Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed January 2017
    Nancy West

    Trip of a lifetime!

    An amazing experience: history in the Falklands; huge penguin colonies in South Georgia and beautiful ice and whales in Antarctica. I had high expectations before the trip but they were exceeded in every area. An unforgettable experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Close encounters with whales; the sound of ice calving from glaciers and ice bergs popping; BBQ on deck surrounded by the beauty of Antarctica.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's warm on the ship - take some t-shirts and cooler clothes and maybe something a little dressier for dinner on the last night.
  • Reviewed January 2017
    Janet Osbourne

    Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia

    It was the most wonderful experience and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Sheer excitement.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was more than one inspirational moment and I couldn't choose between standing amongst thousands and thousands of penguins and/or seals, or the sheer beauty of the Antarctica's ice bergs floating by.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The expedition leader of this cruise - as well as his crew - was absolutely fantastic, knowledgeable, helpful, and I couldn't imagine having a better leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just relax and enjoy and see a part of the world you have never seen before.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was the most unique experience of all my travels. Simply unforgettable and worth every single penny. A trip of a lifetime.
  • Reviewed December 2013
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTICA, FALKLANDS & SOUTH GEORGIA

    This was a trip that I had wanted to do for many years, especially visiting the Falkland Islands as that is the first piece of history I can really remember growing up.  Several of my friends had also visited the area and said "it was an absolute must!".  For me it is also a "once in a life time" trip although I would consider returning to the Falkland Islands as I would like to see the battle fields and more of the Islands.......but we shall see!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were three really great moments on the trip for me.  The first was on the Falkland Islands, when we were at Port Stanley and we had done a brief guided walk around the town before being given free time - it was suggested by the Expedition Leader that the Globe Pub was a great place to visit as they serve good beer and fresh fish and chips!  Unfortunately the chef was not working so there was no food available but as far as I was concerned we did better than that - there was a Falklands War veteran there, from 3 Paras who spent nearly 45 mins chatting with 3 of us.  He was very emotional and he showed us on the map on the wall how they had done their manovers during the war.Secondly was visiting Sailsbury Plain on South Georgia where there were 250,000 King penguins, fluffy brown chicks and adults as well as many fur seals.  It is very difficult to re describe seeing so many en-mass and with the noise and smell they produce!  It was great and if you stood or sat still they would come very close and did not appear to be at all bothered by lots of people walking around in red clothing!Thirdly was our last zodiac ride in Fournier Bay on the Antartic Peninsular - the sea was flat calm for most of our time around the Peninsular (thankfully!) but as we sailed in to the circular Fournier bay, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, the glaciers and mountains were bright white and we had great reflections in the water. We dropped anchor before getting in the zodiacs. It was so calm and we had a bit of a speedy ride (for fun) before looking for wildlife on the icebergs.  We were not disappointed and to me it was just how I had imagned Antarctica to be like. We found 3 penguins sitting on top of an iceberg which made for great photos, seals lazing in the sun on the icebergs and then about 24 penguins waiting to dive in to the water which they duely did!  It was then ended by a celebratory champagne farewell on the boat as we set sail and even the whales did a "swim by!"

