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Basecamp Plancius with Oceanwide Expeditions

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Does anyone have any experience doing a basecamp Antarctica cruise? I've tried searching the forum but haven't had much luck. My husband and I just paid our reservation on the Oceanwide Expeditions [URL="https://oceanwide-expeditions.com/antarctica/cruises/pla21-16-antarctic-peninsula-basecamp-plancius"]Basecamp Plancius [/URL]cruise.

Also if anyone has any experience on m/v Plancius or cruises with Oceanwide Expeditions, that'd be great.

Thanks in advance!

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You may find reviews and advice on TripAdvisor's "Antarctic Adventures" forum : [url]https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12337-Antarctic_Adventures.html[/url]

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Over on Trip Advisor we have only had one trip report from anyone on the Plancius - see link
[url]http://antarcticafaqs.boards.net/thread/30/mv-plancius[/url]

Several people have enquired about the base camp itinerary over the years but none have reported back as to whether they went ahead with it.

I did the semi circumnavigation from NZ to USH last year on the sister ship Ortelius with Oceanwide.
My trip report and other peoples are here
[url]http://antarcticafaqs.boards.net/thread/9/ortelius-previous-name-marina-svetaeva[/url]

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Thanks, both! I'll read the notes and try to remember to actually report back with a report/itinerary from our experience this fall.

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A friend went to Antarctica on Plancius. She did the last trip of the season, which I believe was in March, 2017. She is very adventurous (and fit) and did the mountaineering (climbing on ice while roped up), as well as spending a night on the ice in a bivvy-bag. She really enjoyed the trip, and was actually disappointed with how smooth her crossings of Drake Passage were!

Some other guests also did the SCUBA diving, but they had to bring their own heavy-duty dry suits. She mentioned that the mountaineering is only offered on certain trips, so I would recommend checking their website for specifics of the journey you are interested in.

My sense of this ship is that it is more basic than other expedition ships, and geared towards more active travelers ([URL]https://oceanwide-expeditions.com/gallery/ship/m-v-plancius[/URL]).

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[quote name='Smokeyham']

My sense of this ship is that it is more basic than other expedition ships, and geared towards more active travelers ([URL]https://oceanwide-expeditions.com/gallery/ship/m-v-plancius[/URL]).[/quote]

Not really the case - Plancius and sister ship Ortelius are fully renovated very nice suites and shared cabins. Age group wise - all polar expeditions on all the various vessels attract a wide age group from 16 to 90s. (And I have sailed with plenty of folks in the very advanced years who are far more adventurous and active than the younger folk).

