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Bella0714

Comparing HAL 22-day to Princess' 16-day

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I know they say there's no such thing as a stupid question, and I hope I'm not about to prove that untrue! My wife and I are looking at two sail-by cruises for late 2019 or early 2020, one on Holland America and the other on Princess.

 

 

Holland America’s 22-day cruise does this:

 

Day 1: Santiago, Chile

Day 2: Sea

Day 3: Puerto Montt, Chile

Day 4: Castro, Islan Chiloe, Chile

Day 5: Puerto Chacabuco, Chile

Day 6: Chilean Fjords/Scenic Cruising: Amalia or Brujo Glacier

Day 7: Canal Sarmiento

Day 8: Strait of Magellan/Punta Arenas, Chile/Cockburn Channel/Beagle Channel

Day 9: Glacier Alley/Ushuaia, Argentina

Day 10: Cape Horn and Drake Passage

Day 11: Sea Day

Days 12, 13, 14 and 15: Antarctic Cruising

Day 16: Sea Day

Day 17: Stanley/Falkland Islands

Day 18: Sea Day

Day 19: Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Day 20: Sea Day

Day 21: Montevideo, Uruguay

Day 22: Buenos Aires

 

Princess’ 16-day cruise does this:

 

Day 1: Santiago, Chile

Day 2: At Sea

Day 3: At Sea

Day 4: At Sea

Day 5: Punta Arenas, Chile

Day 6: Ushuaia, Argentina (Beagle Channel)

Day 7: Cape Horn (and, I assume, Drake Passage)

Days 8, 9, 10 and 11: Antarctic Cruising 12 p.m. on first day

Day 12: At Sea

Day 13: Stanley, Falkland Islands

Day 14: At Sea

Day 15: At Sea

Day 16: Montevideo, Uruguay

Day 17: Arrives in Buenos Aires

 

The HAL cruise is obviously a better cruise. It’s also more-expensive (although cheaper on a per-day basis). But our main interests are the more water-bound sites, such as Chilean Fjords (Day 6 on HAL), Cockburn and Beagle Channel (Day 8 on HAL), Glacier Alley (Day 9 on HAL) and, of course, the Antarctica Days. Is it likely that the Princess Cruise will go through these areas, too, even though they’re not listed on the itinerary? I guess I’m asking whether there’s any other way to get from Santiago to Antartica and whether the HAL and Princess cruises are basically the same other than the fact that HAL stops at many more ports.

 

 

So, HAL's ports are more-extensive. Are its sailing days better, too? Judging by the maps on their websites, it looks like HAL hugs the coast while Princess goes more out to sea. Does that seem accurate?

Edited by Bella0714

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If you really want to see Antarctica (and step on land) you need an expedition cruise.

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowForum-g1-i12337-Antarctic_Adventures.html

 

http://www.traveltothepoles.com/ant-home.htm

 

 

Other than that the Hal cruise seems to spend more time in Antarctica. The Drake Passage takes more than a day depending upon the speed of the ship and the how rough the passage is. The Chilean Fjords will seem like nothing after what you see in Antactica but again Hal seems to have a better route.

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Thanks for replying. I really don't feel the need to step on land in Antarctica. I do agree that kayaking would be fun, but as for stepping on land, I'd be happy with seeing it. There's also the vast price difference.

 

 

I figure that if we're going to do the HAL cruise, we should leave from Chile, not Argentina, so we see Chilean Fjords first., so it does't pale by comparison. Then again, I've seen some pretty spectacular Fjords, so that might be the case anyway.

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We did the HAL trip a couple of years ago.

The onboard lecturers were superb.

The Chilean Fjords were totally underwhelming. (We have better ones here in our home country of NZ.)

The day at the Falklands was amazing - we did a private tour to Bertha's Beach and were lucky enough to see King Penguins as well as Gentoo Penguins. Time in Stanley to do the great souvenir shops!

The captain really made an effort to avoid some bad weather and we got to Antarctica early, to get some truly amazing sights.