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Boris Wise was our main Expedition leader - helped by a further 18 members of staff and about 45 crew.  Every one was excellent and nothing was too much trouble for any of them.  The whole trip was run in a very professional and slick way and a time schedule but nothing ever felt rushed.Safety was paramount at all times from getting on and off the zodiacs to being advised not to go out side as the decks were covered in ice.  All the staff had radios so if for example you needed the doctor any one would just call for him.We also had an American professional photographer on board who gave talks and helped people with any camera issues, 2 excellent bird and wildlife spotters, 2 people who had worked / been involved with Antarctica and South Georgia for many years, a British professional wildlife artist as well as 2 kayak guides, zodiac drivers who all have good knowledge, massage and yoga professionals and excellent "hotel managers"Exodus as such does not provide a specific leader for their own clients on this trip (which is not a problem) as there are all the staff members as above. The boat was filled with various groups from places throughout the world and one of the larger groups did bring a fairly vocal agent with them!  You just have to learn to turn a deaf ear to them!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just book it....it may be costly but it is worth it!I also did the option of going to the Iguassu falls (I believe Patigonia extensions are also available which is worth visiting too) which I did for 3 days before the start of the trip which I found to be very good as it meant I had caught up with any time changes. It also meant that I was also in Argentina and closer to Ushuaia - Areolinas Argentina sometimes delay and cancel flights at very short notice. Make sure you get to Ushuaia at least one day before leaving with the ship - there is plenty to do there and it is better to be early than miss the boat.We had very changable weather and discovered fairly early on that the wet skin tousers were not completely water proof - easy solution was just to wear a thin pair of water proofs under neath which also gave an extra layer of warmth (so pack your own just to be on the safe side).Take plenty of layers as you will definately need them - as the guide said on several occassions "put on all the clothes you have!"   On a couple of times I had 8 layers on my top and 5 on my bottom half and I was very glad I did. If you think you may be going to feel sea sick, book a cabin on deck 3 as it is the most stable area of the boat in rough seas..........None of the cabin doors lock - this is for health and safety reasons (if some one was ill / had an accident it would be very difficult to gain access).  However this was not a problem and infact many of the staff members left their doors wide open with all their belongings on show.  There was a safe available on request.The power supply was 2 round pin plugs but worth taking a double adapter or multi plug so you can do lots of charging at the same time as the cold weather uses up your batteries and you will also take lots of photos / videos.The Shackleton walk is worth getting up at 530am for - it is medium to hard but walking poles are provided.  Steep ascent to start and end but worth it for the views.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Sergy Vavilov ship was excellent - the bar / social area on deck 6 has 3 sides of really big windows, open access to the deck and stairs up to deck 7 as well nearby.  It is kept warm, the seats are very comfortable, there is free tea, coffee, hot chocolate and home made biscuits readily available!Food throughout the whole trip was superb - lots to choose from at breakfast and 3 - 4 courses at lunch and supper including freshly made bread and soup (providing it did not get spilt in the rough seas).  There were 2-3 choices for a main plus a pudding as wellPlenty of hot water readily available for showers with containers of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel all provided along with towels and dressing gowns.Despite taking anti-sea sick tablets etc at times I did not feel particularily well - the staff made a point on checking cabins to make sure people were OK etc or if they needed any thing.  The days at sea are filled as a number of talks are given in the presentation room (deck 1) or in the bar (deck 6).  Unfortunately due to not feeling 100% I did not go to many of the talks as they were in the most rocky / unstable part of the boat - we had particularily rough days with force 10 gales and 60' waves! Open access to the Bridge and watching the Captain and the Officers work was really interesting, especially watching them turn the boat in tight circles just so we could all watch whales for longer!The satellite phone worked well and not expensive - US$30 for 60 minutes of talking when ever you wanted to. Don't spend the whole time behind your camera - sit and enjoy watching the penguins etc.  They are great characters.  Take a few videos as unfortunately no photos are going to do the areas justice and the shear scale of numbers and sizes of things.Be prepared for all weather conditions - 4 seasons in one day and don't be disappointed if you can not get landings.  We had very rough seas but we got 2 out of 3 for the Falklands,  4 out of 6 for South Georgia and 9 on the Peninsular.  If you don't get off the boat it is for a good reason and safety comes first as the ship needs to drop anchor and we have to walk down a metal staircase on to the zodiac boats and this can not be done if there is a big swell in the sea.  Thankfully the Drakes Passage and Cape Horn were virtually flat calm (which I was very relieved about)Have fun and just take it all in..............
  • Reviewed December 2013
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTICA, FALKLANDS & SOUTH GEORGIA

