CelebrityCruise Celebrity Infinity Departure from Valparaiso on the 20th January 2013
Places to visit: Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Puerto Madryn, Punta del Este, Montevideo and Buenos Aires.
Delivery of bags. A little unclear where the bags were taken, but they arrived in good order to our cabin.
The check-in staff, well trained, took our passports and check-in forms and then we received the boarding cards, which will be our payments/identification cards during the cruise. After the standard safety check we moved outside the terminal to a bus, which will ferried us to the cruise.
Arrival to the cruise
Arrived to the side of the boat, checked again and then into the boat. Pictures of our faces were taken on arrival (for which purpose, identification?) and then greeted by champagne or juices. No staff there to inform you where the cabin or other facilities were. Quite chaotic (minus point).
We went to the main restaurant on deck 10, Oceanview Cafe and Grill, where we had our first lunch. Good food and pleasant Asian staff (plus point).
The cabin room 3026, deck 3
Small but well equipped, with a large round porthole window. Small but well equipped bathroom. Safe in the room, a good amount of hangers, and the bags can be placed under the bed. Perfect.
Pool area deck 10
Nice area, with BBQ area for hamburgers at the external pool, and a nice, healthy food outlet, in the covered pool area.
Jogging track deck 11
We watched the departure of the boat and the city of Valparaiso from this deck. It has a small jogging track and a bar.
Trellis Restaurant, the main restaurant.
We had the 20:30 reservation, table 321, which we shared with two Chilean families. Food was good, a la carte, and a very friendly Philippine waiter, Russel, and the dishes came on short notice. Good and pleasant restaurant.
Show at the Celebrity Theatre
We watched the first show, not completely, but what we saw was very good.
Note: Every night a complete detailed daily program for the next day was left on our bed.
First day on board: at sea
The weather was very cloudy and cold in the morning. Later became a little better but no sun to be seen, about 17C.
The whole day at sea travelling from Valparaiso to Puerto Montt.
Breakfast in the Oceanview Cafe and Grill, nothing too interesting. Standard bf fare and bad coffee.
Ilounge deck 9 (Internet Centre)
Too small for the amount of passengers of this cruise! Crowded area. To buy Internet minutes we were requested to come back in one hour (minus point).
Conference of Anthony Dalton
We watched part of it, and what we heard and saw was very interesting.
Presentations on the excursions available during the cruise.
The Celebrity Theatre was the place for this presentation, which was interesting, and with good information and pictures of the places one may visit in Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas.
SS United States Restaurant cooking demonstration
Very interesting and funny demonstration done by the chef and restaurant assistant manager as they prepared some of the food offered in the menu of this restaurant. Good show!
Captain Diner and Show
A good number of passengers were in gala clothes, ladies in long dresses and men in tuxedos. Diner in Restaurant Trellies was excellent. After the diner, we moved to the Theatre for a nice cocktail, a presentation of the Captain and his senior staff, followed by an excellent show with Broadway music.
Second day: Puerto Montt
Started cloudy and cold, about 14 C, then changed in a sunny and warm day, about 24 C.
We started not too early to avoid the passengers that had booked bus tours to visit to the local towns, about 10 am, and a number of transport boats ("tenders") took us from the boat to the port. After arrival we walked for a few minutes into Algelmo arts and craft market. From there a family member, who lives in this area, took my wife and I to visit the towns of Puerto Montt, Frutillar and Puerto Varas. The last two towns are very nice and are located on the shore of the lake Llanquihue. The lake was amazing large, and the weather changed and became quite warm, about 24 C, and the view of the lake was just amazing. Huge lake with massive volcanoes' near by. Great for pictures! The organisation of the transport to and from the land to cruise ship was just excellent. Good work of the crew. Back into the ship.
Tour of the ship
We tried to book a tour to see the ship technical areas (announced in the daily news) and because it is not open for public, an extra charge of US$150 was requested!!! A shame for the cruise organisation.
Third day Chilean Fjords: at sea
Sunny and cold weather, about 14 C
When I opened the window curtains of the cabin, I saw the Chilean fjords at 100 meters from our window. What a view!
We started the day not too early, with beautiful weather but cold wind. Taking into consideration the part of Chile we are navigating, the weather must be considered very nice.
Just walked around the vessel and because most of the chairs, at the protected areas from the wind, were occupied, we settled for the Cafe de Bacio at deck 5. From the side windows one has an excellent view of the sea. Life classic music was played. Wild sea and soft music it is an unusual combination, but a perfect one.