I can't comment on the Princess one, but the HAL trip was brilliant, and I would do it again. That is, if we weren't doing an expedition trip to Antarctica, Falkland Islands & South Georgia this coming December!

I know a lot of people say "do the expedition cruise to do Antarctica properly", but the "cruise by" is truly amazing and surreal too. We were pretty happy seeing it without landing. The expedition trip is extremely expensive and if we were not in a position to do it I would certainly be more than happy to repeat the "cruise by", with HAL.

You certainly would not be disappointed in the HAL cruise (provided the weather co-operates). Don't know how the Princess one would compare.

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Thanks for replying roaming_kiwi58. I went back through your public profile and read your trip report from the HAL South America/Antarctica. Very informative and entertaining. I also readMVPinBoynton's blog about the same cruise on a different date. Also very helpful.

 

 

What struck me right away, though, is that both of you really love cruises. This might sound odd since we're considering a 22-day cruise, but my wife and I really are not what you'd call cruise people. We've been on cruises, but the destination has always been the thing (and the convenience, since we live in South Florida) and we generally don't love the on-board experience (shows, games, even having dinners with other people; we usually dine at a table for two). But Antarctica is one of those places that has to be done by cruise--saill-by or expedition--or not done at all. HOWEVER...you made the destination part of the cruise sound very appealing.

 

 

It sounds as if, strictly talking about ports, Punta Arenas and the Falkland Islands were the highlights, and Princess and HAL both do those ports. The other ports, while nice, don't seem like must-sees, although I could be mistaken. What might set the cruises apart is that HAL's sticks closer to land and is, therefore, more scenic. But I could be mistaken.

 

 

Again, thank you for your reply and your detailed reported. I hope you enjoy wherever you go to next!

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Hi Bella0714

 

My husband in particular is into cruising because he loves the fact you only unpack once while visiting so many destinations. I still think land tours have their place, and there are many places a long way from a cruise port I would like to visit! But I have a battle each year trying to persuade him to stay on land sometimes! And it is me that has to do the packing and unpacking all the time!

 

We do not cruise for the on board experience either. We are not into the games and often the shows are not to our taste. We always prefer to dine on our own. The exception being that in the last 3 years an older single Australian friend has sometimes travelled with us.

 

So you will never find us on a large cruise ship which has lots of entertainment etc available on board. We prefer the smaller ships (Azamara being our favourite cruiseline) which are usually port intensive itineraries. We are not lovers of at sea days! We like to be ashore investigating a new (or a favourite old!) place. Where practical we like to do our own thing ashore, walking a lot in a day if necessary (record 30kms in Georgetown, Penang! Getting too old to beat that record, I think!). But if transport is required we will often do ship or private tours.

 

The HAL Zaandam trip had quite a few at sea days, but they had so many lectures about Antarctic related topics and the lecturers on our cruise were all very interesting speakers, so attending the lectures really filled up our days. And the Antarctic scenery was so surreal, just amazing. Yes, we were smitten!

 

There are some aspects of HAL we are not impressed with, such as the food, which we find very bland and boring (and we are not foodies). But, we travel with them for the itinerary, which is our number one consideration.

 

Falklands was definitely also a highlight. And we enjoyed Ushuaia - we just wandered the town on our own. Montevideo was another port we were able to walk the city and see a lot. Porto Chacabuco was probably the least memorable. It did not help that it rained most of the day. We did a ship excursion into Coyhaique City, which was okay, but I wouldn't repeat it if we ever ended up back there. Castro we did on our own - it is an interesting town, with a really spectacular wooden church - you have to see the inside of it. The area is famous for numerous wooden churches, but most you need transport to get to. Anyway, all this was no doubt in my report.

 

I just don't think you can go wrong with the HAL Antarctic cruise - unless you are unlucky enough to get a lot of poor weather. Falklands is often cancelled due to bad weather, and we had one day in Antarctica when it was so foggy we could not see anything at all and the fog horn was going constantly. But a bit of clear weather and the views are just amazing, unforgettable.

 

Whichever itinerary you decide to do, I have no doubt you will enjoy it!

