We began planning this cruise in May 2012 and found some friends who also booked the trip. We were fortunate to be able to select a corner cabin on the Navigation deck as we had a larger deck. After booking the trip we had a tougher time trying to book flights that were reasonable. Not wanting to risk missing our embarkation and wanting to take advantage of visiting Santiago, Chile we left California on Feb.17th and arrived in Santiago early on the 18th. I had arranged a private 3 day tour that included touring Santiago,overnight stays in both Santiago and Valparaiso as well as wine tasting and transportation for our entire stay pre-cruise. We had a great experience with the tour company.
Prior to boarding the ship we had a tour of Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar and arrived at the port a little after 1PM. Embarkation went smoothly. We had purchased a case of wine while wine tasting and were able to bring it on board with no problems. I was concerned as just after having our photo taken and going through security there were vendors selling wine packages and bottles of sparkling wine and the person was saying you could bring in 3 bottles. I believe this was just a sales pitch. After boarding we went to our room and were greeted by one of our room stewards, Harrison. He gave us a card and we found him to be quite helpful the entire cruise. We soon had our bags in our room and unpacked. We explored the ship prior to the safety drill. Our friends joined us on our balcony for sail away.
We had late seating and were given a table for 4 next to the window. We had great service the entire cruise and our waiters were very fast. We all enjoyed the variety of food served in the MDR. The only issue we had is that they really could use more wine stewards. We would bring our wine and pay the corkage fee but felt that the service in this area has deteriorated over the years. We ate dinner on two nights at the Pinnacle Grill and the food and service were wonderful. The steaks were tender and cooked to perfection. We had room service a few mornings when we were going to get off the ship early but otherwise ate in the Lido. We found the food well prepared and the service good. I noticed that the food was not as salty as what I experienced on the Statendam last year. We were always able to get a table. About half through the cruise we discovered the grill near the pool and liked the empanadas,tortillas, beans and salads. We went to the Chocolate extravaganza near the end of the cruise but did not eat anything. There seemed to be less items than on earlier
The entertainment on the ship was above average. We would go to the mix every evening at 7 PM to listen to Kenny (the guitar player). This was followed by pub trivia. There were always a group of us competing and trying to win one of the coveted ship pins! After dinner we would listen to the Adagio strings play or would go to the main showroom. A few nights we listened to the piano man.
We had mostly smooth sailing. We were very impressed with Captain Peter Bos. He would make several announcements a day about our itinerary and let us know why he was altering course. He avoided several storms and we did not experience too much rocking and rolling. We had glass-like sailing while going through glacier alley and through the Chilean fjords. Passengers were all on deck enjoying the fabulous views. During these times the naturalist on board would make announcements about the area and would also point out various glaciers as well as wildlife.
We had to take tenders into several of the ports and the tender process was slow. We learned that those taking Holland Excursions were given priority. We had booked independent excursions on Puerto Montt and Puerto Chacabuco and would get down to the waiting area as we entered the port so we could be among the first non Holland excursion passengers to get a ticket for a tender. We did take a Holland excursion to Otway Sound to see penguins. Of all of our ports, this excursion was our least favorite. We boarded a bus and after over an hour ride where our guide offered to stop the bus so we could take photos of sheep and cows, we arrived at our destination only to see a total of 14 penguins!! What a disappointment. When we got to Ushuaia we walked around the town. While in Puerto Arenas we took a taxi to a place where we were able to explore replicas of Magellan's ship,a boat used by Shackleton when he went to rescue his men, and a boat used by the first people to inhabit the area . We also saw them working on a replica of the Beagle. Our biggest thrill was being able to dock at the Falkland Islands on March 1. We were able to purchase an independent tour with a few others from our cruise. We took land rovers on a 2.5 hour journey over rough terrain to Volunteer Point where we saw thousands of penguins. We saw King, Gentoo, and Magellan varieties. We arrived early in the morning and the sun was shining and there was no wind. We were able to stay 2 hours before heading back to Port Stanley. Due to our stay at the Falklands and in order to avoid a storm we did not actually round Cape Horn but we got close enough for me. Our final port was Montevideo, Uruguay and we explored the city on our own.
Disembarkation took quite awhile as there were 5 ships in port. We were to get off the ship at 9:30 but did not get off until 11. Once off the ship we were faced with an hour wait in a long line waiting for a taxi. What a zoo!!
We did get to our hotel in Buenos Aries and spent the day on a city tour. We enjoyed a great Argentina barbecue dinner and the next day left for a two night stay at Iguassu Falls. So happy we added this on to our trip as it put the icing on our best vacation to date. I would definitely recommend this cruise to others.