    A real trip of a lifetime, although it was booked as such, I would love to be able to go again one day perhaps at a different time of the season. It far exceeded our expectations on every level.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having seen spectacular scenery and amazing encounters with wildlife, the last zodiac cruise we did in Fournier bay was completely surreal. Blue skies, flat calm and glass like sea, with icebergs and bergy bits all around, seals, penguins and other birds, and humpbacks to finish off with. It was like being on another planet, which in a way it is.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    All of the staff, especially the on-board experts were excellent and for the whole trip there was never any doubt that they were doing their utmost to make sure we had the best experience possible.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do ensure you get to Ushuaia at least a day (24hrs) before the ship departs. Peferably longer if possible. It will avoid the stress of relying on unpredicable airline schedules and adverse weather, making sure you get to the ship in good time for embarkation.Good thermal layers are essential. Pay heed to all the advice given about clothing. Practical, warm and waterproof.Waterproof bags are essential for any camera equipment. Dry bags are OK as long as the camera is padded inside it, as bags tend to get wet and bumped around in the zodiacs.All the showers on board have shower gel, moisturiser, shampoo, and conditioner dispensers. So save weight and leave your own stuff at home.There is a limited library on board (mostly reference books), so we were glad we took electronic readers (Kindle) as they save a lot of space and weight if you are an avid reader, especially on 'sea days'.Sunglasses (UV and polaroid), sunscreen and lip salve protection are essential. The ozone layer is at it's thinnest in this part of the planet.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Try and find out who the on-board experts are likely to be. These people made the trip so much more informative and interesting with the talks and presentations they did.There was a world renowned photographer, an Antarctic scientist with years of experience, a bird expert, an Antarctic naturalist with politcal experience and a published wildlife artist. Great people to listen to and fun to be with.The One Ocean staff members were also expert in their own filelds which included kayaking, zodiac driving, massage, yoga, as well as their own extensive knowledge of the wildlife and Antarctic conditions.The Russian crew were very professional and when not too busy, the bridge officers explained all the ship's functions and navigation. Having an 'open bridge' (except when distractions would not be welcome) made the long sea passages interesting and a good place to spot wildlife from.Safety of passengers was always paramount. Great lengths were taken to ensure everyone got ashore and back with no mishaps.The galley staff did an amazing job of providing a varied menu. Even in storm force winds there was a 3 course lunch/dinner available, with only the soup course not being practical to serve! Fresh 'home' baked pastries for afternoon tea every day too, so don't expect to lose any weight.
  • Reviewed February 2013
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTICA, FALKLANDS & SOUTH GEORGIA

    THE trip of a lifetime, itinery exceeded expectations AND so did the weather!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A true expedition  cruise aboard the excellent Vavilov (better than sister ship Ioffe because of its panoramic lounge)Highlights wereThe weather... and the changing lightStanding amongst 150.000 King penguins on South Georgia plus the Macaronis, Adeles Chinstraps and MagellenicsThe squadrons of Albatross and other birds surrounding the shipThe awesome vastness and remoteness of AntarticaSeeing  Orca  Humpbacks Dolphins and standing amongst fur seals and Elephant seals  and their pupsThe glaciers  icebergs growlers and pack ice The desolate remains of old whaling stations ... a poignant reminder of our past and a photographers delight    

    What did you think of your group leader?

    No exodus leader as such, Aaron the ships leader(A ONE Ocean director) was enthusiastic charming and authorative and  his team of photographers, lecturers and wildlife experts were very informative, food was plentiful if a little too American eg sweetcorn with salmon and sweet cherry soup! The pastry chef was AWESOME!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a travel mug to wander about the decks with your coffee/hot chocolate, towels and shampoo and conditioner are provided, as is a bathrobe. Rooms have decent fridge and tea making facilities . There are duty free shops in Ushaia to buy booze and one person bought 2 cases of wine on board!Take loads of camera memory! A laptop too to edit photos on the sea days.Take layers ..weather very changeable. "2  pairs of gloves a good idea and high factor sunscreen due to Ozone hole and good quality sunglasses.I took a monopod and would take  a tripod again and even invest in  a GOPro for some awsome time lapse photos of penguin colonies . The binoculars for hire were good quality Bushells as was the dripak for rib tranfers to shore which can be very wet.. so some sort of camera protection is essential. The wetskins clothing and thermal boots were good quality.Keep your fingers crossed as the internal flights have low baggage allowances ... my camera gear alone weighed 15kg but fortunately my carry on was not weighed although another traveller was caught.My Hotties hand warmers were excellent and would take again.Capture pictures of you fellow travellers in their bright red outfits... they provide interest and scale to photos and look great 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Spend a day or two in Buenos Aires and avoid Madrid Transfer (bad experience 2 yrs ago to Patagonia with Aerolineas Argentinas...awful plane , staff , food and delays) or Iberia and go DIRECT to BA with British Airways from Heathrow.Ushaia is a strange place ... like a ski resort. Plenty of clothes shops and restaurants. A hike to glacier(taxi to start of walk)  trip to prison  plus light lunch were all achieved and worthwhile before meeting in hotel Albatross (good spa) for late pm ships departure.... Only complaint of whole trip which I have emailed ONEOCEAN about was disembarcation morning..this was shambolic and as soon as you had stepped off the gangplank at 08.30 they really didnt want to know... we were driven 1/4 mile from the ship into a carpark where the driver disappeared without any instructions leaving  everyone on the coach. After 20 mins,  a search party with a spanish interpreter found him and it transpired  that we were all to sit on the coach until our transfer to the airport (which has no facilities of note) . We had a 18.00 flight and this was TOTALLY unreasonable ie  an unnecessary 8 hr wait ... we took our baggage off the coach and together with some South Africans hired a minibus and driver and had a lovely 5 hrs in the Tierra del Fuego national park which was beautiful before he dropped us at the Airport.  Those who had gone direct to the airport were very envious and fed up.Although Exodus advised a late PM flight on day of departure ( in case the ship was delayed arriving in Ushaia) , on talking to the ONEOCEAN boss Aaron they have only been late once in over 100 trips and this was  a delay of over a day...  so a late flight wouldnt have helped. Aerolineas however are unreliable and change /cancel flights regularly. So definately advise arriving early for ships  departure from Ushaia especially as they had an unplanned national strike on the day of our arrival and at least 15 passengers were affected . 
  • Reviewed January 2013
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTICA, FALKLANDS & SOUTH GEORGIA

