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lithlith

Just back from Silversea Falkland & Antarctica Trip

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My husband and I returned from a Silversea Falkland Island and Antarctica trip last week (on Jan. 4, 2016). I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.

We had a wonderful trip with usually nice weather, a relatively smooth Drake crossing, and saw millions of penguins (Rockhopper, Chinstrap, Gentoo, Adelie, and Magellanic) as well as lots of seals, whales, and other birds.

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We will be going on Seabourn's Holiday Antarctica cruise the end of this year and so I am curious to know if in late Dec/early Jan you saw any penguins hatchlings?

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Yes, we literally saw millions of penguins and chicks. Mid to late December is perfect chick viewing as well as better weather than if you go earlier on or later in the season. There were some places that we visited that had half a million penguins at that one location. Most locations we visited had over 100,000 penguins, so there will be no shortage for you to see. The only way you wouldn't see them is if you have terrible weather and are unable to land anywhere, but you would still likely be able to see them swimming and with binoculars or your camera on shore. We saw everything from penguins sitting on eggs to chicks that were just a day or two old all the way up to about four week old chicks.

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Thanks -- I am so looking forward to this cruise. Thanks for the reply and good news. I have been in a quandary trying to balance the pros and cons of the various cruise sailing dates. We picked the Dec 19 cruise because it includes S. Georgia and friends signed up for this one. I can't wait to see all of the Penguins -- both adults and babies. Glad you had such good luck with the weather and the animal sightings.

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I am booked for next year and have just been advised by Silversea that they are no longer offering charter flights from Ushuaia.
Can I ask if you had to arrange your own flights and for any information that might assist my planning, i.e./ what time you were able to disembark, how long it took to get to the airport and checkin etc. There is a flight at 9.50am, but I imagine that this will be too early and I will have to take one of the later departures.

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[quote name='zigtraveller']I am booked for next year and have just been advised by Silversea that they are no longer offering charter flights from Ushuaia.
Can I ask if you had to arrange your own flights and for any information that might assist my planning, i.e./ what time you were able to disembark, how long it took to get to the airport and checkin etc. There is a flight at 9.50am, but I imagine that this will be too early and I will have to take one of the later departures.[/quote]

We were on charter flights through Silversea from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and then back from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. And then a Silversea transfer from the domestic airport to the international airport in Buenos Aries.

Our charter flight to Ushuaia pre-cruise was 1.5 hours late departing Buenos Aries. There was a Silversea rep who met us at the domestic airport, got us checked in and on our way, which was great because the airport was crazy busy and we were there around 6am. The regular check in line was super long and we actually stood in it with our luggage to check for about 45 minutes until we finally noticed a Silversea rep, who saved us from the terrible line. Then there was another really long line once we got to security. Once in Ushuaia, we collected our luggage and handed it off to a Silversea rep who took it to the ship, while we were loaded onto buses and taken on a tour and to lunch at a restaurant near the national park.

On the way home - we disembarked the ship right around 8:30am. That was about the time they finally got the card machine hooked up near the exit as well as the staff lined up to say goodbye. However, I do know that one couple left after dinner the previous night for an evening flight leaving Ushuaia, so I don't think that you would have to wait until the official time they ask you to leave the ship at 8:30am. But of course you would want to clear that with Silversea first. Silversea took us on busses from the ship for a tour of the town (which was just driving us down a couple of street and then parking in a parking lot for 3 hours) and then dropped us off at the airport. (However, the Ushuaia airport is about 20 minutes from the port at most.) Airport check in was quick, but it was just our cruise group checking in for a charter at a special counter. Our charter flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aries was an hour late. This caused major problems with us trying to get from the domestic airport to the international airport. We had the transfer through Silversea and had to push that rep at the airport to move everyone along quickly and get the bus loaded as well as agreed to drop us off first at the international airport. Luckily it was a Sunday and traffic was light, but it still took nearly an hour from the domestic airport to the international airport in Buenos Aires. We made it too our flight with about 30 minutes to spare before boarding.

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[quote name='zigtraveller']I am booked for next year and have just been advised by Silversea that they are no longer offering charter flights from Ushuaia.
Can I ask if you had to arrange your own flights and for any information that might assist my planning, i.e./ what time you were able to disembark, how long it took to get to the airport and checkin etc. There is a flight at 9.50am, but I imagine that this will be too early and I will have to take one of the later departures.[/quote]

There are no guarantees with timings when Antarctica is involved. You may arrive in Ushuaia the night before you are due, you may arrive the afternoon after. A flight at 09:50 is most likely too risky and an afternoon flight would be much safer.

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[quote name='lithlith']...it still took nearly an hour from the domestic airport to the international airport in Buenos Aires.[/quote]

That is an unusually quick transfer. We have taken over two hours before now and 1.5 is regarded as the minimum you should allow.

