Ship life

by John Van Hoesen
Thursday, December 12, 2013

Perhaps the most common question I’ve gotten after returning from my trip is, “Did you get sea sick?” The answer is yes, but I wasn’t miserable. And in truth, very few individuals missed out on any of the shore excursions because they didn’t feel well.

We were on the Akademik Ioffe, a converted research vessel. Accommodations were primarily small dorm-style rooms but there were a few suites on the upper decks. Most decks had shared bathrooms (one in each hall) although some of the suites had private baths. The One Ocean Expeditions staff took care of housekeeping and running the bar/coffee room, and the kitchen staff was great. We definitely weren’t roughing it in the dining room, where it felt more like a vacation cruise-ship experience than a research cruise; breakfast and lunch were buffet-style but at dinner our orders were taken and delivered by the wait staff.

In addition to frequent announcements from the bridge informing us of interesting sights, we were fortunate enough to hear lectures — from experts in ornithology, marine biology, Antarctic history, oceanography, and bedrock and glacial geology — most nights and during the day when no landings were scheduled.

Once we left Port Stanley, we made a few landings where there were opportunities to shop. Some luxuries were available at the South Georgia Museum and Port Lockroy gift shops, but the majority of our stops involved walking down a steep and often slippery gangway to board a rubber zodiac, usually heaving in the waves, for a sea-spray-pelted trip to shore. The shore leaves were, without a doubt, the best part of the trip, and Cheesemans did its best to maximize our time on land.

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