As further proof, here is a picture of the christening ceremony in Ushuaia, complete with tango dancers! (I agree it’s a bit odd but it’s in Argentina, remember?)I had very high expectations when I joined the maiden voyage of the Greg Mortimer. So here are a few pics and an overview of my impressions. For those of you who know us personally, you’ll appreciate that we have very high standards. Despite this, I was simply blown away by the whole experience.
Reflection of the Lemaire Channel in my sunglasses. (photo credit: Denise Sargent).
There are a few things that come to mind immediately:
The ship is indeed very stable in rough conditions due to the new design with the ‘X-Bow’. While we didn’t experience extreme weather, we had winds gusting up to gale force and there was much less motion than I’ve experienced on other ships. Notably, very few people were missing in the dining room – a sure way to gauge how guests are handling the motion.
I think none of us on the Greg Mortimer will ever forget this magical evening.
I was in a ‘Balcony Stateroom’ which is the most common suite – modern yet warm and cozy with floor to ceiling windows through which you watch icebergs drifting by. A great place to retreat occasionally after the sensory overload of the excursions and all the social interactions in the lounge. The sliding doors allow you to step onto a large balcony area and take photos of whales or other wildlife. The suite has tons of storage space, and a generous bathroom with a full walk-in shower.
There are so many places from which to watch the polar scenery go by like the hydraulic fold-down viewing platforms in the bow.
Or the expansive decks that wrap around the ship.
Happy hour on deck with great views (and one of the hot tubs in the background).
The ship has a huge gym and a large sauna with picture windows overlooking icy landscapes. There are also two generous outdoor hot tubs on deck with amazing wrap around views. These weren’t functional on the maiden voyage but I’m sure they’ll be steaming away on subsequent trips.
There are many other great features to the design of the ship, but I’d like to move on to the food: Exquisite – 5 star standard! Lots of variety, lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, salads. Evening meals are restaurant-style with menus and plated service, featuring different wines from around the world. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style with many options. (For one lunch I had the most amazing roast duck, ever.) There is an array of seating options, from intimate settings for two in a quiet area to tables for 8 or more. Like everywhere else on the ship, the dining room has great views!
Quiet area of the dining room with tables for two – with amazing views.
Just a little sample of the delicious and artful food we were served. (Photo credit: Denise Sargent)
While the service, accommodation and food were 5-star, the atmosphere was casual and relaxed. Everyone on board, from house keepers to the captain, were really friendly and accessible, and the guides and expedition leaders made a point of engaging with guests during mealtimes. There’s a grand piano in the lounge/bar area and one of the guests often played into the late evening. It was like traveling with a big, happy family and many new friendships were formed.
Getting fitted for top quality dry suits in the ‘mud room’.
Down to the activities and equipment: Everything is brand-new and top quality from the 18(!) Zodiacs with 60 hp engines, to the 20 kayaks, to the drysuits and diving equipment, the stand up paddle boards, skis, snow shoes, etc. etc.
Brand new kayaks and SUPs ready to be put to use.
So not only did I kayak in the Antarctic, I also paddled an SUP and snorkeled … with penguins. What mind boggling experiences! I regretted not joining the large contingent of guests who camped for a night on the ice but hardly slept because of the penguins curiously wandering amongst them.
Setting off to explore the Antarctic Peninsula by kayak.
Penguins passing campers to go fishing at 2 am. (Photo credit: Denise Sargent)
Maria was more than a little jealous of the whole experience, and we’re now negotiating who gets to go on the Greg Mortimer to the Arctic next summer!
Elephant seal pup and its mother.