top of page
  • Writer's pictureKen Murray

Atlas Ocean Voyages - Antarctica Cruise - Dec 28-Jan 6 - The Great, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Shelly and I are overjoyed that we visited our 6th continent, Antarctica. It was a fabulous experience for us despite some Atlas glitches and the cancelling of some itinerary excursions and tours. Here’s a set of pros and cons from our December 28, 2021, through January 6, 2022, cruise, and represents Shelly’s and my experiences and opinions. Other cruisers may have different experiences and opinions, and I welcome their feedback.


Pros

  1. The staff on board the ship was exceptionally friendly and helpful. I must give kudos to the Atlas leadership here on training and execution. Many staff members knew our names by day two. This was extra special treatment.

  2. The Expedition Team, responsible for the planning and execution of excursions, was outstanding. Every one of them, led by Henry Wulff and his assistant Christian Kruse, was professional, helpful, and had the passenger’s well-being in mind. We always felt safe, and they ensured we enjoyed every minute of our experiences.

  3. The excursions were extraordinary. Antarctica is truly an amazing experience.

  4. The bed in our cabin was wonderfully comfortable. We slept very well.

  5. After a few hiccups with our cabin steward were resolved, the service was very good. Ricardo, the head butler, and the supervisor for our cabin team managed the situation very well.

  6. The onboarding process on the ship was very good. It was well planned, organized, and a pleasant experience. We felt well-cared for.

  7. The lectures given by Expedition Team members and the guest lecturer Peter Lasorsa were excellent. Atlas should schedule more lectures in the evening.

  8. The ship was beautiful and well-designed with most activities on deck 4. It was clean and well-maintained.

  9. The main restaurant offered a good variety of menu options, with special menus for Spanish, Italian, and Indian nights, and the servers and chef accommodated special menu requests.

  10. Our servers at the Porto Restaurant, Bodiono and Nares (I may have misspelled their names), went above and beyond. They made our dining experiences extra special.

  11. The staff at Reception/Guest Services were excellent, professional, and helpful. Saif and Jocelyn were especially good.

  12. My wife said the spa was excellent. She had two 90-minute massages/facials by Astudia (may have spelled her name wrong), and she loved them.

  13. We had two antigen tests onboard. Both were well-coordinated and efficient, and results were available quickly.

  14. The servers and bartenders at the Atlas Lounge were excellent. Reiner stood out, as he made good drinks and had a great sense of humor.

  15. The nightly recaps given by the Expedition Team were excellent. They reviewed the daily excursions, and previewed activities for the following day.

  16. Both lounges were conducive for meeting new friends and chatting. The furniture was comfortable, and the views, especially from The Dome on deck 7, were magnificent.

  17. The Daily Navigator (the daily newsletter) was great. It gave valuable information on the upcoming daily activities.

  18. The parkas are very warm and fold up into its hood. I was quite warm enough with one base and mid-layer, and the parka. We packed ours in our suitcases and it is a nice remembrance of the trip to take home.

Cons

  1. I feel the captain of World Navigator did not keep the guests informed of what was going on with regards to the Covid situation. He made one announcement about the first passengers testing positive, then was radio silent for the rest of the cruise. Instead, he had the Expedition Team Leader, Henry, provide an occasional update. This lack of communication allowed rumors to run rampant. The health and safety of the ship's passengers should be the number one priority of the captain, and he failed by not personally communicating regularly and accurately.

  2. Overall, I’d rate Atlas’ communication C-. The timeliness of communication on pre-cruise flight arrangements was poor. For example, we did not get final flight arrangements until two weeks prior to the cruise. Also, we were never informed about the additional antigen tests given in Ushuaia (before and after we boarded the ship), or that we would not be given the opportunity to tour Ushuaia either before our departure or on the last day after disembarking the ship.

  3. The Internet service was inadequate and expensive ($80 for a one GB upgrade and $350 for 5GB). We each received a complimentary 1GB plan. The Wi-Fi signals were strong in the Atlas and Dome lounges, but very weak in the back of the boat where my cabin was. I was able to send/receive text messages at off-peak times but was unable to do much else.

  4. The ship store had limited apparel sizes, mostly large and extra-large. Few small and medium sizes could be found.

  5. The food on the charter flight was generally awful. Bring your own snacks on board or eat before you fly.

  6. The onboarding processes at the Hyatt in Orlando could have been better organized. For example, we did not know we needed to check in at the Atlas desk, nor did we know that there was an Atlas desk. This falls under the category of the need for better communication.

