Almost 50 ice-strengthened ships visit Antarctica every year – yet our main love-affair is with only one. Read on to find out why we think the Ocean Endeavour is the ultimate polar vessel.
Considering that over four dozen world-class expedition ships travel to Antarctica every cruising season, you may wonder why we’ve decided to charter the Ocean Endeavour for the next three years. At Chimu Adventures, we are avid proponents of exceptional value-for-money travel experiences. We’re not easily swayed by bling and pomp and, given we’re all experienced travellers and adventurers, we know where the true value of an adventure lies. Usually, it’s on aspects that go beyond the superficial – pretty, shiny and luxurious though it may be. When you want to explore the ends of the world on a once-in-a-lifetime journey, surely the size and cost of the crystal chandelier of the ship’s dining hall doesn’t really matter, does it? Would you rather spend more money on that…or on an extra few days’ worth of penguin ogling?! To us, it’s a no-brainer.
You could say we are no-nonsense explorers – as much as we love our creature comforts (because who doesn’t?) we primarily want exceptional naturalist guides on our Antarctica expeditions, so we can learn more about everything we see and experience. We want to use world-class equipment that won’t fail, we want unparalleled safety standards so we travel with peace of mind, and we’d certainly love an efficiently-run ship that allows us to really soak up the very best of our chosen destination.
Basically, if we were an expedition ship…we’d be the Ocean Endeavour.
Why the Ocean Endeavour?
No frills, just thrills
First up, this ship is the epitome definition of an ‘expedition ship’. Not only does it look the part but the Ocean Endeavour does away with all the fluff to offer an impressive array of experiential activities instead. We couldn’t love that more. Swap the nightly comedy show for in-depth presentations on the Antarctic wilderness and wildlife, we say, and do away with the ‘floating boutique shopping’ to offer us snow-shoeing, hiking, ice-camping, mountaineering, SUP-boarding, cross-country skiing, photography, kayaking and workshops, instead. The yoga classes can stay, to be honest, because they keep us stretched and supple for those Zodiac rides but other than that – oh, and a hot tub, well-equipped gym, sauna rooms and heated salt-water pool – there’s simply no unnecessary fluff to distract you. Most excursions are obviously included (all Zodiac outings, for example) but some specialised activities are offered at an extra charge (like the SUP and skiing for example). We find this to be a brilliant compromise and part of what keeps the price of the OE so low: simply pay for any extras you’d love to experience and save your funds if you don’t.
Rigorous sustainability standards
Every OE departure carries its own carbon-offset program and, as well as offering reusable water bottles for every guest (leave that single-use plastic behind, please) the kitchen will only serve sustainable seafood. Once in Antarctica proper, you’ll have a briefing that will outline all the do’s and dont’s on excursions. It is absolutely imperative that everyone follow the guidelines to the letter and even if you don’t understand why something should (or not) be done (ie. make sure your equipment is squeaky clean before you disembark and don’t bring any food ashore) trust that every consideration is made for the wellbeing of the Antarctic wilderness and wildlife. If we all do the right thing, in Antarctica, we’ll ensure that responsible tourism is harnessed as a force for good.
Exceptional safety standards
Aside from being built to withstand the toughest icy conditions Antarctica can throw its way, the ship is equipped with six fully-enclosed (and eight non) life-rafts, which goes above and beyond the SOLAS requirement that each Antarctica ship must be equipped to evacuate at least 25% more guests than it can carry. When you travel to Antarctica aboard the Ocean Endeavour, you’ll be in safe hands and that kind of peace of mind is rather priceless.
Crew/guest ratio of 1 to 8
With an impressively high ratio of crew to guest (one of the highest in the industry, in fact) the Ocean Endeavour offers top-notch service to its 199 guests. This is crucial on an expedition to such a remote destination; especially given the multi-layered experiences everyone desires. Antarctic expeditions are immersive, educational and very much hands-on, but the only ones who really know what’s going on are the crew members and the only way guests can feel a ‘part of the team’ is if there are enough of them to go around. Dedicated service, aboard Antarctic expedition ships, is by far the most coveted attribute, and the Ocean Endeavour delivers in spades.
Solo travel to Antarctica has become very popular in recent years although the supply of solo occupancy cabins hasn’t really kept up with demand. We loved that the Ocean Endeavour offers this stellar service, because we know there are plenty of adventurers who wish to join us on Antarctic expeditions but don’t wish to share a cabin. On our chartered Ocean Endeavour, they don’t have to (although they can if they wish to). The no single supplement offered by the OE is one of the rarest in the cruise market but book way ahead as single cabins are limited.
10 cabin categories to choose from
Ample choice is at the forefront of the Ocean Endeavour’s offerings and so it is that you’ll have ten cabin categories from which to choose. Pay more for more space and luxury, or less if the budget won’t stretch. Guess what? You’ll still travel to Antarctica is superior comfort, no matter which cabin you choose.
4 Zodiac points
If you’ve ever been on an ocean megaliner you may already know that half your trip will be wasted just lining up to disembark at port. The Ocean Endeavour maximises your time on-land (not on-queue) by offering four disembarkation points. In good weather, this ship boasts a disembarkation time-frame that’s off the charts! That means more time waddling with sea lions and penguins and less time getting antsy on deck. Win-win!
Call us picky but, when we board the Zodiacs, we love seeing where we’re heading, not where we’ve been. The OE’s forward-facing Zodiacs are ideal for photography.
Science Residency Program is included
One of the most pivotal aspects of responsible tourism is that every trip should be educational and enlightening. The science program aboard the OE is unique and inspirational and often rated as one of the best highlights of these expeditions.
Spacious interiors and outer decks
Just because you want to visit Antarctica on a small ship (because it’s simply the better choice) it doesn’t mean you want to be crammed into a sardine can, right? Ample space is one of the OE’s most revered assets, with multiple lecture rooms, lounge rooms, a great library, several bars and gorgeous top-deck viewing rooms with plush seating and panoramic viewing that offer an abundance of visual spectacles. Cosy and intimate without feeling cramped and overcrowded. The best of both worlds.
There is a touch of luxury…
Ok, we lied, there is a Polar Boutique onboard the OE but it sells gorgeous Antarctica souvenirs and stocks any last-minute expedition gear you may have forgotten to pack (see our comprehensive Antarctica packing list and we bet you won’t forget a thing). The Ocean Endeavour also prides itself on being the ‘only polar adventure ship to focus on health and wellbeing’ so you’ll find wonderful spa treatments on offer alongside all those sublime jacuzzi soaks and sauna stints. These are all truly amazing treats, especially at the end of an exciting day on the Antarctic ice.
…and complimentary wine at dinner – Well…we just thought it worth a mention. You’re welcome.
An unbeatable price
When all is said and done, the Ocean Endeavour offers what we believe is the best value-for-money Antarctica expeditions of all. With a starting price of just AUD 10,918 (our 11-day Antarctica Untouched) and expeditions ranging upwards to only AUD 19,495 for the mammoth 21-day Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands Explorer, we’re able to offer the lowest-priced expeditions to the south given all the above-mentioned inclusions.
The Ocean Endeavour also cruises the Arctic
For the final say in the matter, do know that this exceptional ship also runs outstanding Arctic Cruises to Canada, Greenland and straight across the Northwest Passage. So, if you haven’t had enough of her stunning experiences in one end of our planet, you can simply come home and plan a jaunt to the other end!
Now, do you understand why we’re so in love the Ocean Endeavour?
And you will be too, once you join us.
See our extensive array of fantastic Antarctica expeditions aboard the Ocean Endeavour and contact us, right here, to know more.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”