Antarctic Classic Wildlife: Peninsula & Islands
"What can I say about the trip? I must have done something good in a past life because it was more than I could have dreamed. Even though it was rainy at times we were able to make every landing, we got to kayak and our camping night was the only one that didn't get cancelled. I never imagined we would see so many animals so up close: gentoo, adélie and chinstrap penguins; weddell, leopard and crabeater seals; and humpbacks galore! And the landscape... I felt so humbled and so very privileged.
The boat was very homey - our room was amazing and the food, my god, the chef was incredible and the expedition staff went above and beyond.
I cried the last day because I was just so grateful for the experience.
We have about, oh, 3000 photos but I will pick a few out to send you!
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!"
"Antarctica was amazing! I don't think I can think of a single thing I would have changed about the trip. The staff were incredible. Each and every one of them was so helpful and were dedicated to making our trip as special as possible. It was so lovely to see people who genuinely loved their jobs. I thought it was going to be all about the wildlife (which was of course amazing) but the staff made sure that every second of the trip was special, even on days when we were at sea, there was never a dull moment!
In terms of wildlife we of course saw many penguins (chinstrap and Gentoo). I was also lucky enough to see a lone Adelie penguin as well. We saw crabeater, Weddell and leopard seals. We also saw some humpback whales, albatrosses and many other birds!
It was a truly special experience and I cannot recommend the crew enough, it was perfect! We even got to visit Spert Island which none it the crew had ever been to before so it was exciting for them too!"
"Thanks for all your efforts on our behalf.
The expedition was excellent - the highlights were the close sighting of a pod of Orca attacking a Humpbacked Whale and penguins - awesome! Bird watching from the ship and onshore visits twice a day gave many photographic opportunities for sea birds and whales. Visiting the mainland at Neko Harbour and other sites was great. The ideal size of the ship and friendliness of the other passengers and crew was much appreciated - we grew very attached to the ship.
Thanks again for your help and attention to detail."
Roger & Julia Labbett
"It was absolutely the best trip I've done in my entire life, without a doubt. The expedition team were astonishingly good and we were incredibly lucky with both the weather and wildlife. I literally don't have enough adjectives to praise it enough."
Thanks for arranging it all for me!"
"The crew onboard couldn't have been nicer and more helpful. The ship was great and the food amazing! It was an amazing trip in every way and I cannot see how it could be bettered. The highlights for me would be the Penguins.... I always found them so cute, but sitting on a beach observing their funny antics and them coming over to check you out is the best memory for me, but of course so are all the other animals we've come across and of course the awesome landscapes."
“The ship was brilliant. Lovely ship, great lecture series, incredible service and food throughout. Trip had its own photographer which was great. Ships doctor had all the anti-sickness anyone could need for Drakes passage. All excursions well explained.
Kayaking was very special!
We saw three types of penguin, four types of whale including killer whale (humpback whale watching best animal related experience ever had), three types of seal, tons of birds of multiple varieties including albatross. All viewed with remarkable proximity.
If anyone wants a restaurant recommendation in Buenos Aires, we went to Chila. Fantastic 8 course tasting menu with wine flight and two extra drinks for £100 per person. Really fun vibe too.
Was incredible holiday and you guys were really excellent.”
“My voyage/expedition was truly awesome!! Everything about it was absolutely unbelievable. The ship, the crew, the chef, the expedition leader, the other passengers/guests, the list goes on.
My highlights were ...
Surviving the Drake Passage, Kayaking, Ice breaking on the ship and sailing through ice in the zodiacs, the awesome icebergs, the antics and behaviours of the penguins, paddling my feet in the Antarctic Ocean, the connections and friendships I made onboard, excellent food, I could go on and on....
Thank you so much for all you did to make it happen for me."
“It was beyond amazing!!!
I am so so pleased we chose the trip we did, we saw lots, did lots, we were super lucky with the weather and the expedition team were fantastic.
We couldn’t be happier with how it all went and once again, really appreciate the help we had from you and all at Aqua-Firma.
It was all magical.”
“Thank you, Holly! The trip was terrific - perfect weather, even allowing us to go to the east side of the peninsula, and stunning scenery in all directions, as you know. Thanks to your attention to detail, I was fully prepared for the journey.
We saw humpback and Orca whales, 5 species of penguins (up close and personal), sea lions, and countless bird species. I loved how the Quark staff seemed as excited as the passengers when whales were seen!”
