We arrived very early in Santiago and did our pre-cruise through Princess. I was appalled at the lack of service of the hospitality desk at the Ritz; it was virtually non-existent. We had arranged a vineyard tour the day after we arrived and finally connected with the hospitality desk a mere 10 minutes prior to the tour departing :0! The staff was never there at the appointed times and had no record of me booking the tour online. One gentleman at our hotel almost missed the bag pull for the transfer to the ship. It seems that the Intercontinental had no issues with their hospitality desk.
Santiago was lovely, and the people were so friendly - just loved it!
It was a mob scene getting the tenders at Puerto Montt- only one tender dock and 3 ships in port- we waited in line for an hour.
One thing I must stay about the Star - she is an older lady in the fleet and is starting to show her age. Surfaces were wearing down and the carpet looked a bit past its prime. Our cabin creaked and groaned like a wooden sailing ship. I The women's locker room needed some tile work done.
But the staff of the ship more than made up for it. Perhaps the best all around staff I have encountered on Princess. Captain was very articulate and took pride in the crew. Members were empowered to assist passengers in any way possible. All the bar staff was incredible - Hugs to Olivia at the explorer lounge! And Rui and Chef Brent made the Chef's table experience memorable. Vladimir in the Crown is a true gem. Many thanks also to Ivonne our cabin steward- man, is she quick and efficient.
The passengers on this trip were for the most part a blast. They were diverse, friendly and adventurous (I guess that they would have to be to select this itinerary). We had anytime dining and never worried about having one of "those" nights where conversation is stilted and awkward.
One fun thing that happened to us is that a couple we met a few years back on the Grand was sailing on this voyage - we didn't know they booked this cruise and we ended up having a couple dinners together.
The ports were great and I am so glad we actually made it to Stanley. It was a mob scene getting the tenders at Puerto Montt- only one tender dock and 3 ships in port- we waited in line for an hour. Cruising through glacier alley was magnificent. Ushuaia was beautiful. I think they should have dropped Puerto Madryn (nothing to do on New Year's day, but it didn't look like there was much to do on a regular day) and spent overnight in Montevideo - love it there! Lots of cute galleries and the food at the Port Market - my oh my!
All I have to say is throughout South America our saying was - "the cow wins" because you can't finish it all the portions are HUGE! Malbec and Carmeniere were great deals if you like red wine.
I was a little disappointed at the menu (seeing things like "meatloaf" pop up doesn't scream "fine dining") but I get it that this was a longer cruise and some folks hanker for some comfort food.
We had just about as much trouble with Princess hospitality on the tail end. (I know that they contract the land stuff out, but they are accountable). We booked our own accommodations and took a city tour. We were told (by the tour desk) that it was not a problem and the luggage would be dropped at the hotel (which was a post cruise option hotel). Well, that was not the case and we ended up sifting through luggage loaded on a van to either the pier or the airport. Thankfully we found all of it.
Buenos Aires was a big city and we heard of a few instances where travelers acted more like tourists and either got mugged or ripped off with changing money on the street. I contend that if you hear about this type of activity occurring - pay attention and don't engage in risky behavior. This being said - I felt more comfortable in Chile and Uruguay and would not hesitate to visit again.
Great trip and really nice to see South America on the other side of the equator.