    The trip was wonderfully organised, good mix of landings and zodiac excurions. On the sea days, it was hard to be bored in between yoga sessions, penguin lectures and the entertainment. Visiting Antarctica, The Falklands and South georgia was a humbling experience... Rolling mountains, hearing the roar of avalanche, watching whales swim past the boat, watching elephant seals inspect you as you walk past them - you have the opportunity to be right there, visiting and co-existing with penguins and seals rather than observing them from afar...

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hiking to a high point in South Georgia and watching this sea of king penguins intertwined with a sea of king penguin chicks was incredible!! So beautiful and such an incredible moment that you are finally here living this trip! Also, seeing a humpback whale emerge from under the boat and seeng its whole body just underneath the surface of the water was the most beautiful experience...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Woody is incredible - very knowledgable, charismatic and has an infectious enthusiasm for everything which just makes it even more exciting!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Whilst it's not the cheapest of trips (it took me years of saving!) - if seeing colder climates, whales, penguins...etc. is your thing - this trip is a must and it is well worth the wait! The beauty of colder climates never ceases to amaze me - especially the colours. Dont think the peninsular is just whte, you will be amazed at the colours you see...Good camera is obviously a must! For the ocean diamond, you need a european two round pin plug. Quark give you a thick waterproof/fleece lined jacket for the zodiac excursions/landings - you don´t need to bring your own equivilant!!! Camera batteries/video camera batteries - buy spare ones - cant emphasise this enough. The cold zaps the battery's life and nothing worse than your camera dying when a penguin chick comes over to inspect your ruksack! Spare batteries - keep them somewhere warm to get the maximum out of them!!! Dry bags for inside the rucksack are a must (spray from zodiacs) and also waterproof covers for cameras - whilst its summer in that side of the world, it's still Antarctica and you can literally get 4 seasons in one day.  

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't forget your swimming costume for the polar plunge!!!
  • Reviewed February 2012
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTICA, FALKLANDS & SOUTH GEORGIA