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[LEFT][COLOR=#1D2129][FONT=Helvetica]We just returned home from a trip to Antarctica aboard the m/v Plancius, December 18-29, 2017. Absolutely nothing can take away from the incredible beauty of the place. They say it is a “continent of superlatives” but words become superfluous – how many ways can you say spectacular, awe-inspiring, majestic? It truly is another world, unlike anywhere else, and you must see it to fully understand.
But I will caution future travelers to take the Plancius Basecamp with a bit of “Buyer Beware.”
The lounge area was ok but not large enough for the full-ship briefings: you needed to arrive early if you wanted a seat. And the seats were not all that comfortable.
The dining room chairs slide during sporty seas. Again, you had to get there early to grab one of the bench seats and avoid potentially sitting in your neighbor’s lap. The waitstaff was competent and friendly but the chef and menu selections left a little to be desired. There seemed to be a disconnect between the level of daily physical activity and food we were served. Way too much fried food -- I would have expected more hearty stick-to-your-ribs items like pasta or quinoa. As vegetarians we were assured there would be options at each meal. But a typical “vegetarian” plate was over-cooked vegetables and rice. One day we were given huge chunks of soggy eggplant in curry sauce and told to “get rice from the buffet.” Really??
In reading through the literature beforehand it appeared there would be as much emphasis on wildlife and photography as everything else. But that was not the case. Those participating in the mountaineering, camping, or kayaking each day were separated from everyone else, with group size limits and designated leaders. There was a photo pro on board, but the photo outings were completely haphazard. The only time we did do a designated “zodiac photo tour” they crammed 10 of us onto a zodiac in choppy seas with an inexperienced driver: not exactly ideal conditions for good photography.
We signed up for the offered activities but after attending the briefings opted out of them all. Digging my own trench for camping or getting my own kayak in & out of the water just did not sound like fun, nor something I would expect when paying almost $12,000.00 each. I expected the Plancius to be somewhat “bare bones” in terms of an expedition ship but I did not expect a “Do It Yourself” trip. I even felt I had to “do it myself” with my photography. One two separate occasions I had to ask the zodiac driver to drive by an iceberg, so we could get a closer shot of a seal. After being told there were “seals in that direction” I had to hike up the hill and search for them myself (and then found out later if I had gone a little further there were five male elephant seals).
Although all the staff had radios there was virtually no communication about special wildlife sightings. If you happened to be in the right place you might be lucky enough -- otherwise, you heard about it at the next meal. How hard would it have been to radio all staff, so they could tell whoever was nearby? And at least one staff member was always nearby: we were instructed to not wander from the designated areas.
Your housekeeping and waitstaff were friendly, hard-working, and courteous. I have only good to say about them and they were tipped accordingly. But your expedition team appeared under-staffed and overworked. The presentations were mediocre at best and many appeared to be pulled off the internet. Presentations about wildlife and/or the continent on the crossing back at the end of the trip were a waste of time. We were all exhausted and the information provided would have been far more helpful beforehand. All-in-all, the expedition staff did not go out of their way to mingle with guests (outside of their duties with respect to shore excursions) and often seemed to put their own interests above those of the guests. After the evening briefing they stayed in their own group and ate their meals in a separate staff-only dining room. Two examples stand out. (1) Due to weather “Jane” did not get to kayak on her appointed day. Disappointed, she begged to go another day but was told there was no space. Imagine her dismay when on the last day she saw the ship’s doctor out kayaking with a group of guests. (2) A curious leopard seal decided to investigate the zodiacs as they approached the ship after one shore excursion. It swam and played around the gangway for close to an hour. Not one announcement was made over the ship’s PA to let those onboard know about this delightful visitor. “John” just happened to be on deck, shooting photos of the landscape, when he heard a noise and looked down. He saw two of the expedition team in a zodiac by themselves, playing with the seal and taking their own photos.
Regarding the onboard amenities such as the bar or gift shop. The bar was only open in the evening after dinner. If you wanted a soda during the day you were out of luck. And apart from a few items the gift shop was open only once, for a few hours. That was a buying frenzy we wanted no part of. These two examples speak to being under-staffed.
I did mention this to the expedition leader, but I wish to formally complain. There was one zodiac driver, a Russian man, who hit me when I gave him the “wrong” arm for the seaman’s grip. This was perhaps the second or third time I was getting on a zodiac and still new to the method. He literally slapped my arm away. One of your team members, Ben, witnessed this and told me “wrong arm.”[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#1D2129][FONT=Helvetica] I loved the small size of the Plancius and Captain Alexey was as good as can be. We were absolutely smitten with Antarctica and are already dreaming of going back one day, but not with Oceanwide Expeditions. [/FONT][/COLOR][/LEFT]

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[quote name='zootenval']
[LEFT][COLOR=#1D2129][FONT=Helvetica]We just returned home from a trip to Antarctica aboard the m/v Plancius, December 18-29, 2017. Absolutely nothing can take away from the incredible beauty of the place. They say it is a “continent of superlatives” but words become superfluous – how many ways can you say spectacular, awe-inspiring, majestic? It truly is another world, unlike anywhere else, and you must see it to fully understand.
But I will caution future travelers to take the Plancius Basecamp with a bit of “Buyer Beware.” ....[/FONT][/COLOR][/LEFT]
[/quote]

Thanks so much for posting this! Great to hear about what the environment is like on board, and to get such specific examples.

