcloths. We took nylon bath scrubbies with us, and shampoo and conditioner, so we only used the shower soap as a body wash. We took good magnets with us, so we could hang the daily schedules on the walls, and if we did it again, I would take some bigger magnetic, or removable stick-up hooks, for our Hurtigruten coats. The floor in the bathroom is heated (button outside the bathroom door with red light), which helped to dry socks and undies partway through the trip. We never got wet on landings or cruising.

 

After unpacking, we went up to the observation lounge and each had a glass of white wine (76NOK for two). Dinner was a buffet, and we purchased a wine package (12 bottles + 1 free bottle) for 2700NOK. The package includes a carafe of mineral water at lunch and at dinner. Since we drink wine every night, it seemed like a decent deal. If anyone is interested, I have a list of the packages that I can send you. We were pretty wiped out after being up at 0200, so we decided to go to bed around 9:00. At 9:20, they annouced that at 9:30, there would be a welcome in the observation lounge. It ended up being not just a welcome, but introduction to staff and an outline of the plan for the next two weeks. We would not have wanted to miss it. A little advance notice would have been nice!! We found that there would be some activity almost every night starting at 9:30 or 10:00. The announcements come over your TV if you have the navigation screen up. Most channels were in Spanish (we watched the SuperBowl in Spanish), so we didn't bother to watch anything other than the navigation.

 

The next morning, after breakfast, the boat groups were posted - your boat group (1-7) is the group you will go ashore with, and every activity is designated by boat group. They are assigned by language - I think there were 2 English speaking boat groups, and the rest were German speaking. About 24-28 people per boat group. They rotate the boat groups - Activity 1 (receiving your blue coat) started with Boat Group 1. Activity #2 (getting your boots) started with Boat Group 2. The first actual landing started with Boat Group #3, etc. We then had lectures, 1 about optional excursions (hiking, kayaking, camping, ice cruising). They are done by lottery, although they try to fit everyone in - we had 2 groups hiking, and I believe 6 ice cruising, 3 kayaking, and 2 camping, although due to weather, the second camping group did not get to camp. We hiked, camped and kayaked. Twice, when landings weren't possible, they did "ice cruising for everyone".

 

Our cruise had 207 people from 17 countries: 78 German7, 18 Norway, 34 UK, 20 US, 9 France, 7 Austria, 7 Denmark, 6 Sweden, 5 Canada, 5 Italy, 4 Estonia, 3 Mexico, 3 Switzerland, 2 Finland, 2 Netherlands, 1 Romania. It was great to get to know them.

 

The coats are nice quality Helly Hansen coats, but they are just wind proof - the offer no insulating at all. The boots are comfortable enough, and quite warm (I wore 1 pair lightweight wool ankle socks, and 1 pair calf height Smartwool Trekker socks and never had cold feet), but they are heavy, and during the 7km hike to above 360m, they got very heavy feeling!

 

For all landings, plan on wearing a couple of layers under your coat, and some warm leggings under your windproof/waterproof pants. We wore smartwool lightweight base layer, with a half-zip midweight smartwool shirt over it, and the blue jacket over that. On the bottom, we wore fleece pants and Marmot Precip water/windproof pants over them. We only wore wool long underwear under the fleece when kayaking. Expect to wear the waterproof pants every time you go ashore - you will have the penguin poop sprayed off the bottoms when you get back to the ship.

 

When your group is called for a landing, you go down to Deck 2, and put on your boots (they are stored on a rack there), a life vest, and then go to the launch area to be checked out - they scan your room key as you leave, and again as you return. The launch area is very well set up, and there are always friendly folks ready to help you into or out of the Polar Cirkle boats. When you get to the landing site, you are helped off by the staff (usually a rock or a small set of stairs), and directed to an expedition person that tells you where you can and can't go, and how long you have. I think the shortest was 30 minutes, and the longest was 2 hours.

 

During the time between landings (once at the peninsula, we attempted 2 a day), there were lectures, movies, and time to talk to your fellow explorers. Since ours was a crossing the circle cruise, we went a lot further south than usual, and for the first time ever, Fram was allowed to visit the UK Rothera research base.

 

The staff did a great job of getting you to shore, and you never felt like you were being rushed. Our group went further than the other group on our hike, and when we got back to landing, the staff still let those of us that wanted to swim, swim! Even though it was obvious everybody else was back on the ship, about 8 of us put on swimsuits and jumped into the water - talk about taking your breath away!!!

 

We had one evening and night of very rough seas - a channel toward Marguerite Bay was clogged with ice, so we had to go around Adelaide Island in the open ocean. They could not put the stabilizers out due to ice in the water, so Fram danced a lot! Luckily it was not a buffet night - we had wine bottles falling over at dinner, and everything at the reception desk was on the floor. In bed, it felt like you were standing up one minute, and standing on your head the next! The next morning, the Captain said we had 10 meter seas, and 66 mph winds.

 

Once comment on being on deck 3 - we were the 5th cabin from the front, and we could hear the anchor chain being brought up or let down (loud enough not to hear announcements on the TV), and when going through the ice, you hear it scraping down the side.