“We had a fantastic time in Antarctica. The Drake Passage was even kind to us. All went well with no hitches.
We had excellent conditions and had many landings and zodiac cruises. We saw many chinstrap and gentoo penguins, many with their eggs on stone nests.
We also saw a Weddell Seal, Leopard Seal and Crabeater seal. We did see albatrosses, skuas and petrels.
As regards to whales, we saw numerous humpbacks and orcas on many sightings (the best all season so far said the expedition team).
It was exciting to see the first icebergs at sea whilst aboard the ship. The scenery was amazing on the islands and the peninsula.
We did one extra, which was the kayaking. I would recommend this to any future visitors. I had never kayaked before. Paddling through the ice and around icebergs with penguins swimming nearby, it was an incredible experience.
I really enjoyed trekking through the snow with poles. They had set up a reproduction of Amundsen's tent with a Norwegian flag on it. I could see it in the distance and as I approached it, I got a sense of how Scott and his men must have felt. I even tried on a reproduction of an Amundsen coat at the tent.
My wife and I also did the polar plunge! Yes, and I got the T shirt!
The expedition team were very professional and helpful. The whole trip was so well planned. I also enjoyed their lectures.
Most of all I would like to thank you for all your help in organising this trip for us. There was a lot of planning and sorting out to do and the trip went so well.
So thank you very much Holly. All your work and effort is much appreciated in organising this fantastic holiday.”
"The trip was just fantastic - it far exceeded my expectations. I imagined the wildlife would be spectacular - and it was - Wandering, Royal, Light-mantled Sooty, Grey-headed, and Black-browed Albatross, + Snow Petrel were the bird highlights. Fin, Humpback, Minke and Orca gave terrific views. Oh yes, penguins - Chinstrap, Gentoo, and Adelie + one Macaroni in the wrong colony! However, it was the stunning landscapes that I will remember most. I'd not realised that the coastal fringes of Antarctica were so mountainous, which made for wonderful vistas of snow, rock, ice, and sea. Also, the reflected light, especially in the still of the early morning, was jaw-droppingly beautiful.
All the excursions ashore were great, but the highlight for me was the camping. This was a terrific experience amongst the penguins.
The other aspect of the voyage that I found so exciting was the absence of any real cultural context. I'd not really been anywhere else where direct human influence was so limited. It did rather 'blow me away' when I realised that nobody had walked on almost all of the land at which I was looking. It was the near total absence of any direct human impact on Antarctica that is likely to become the abiding memory."
Philip Lillywhite, UK
"Trip was epic - had an amazing time!!!
We had quite a crossing with 50k winds and 11 meter swells which made it fun ... it was calm on the return trip.
Enjoyed the cruises landings and lectures, the expedition team were amazing.
Saw humpbacks, chinstrap penguins, gentoos and one macaroni. Leopard seals and true seals along with fur seals.. and crab eaters.
It was amazing and I'm so happy I went.
Thanks for helping me organise."
Tracy White, UK
"It was one of the best experiences I have had so far during my round the world trip! The expedition staff were really friendly and helpful and contributed to making this experience really amazing.
Regarding the wildlife, it was really diverse. We saw lots of birds (Albatros, Skuas, Giant Petrel, Snow Petrel, Cape Petrel ...), whales (Minke, Humpback, Orca), penguins (Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie) and seals (fur seals, crabeater seals, weddell seals and leopard seals). That was just amazing, the penguins, for example, are really curious and do not hesitate to come close to you if you kneel down and stay still for a little while. The young fur seal males were playing and 'fighting' together.
It's difficult to pick up few highlights but I would say: the leopard seal coming around the zodiac while we were going back to the ship after a landing, he was really doing a show ; the zodiac cruise at night between the icebergs with 4 fur seals turning around the zodiac for a while and at last but not the least, the two landings on the Antarctic Peninsula itself for what it represents and the indescribable feeling of just being there."
"We are totally impressed by the ship! I have to say, the whole experience is beyond expectation. The boat is very comfortable and the activities are fantastic. Best of all, it is the quality of the service provided by the whole crew team. I am so impressed. Food was great with so much variations. Lynn, the expedition lead, organized such a professional and attentive team and offered us excellent activity choices. All the seminars were planned and presented well and educated us well.
Of course, we had such a luck passage through Drake and so many sunny days at Antarctica.
We can not be more satisfied with this whole trip.
