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Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

Darwin, Australia
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Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

Hi

I am planning to visit Antarctica in December 2013 and am tossing up between cruises which include the Weddell Sea or Crossing the Circle.

I am also thinking of going on GA's M/V Expedition for either cruise.

I would really appreciate people's opinions on either cruise or the pros/cons of the ship.

Thanks in advance.

Boston...
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for Walt Disney World, Orlando, Antarctic Adventures
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1. Re: Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

I didn't take either itinerary, but I loved cruising on the Expedition (Classic Antarctica in Depth). A great ship with an excellent crew and expedition staff.

You may want to try posting in the G Adventures Antarctica Forum as well. Might be more people on there that have taken or are taking those specific routes:

http://wateringhole.gadventures.com/

I believe the Weddell Sea trip is new for 2013 so you won't be able to get G Adventures specific advice on that one.

North Liberty, Iowa
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2. Re: Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

I did the Quest for the Antarctic Circle trip this December with G and absolutely LOVED it! The ship was really comfy, the crew and staff were wonderful and the food was excellent. If you want lots and lots of detail, I have a trip report posted that I'm finishing up. There's a link there to photos.

I don't think you can go wrong with either cruise as you're looking at fantastic vs fantastic. :) As anon said, the Weddell Sea cruise is new for next season so you can't really get comments from people who have done it. One thing I notice is that the Weddell Sea tour stays at the very top of the Penninsula where the Circle tour really gets a good run along the Penninsula. The WS tour is probably more in depth in a smaller area.

I'm biased because I did the Circle tour but I really liked how we got to see many different areas. My favorite place was probably Crystal Sound and I don't know if the WS tour goes far enough south for to get there. With that said though, my next trip to Antarctica (and I will warn you that if you go once you will probably want to go again and again) will probably be to the Weddell Sea area and I want to include South Georgia next time.

You really are choosing between two amazing options so either choice is a good choice!

Darwin, Australia
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3. Re: Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

Many thanks Anon and Redhead for the info & links, much appreciated. Yes, so much to see and I probably can't do it all in one trip!

Currumbin, Australia
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4. Re: Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

Interestingly I was booked on the Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula Cruise (Feb 2013) on the Sea Spirit with Peregrine/ Quark.

It was cancelled and replaced with a Crossing the Circle cruise. The Weddell Sea can't be high on the list of must-sees.

Whatever you choose, I'm sure you'll enjoy the adventure.

Darwin, Australia
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5. Re: Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

Hi Elise, thank you for your post. That's a shame, the WS has so much history & spectacular tabular icebergs but there's obviously a lack of demand. Hope you have a fantastic Circle Crossing!

Melbourne, Australia
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for Perth, Antarctic Adventures
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6. Re: Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

Its less about demand and more about the sea ice conditions. The Weddell "Sea" - is basically solid white. I have crossed it in an icebreaker down to the Riiser Larsen Ice Shelf but lesser strengthened ships would have a very hard time.

Darwin, Australia
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7. Re: Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

Thanks PP for your insight on this, very helpful.

Michigan
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8. Re: Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

I posed a question about crossing the circle to Lindblad/National Geographic and received their response (both repeated below). Based on other threads I have read here, I thought routes and landings were predetermined, with little opportunity for gunkholing. Ice is of course always a variable that needs to be dealt with. How much flexibility to expedition leaders and captains really have?

Me:

Do you know whether our cruise will cross the Antarctic Circle? While the map below shows it remaining north, I’m holding out hope.

Lindblad/Nat Geo:

Thanks for asking about the Antarctic Circle. It usually takes an extra day at sea to get far enough south to cross the Antarctic Circle and your Expedition Leader on the National Geographic Explorer has chosen to focus on landings on the Antarctic Peninsula instead of adding this extra ship time. You will be near land for 4½ to 5 days, and your trip will focus on shore landings for wildlife viewing and perhaps a zodiac cruise in Paradise Bay. As you know from your Arctic trip, expeditionary travel is always unpredictable and you never know what the weather has in store or what the Expedition Leader will choose to do based on the conditions. I wouldn’t want to get your hopes up, however, for the Antarctic Circle as the NG Explorer’s staff has determined that shore visits are more important than this extra ship time.

Please know that crossing the Antarctic Circle is mostly a place at sea and a ship will do a fun ceremony when they cross yet there’s nothing to actually see at that place on the globe. In order to definitely cross the Circle you need to select a ship and trip that has this as their focus and advertises the crossing in the title of their trip.

North Liberty, Iowa
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9. Re: Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

<<<How much flexibility to expedition leaders and captains really have?>>>

Fairly little it sounded like from our captain and expedition leader. They can change routes a bit but for the most part have to stay to a schedule. At one point the captain wanted to try to go up a passage that was between the penninsula and some islands but it was too early in the season and iced closed so we couldn't get into that landing area and instead used that time to back track and go up the outside passage. Another time we couldn't get far enough for an actual landing so we did a zodiac cruise.

IAATO schedules the landings over the off season in an attempt to give everyone access to the different landing sites they want while still keeping other ships out of sight as much as possible. Also since only 100 passengers are allowed on shore at a time, if ships aren't scheduled for the landings then you'd end up with ships lining up for popular places like the different areas of Deception Island and have passengers stuck on the ship waiting. If the ships all stick to the fairly schedule, your ship arrives, the zodiacs are unloaded and the crew/staff can go ashore right away as passengers are getting dressed in outdoor gear.

The answer from NG/L actually sounds pretty reasonable. Some tours have the intent of going clear down to the Circle and others don't but they're fairly tight into the planned tour. My tour was aimed at crossing teh Circle and it meant another day in the Drake heading south instead of doing landings. We had hot chocolate and a group photo (with a staff member dressed up in a penguin costume). It really is just a line in the water and the chance to say that you've been south of the Circle. Very few people go to Antarctica, even fewer go south of the Circle.

Michigan
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10. Re: Weddell Sea vs Crossing the Circle

Thanks, Redhead. If I wanted to look at other cruise ships I'd head for the Caribbean. :) May I ask what ship you were on?

I've been north of 80° north and am comfortable with the idea that I'll never go south of 80° south.

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