Sensational food and friendly, fun staff
During our 10 days onboard, one of my favourite experiences was watching the staff and guest interaction, both from afar and first-hand. With only 61 passengers and 102 staff the service was incredible. At dinner I’d take a sip or two of my wine or water before, almost silently, a waiter was refilling the glass. No request was too much for anyone, and as a vegan, I was continually asked by staff whether everything was okay, or if they could offer something else. At lunch and dinner someone would always bring me out a specially made vegan desert!
When we go overseas and represent our company it’s also important to take note of how other companies operate and act – even more importantly when they are our regular ground or cruise operators. What I experienced and saw amongst Aurora Expeditions’ staff really blew my mind. They were superbly professional as well as friendly and relaxed in their manner.
The waitstaff and cooking team were constantly joking with one another and guests alike - unafraid to give back a little friendly banter - singing and laughing. One of the managers, Tony, loved to sing, and would often grab a microphone and serenade many of the guests to gales of laughter from the rest of the passengers onboard.
The off-shore Expedition Team were equally enthusiastic and friendly. Spike and I were amongst the 12 guests who chose to do kayaking. There were 6 or 7 kayak staff we spent many hours with, and they too joked and got on well, many of whom had worked together for several seasons. One of our guides, Matt, was experiencing his very first time guiding in Antarctica. It was great to see and share our experiences with him and chat about the days incredible encounters. But, it was equally great to see how quickly he was taken under the wing by the other more seasoned expedition guides. By the end of trip, it felt as if he’d been a part of the team for months. Whether it was a zodiac guide, kayak instructor, chef or waitstaff, every staff member seemed to genuinely get on well with each other, which was really fantastic to see.
Coupled with outstanding service, the vessel boasted so many luxury comforts I felt it should almost be considered a floating hotel! The amenities onboard were first class; there are two bars (one with a mini grand piano); a library stacked with books on polar travel and geography, board games and comfortable couches; a fitness studio complete with cable machines, treadmills and exercise bikes; a sauna; steam room; and two rooftop Jacuzzis - that Spike and I jumped in after dinner our first night onboard.
Okay. Enough about how amazing the boat was - though all these creature comforts are superb, it’s not the reason we travel to other-worldly, geographically mesmerising, wildlife-rich and hard-to-reach destinations like Antarctica (but it does help to do it in style and comfort)!