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Thanks lithlith and digitl for the information. You confirmed for me that the 9.50am flight is probably not an option, so I will probably look at the afternoon flight.
I have heard of the problems and delays with the charter flights, so perhaps we will be better off making our own arrangements on regular commuter services. Edited by zigtraveller

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The scheduled flights are little better, though LAN have a better reputation than Aerolineas Argentinas.

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[quote name='digitl']The scheduled flights are little better, though LAN have a better reputation than Aerolineas Argentinas.[/QUOTE]

Agree with you there digitl, however Aerolineas Argentinas does have a couple of flights into EZE, which would save a transfer from AEP. I'm still weighing up the pros and cons of possibly flying with them over LAN who I prefer.

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[quote name='zigtraveller']Agree with you there digitl, however Aerolineas Argentinas does have a couple of flights into EZE, which would save a transfer from AEP. I'm still weighing up the pros and cons of possibly flying with them over LAN who I prefer.[/quote]

LAN was who our charter flight was through.

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I'm very excited to see your post because we are booked on the Silver Explorer for December. We also will be booking flights independently but it is a little too early for that.
Could you comment about the clothing for the landings? I hope that my ski pants which are comfortable and warm will do with an extra layer below. I plan to give them an extra spray of water repellent after ski season this year.
DH bought me a pair of Bogs boots for Christmas but I am worried about bringing them home in my case after trudging in penguin droppings. They may be a donation to the ship.
Thanks very much!

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Have a look at [url]www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowForum-g1-i12337-Antarctic_Adventures.html[/url] and the links at the top right hand corner. Answers to all your questions, and more, are there.

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digitl's link is a very good resource. Beware that ski pants may not be the best option as they are not always meant to be waterproof, particularly when that water is salted. You need waterproof pants for the zodiac rides, you will be sprayed (and sometimes splashed) by sea water, you will sit in sea water and you will even maybe stand in sea water so your pants need to resist all this. Depending on the ski pants, the water may soak through, even with a coat of water repellent.

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Yes thanks I have read most of the links and more. I have a pair of the LL Bean recommended "waterproof snow pants" sitting here that I am getting ready to return because I can't tell the difference between them and my ski pants and as many people commented the legs are huge and the pants are overall very bulky. I was hoping for comments on the Silversea experience particularly in case the particular Zodiacs and the skill of the drivers, etc made a difference in how wet I should expect to get. I do have lightweight rain pants that I can put on over the ski pants and take them off or not depending on conditions
A surgeon suggested a drop of lavender oil on the upper lip/base of the nose for the smell.
Did you send post cards from port lockroy? That sounds fun. I guess they have the appropriate stamps available?
Thanks to all.

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To date, our trips have, been towards the end of the season and we have not been bothered by the smell.

We have sent postcards from Port Lockroy each time we have been there: they do have stamps, and much more. Please support their work by spending freely!

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[quote name='Nova Cruisers']I'm very excited to see your post because we are booked on the Silver Explorer for December. We also will be booking flights independently but it is a little too early for that.
Could you comment about the clothing for the landings? I hope that my ski pants which are comfortable and warm will do with an extra layer below. I plan to give them an extra spray of water repellent after ski season this year.
DH bought me a pair of Bogs boots for Christmas but I am worried about bringing them home in my case after trudging in penguin droppings. They may be a donation to the ship.
Thanks very much![/quote]

There were people who had ski pants. I think those are complete overkill. Just a simple pair of waterproof pants. Ours were $50 Columbia waterproof pants that we wore over our jeans or sweatpants. Your pants will get wet, not so much from spray and splash on the zodiac, but you get wet from when you get in and out of the zodiac. For some landings the water was half way up our calves when we stepped out of the zodiac, other landings were just over our ankles. You tuck your base layer pants into your boots and then your waterproof pants over the boots, so your waterproof pants will get wet on the bottom over and over again on the trip, but our dried quick in our room within a couple of hours.

We had the option to rent boots through a company that works with Silversea for $70. Yes, that's a bit pricey, but after you walk through all of that penguin poop, you're not going to want to take those home or haul them there in the first place. I wasn't even sure I wanted to bring my new waterproof pants home after all of the excursions. But I scrubbed those down after our last landing and it wasn't a stinky problem, but I think boots might be a different story. They had some boots on board that some people borrowed for free, but no guarantee of size. The rental boots were Bogs. There is also a special boot storage room on board where you scrub your boots after every landing as well as store them for the trip.

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I did just the opposite regarding ski pants. Brought both Snowboarding pants and Columbia waterproof pants. Used the Snowboarding pants 100% as it was more convenient (and 100% dry) as we had some really cold days.