We booked all tours at the same time at the Tours desk, very efficient, we were just asked if we had any requirements regarding languages. In no time the tickets were produced. Excellent.
We seated at the Martini Bar because of the large windows and, though we were not drinking, we enjoyed the Barman show pouring 10 martini's at the same time.
Great fun ...
Very funny show of juggling and music. We had a good time. Then to Trellies Restaurant for our diner.
Fourth day: at sea
Mostly cloudy, 14 C
Late start, we took coffee and tea at Cafe al Bacio with croissants (all croissants and Danish pastries are for free but coffee and tea have to be paid).
Then to the Theatre for the Presentations on the Tours of Ushuaia and Puerto Madryn. Excellent presentations of Peter Croyle. Then a combined presentation by Peter Croyle and Graham Sunderland on Cape Horn, which filled the Theatre. Very good presentation with excellent pictures.
For a change we had our lunch at Trellies Restaurant, deck 5, and share a table with a group of Americans. Food was very good, a little too much for a lunch.... (I ordered too much food).
Then to the Constellation Lounge where we spend the afternoon reading and watching the sea. A dance class was done during that afternoon in the same place.
As usual, at seven pm, we went to the show and this time a magician from UK, with a contortionist from Mongolia. Very good. Diner at Trellis Restaurant.
Fifth day: Punta Arenas
Climate was mild for this part of the world, about 14 C and windy.
The cruise arrived at 06 AM in Punta Arenas and we left the boat about 10:30 to walk around in the city. Visited the main square, Plaza de Armas, with the monument to Hernando de Magallanes, the discoverer of the Strait which bears his name. Here are located some arts and crafts vendors for the tourist visiting the city. Then to the famous local cemetery, not an usual place to visit in a city, but because of the rich past of the first merchant families, the tombs are richly decorated, some with statues brought from Europe! Then a walk by the seaside in our way back to the cruise for lunch and some rest. A nice detail: we were waited with hot chocolate before going to the transfer for the ship.
Sixth day: Ushuaia
Beautiful day, sunny and about 18C, cold wind. Exceptionally sunny day for this part of the world.
We started the day very early, about 5:30 am and very cold, to be able to see the glaciers in the channel to Ushuaia. Worth the effort because the view was impressive by all means. The weather was cold and wet. Back to bed.
In the morning, we took a catamaran tour to watch sea lions, cormorants and, of course, the main attraction of this part of the world: the penguins. The trip was 2.5 hours both ways, and though it was long, it was worth the trip. The scenery with the penguins and their young's, was so interesting, one could see them from 2 meters distance. We were not allowed to land not to disturb the nests. During the trip we received good and detailed information on the land and the animal life we were going to see.
Negative point was that no lunch nor any food was included in a 5 hours tour! One could buy coffee, water, beer or sandwiches at very high prices, only to be paid in Argentinian pesos or US dollars. We forgot to carry those currencies, and Chilean pesos were not accepted, so we did not drink nor eat anything for 5 hours! The information of this cruise did not mention this issue.
After the daily show, we had our diner at the SS United States Restaurant. The food was superb and the service excellent, and though one has to pay an extra fee of US$40 pp, it was really value for money.
Seventh day: at sea
Partially cloudy, 16 C. Good weather to sail.
Early start, about 6 am, to see Cape Horn. Not a very impressive view, a barren island, but you are at the very end of the American continent. An empty island, not a tree, nor life, nothing. But the climatic conditions were just unusually friendly to us, small waves, windy, and some sun to be seen. Back to bed.
This day we spent having some rest and reading at deck 10. The daily show was, as usual, very good. Nice group of singers and dancers with music of the 70's with the show "Boogie Wonderland".
Second Gala Night, and many guests very well dressed.
Eighth day: at sea
Partially cloudy at early morning, and then nice and sunny about 20 C.
After breakfast we joined most of people in deck 10 (sun deck, swimming pools and Jacuzzis) to enjoy the nice weather. Reading, and having a light lunch by the spa pool, took most of our day.
Ninth day: Puerto Madryn
Sunny day, temperature about 28C. Very dry landscape.
This area famous because during part of the year (not now) there are whales. Also there are guanacos, penguins, sea lions, andu (south American ostrich) and many birds.
Arrived early at the day and buses were parked at the side of the vessel. The city is about 15 minutes by shuttle busses provided by the cruise.
