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Cruise Views

Voyage to the Bottom of the Earth

October 16, 1994|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH | Slater and Basch travel as guests of the cruise lines. Cruise Views appears the first and third week of every month.

We drove down to San Diego the last day of September to see Seven Seas Cruise Line's Hanseatic, a 170-passenger luxury expedition vessel wending its way gradually south to Antarctica after a swift and successful transit of the Northwest Passage.

The first of a series of five Antarctic cruises begins from Buenos Aires Dec. 18.

Originally built in 1991 for Seattle-based Society Expeditions as the Society Adventurer, the ship was never delivered to Society because of a contractual dispute, and languished for almost two years in a Finnish shipyard before being taken over by a German tour company, Hanseatic Tours.

San Francisco-based Seven Seas, which operates the very popular little Song of Flower, began U.S. sales and marketing for the Hanseatic earlier this year.

Inside, the Hanseatic is an elegant and luxurious ship, with rich wood-toned paneling in cabins and public rooms and spacious staterooms, all with windows or portholes. Each accommodation, even the least expensive, has a marble bathroom with tub and shower, a separate sitting area with chaise or sofa, TV set with VCR, mini-refrigerator stocked with nonalcoholic beverages, and generous closet and drawer space. All 90 staterooms measure 236 square feet; four two-room suites measure 475.

The lunch we had aboard, while not on the cutting edge of cuisine, was tasty and well prepared.

A trio plays for dancing in the big, handsome Explorer Lounge in the evenings, and a pianist plays at teatime.

The ship has a beauty shop, a well-equipped spa and hospital.

The Dec. 18 Christmas cruise from Buenos Aires spends 18 nights visiting the Falklands, South Georgia, South Orkneys and the Antarctic Peninsula, ending in Ushuaia, Argentina. Three 11-night round-trip sailings from Ushuaia depart Jan. 16 and 27 and Feb. 7, cruising the Falklands, Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands. And a 20-night sailing from Ushuaia to Cape Town, South Africa, leaving Feb. 18, will visit the Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, South Georgia and Tristan da Cunha. All are scheduled to land at Cape Horn if weather permits. Fares range from $6,750 to $15,995 per person, double occupancy, including air fare. To get a free color brochure or more information, contact a travel agent or call Seven Seas at (800) 285-1835.

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Orange County-based LifeLong Learning Inc., has announced three Antarctic sailings this winter aboard the 96-passenger Explorer. The sailings are between Stanley in the Falkland Islands and Ushuaia, and include a pre-cruise program in Santiago, Chile. Departure dates are Nov. 18 and Feb. 6 and 17, and the programs, including pre- and post-activities, are 15 days for the first two, 18 days for the Feb. 17 itinerary. Prices range from $4,500 to $9,295 per person, double occupancy, plus air add-ons. For a free color brochure, call (800) 854-4080.

Other ships scheduled to cruise in the Antarctic this winter include Abercrombie & Kent's 96-passenger Explorer, a pioneer in Antarctic cruising, (800) 323-7308; Society Expeditions' 140-passenger World Discoverer, also a longtime veteran of those icy seas, (800) 548-8669; Golden Bear Travel's 164-passenger Bremen, the former Frontier Spirit, another state-of-the-art expedition vessel with top ice classification, (800) 551-1000; Zegrahm Expeditions, with the 106-passenger icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, the World Discoverer and the Explorer chartered for one voyage each, (800) 628-8747; Quark Expeditions' 106-passenger icebreakers Kapitan Khlebnikov and Kapitan Dranitsyn and 90-passenger ship Alla Tarasova, (800) 356-5699, and Mountain Travel with the 38-passenger polar research vessel Molchanov, (800) 227-2384.

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