Personally, I will explore opportunities to work with you again for future cruises and would love to return to Antarctica. Let us keep in touch."
"We had an unbelievable time, it was absolutely fabulous many thanks to you and Charlotte for arranging it. It was everything we hoped."
Jim & Carolyn Pittick
"The time onboard the voyage was absolutely great and was even better than we expected. The crew is awesome, helpful, funny. The wildlife was stunning (whales, penguins, dolphins) and the landscape even more. We have absolutely nothing to critisice, everything was just totally cool. Thank you!"
Linda Sulzer & Christian Brieter
"Our trip was amazing! The most memorable aspect is, of course, our wedding, although the polar plunge comes in a close second, lol.
The crew were some of the nicest and fun people we'd ever met on any of our trips. They were so excited to be doing their jobs. Nate saw his first pod of orca while in a zodiac in the Gerlache Strait and Seb finally got to see the shipwreck he has read so much about!
The scenery and wildlife are just spectacular. We saw 3 different types of penguins, many species of birds, 3 types of seals, and 3 types of whales, including a large pod of orca. That was incredible, being in a zodiac with groups of orca approaching very closely to check us out. We even felt one's blow, they were so close!
I have attached a couple of pics.
Thanks so much for all your help with this vacation. We will definitely be talking with you when we start planning our gorilla trekking trip for 2019."
Danny & Clara Whiting
"Antarctica was quite an experience. A number of things made it very special, and we were very fortunate. Cape Horn was calm, we saw humpbacks feeding, Orcas, and Minkes - penguins by the thousands, and so many seals.
Also special was having Jonathan Shackleton, and Falcon Scott on board, giving talks on their respective grandfathers."
"The Expedition Leaders were excellent. In fact, they were far better than that! My fellow travellers were like-minded individuals that I found wonderful company. I had a most fantastic trip. It is a cliche but it was the trip of a lifetime. Your help and advice was wonderful. I would definitely come to you again should you offer something that I want to do."
"I just wanted to write and tell you what a fantastic and amazing trip that we had, a big thank you for all your coordination. After flying the expanse of Argentina I understand what a feat that probably was at times. Iguazu was really amazing and beautiful and energy zapping hot!
Buenos Aires was great also hot. The hotel was lovely. El Calafate, the Moreno Glacier and the Torres Del Paine were brilliant, lovely indeed.
But of course the best was the Antarctic cruise. Breathe taking. We saw several humpback whales with two coming right next to the ship. Neko harbour was incredible, seeing a group of Orcas then seconds later there being a loud avalanche over the harbour, and then at same time an iceberg in the harbour exploding and crashing. Terry and I laughed because we just didn't know where to look with so many things happening at once, not to mention the penguins and breathtaking scenery and face warming sunshine. In the Lemaire channel we watched a leopard seal and we saw many seals, some minke whales, lots of birds including nesting blue eyed shags, and of course the penguins that were nesting and feeding their young.
We just wanted again to say thank you and would highly recommend you and your company for arranging such fantastic trips."
"Just what can I say, putting pen to paper is easy, writing what I feel needs a new vocabulary.
In all my years of travel this is the best spent money ever. Charlotte- I cannot thank you enough for the pleasure you have given me, your personality oozes happiness and this radiates through to the people around you, making a trip with you something very special. It must also be said that Aqua-Firma has excellent organisational skills. Aqua-Firma has enabled me to fulfil a life time ambition. Visiting Argentina and staying in Buenos Aires with such a charismatic air. Then onto Iguazu falls so unbelievably beautiful in the rainforest. Lastly Antarctica just mind-blowing! The mountain peaks appear to reach heaven and invite your camera to picture them. Aqua-Firma you have given me a memory that is priceless and it has been my pleasure booking with you and I would not hesitate to do it again!"
"The voyage was excellent. We had 3 focused wildlife guides, specialising on mammals and birds, who were all extremely good - outstanding!
there were lots of zodiacs, so we were all able to get off the boat at the same time, half of us on land, whilst the other half would cruise around on the zodiacs. We even got to land on the Antarctic continent.
The onboard staff / waiters etc were very good.
We saw adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins, lots of whales, including 5 humpbacks and wandering albatross.
I would definitely recommend this trip."
"Antarctic was Best of the Best in my travel life. Now I visited 7 continents. I'm happy!
Thank you again and hope to use Aqua-Firma later."
Bong Cheon Lee
Antarctic Classic Wildlife: Peninsula & Islands