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This might sound odd since we're considering a 22-day cruise, but my wife and I really are not what you'd call cruise people. We've been on cruises, but the destination has always been the thing (and the convenience, since we live in South Florida) and we generally don't love the on-board experience (shows, games, even having dinners with other people; we usually dine at a table for two). But Antarctica is one of those places that has to be done by cruise--saill-by or expedition--or not done at all.

Out of curiosity, have you ruled out an expedition cruise? Hurtigruten's Midnatsol is large enough that the prices aren't that much higher than a non-landing cruise. I've sailed on the Fram, and it was nicer than some cruise ships I've been on. Of course there isn't a lot to do besides the lectures and the scenery, but it sounds like you wouldn't miss the bells and whistles of a big cruise ship anyway. And you'd have a lot more time to spend in Antarctica with the chance to get up close to the ice and the penguin colonies.

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I do believe that Puerto Montt is a worthwhile port if you take a nice tour that goes to the beautiful places nearby. We did that on our first SA cruise and just loved the place. We also enjoyed Puerto Chacabuco, since we took a most enjoyable tour that allowed us to experience the culture of the area and see some of the beauty there. It was a much more laid back and relaxing experience. I can understand not enjoying many ports if it rains all day; but with clear weather and good tours, I think they are great ports.

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Out of curiosity, have you ruled out an expedition cruise? Hurtigruten's Midnatsol is large enough that the prices aren't that much higher than a non-landing cruise. I've sailed on the Fram, and it was nicer than some cruise ships I've been on. Of course there isn't a lot to do besides the lectures and the scenery, but it sounds like you wouldn't miss the bells and whistles of a big cruise ship anyway. And you'd have a lot more time to spend in Antarctica with the chance to get up close to the ice and the penguin colonies.

 

I've pretty much ruled it out. Even the HAL cruise with excursions is pushing things budget-wise for us. Apples-to-apple comparison, a HAL inside cabin for this December would come to $9,018 for two people while Hurtigruten's inside cabin for the Nov. 6 sailing, which seems too early for the best experience., comes to $13,334. Looking at late 2019 or early 2020, which is when we'd go, the difference is even greater, even double for the better dates. And we don't want an inside cabin; we want at least an ocean view.

 

I realize that we likely wouldn't have as many added-on excursions on the Hurtigruten Cruise and there's definitely a much better experience on the expedition cruise, but that's just pushing our budgets too far. Besides, my wife does have balance issues and wouldn't want to walk on ice, even with crampons. For me, the main appeal of the expedition cruises is not so much stepping on land in Antarctica as much as it is being closer to water level and sea life while on the ship (and kayaking among icebergs, glaciers, wildlife); honestly, I'm not crazy about the decks on the cruise ships being so high off the water.

 

But, as I said, if we're going to go to Antarctica, HAL or Princess are the only cruises that are anywhere near our budgets unless Hurtigruten offers some kind of shocking deal, which seems doubtful.

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I've pretty much ruled it out. Even the HAL cruise with excursions is pushing things budget-wise for us. Apples-to-apple comparison, a HAL inside cabin for this December would come to $9,018 for two people while Hurtigruten's inside cabin for the Nov. 6 sailing, which seems too early for the best experience., comes to $13,334. Looking at late 2019 or early 2020, which is when we'd go, the difference is even greater, even double for the better dates. And we don't want an inside cabin; we want at least an ocean view.

 

I realize that we likely wouldn't have as many added-on excursions on the Hurtigruten Cruise and there's definitely a much better experience on the expedition cruise, but that's just pushing our budgets too far. Besides, my wife does have balance issues and wouldn't want to walk on ice, even with crampons. For me, the main appeal of the expedition cruises is not so much stepping on land in Antarctica as much as it is being closer to water level and sea life while on the ship (and kayaking among icebergs, glaciers, wildlife); honestly, I'm not crazy about the decks on the cruise ships being so high off the water.

 

But, as I said, if we're going to go to Antarctica, HAL or Princess are the only cruises that are anywhere near our budgets unless Hurtigruten offers some kind of shocking deal, which seems doubtful.

