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mcpepe

Fram Ultimate Voyage Exceeded All Expectations :D

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Who: Me, 57 yo solo female traveler with lots of cruise experience, 4th time on Hurtigruten

When: December 29, 2019 to January 20, 2020

Where: MS Fram beginning in Buenos Aires before flying to Ushuaia. Sailed to Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and Antarctica

 

Hi gang! I'm in a unique position having sailed MS Midnatsol to Antartica only in November 2018 and now sailing a smaller ship, MS Fram, on the Ultimate Expedition. I've been able to compare the two experiences. I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed BOTH cruises.  Yes, on Fram we did two landings per day when weather allowed but I still feel I did not feel like I missed out on Midnatsol having done one landing per day.  I wouldn't hesitate to go on a bigger ship again.

 

That being said, after Antarctica the year prior, I knew I wanted to go to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Island. And Fram is the only ship in Hurtigruten's fleet that sails to both. I sailed Fram to Greenland in September 2019 and fell in love with her. I was so happy to be able to sail her only a few months later.

 

In a word this Ultimate Voyage was EPIC! We had perfect weather the entire cruise for our landings. We only missed a couple landings, one due to swell at South Georgia and one in Antarctica due to ice conditions. Our return on the Drake was a little Drake Shake but not so bad.

 

I started in BA, with a night at the Emperador Hotel being included in our package. The hotel was absolutely gorgeous and it was nice beginning to meet fellow travelers.

 

Very early flight to Ushuaia, we had a couple hours free time before we had to meet up with the bus to be driven 5 minutes onto the pier and the entrance to the ship. Checkin was quickly done and I went around basically hugging and laughing everyone from the crew and expedition team who had also been working onboard during my Greenland voyage in September. My best surprise was I had been upgraded from an inside cabin gty to a Deck 5 premium room with a large window, sitting area, bigger bathroom. I had a robe and slippers too!!! I was in heaven!  I know that Fram will be refurbished in April when she finishes this Antarctic season but I so love her charming decor and am so glad I got to experience it.

 

Ports of Call

 

The Falkland Islands

Day 1: Morning: Grave Cove
Afternoon: West Point Island

Day 2: 

Morning: Saunders Island
Afternoon: Carcass Island

DAy 3:  Stanley all day

 

The Falkland Islands exceeded my expectations. I did not expect such warm, 50-55 F, sunny weather and long gorgeous sandy beaches filled with penguins! The hospitality shown at Carcass Island and West Point Island is legendary, with tables laden with cakes and cookies and tea/coffee served. I saw so many species of birds, weaners (baby elephant seals), Gentoo, King and Magellanic penguins. Just amazing nature!

 

Days 4 and 5 at sea as we made our way to South Georgia Island. At one point, hear Shag Rocks we were surrounded by hundreds of humpback whales. The expedition team and even the Captain said this was truly special. We practically stopped and just experienced the sites, sounds and smells of this magnificent creatures.

 

South Georgia Island Days 6 through 9

We visited Salisbury Plain, Fortuna Bay. Stromness Harbor. St Andrew's Bay, Grytviken, Moltke Harbor and Drygalski Fjord. Two landings cancelled due to swell.

I was most looking forward to visiting South Georgia Island. And it did not disappoint! I'd been watching videos and documenarties about this magical place for the last couple years. Both Salisbury Plain and St Andrew's Bay had literally thousands of penguins carpeting the landscape. And the beaches had so many fur seals and a few female or weaner (baby) elephant seals.  It was just breathtaking and I absolutely loved it. Really mind blowing nature.

 

Two more days at sea on the way to Antarctica. 

 

Antarctica 5 days total including Elephant Island (no landing just observing), Brown Bluff, Paulet Island, Deception Island )Telefon Bay), Cuverville Island, Neko Harbor, Almirante Brown. Port Lockroy, the Lemaire Channel, ice cruising in Hidden Bay

 

Having been to Antarctica in November of last year I saw it under lots of snow. I was curious to compare it to now, their summer without as much snow. The only repeat destinations were Cuverville Island and Almirante Brown station. I did go to Deception Island last year but to Whaler's Bay so it was a different landing site this year. I really loved seeing penguin chicks this trip! I saw chicks on the Falklands and South Georgia as well. They were bigger. On Cuverville island some of the chicks were still quite tiny and adorable.

 

Antarctica is always so beautiful and I was so lucky to see her twice in my lifetime. 

