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?”
Inge's Trip Date:
17th Jan - 24th Jan 2023
What was your most memorable moment?
Zodiac trip through icebergs. Amazing shapes and colors, and penguins swimming and leaping among the bergs.
Which of the following best describes your adventure?
On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?
10 out of 10
On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate your trip: Original Fly & Cruise Expedition Cruise?
9 out of 10
Tell us about the wildlife
Penguins were hilarious and we had ample time to see Gentoo, Adelie and Chinstrap. Thank heavens for the rubber boots. We saw whales only at a distance, but fun to see the tail flip.
Tell us about Zodiac excursions
Very well managed, getting them in and out of the water. Like clockwork. Drivers were skilled and the splashing was just enough to be fun.
Tell us about the expedition team
Overall, just fantastic. A well oiled operation--from checking in at the Cabo de Hornos hotel, to boot issuance, to getting everyone to/from flights. Due to weather and the flight from King George Island canceled for the morning of 23rd, we had to leave for Punta Arenas after dinner on 22nd. (Not a surprise as we had been warned about early/late departures.) The team got the new arrivals out of the hotel and on to the outgoing flight and us back and into the hotel. Seamless. I was impressed (at hotel too).
Tell us about the Ocean Nova
We choose Swoop and Antarctica 21 in order to get a small boat. We did NOT want a cruise experience. It's an older boat but just what we wanted. The library is amazing with its Antarctic collection. (I've now ordered from Amazon two books that we didn't finish.) Stern lounge and Panarama room comfortable and good views. I would definitely choose Ocean Nova again. Food, I described above. C'mon! Up the game to match the quality of the rest of the program! Except for the food, the trip exceeded expectations! The cabin was an issue. Quite nice, comfortable beds, and a nice shower. HOWEVER--we had booked a triple for myself (age 76), husband (79) and daughter (age 49). We knew there was a bunk bed and thought that would be fine. The removable ladder was flimsy and did not anchor onto the bunk. It took one person holding it firmly to enable someone to climb down. This was especially tricky when the boat was rolling. Also the top of the ladder had a missing cap and was jagged. (We did tell the hotel manager, who taped it.) We decided that my husband would take the top bunk since my daughter and I were both likely to get up for the bathroom in the middle of the night. I could hold the ladder for him in the morning. We learned that the trip was under-booked--only 56 passengers instead of 68. We asked if we could arrange to get a single cabin so we could spread out. The answer was no--we would have to pay the entire $2000 single room surcharge. That made no sense. That is understandable pre-voyage when the whole cruise might be booked, but we were at sea. It should have been possible to reach some arrangement--us paying the cost of servicing an additional cabin plus some additional (<$2000) fee. But no, Swoop/Antarctica21 preferred to make no additional income at all rather than figure out something to make a guest experience better at no cost--and indeed some profit--to itself. For a small ship and a one-off situation, there should have been flexibility.
The polar plunge turned out to be great fun. I think about 25-30 of us lined up. The shot of vodka offered as we got out of the water was great.
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Antarctica?
Dress in layers. It was never too cold (about 32F) so warmer than winters at home (Oregon). I never used my warmest base layers. Dress on the ship is pretty casual; no need to bring anything dressy. No need to bring a lot of clothes. The arrangement for leaving excess luggage at he hotel was very helpful, and well-organized. I wish we had had more information about the kayaking. My husband and I own kayaks and do a lot of kayaking on mountain lakes, but were leery of kayaking in the ocean. As we learned, the groups went out only when and where the water was pretty calm so it would have been fine. If we go again, we would definitely sign up for kayaking. It would be helpful to describe the program in more detail--relatively calm water, double kayaks with skirts, guide with the group. (I was also impressed with the logistics of getting all the kayaks in/out of the water and back up on the ship. Like everything else on the ship, Antarctica21 seems to have it down to a science.)
Has your experience changed your perspective in any way?
Not so much changed, but a greater appreciation and understanding of our planet. In June 2022, we went to Svalbard--and got to 79 degrees N. The comparison between Arctic and Antarctic was fascinating and shows how life on our planet exists in a fairly narrow band between the frozen poles.
Do you have any recommendations for Swoop, or feedback about the team?
Team was super. Just try to recruit some additional specialists, especially geologists and marine biologists or wildlife biologists. Guides are knowledgeable but some real academic depth would be interesting.
How prepared and excited for Antarctica did you feel?
We felt well-prepared--except for not knowing how accessible kayaking would be. The website is comprehensive and informative. We learned a lot about the Antarctic in advance. It would be helpful to have more comprehensive information about things to see and do in Punta Arenas. We ended up spending extra days there between EcoCamp and Antarctica and an extra day afterwards due to the weather/flight change. We found some wonderful restaurants as well as the model of Magellan's boat and the Beagle. Some extra advice about getting around with buses and taxis would be helpful. Also suggest that people learn some Spanish. It is not like northern Europe where English speakers are readily available. Maybe include a glossary? We knew numbers in Spanish, but were a little hazy on days of the week (deciphering restaurant and museum days of operation). Definitely excited! Though going to Torres del Paine EcoCamp just prior to Antarctica pulled us two directions of excitement. In items 6 and 7 below, I answered no, only because we have already been to Patagonia and the Arctic. Had we not been there, would definitely consider Swoop. We have lots of wonderful photos but will send them along later.
Would you consider another trip to Antarctica with Swoop?
Would you be interested in travelling to Patagonia with Swoop?
Would you be interested in travelling to The Arctic with Swoop?