I completely understand about the budget! The price jump for oustside cabins can definitely be substantial!

 

But if you ever win the lottery, it's worth noting that later in the season, several of the landing sites are completely free of snow. For those that aren't, it's a question of snow, rather than ice. Some snowy areas may require walking through narrow paths that the expedition teams and previous visitors have tramped out through the snow. On my Hurtigruten trip, there was one landing that several people cut short because they had trouble navigating the deep snow, but at the others there was almost always at least one less difficult path. We even had a wheelchair-bound passenger on that trip, and instead of landing, he rode back and forth on one of the landing boats with a bit of boat cruising during slow periods!

 

As for the timing, I actually loved my November early season trip best and am eager to go back at that time of year! Some of the penguins were still courting and waiting for the snow to clear, so they made for some stunning photographs, and I loved the snowy landscapes! But given the snow, it's probably not the best time for mobility issues. And for a non-expedition cruise, late season is likely significantly better due to the navigational issues. Some of the areas that are popular with the big ships were still completely iced in on my November trip (though ice moves once it breaks up, so we ended up with drift ice blocking another location on my later-season trip)!

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I completely understand about the budget! The price jump for oustside cabins can definitely be substantial!

 

But if you ever win the lottery, it's worth noting that later in the season, several of the landing sites are completely free of snow. For those that aren't, it's a question of snow, rather than ice. Some snowy areas may require walking through narrow paths that the expedition teams and previous visitors have tramped out through the snow. On my Hurtigruten trip, there was one landing that several people cut short because they had trouble navigating the deep snow, but at the others there was almost always at least one less difficult path. We even had a wheelchair-bound passenger on that trip, and instead of landing, he rode back and forth on one of the landing boats with a bit of boat cruising during slow periods!

 

As for the timing, I actually loved my November early season trip best and am eager to go back at that time of year! Some of the penguins were still courting and waiting for the snow to clear, so they made for some stunning photographs, and I loved the snowy landscapes! But given the snow, it's probably not the best time for mobility issues. And for a non-expedition cruise, late season is likely significantly better due to the navigational issues. Some of the areas that are popular with the big ships were still completely iced in on my November trip (though ice moves once it breaks up, so we ended up with drift ice blocking another location on my later-season trip)!

 

Thanks for the very helpful details and information. I'm going to take one more look at the Hurtigruten trips. I've only been to Alaska, but having been in front of glaciers and cruising through fjords on a big cruise ship and then doing glaciers and fjords with much-smaller, day-trip type boats, I know how huge the difference is just from even a sail-by perspective. Somebody on another forum compared it to watching a football game from the top row vs. it from the sidelines. An apt comparison from my experience.

 

 

Our biggest question now is when to book for January 2020. Looks like we missed the earliest booking period when there's the most availability, but we're too far out to get much in the way of price cuts from cancellations. HAL's South America/Antarctica prices are higher for 2020 than they are for 2019, which tells me prices go up, probably until three months before when final payments are due. I know, it's not an exact science, so we'll just have to decide and take what comes. Not sure I want to take the chance of waiting until three months prior.

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I've seen the expedition ship trip v big ship trip comparison as like taking a cruise around Manhattan and thinking you have seen New York.

 

The expedition experience is amazing: we have done five trips on Hurtigruten's Fram and enjoyed every one. As you have realised, you need to book early: practically two years out when the 'brochure' is released.

 

A November trip is not too early, it's just what you will see that varies: any time in Antarctica has heaps to offer. As for the surface you will walk on, it's not all ice. It can be a gravel beach, snow or, indeed, ice. As Kaisatsu observed, later in the season you will see less ice and snow.

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I've seen the expedition ship trip v big ship trip comparison as like taking a cruise around Manhattan and thinking you have seen New York.

 

The expedition experience is amazing: we have done five trips on Hurtigruten's Fram and enjoyed every one. As you have realised, you need to book early: practically two years out when the 'brochure' is released.