We decided not to go to a tour this time, because we have seen already most of the wild life in Chile, but to go to the city centre. Small city, not very interesting and after walking a few blocks, we decided to go back to the cruise for lunch.
Back to the sun deck for reading. The evening show was very interesting with a Cuban pianist-singer that played and sung nice Latin songs. He is a very talented piano player. Then to the diner.
Tenth day: at sea
Sunny day, 28 C
Show of the crew and some of the passengers: a really funny and entertaining show. The theatre was full and most of the staff of the cruise was introduced to the guests. Very good work.
A presentation was held on the technical aspects of the vessel, with an energy plant that produces energy enough for a 30.000 people city! The technological "secrets" of the machine room and the propulsion system were detailed mentioned. A good presentation for technically interested people as myself. Good story.
Eleventh day: Punta del Este
Beautiful, hot and humid day. More than 30 C.
The city is just nice, friendly, looking more like a place in south Europe, than in South America.
We walked for about 3 hours, admiring the nice and friendly architecture, the view of the sea, the beaches, the boats, etc. In a nice restaurant at the street side, 2 coffees, a bottle of water and the bill was US$ 15!
A lot of nice shops, with quite modern and fashionable clothes. But a tropical place after all, therefore too hot for our walking tour, so we decided to have some rest (and a good lunch) in the cruise.
Good theatre show and then to the restaurant.
Twelfth day: Montevideo
Sunny and humid day, 34 C
Took a walking tour of Montevideo of about 4 hours. We visited the old centre of the town, some colonial houses, heard about the history of Uruguay and their independence fathers. Also the theatre, small streets full of shops, and visited 3 nice squares in the centre of old Montevideo. The guide was quite good and gave enough information without becoming irritating! It was hot and humid, therefore coming back to the cruise was a great idea to eat and drink something. We thought that, though the tour was ok,we should not advise this tour. One can do the same, cheaper, by taxi.
No show for us because we were quite tired with the tour. Some rest in our cabin, then diner.
Thirteenth day: Buenos Aires
Cloudy day, showers expected, 28 C, changed to sunny weather..
Tour to an Argentinian farm "Estancia" where the life, food, wine, dances and horses were the main theme. Received by "gauchos", the local cowboys, with wine and empanadas. What a friendly start of the tour. Then to the garden, where local dances were presented, we also could dance with the young dancers, and more wine and empanadas. Then to a field where one could be driven in a horse wagon or, if you can ride a horse. Then to serious business, the Argentinian BBQ or "asado", where 2 cooks were busy preparing a huge amount of beef, sausages and chicken for the guests.
We were invited to come to the "quincho" or restaurant of the ranch. Nice and simple tables with plenty wine, beer, sodas, etc., for the guests. A big lunch was then served and afterward a show of local dances started.
To finish this nice day, we watched how the gauchos showed their skills as horse riders. A great finish for a nice tour. Back to the cruise.
Bags to be left outside the cabin by 11 pm.
Fourteenth day: Buenos Aires
We started the day early; we were supposed to leave our cabin by 9:30 am at the latest. Then by bus to the Terminal 2 of the Port of Buenos Aires, were we found our bags in well-organised rows bearing the number and the colour we received at the cruise.
Then to a taxi row, a little chaotic, but we left for the airport back to Santiago de Chile.
End of the cruise...
Large part of the passenger were over 60 years of age, almost no children. Many North Americans as well as Europeans, South Africans and, of course, Latin Americans.
You will be many days at sea, therefore take enough lecture material, games, etc. Evening dress was from very simple to very formal for the formal diners.
The climate is changing so take enough layers of clothes to be able to cope with the climate changes in the beginning of the trip (south part of Chile and Argentina), from cold to warm weather, all within the same day.
The first day walk all the 12 decks, to find out what is where, because we were still discovering places during the fifth day!
There is wifi in the whole ship, as from US$0.75 per minute depending the amount of minute's package you buy.
And do not forget that everyday at 4 pm, there is High Tea in the main restaurant at deck 10, with small sandwiches, cones, pastries, etc. A treat...
A word of thanks
My wife and I never had been in a cruise before. This one was our maiden voyage, and I must say we were impressed by the hard and efficient work of the whole crew, all areas of the vessel were spotless, the restaurants very nicely presented, the staff very well groomed, nothing to complain about, only praise them for their dedicated work. An experience to be repeated.