Antarctic Vessels & Reviews

Martin & Sigrid Review the Ioffe

Martin travelled with his wife to the Antarctic Peninsula in early 2015.  Here he shares his experience aboard the Akademik Ioffe and booking through Swoop.

What was the highlight of your trip?

Identifying just one highlight of the trip is tough – all of the excursions were very interesting and unique.  Of particular note is the open bridge policy – very interesting up there, and great to make contact with 1st Officer Sergej and crew.

Sigrid, exploring the Peninsula.
Sigrid, exploring the Peninsula.

It was a great trip.  We were lucky with the weather, I guess – we had three or four days of glorious sunshine.  We loved the zodiac excursions and generally speaking were very happy with the expedition team.  It was just the right mix of “expedition” and “cruise” (definition given by Chad, the expedition leader, was “a cruise returns to the vessel for lunch, an expedition doesn’t”), accompanied with information sessions, talks and overall support on all questions and situations.

A nice mix of people, age, nationality, gender …just right.

What did you think of the Ioffe?

The cabin was very comfortable and spacious (of course, we had a Superior Cabin on Deck 6).  Also the house-keeping was excellent and attentive.  The Russian team was accommodating and amicable.

The food was …so-so.  Breakfast and buffet lunches were very good.  The choice of having a sandwich rather than a full lunch was appreciated – cooked lunches and dinners were not bad, but they were too big, too stuffy and sometimes not very nicely displayed on the plate. Half-size portions and generally lighter cooking would have been appreciated by many, I think. I often skipped lunch, only opting for SSS (soup, salad and sweets).  Sweets were very …“Russian” – i.e. too much whipped cream, and nobody ate it all (except for me!).  With too big portions, there was much food waste … shame to throw away so much – think our environmental awareness was heightened during the cruise!

Prices for drinks and extra services were reasonable – no bad surprises when the bill was presented to us at the end of the journey.

Your thoughts on the expedition team?

Chad, the expedition leader, and his team were all very good, no exception.  They were all very attentive, knowledgeable and safety conscious, without being too protective.  A good atmosphere on board, no doubt.

The only overstaffed activity was, in my view, photography …no need for two guys on board.  Their idea however to share photos at the end of the journey and to produce a USB stick with cruise info and pics for everyone was great.   And – much appreciated – no extra costs for this extra service.

Overall, even though I have been on only this vessel, I don’t think it can get much better on other vessels/expeditions.

And how was your experience with Swoop?

Well, I did not ask for much support, but when I asked, I was given the info straight away.  So, I cannot say, “you went the extra mile”, as we did not ask for it.  But I suspect, you would go the extra mile, when asked.  I spoke to others on the vessel, and they went through a much more rigid process for selecting the vessel.

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Luke Errington

Swoop founder & MD

Luke founded Swoop Antarctica in 2010, following a career in strategy consultancy and digital marketing.

At home in Bristol he's a dad of three, and a keen trail runner and adventure racer.