 

A November trip is not too early, it's just what you will see that varies: any time in Antarctica has heaps to offer. As for the surface you will walk on, it's not all ice. It can be a gravel beach, snow or, indeed, ice. As Kaisatsu observed, later in the season you will see less ice and snow.

 

Yeah, I’ve seen that comparison, too. Honestly, it sounds ridiculous. NY is a big city whose main appeal is not what it looks like. It’s what you can do in it. If Antarctica is anything like Alaska (and I’ve read it’s like Alaska on steroids), a huge part of its appeal is seeing it. How about this for a more-apt comparison: It’s like taking the shuttle bus through Denali NP and never getting off to hike. A great experience but not as great.

 

Hurtigrutens price for this November is much lower than for next November, so maybe the prices do come down. They have a lot of unsold cabins for this Nov. 9.

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For many, New York is about what it looks like and what you can see in it.

 

Antarctica is like nothing else, not even Alaska on steroids! Seeing it is OK, but the experience of being on it and close up to the wildlife (think having a penguin chick pecking at your boots!) is difficult to explain.

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Thanks for the very helpful details and information. I'm going to take one more look at the Hurtigruten trips. I've only been to Alaska, but having been in front of glaciers and cruising through fjords on a big cruise ship and then doing glaciers and fjords with much-smaller, day-trip type boats, I know how huge the difference is just from even a sail-by perspective. Somebody on another forum compared it to watching a football game from the top row vs. it from the sidelines. An apt comparison from my experience.

 

 

Our biggest question now is when to book for January 2020. Looks like we missed the earliest booking period when there's the most availability, but we're too far out to get much in the way of price cuts from cancellations. HAL's South America/Antarctica prices are higher for 2020 than they are for 2019, which tells me prices go up, probably until three months before when final payments are due. I know, it's not an exact science, so we'll just have to decide and take what comes. Not sure I want to take the chance of waiting until three months prior.

 

If you plan to book on a small ship like Fram, I would book earlier rather than later for January, 2020, as January is peak season in Antarctica. I have seen specials every year for November, being off peak, but not for January. We went late November. On a large ship, you are more likely to have cancellations after final payment, so the risk is less, for booking later.

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Thanks to everyone for your helpful replies. We decided to take the semi-plunge and put down a refundable deposit on the HAL cruise, giving us some leeway. Who knows? Maybe a Hurtigruen Nov. 2019 cruise will drop too low to resist, but in the meantime, we’re very excited about the HAL cruise.

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Thanks to everyone for your helpful replies. We decided to take the semi-plunge and put down a refundable deposit on the HAL cruise, giving us some leeway. Who knows? Maybe a Hurtigruen Nov. 2019 cruise will drop too low to resist, but in the meantime, we’re very excited about the HAL cruise.

 

Good idea. The HAL cruises do sell out early and the pric s do increase quite a bit as it gets closer. If you can’t find a deal on an expedition cruise, you will still thoroughly enjoy Antarctica.

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Completely understand all you have been going through with your deliberations. We have done the same. After all that we booked the 16 day Coral Princess cruise (Santiago (San Antonio) to Buenos Aires via Antarctica) leaving on 5th January 2020. We have done all the South American ports before so the main aspect will be Antarctica this time. we did however love Ushuaia and Stanley last time and are looking forward to them again. Enjoy your cruise.

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Thanks to everyone for your helpful replies. We decided to take the semi-plunge and put down a refundable deposit on the HAL cruise, giving us some leeway. Who knows? Maybe a Hurtigruen Nov. 2019 cruise will drop too low to resist, but in the meantime, we’re very excited about the HAL cruise.

 

Sounds like a win win situation, with a refundable deposit.

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MVP: Your trip report is one of the reasons we chose the HAL cruise! Thanks for all that detail.

 

Joybook: Have a wonderful time. In the end, we chose the HAL cruise because we’ve never been to South America and, from the itinerary (which I know can change), the HAL cruise gets an extra day in Antarctica. But you get a little more time in Stanley, which could be good. But honestly we didn’t have the guts to go on the Princess cruise because the cabin decks start so high. Drake does scare us a bit!

 

So now I get to check cruise websites every day for 14 months!

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