Customer Rating On return from their adventure we ask customers: “On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?”
Sam's Trip Date:
18th Dec - 13th Jan 2018
Sam's Ship:Akademik Sergey Vavilov
Overall, how was your trip?
It is almost impossible to describe Antarctica in a few simple sentences. We were treated to her best - spectacular weather, amazing wildlife, surreal scenery. Having spoilt us, Antarctica decided to throw a tantrum and fog delayed us somewhat at King George Island. This just added another dimension to our trip and we got to sail the Drake. (Sof got her wish!) Highlights - way too many. Cruising through the ice to the Antarctic Circle in glorious sunshine, Kayaking with Humpback Whales - literally! They were that close we got caught up in their bubble nets. Watching the kamikaze penguin come face to face with a Leopard Seal. (Have you ever seen a surprised penguin? He loved!) Feeling so small, insignificant and wanting to desperately protect the fragility of this amazing continent as we listened to calving ice and absorbed the silence of the glacial splendour that is one facet of Antarctica. The ship operator's staff were amazing. They worked really well together as a team. As Kayakers we were exceptionally lucky. Great group, great guides, awesome experience. A great group on board - even with the Chinese. I think the delay and Drake Crossing highlighted how well the dynamics between crew, staff and passengers worked. We felt very protective of the staff when we finally left the Vavilov. Antarctica was a surprise, the fog was a surprise. Epic. Just epic. The whole trip was epic! Biggest surprise - our upgrade and that bottle of wine.
In one sentence, what did you think of Antarctica? Did it live up to your expectations?
Our trip to Antarctica was a surreal experience that exceeded all our expectations.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
Swoop Antarctica I will quite happily get out there and sing your praises (maybe not too much,?we want to get back on the Vavilov!) John - thank you for being there at the end of the phone, for listening and not pushing or following a sales pitch when I first called. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion. Thank you for your reassurance and encouragement to go kayak. Most of all a mega thank you for stepping in going way beyond to secure our flights and liaise with our travel provider in Chile when we were delayed in Antarctica. Totally unexpected and very much appreciated.
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
10 out of 10
You chose a/an experience. How was that experience?
We loved our experience with the ship's operator. The pre boarding experience could be enhanced. No food served on the flight to Falklands. We had three hours at the airport and would quite happily have bought something to eat had we been advised. Lack of sufficient immigration forms on the plane (frustrating after chaotic boarding!) lead to unnecessary delays at the Falklands. Not sure if this is a LATAM issue or whether the ship operator's ground agents can provide forms the day before. I digress. We loved the boat and the fact that it’s Russian crew obviously really care for her. They were always unobtrusively in the background cleaning or repainting her. Homely. She felt homely. We wanted a sturdy boat, experienced staff and less than 100 passengers. So a tick in all the right boxes there.
If Swoop arranged some of your travel before/after your voyage. How did we do?
Top marks to Swoop Antarctica. On the whole our experience with Swoop has been extremely positive. But and it was a big but, our experience with Swoop Patagonia was trying to say the least and we cancelled that section of our trip. I’d like to single out John and Aimee. John - are you blushing - we can’t thank you enough for going over and beyond your remit. Aimee, thank you for quietly insisting that I share our full trip itinerary and for not minding when I couldn’t find the online forms. No hiccups with travel documents and pre departure info. Advice for future visitors - these guys know their stuff - listen and ask. They have a passion that they just want to share.
How were your experiences on the zodiac excursions and shore landings?
I’m so glad we kayaked. The guides were awesome, it was great to go out with the same group as we got to really bond as a group. Best days - everyday from finding ourselves engulfed by silence - nothing but the noise of slapping paddles, getting up front and personal with the whales. That kamikaze penguin moment will stay with me a long time. Hysterical. Watching the smile on my daughter’s face as she watched her dream come to fruition. Wandering Albatross - tick. Leopard Seal - tick. We sat and watched one sleeping. We kayaked in a sea of penguins - everyday was different. We were fortunate to have 5 days of blazing sunshine - 4 of them spent kayaking. Overcast days only enhanced the light and served to emphasise the strength and fragility of Antarctica. Other highlights include cruising through the Lemaire Channel and despite it not being on the itinerary crossing the Drake. Special mention to Chad our expedition leader. He handled the crisis really well. A bonus to get off the boat for a couple of zodiac and landings whilst at King George Island. A huge shout out to our captain for choosing to sail across the sea ice to the Circle. Magical, sublime, awesome - no words to describe that day. Again, glorious sunshine. The staff were amazing as were the Russian crew. Special mention to our Kayak Guides Ehren and Nat, and for Katie our fellow Scot, with her passion for Shackleton and other historical greats. We had a great deal of fun in Antarctica. Health and Safety and respect for the wildlife always came first but didn’t deter from the overall experience.
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Antarctica?
Pack layers and don’t forget the thin socks to layer under thicker socks. Listen to the advice given by the Swoop Antarctica travel team. It’s spot on. Our ship's operator gave you a water bottle - no need to pack one! The boat is really warm! Come with an open mind and be prepared to be flexible. The staff can’t control the weather, but they will do everything to enhance your experience.
Anything else? Tell us anything you’d like to share that we forgot to ask! It’s ok to leave this empty too :-)
We would love to come back and explore South Georgia and maybe go visit the Atacama. Rapa Nui is way up there on our return list. Loved Punta Arenas - being Scottish we appreciated the cooler temperatures! Looking forward to our visit to Valparaiso. Thank you once again. Antarctica was just surreal. I would definitely book with Swoop Antarctica again. Not sure I would give Swoop Patagonia another chance. I would however book our international flights with Swoop - which would make things less complicated should we find ourselves in a similar predicament. So did it come across that WE HAVE HAD THE MOST AMAZING TIME IN ANTARCTICA? (Including our extended trip!)