  7. We had numerous difficulties getting our onboard credit applied to our account. This was a problem before we boarded, and it was not resolved until day 3 of the cruise, and only after I inquired about it. Passengers should not have to jump through hoops to make sure their account is accurate.

  8. The food in the main restaurant was good, not great. I am not a foodie, so you should check other resources and passengers for opinions. But I spoke with some seasoned cruisers of Silversea and Regent, and they said Atlas needs to step up their game if they want to compete.

  9. Our one experience with room service was poor in terms of timeliness, accuracy, and quality. Several other passengers I spoke to echoed similar sentiments.

  10. There are few handrails on the walls on the main deck 4. This was problematic when seas were rough, especially in the Drake Passage.

  11. For entertainment, we had Paul the Piano Player, and Andy Hackbarth, the classical guitarist and singer. Paul was a good piano player, but not much of a singer. Andy was a good guitarist and decent singer, but he made some jokes that I thought were inappropriate. Atlas needs to reevaluate their entertainment offering.

  12. The Expedition Team needs alternate meeting and working space. A few times members of the team were using tables and chairs in Paula’s Pantry for work. This prevented guests from using them.

  13. We have several phone calls into Atlas concerning the cruise being shortened by one day (we returned to Ushuaia one day early and lost one to two other excursion opportunities), and the cancellation of the tour of Ushuaia on the last day in port (per the original itinerary we signed up for). After three weeks, Atlas finally responded via email, and I feel, downplayed our concerns.

  14. Our last day, we departed the ship at 7:00am and headed for a hotel to spend the day waiting for our 10:30pm flight home. We spent 11 hours sitting on uncomfortable chairs in the hotel ballroom before departing for the airport, then another two hours waiting at the airport. We heard that the previous cruise passengers experienced a similar scenario. This was a complete waste of a day, and to me is unacceptable. It also contrasts with the cruise promotion we sign up for that stated we would tour Ushuaia on the last day.

  15. Also on the last day, we received Covid antigen tests in the ballroom. 12 or so people tested positive and were ushered to a separate room. While we who were negative received an a la cart lunch, buffet dinner, and wine, beer, and soda, those positive folk received water, a peach, and a sandwich. The hotel refused to allow them to use plates and utensils for fear of spreading Covid. We smuggled food to them from the buffet. Guests should not be treated this way. Atlas should have arranged for paper plates and plastic utensils to they could have been properly fed. Also, if Atlas intends to use this approach and itinerary for cruises due to Covid, they should communicate it to passengers in advance.

  16. Also on the last day, Atlas had no staff at the ballroom or at the airport. Instead, they outsourced the responsibilities to a local tour operator. The tour operator did their best, but they were in the dark about protocols. For example, they did not know we were to be given antigen tests at the hotel until my wife told them. They thought we received them on the ship. Atlas should have a staff member with the passengers at the ballroom and airport so they can clear up confusion, address problems, and make sure guests are properly treated.


For the pros, I give accolades to the staff and their leadership. Many of the cons are communication, logistical, and operational. Covid played a role in some of these, and I agree that traveling during a pandemic is a risk. But just as the guests need to be flexible, so should Atlas have protocols, communication approaches, contingencies, and staff in place to ensure the care of its passengers. Because of this, my wife and I are not interested in cruising with Atlas again.


We are booked on a 15-day, Viking Baltic cruise this summer, and a 7-day Silversea cruise from Barcelona, Spain to Lisbon, Portugal in the fall. We’ve not cruised on them before, and we look forward to the experience. I’ll be blogging both trips, so keep checking http://www.kenandshelly.com/blog for detailed experiences.


I am a member of two Facebook groups that focus on Antarctica travel. The Atlas Ocean Voyages Cruisers Facebook page (this page is not managed by Atlas but by cruisers) has the latest cruisers content, photos, and reviews. You can also get great information on Antarctica travel in the Antarctica Travel Group on Facebook.




832 views2 comments

2 Comments


pzkwmorrissey
pzkwmorrissey
Jan 28, 2022

Fantastic evaluation. Very detailed and well thought out. It seemed very fair. I'm sure it will be helpful to other people who are considering this cruise or this cruise line. Thanks for taking the time and effort to put this out. All the best.

Like
Ken Murray
Ken Murray
Jan 28, 2022
Replying to

Thanks very much for you kind comment.

Like
bottom of page