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In additional to Zootenval's review, we have had a new batch of reviews for Plancius on Trip Advisor - all listed now in the Trip Reports [url]http://antarcticafaqs.boards.net/thread/30/mv-plancius[/url]

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[quote name='PerfectlyPerth']In additional to Zootenval's review, we have had a new batch of reviews for Plancius on Trip Advisor - all listed now in the Trip Reports [URL]http://antarcticafaqs.boards.net/thread/30/mv-plancius[/URL][/quote]

Seem to be seeing a pattern here. This trip report from December, 2017 also gives an interesting perspective on what to expect.

[URL]https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1w5Wr3QZ4zvOCUeP3UkzJZMMb3dr4YzAy[/URL]

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To be clear, the Plancius Basecamp cruise we just returned from was not "horrible". Antarctica itself is a surreal, magical place to visit, irrespective of which cruise/ship you take. There are many ships and operators, none of which are cheap, All of them have slick websites, brochures, etc., that paint a picture of what to expect. It is up to the customer to perform their own research, and hopefully make the best choice for their own needs.

For us personally, we had two requirements that Plancius Basecamp did not meet very well. First, we are vegetarians, and wanted to make sure that our dietary needs would not be an issue over the 12 day cruise. Despite assurances that there would be at least one vegetarian entrée for each meal, there was not. The vegetarians on board did not starve, but the selections offered were either afterthoughts (soggy eggplant chunks in a curry sauce) or limited to bland salad and bread, maybe some plain rice or overcooked bland vegetables.

We are also passionate nature/wildlife photographers. From the brochures, we thought that wildlife viewing and photography would at least be on an equal footing with the basecamp activities. This is not so. The landings are chosen based on suitability for mountaineering, kayaking and camping, not necessarily for wildlife. Additionally, there are other ships in the area to stay clear of. In 5 days in Antarctica proper, we saw a boatload of Gentoo penguins, a couple of Adelies, one Macaroni, a couple of leopard seals, a handful of Weddell seals, a couple of Crabeater seals, five elephant seals, a few humpback fins and tails, a few Minke whale fins, and a number of birds. We also saw Dusky Dolphins in the Beable on the way into port. Most of the wildlife was on the last couple of days, and much of it (e.g. elephant seals, adelie penguins, leopard seals), was only sean by the portion of passengers who were at a specific spot. There was almost no communication between the expedition team mambers regarding wildlife, despite their having radios. We took some amazing photos during our trip, nut we had to work very hard for them.

To summarize, Plancius Basecamp might be a great option for a lot of people, especially younger travelers (the sizeable group of millennials on the cruise seemed to enjoy it). if you are vegetarian and/or an avid wildlife photographers, be forewarned...

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[quote name='zootenval'].... First, we are vegetarians, and wanted to make sure that our dietary needs would not be an issue over the 12 day cruise. Despite assurances that there would be at least one vegetarian entrée for each meal, there was not. The vegetarians on board did not starve, but the selections offered were either afterthoughts (soggy eggplant chunks in a curry sauce) or limited to bland salad and bread, maybe some plain rice or overcooked bland vegetables. ...[/quote]
If you ever end up going back (or to the Arctic), G's Expedition had some impressive vegetarian and vegan options on our last expedition. Quite a few of the passengers and a number of the expedition staff were vegan or vegetarian, and a lot of the vegetarian mains were even better than the non-veg options.

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[quote name='kaisatsu']If you ever end up going back (or to the Arctic), G's Expedition had some impressive vegetarian and vegan options on our last expedition. Quite a few of the passengers and a number of the expedition staff were vegan or vegetarian, and a lot of the vegetarian mains were even better than the non-veg options.[/quote]

Is "G" the National Geographic ships?

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[quote name='Smokeyham']Is "G" the National Geographic ships?[/quote]
G Adventures (called Gap Adventures for several years until the clothing company sued over the copyright). They have one polar expedition ship named the MS Expedition.
[URL]https://www.gadventures.com/destinations/polar/[/URL]

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I can attest that the food on G Adventures [I]Expedition[/I] is wonderful with lots of variety and I did note vegetarian options. It is a comfortable ship with a wonderful staff and crew.

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