 

There were two landings we could not do because of ice blocking the landing sites. The expedition team was ready with extra lectures, and on one, we did ice cruising - each boat group got about 30 minutes of cruising around through the ice - it was great being down at the ice level!

 

We found the meals to be quite good - standard breakfast things, along with a lot of fish in sauces for breakfast, lunch always has a soup, a good salad selection, a pasta and a couple of main dishes - lamb, reindeer, beef, and always a fish.

 

The ship itself was quite comfortable, and the dress is very casual. The documents from Hurtigruten suggest a jacket for the first and last dinners, but we only saw a few people that did that - there was a group with the high-end suites that all dressed nicer for dinner. 95% of us wore what we had worn during the day. The observation room gets quite warm during the day, and we never had to wear a sweater anywhere on the ship. We packed very lightweight down jackets (MontBell UL) and would carry them with us for the quick run onto deck to see whales!

 

If you have any questions about anything, let me know!

 

I understand the Fram provides boots and a wind proof jacket - what about watr proof pants? Don't want to pack more than necessary...

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Fram provides a 'free' (included in the cost and you take it with you at the end of the trip) windproof and waterproof jacket, and rents boots at a very reasonable cost.

 

All other clothing is your responsibility.

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From what I understand the cruise line has changed their packages...starting for the 2016-2017 season the hopper flight into Ushuaia is no longer included in package and neither is the hotel so I have been told

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I guess this really depends on where you book, because on the French catalog the night in BA, which up to now was part of the pre-program optional possibilities, is now included in the package (and so is the flight to Ushuaia). I have booked for november 2016 and I didn't have a choice for any of those two things.

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Fram provides a 'free' (included in the cost and you take it with you at the end of the trip) windproof and waterproof jacket, and rents boots at a very reasonable cost.

 

All other clothing is your responsibility.

 

Thank you!

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From what I understand the cruise line has changed their packages...starting for the 2016-2017 season the hopper flight into Ushuaia is no longer included in package and neither is the hotel so I have been told

 

Both were originally included for 2016-17 (we have them on our November/December 2016 trip) but appear to have been removed for later bookings.

 

Hurtigruten have made the change in both directions over recent years.

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We have them for our Feb 2016 booking too as well as the night before included in our price.

 

Thanks for the great review and we too would be interested in the wine package and the wines they include as we know how expensive the wines are from Norway Polarlys trip. Our email is wendya495 at gmail dot com

Thanks for your help, Wendy

Edited by davwen81

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Azcruiser, hi hoping you can send the different wine packages for Fram over by email ( wendya495at gmail dot com) or post them here if easier, sure they'd be of interest to lots of people. Many thanks in anticipation, Wendy

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I will post them, put am currently finishing my hike of the Pacific Crest Trail and have a few more weeks. I will post or email when I get home.

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I've looked at the packages each time we've travelled on Fram but have chosen to buy single bottles as and when one has been finished. The package needs too much drinking to be able to keep up with it for me!

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Good point Digitl. What wS the average price per bottle? Remember from Polarlys in Norway a few years ago a glass was about $A14!

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From memory, and I may be way out, I think I was paying around £21 a bottle. And I don't drink expensive!

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Yes that equated with what I remember. If you look at the cost of the 12+1 bottle deal it's then cheaper working out for us at $A 35, so a small saving but overall would we drink 13 bottles in 18 days, no! Way too much for us. But at $14 a glass £21 is still good!

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Thank You for your very informative review. We are the Fram Feb -March 2016.

Tom:)

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Hi azcruise. I finally have time to focus on our 11/28/2015 departure for the Fram Antarctic trip. Your detailed post has confirmed most of what I anticipated. This is our first Hurtigruten trip.

I still have a few question that perhaps you can answer:

Can you tell me the USD$ cost of the wines?

Is there room anywhere to hang a narrow, cloth shelf (IKEA)? They are great for organizing in a small space.

Is there laundry service or should I plan to wash my own things in the cabin?

Is it possible to remove the mattresses and lay them on the floor side by side? I imagine if there are rough seas as you described, it could be better if we plan to sleep on the floor!

Silly, but important...when off the ship, how difficult is it to find a place to relieve oneself?

Where did you change into bathing suits and did you just wrap up to go back to the ship or did you change back into your layers of clothing?

Did you sign up for the excursions well before your travel date? I want to go kayaking and hiking.

Which outings are included?

Feel free to email me directly:

adriennebeth@gmail.com

 

Thank you!

Adrienne

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Not azcruise but...

 

Wines are either side of ~210NOK

 

I'm not sure how big your cloth shelf might be, but there's a hanging space next to the TV shelf.

 

There is a laundry service, but many wash things in the cabin bathroom where they dry quickly.

 

Mattresses may just go side by side on the floor (N cabin).

 

You don't leave anything other than footprints ashore. If you need to relieve yourself you go back to the ship!

 

Excursions listed by Hurtigruten on pre-cruise lists are best booked asap. Others, like kayaking and Antarctic hikes, can only be booked once on board.

 

If an 'outing' is listed separately, then it's generally chargeable. All landings are included. Polar Cirkel *cruises* are not.

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Thanks for your note, digitl.

Not to be blunt, but do you mean that even peeing must be done on board? Sorry... Just want to know what to expect.

 

Thanks!

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