Boots - I 100% second the rental idea. It saves on weight of your bags plus the hassle. What is $70 when you are paying 15K for a trip.

Flights -- Our flights were late back to AEP -- so much so that people with the early flights to the US (at 8pm) missed their flights. We were on the 10pm UA flight and made it with 90 minutes to spare (got thru passport/security at 830pm). We took a pre-reserved private taxi rather than the SS bus which arrive at EZE about 1/2 hour after we did. Edited by PaulMCO

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That's wonderful to hear. I think I have all I will need. I would've preferred to rent the boots but now that I have them I will just try to pack around them. I will take kitchen bags and Lysol in an attempt to get them home but otherwise they will be a donation.
How were the SS parkas? It will be summer passing through BA then maybe chilly in Ushuaia but I should be able to get by without a parka until embarkation? I'm thinking just a fleece that can serve under the parka too if necessary .
I will start working with the travel agent soon about our independent arrangements for next December and will post helpful details. We will be traveling from east coast of US. I am most concerned about navigating the domestic flights on our own after hearing about the crowds and the lines. Don't want to stand in the wrong line for an hour because of the language difference. Etc.
We will probably be in BA for Christmas Eve in case anyone has suggestions. Maybe a trip to Pope Francis's former church. I assume the shops and most places will close early. Probably dinner in a hotel restaurant that will have to be open for its guests. Then we expect to fly back Christmas Day which we hope will be relatively easy.
Lots of time to plan.

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[quote name='Nova Cruisers']
DH bought me a pair of Bogs boots for Christmas but I am worried about bringing them home in my case after trudging in penguin droppings. They may be a donation to the ship.
Thanks very much![/QUOTE]

Honestly if your boots have penguin guano or anything else on them after any or each landing them you are not doing your scrubbing in the Vircon correctly. You and every other passenger have a responsibility to ensure you are not transferring anything between landings to ensure no contamination of sites.

My Muck Boots have been on 4 trips with me and have been loaned to several other people. They are as clean as a whistle between every landing (for me nearly 150 landings) and before they go back into my luggage. They have utterly no aroma other than the rubber they are made of.

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[quote name='Nova Cruisers']
How were the SS parkas? It will be summer passing through BA then maybe chilly in Ushuaia but I should be able to get by without a parka until embarkation? I'm thinking just a fleece that can serve under the parka too if necessary . [/quote]

The Siversea parkas are warm, block the wind and water and have zip pockets. We found them to be too warm for about half of our landings and just right for the other half. We each had a waterproof shell jacket that we sometimes wore with a fleece underneath for the "warmer" days. If an excursion is labeled as a "hike" then you can count on the Silversea parka being too warm and you'll end up taking it off and carrying it part way through the hike.

[quote name='PerfectlyPerth']Honestly if your boots have penguin guano or anything else on them after any or each landing them you are not doing your scrubbing in the Vircon correctly. [/quote]

Very true! The expedition staff went through at least once on our trip and scrubbed down all of the boots after the passengers had supposedly scrubbed their own boots, but wasn't up to the expedition staff's standards. Maybe I'm just squeamish, but after knowing where and what I had walked through during the trip, it didn't matter to me how clean those boots looked, there was no way I would have packed them to bring home had they been my own. I was thankful for the rentals.

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[quote name='Nova Cruisers']Thanks for both perspectives. And good to know about the hikes. Will be sure to layer.[/QUOTE]

The complimentary parka is changing - if you look at the link on the SS website you will see the details. It will now be a Haglofs inner and outer jacket which will make the layering a lot easier.

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[quote name='lithlith']


Very true! The expedition staff went through at least once on our trip and scrubbed down all of the boots after the passengers had supposedly scrubbed their own boots, but wasn't up to the expedition staff's standards. Maybe I'm just squeamish, but after knowing where and what I had walked through during the trip, it didn't matter to me how clean those boots looked, there was no way I would have packed them to bring home had they been my own. I was thankful for the rentals.[/QUOTE]

Only once ? thats really quite slack of them. On every one of my voyages there has been a staff member physically standing at the Vircon baths and inspecting each and every person - checking boot soles and ensuring those who had been laying down for photos were also scrubbing their pants and jackets before and after every landing.

Prior to my final packing on the last night I give my soles a quick once over in the shower - but have never actually found anything leftover to scrub because the vircon and scrubbing brush does its job.

And really - think about what your normal shoes track through every day on your average city footpath - smeared dog doo, saliva, other human bodily functions, remnants of rubbish and food waste etc etc but you pack them !! Pop a few grocery bags in to put shoes or boots in and you are set.

Now I have you sitting there thinking about what on the bottom of your shoes dont I !!! :D

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