    Holiday of a lifetime, which will never be forgotten.  Had an absolutely amazing time from start to finish. This holiday was beyond our expectations!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    King Penguins and their chicks, so funny! Gentoo chicks laying on my lapUp close and personal (about 8-10 feet away) from humpback whale swimming towards us - Awesome !Abundant wildlife behaviour to watch and photographFantastic scenery, weather and itineraryAmazing icebergsWatching Adelie penguins stealing stones from other nests, and looking so innocent when caught, just like on 'Frozen Planet' hilarious!Educational presentations by the Quark staff were so informative and very helpful, learnt so much.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Shane was brilliant and did everything he could to get us ashore, and succeeded as we managed 21 landings and zodiac cruises.  At the briefings he was inspirational in telling us to "put down our cameras and feel our surroundings, watch the animals, take photos with your mind", he was so right!  Shane even surprised us with a cruise round Cape Horn (which was unexpected).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you thought you might like to do this trip, dont think anymore, DO IT! You will have a life changing experience. Wildlife in abundance, be on the first zodiac out and the last one back! Don't be tempted to have your eyes permanently stuck to the camera lens - just sit and watch it all happen around you !  Take a tri-stool like we did and just sit and take it all in.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The remainder of the expedition staff were amazing; Jamie, Tony, Mikolaj and Damien were so informative, their knowledge was immense and nothing was too much trouble for them. Angela (our shop assistant and newly qualified zodiac driver) was great, she was our driver around icebergs and she couldn't do enough to make our experience as enjoyable as possible; her patience, kindness and consideration were immense. Krystle was great with her photographic tips and Val and Solan brilliant for the kayakers. Dave and Karin were brilliant drivers and full of fun. Last but not least, Duncan who did so much behind the scenes and whose organisational skills were greatly appreciated.The crew onboard the ship were professional, friendly and helpful.  If we did have a complaint, then it would be that the food was good, but could have been a bit warmer.
  • Reviewed February 2012
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTICA, FALKLANDS & SOUTH GEORGIA

    A truly wonderful experience. It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to visit such an awe inspiring part of the world, and to have been made aware of the importance of keeping Antarctica and its wildlife in its present state for future generations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The sounds and smell of a penguin colony.Visiting Shackleton's grave.Kayaking amongst the ice with seals and penguins alongside.Icebergs.The total lack of fear of humans shown by the wildlife.The clear air.Watching the albatrosses following the ship.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Shane was a charismatic and dynamic leader. His daily roundups of the day's happenings and the next day's programme were inspiring and amusing. He was well supported by a team of knowledgable and enthusiastic expedition staff. The educational programme covered a wide variety of topics and was superbly delivered.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is the trip of a lifetime. You will come back with a changed view of the world, having seen so many different landscapes, seen so much wildlife, met so many interesting folk from around the world (our trip had 15 different nationalities) and learnt so much through the educational programme.The ship (Sea Spirit) and its crew were excellent.
  • Reviewed February 2012
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTICA, FALKLANDS & SOUTH GEORGIA

    The Sea Spirit was very comfortable, the only problem they need to address is the food, as it was tepid and mediocre.  We have been on Polar travels several times before and the food was always superb. not sure if the problem lies with Quark or the Danish owners.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We saw every type of seal and penguin, including a young Emperor one out on the ice which was pretty special. the highlight has to be a humpback whale feeding at Hannahs Point on the last afternoon which swam between 2 of the Zodiacs almost within touching range.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Shane Envoy was full of fun and energy and an inspiration to all the passengers.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The girl who ran the shop on board was highly obnoxious.  I gather she is employed by Quark as opposed to the owners.  I had occasion to return a paid of leather bootees, the day after purchase, as I felt that the leather seam inside was harsh to young feet.  She pointed out that exchanges/refunds could only happen on day of purchase, a notice was hidden amongst stock to this effect.  She eventually contacted her bosses who agreed to the exchange.  The next few days were busy and when we took the goods back, she said she had sold 100s with no complaint. I then said I would buy a child's Tshirt instead. She pointed out that they were reduced as they had been wrongly tagged, in case I came back and complained.Her interpersonal skills are sadly lacking. 
  • Reviewed February 2012
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTICA, FALKLANDS & SOUTH GEORGIA

    This was a very special trip. We had fantastic weather and managed 19/20 planned landings by Zodiac. There was an abundance of wildlife, both birds and mammals, including some seldom seen birds and whales.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The sheer number of penguins with fat fluffy chicks. The size of the wandering and black browed Albatrosses. Seeing Fin, Sei, Humpback and Orca whales as well as a feeding Southern Right whale.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Shane was a very inspirational leader, confident, wise and well organised witha good grasp of what was possible and what was not.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you have any interest in wildlife at all then this is a trip you should put at the top of your wish list.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was my 9th trip with Exodus (and I have just booked my 10th one) and the 65th country I visited. This trip was to one of the most spectactular places I have ever seen.
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