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Quirky Cruise
October 15, 2017

Small Ship Cruise Line Review: Polar Latitudes

Polar Latitudes is an expedition firm entirely focused on the south polar region that includes Antarctic Peninsula, South Atlantic Islands, the British Falkland Islands, and South Georgia with its Ernest Shackleton connection and where visitors will likely see more birds than almost anywhere else in the world.

Snapshot

Polar Latitudes, established in 2010, charters ships exclusively for Antarctic cruising, and on longer itineraries, to the Falklands and South Georgia. The line’s expedition staff is known for its professionalism.

Ships & Years Delivered

Hebridean Sky (built 1991, refitted 2016, 114 passengers); Island Sky (b.1992, refitted 2015 & 2017, 112p).  Both ships have operated under previous names and are very similar in layout and amenities.

Polar Latitudes

The Hebridean Sky * Photo: Polar Latitudes

Polar Latitudes Passenger Profile

Mostly North Americans, adventuresome folks who also like their comforts.

Passenger Decks

Elevators connect all five decks.

Price

$$$, expensive

Included features

Shore excursions, except kayaking and camping; pre-cruise resort stay near Ushuaia; complimentary stocked mini-bar (wine, beer, soft drinks), and same at dinner; expedition jacket.

Itineraries

All voyages* begin and end in Ushuaia, Argentina with a one-night pre-cruise stay at a resort hotel. The shortest and most frequently offered itineraries last 11 or 12 days and concentrate on the Antarctic Peninsula. An occasional 15-day trip uses the extra time to sail south of the Antarctic Circle. The 20-day expeditions head first to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia before doubling back to the Antarctic Peninsula. * The exceptions are the first and last voyages of the season beginning and ending at Puerto Madryn, Argentina.

Camping in Antarctica. * Photo: Polar Latitudes

Camping in Antarctica. * Photo: Polar Latitudes

Why Go?

The beauty of Antarctica, cleanest air in the world, majestic and often colorful icebergs, glaciers, and wildlife — on the sea, on land and in the air.

When to Go?

Departures operate from late October to late February. Polar Latitudes’ website has a great summary of the highlights of going in October-November vs December-January vs February-March.

Cabins

Arranged forward on all five passenger decks, all are designated suites as even the smallest have a sitting area with a sofa bed (suitable for a third person) and chair. Size begins at 220 and 260 square feet, with penthouse suites 325 sq. ft. and the owner’s suite 385 feet, the latter two categories located on the highest Penthouse deck. Veranda and Penthouse deck accommodations have private balconies. Suites on lowest deck have portholes rather than windows.

Polar Latituds

Owners’ Suite. * Photo: Polar Latitudes

Public Rooms

Apart from the forward observation lounge high up on the Penthouse Deck, all public spaces are located aft. Two lounges, one with an adjacent library and the other for social gatherings and expedition staff talks; restaurant on lowest deck; an outdoor deck with café and bar on Veranda Deck. Promenade deck has a narrow wraparound walking path.

Library aboard Hebridean Sky. * Photo: Polar Latitudes

Library aboard Hebridean Sky. * Photo: Polar Latitudes

Dining

The restaurant operates with one open seating at all meals.

Activities & Entertainment

Two optional activities with capacity limits need to be pre-booked. Camping ashore (limit 30) on the ice in small tents begins after dinner on board to before breakfast back on the ship. Listen to the sounds of the sea and creaking ice. Kayaking (limit 16), single or tandem, will take place multiple times, with the number depending on the weather conditions. Complimentary activities: A photography coach gives lessons, talks and leads ventures ashore. Citizen Science is a program for passengers to engage in ongoing scientific research projects by collecting data for a specific project. Sign up on board.

Kayaking in Antarctica. * Photo: Polar Latitudes

Kayaking in Antarctica. * Photo: Polar Latitudes

Special Notes

Antarctica is this firm’s only business.

Along the Same Lines

Numerous other Antarctic expedition providers.

Polar Latitudes Contact

Polar Latitudes, POB 1227, White River Junction, VT 05001; 802-698-8479; polar-latitudes.com.

 

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Posted In:

Antarctica, Expedition Ship & Line Reviews, Falkland Islands, South Georgia


2 Comments

  1. Vanessa anderson - 1 month ago

    We went on a polar latitudes expedition in 2016 (hebridean sKy) and absolutely loved the ship, staff and itinerary. Everything was very well Done. No detail forgotten. Excellent service and food. Cannot recommend this company enough. Very well run organization.

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