 

The People

For me the people on a trip really make or break a voyage. I was spectacularly lucky and we had a wonderful group of guests, 190 something. A small group of us began hanging out and called ourselves The Colony. 😄 We're all still in touch and it made for so many laughs.  The crew and expedition team I adore so much. They work so hard and are such interesting and nice people. I have made friends for life both on this voyage and all my other Hurtigruten voyages.

 

I'm not sure what else to say here except no matter WHAT ship you sail, big or small, you will have an amazing adventure of a lifetime! Any questions I'd be happy to answer!

 

 

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Thank you for the trip report, so glad you had a good time! Your experience having sailed both on Midnatsol and Fram, and at different seasons, is very interesting. The whale watching sounds extraordinary!
Like you I've visited Falkland Islands for the first time aboard MS Fram a few years back and it was an incredible revelation for me, it's really a hidden gem (I since came back on a land-based trip).

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We cruised on Midnatsol 1/18 and just adored every bit of it. And  agree that our fellow passengers were wonderful. Not a whisper of pretension. And isn't their soup just insanely good 🙂 Congratulations.

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On 2/8/2020 at 5:29 PM, mcpepe said:

I sailed Fram to Greenland in September 2019 and fell in love with her. I was so happy to be able to sail her only a few months later.

 

 

Hi -- don't mean to hijack your review, but I am considering doing a Greenland cruise on Fram. As I am nearly the same age as you, I was hoping you could either give me your thoughts on that trip (sounds like you loved it) or any pointers on the experience, as a solo woman traveler.

 

Thanks for anything you can share. The voyage I am considering is listed as Itinerary 1 (Atlantic Canada and Greenland) -- it ends in Reykjavik and I would probably tack on a few days there after.

 

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1 hour ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

Hi -- don't mean to hijack your review, but I am considering doing a Greenland cruise on Fram. As I am nearly the same age as you, I was hoping you could either give me your thoughts on that trip (sounds like you loved it) or any pointers on the experience, as a solo woman traveler.


 

Hi there! Loved my trip. My itinerary was much different, one week in Greenland and what was supposed to be another week in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

 

 Our trip was cut short at our first stop in Newfoundland at Saint Anthony. Fram developed a problem and could not continue so we were in St Anthony for four days before they flew us to St John's Newfoundland to where the cruise was ultimately supposed to end.

 

The fact that happened does not detract from a fantastic cruise. I have traveled 4 times solo on Hurtigruten and travel solo on most vacations. There are lots of other solo travelers and i made friends easily with other travelers, solo or not. 

 

Your itinerary is light on Greenland but you will fall in love. I'm planning to return next year on Nansen to do the whole 16 day Greenland rt fin Iceland. 

 

I love Fram. The crew are amazing and I'm proud to call many friends after my 2 voyages on her.

 

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Thank you so much for the info. If I may ask, what was the problem that prevented Fram from continuing? Did you go to L'Anse aux Meadows while at St. Anthony for several days?

 

I am considering booking an inside cabin on deck 5, around mid-ship, which looks to be a good location for getting quick access to the outside if there is something to see.  Any thoughts on that?

 

I chose the itinerary because I am more interested in the Viking history of Greenland than in natural scenery, and the cruise visits two of the ports where one can see some of the better remains. I also like ending in Iceland.

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16 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

Thank you so much for the info. If I may ask, what was the problem that prevented Fram from continuing? Did you go to L'Anse aux Meadows while at St. Anthony for several days?

 

I am considering booking an inside cabin on deck 5, around mid-ship, which looks to be a good location for getting quick access to the outside if there is something to see.  Any thoughts on that?

 

I chose the itinerary because I am more interested in the Viking history of Greenland than in natural scenery, and the cruise visits two of the ports where one can see some of the better remains. I also like ending in Iceland.

 

Something about a computer motherboard that controlled a propeller? They had to fly one in from Norway.

 

Yes! L'Anse aux Meadows was amazing! I loved my time in St Anthony. We had our "come from away" moments with the locals.

 

I've been in an inside in 6 and and an outside on 5 in Fram. I enjoyed them both. Doesn't matter! The ship is so small you're never far from outside. 

 

You'll love the cruise. Make sure you attend all the lectures. This is where you learn so much about where you are visiting. I recommend the kayaking as well. 

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11 minutes ago, mcpepe said:

@cruisemom42 Your cruise is currently on 50% off one week sale. Hurry to book at that rate. 😄

 

I booked yesterday -- I had called the previous day to book and the VERY helpful agent told me about the sale, so I waited. :classic_biggrin::classic_biggrin:

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