66 Reviews of Antarctic Peninsula Tours
Adventure Smith was exceptional. Antarctica 21 corporate office was deplorable. August 20193.0
My mom, brother, and I booked with Antarctica 21 (A21) in February 2018 with an initial deposit and paid for the remaining balance in Sept 2018 for a late Jan-early Feb 2019 Antarctic cruise. We booked through Adventure Smith Explorations (ASE)—who were amazingly helpful throughout. Mom completed the A21 travel and health information when we each paid the trip deposit in Feb 2018, and she disclosed that she was in her early 80s and on anti-coagulant medication. Mom’s doctor also certified in writing to A21 that she was fit and able to take this trip. Then, 20 days before the start of the cruise in late Jan 2019, A21 sent an email to cancel Mom’s trip and refused to refund her $11,995 cruise price—citing medical concerns. We were stunned. When we asked the A21 representative to clarify which medical concerns led them to cancel Mom’s trip, she cited Mom’s age and use of anti-coag--- but all of this had been disclosed a year prior when the trip deposit was first paid in Feb 2018. Our representatives from ASE tried to appeal with A21, but to no avail. A21 flatly refused our offer for both of Mom’s doctors, whom she had visited within 40 days prior to the cruise, to provide additional fitness certification. A21 stated that no further information would be accepted and that their decision to remove Mom from the cruise was final.
My brother and I left for the trip without Mom, although this was supposed to be a memorable family trip together. On board, as we shared our experience with other passengers, people readily described their own medical conditions and were appalled that our Mom was not allowed on the cruise. Many of the 50-80 year old passengers said they were also on anti-coag and had various medical issues. At least six people told us they had significant health issues-- one had extensive knee surgery 3 weeks prior to the cruise, another had a stint placed in her heart a week before the cruise, two people had fused spines and very limited mobility, two others walked with canes and needed assistance. Three of the A21 team on board the ship told us directly that Mom had been too honest in noting that she took anti-coag. Many other passengers, including the six with major health issues and those on anti-coag, said they had not shared any of their conditions with A21. The last day of the cruise, we spoke with the cruise manager, and at first she would not give us any information about the decision or contact information at their corporate office. Several hours later, she reconsidered and shared one contact information at their Santiago corporate office, but she discouraged us from meeting with their team in Punta Arenas in person.
Also: Be careful with travel insurance. Mom paid over $1,800 for travel insurance for the trip. However, the insurance company denied her claim for reimbursement when A21 canceled her trip. A21 refused to put any reason in writing for us to use with the travel insurance claim. Most thankfully, Adventure Smith Expeditions reimbursed Mom the price of the cruise of $11,995, although Mom still lost the airfare to and from USA to Punta Arenas, Chile. Adventure Smith Expeditions deserves my most stellar recommendations for their help and information throughout our initial booking, during the trip, and once we returned.
Part 2 of the review: Onboard with A21: If you are able to take the trip, the on-board experience with A21 is good quality. My brother and I enjoyed the trip, although it was deeply bittersweet without Mom. The landscape, wildlife, and pristine Antarctic views were truly amazing. Many other reviews describe the actual cruise experience well, so I will be brief on this. A21 used the Ocean Nova ship for our cruise. The ship is well laid out, the ship staff (including captain, dining, and cleaning teams) were very helpful, rooms are tiny and spartan but as advertised, all public areas were very clean, and food quality is reasonable. The A21 tour manager (admin and logistics), expedition manager (excursion leader) and guides on board are enthusiastic, and many of the guides have extensive experience in the Antarctic and are happy to talk with passengers. With ship activities, including two landings on average each day, we stayed busy with information briefings and excursions plus three meals. A21 has other ships, including a new one they will launch in 2020, so look at the options carefully. This cruise option on the Ocean Nova worked well for us, with just 70 passengers for a smaller group although more modest accommodations.
As noted above, definitely buy travel insurance, as our flight from the Chilean military base back to Punta Arenas was delayed two days given bad weather, and we stayed on the boat during this time. A21 has some of the same investors as DAP, the airline for these flights, so our ship had priority with DAP once flights resumed, while other ships (major tour companies, researchers, etc) had to wait further. Travel insurance covered my revised ticket home, hotel in Punta Arenas, and other minor expenses, which were all more than the cost of travel insurance.
Antarctica via Buenos Aires October 20185.0
So many highlights but getting to see penguins, seals and whales at close
quarters was unforgettable
The expedition leader and all the staff in the team were really helpful,
knowledgeable and friendly
Spend time in Argentina before or after your trip. I wish I had tagged a few
extra days on to do hhis
Operator Exodus Travels
Above all expectations! October 20185.0
Everything went smoothly, from the pre-tour info, to information at the hotel
and the logistics of the domestic flights and checking in on the boat. It
felt very safe, especially for a woman travelling alone.
The crew on board was excellent! I loved the way every guide had his own
‘field of expertise’ which covered everything you wanted to know (and
things you didn’t know you wanted to know ;-)).
The Staff was extremely helpful, happy, smiling and overall serviceminded. It
was a pleasure!
Overall the program on board made sure that you almost didn’t have an idle
moment, which for me was amazing! And the logistics of getting nearly 200
passengers into zodiacs 10 at the time, went so incredible easy, they crew
are really professional and know how to make your experience the best
I can highly recommend this trip to anyone who wants to explore the magic of
Operator Exodus Travels
Absolutely awesome trip October 20185.0
breathtaking. The crew and expedition team were cheerful, helpful and
knowledgeable. The kayaking with penguins and whales popping up feet away was
When a humpback whale popped up 10 feet away from our kayaks and just
meandered around us for a while.
Solan was wonderful. He has the most calm, funny and inclusive way about him.
His voice for the early morning wake up calls is like velvet.
Go! Sign up for the kayaking or some other adventure options. Be flexible.
Take loads of camera memory cards and batteries.
This is probably the most expensive trip we have ever undertaken and we have
travelled a lot. It was worth every penny. We are now looking at doing one of
the Arctic adventure trips.
Operator Exodus Travels
Excellent August 20185.0
Absolutely incredible March 20185.0
that the most is gained from the trip and no time is wasted. We cannot
recommend this experience highly enough, and would do it all again in a
The sheer majesty of the place and the overwhelming abundance of the
wildlife. Being able to get so close to penguins and seals who have no fear
of humans is a real privilege.
Inspirational and a human Duracell Bunny!
Book well in advance and as soon as possible. You won't be disappointed!