Mariner - Chilean Fjords November 10, 2003 6 Nights - Valparaiso (for Santiago) to Ushuaia
Olivia and I arrived at the Valparaiso port around 3:00 pm after our lunch in Vina Del Mar. Earlier in the day, we spotted the Mariner in the Valparaiso port area during our tour from Santiago to Valparaiso. When I first caught a glimpse, all I could say is "It's Huge". I was immediately impressed by its size. OK so some out there are saying - well it's only 49,000 tons, where has this guy been? Well, not on cruise ships! My only cruise experience was this past March (2003) on the Paul Gauguin and that ship is about half the size (and I thought it was larger when I first saw it too (the Paul Gauguin that is).
Anyway, we entered the port area and were dropped off by our guide and driver arranged through Travelsur.com by a lovely woman named Patricia Duffolcq. More on Santiago to Valparaiso land portion in a later review). We were unable to be dropped off directly at the ship. Instead we were dropped off at a pre-boarding area. Porters picked up our luggage and we were escorted over to the buses designated to take us to the Mariner. We met Marco from the Mariner's Club.com (Internet) (photos 377, 379 on www.ofoto.com - login Cruise@yahoo.com, password cc - Album: Chilean Fjords 1A). There was tight security here - apparently the President of Chile had just been there shortly before us. We were taken by bus to the Mariner about a mile away (photos 145-151 - same album).
Our documents were checked outside the ship including passports. We were taken up the walkway to Deck 5 Reception. Deck 5 is one of the main passenger spaces - Reception, Tour Desk Mariner Lounge, Latitudes Restaurant, Compass Rose Restaurant, Constellation Theater and the important Cruise Sales office headed up by Brian O'Brien. I have an eye for details and noted a chair around the Tour office on the way to Reception that was pretty badly nicked up. I thought to myself...uh oh! This was a one off I am happy to report based on my 6 night stay this was the only badly nicked piece of furniture I saw. The ship is beautifully maintained and the furnishings are superb throughout the ship.
We were checked in by Reception. I was checked in by Otto, a really knowledgeable professional. I was offered Champagne (how could I say no), turned over my passport, took a picture, was given my room key with mini wallet etc. I was then escorted to my Suite on deck 9. The Mariner standard suites are beautiful (pictures 156- 168). Each suite is about 250 square feet with a balcony about 50 square feet (2 chairs with pads and a table). Beautiful woods and furnishings, marble baths, walk in closet, living area, desk/bar area, 3 phones, stocked refrigerator (miscellaneous mixers, water and beer). My suite was centrally located near the Atrium. A couple of things about my room (again that eye) - the carpet seemed a bit frayed at the seams and the initial towel setup seemed a bit thin. The towel thing I discovered within a day or so was again a one off as all my subsequent towels were pretty thick and absorbent. I am not a fan of blue and the carpet in the suites is a lightish blue with a pattern (the color looks a bit faded). I really prefer the colors I have seen in the Voyager brochure - light tans. I guess it was less offensive than the brightish Red on the PG, though it does seem to work too. I wonder when the Mariner is refurbished if they will go with the same color scheme? Judith Jackson Spa toiletries are included in all the rooms (Shampoo, Conditioner and Lotion). There is cotton, and Q-tips as well. There are two plush robes, an umbrella (nice touch) and a shoehorn. There is a TV/VCR combo (there are audio and video hookups). I was on the starboard side of the ship and had great views of Valpairaiso (photos 152 - 155)
Ship Tour Decks 5 and 6
After arriving to my stateroom I did the obligatory job of unpacking. Unpacking always seems to take less time than packing. After the unpacking - Olivia invited me on a tour of the ship. Here are my first impressions:
Again, compared to the Paul Gauguin - this ship looked huge to me. We started at the lower levels of the ship and moved upwards.
Deck 5 - Atrium/Elevators, Reception, Tour Office, Constellation Theater - Level 1, Latitudes, Mariner Lounge, Compass Rose.
I was very impressed with the openness of the ship at the Atrium. On Deck 5 off the Atrium are the Elevators, Tour Desk, Reception, Cruise Sales Office and entrances to the Constellation Theater. The area is done in beautiful woods, glass, marble and chrome. The carpet - blue (enough said for me) - as well as the seating surfaces on the chairs in the area. The Atrium is open for about 8 or 9 decks - depending how you count them. It is very dramatic with 2 sets of stairs coming/going to each level. The Atrium lets a lot of light to the area, which gives it a larger, more open feel. The Reception and Tour Offices approximately the same size/style. Very efficient and utilize the round shape for the Atrium area in the design of the walk up areas (curved).
The Constellation Theater. Beautiful, tasteful, yet glitzy and glamorous. Looks like it could hold 400-500 people with the second level included. I know when we were there for the Seven Seas Society party there must have been around 270 people on level one of the theater and it was not at capacity. Throw in the second level - and it must have capacity somewhere between 400 - 500 people. Carpet and fabrics on seating surfaces - Blue.
Mariner Lounge - Beautiful/tasteful. Great place to have a drink before dinner at Compass Rose or Latitudes. Tan carpeting with Blue seating surfaces. Extensive use of woods for bar, paneling, room dividers (see small photo in Chilean Fjords 2 - photo 18 and 338).
Latitudes - Special dEcor added for the South American trip. During our tour we caught the staff setting it up - final pictures of Latitudes with the Tango Theme - photos 12 - 17. We ate dinner there on night (more about that later) and one of the panels had "Ango" instead of "Tango" the T was missing. Now that I look at photo 16, the O is missing! There is a little waiting area off the Dining Room - photo 13. I guess this restaurant is mostly Asian Fusion most of the time. The normal dEcor is definitely Asian in style.
Compass Rose - Beautiful, elegant, tasteful. I just loved this restaurant. It was quite large and spanned both sides of the ship. Central walking areas done in marble (blue - deep and beautiful)(see pictures 339 - 344). Beautiful etched glass, chandeliers, extensive use of beautiful woods and marble.
Deck 6 - Atrium, Stars Nightclub, Club.com/Library, Conference Room, Garden Promenade, Connoisseur Club, Signatures, Horizon Lounge
Second Floor of the Constellation Theater located here on Deck 6.
Stars Nightclub - Photos 359 - 363. I think this is another great looking room. Very dramatic. There is a set of stairs leading up the Casino on Deck 7. Extensive use of woods, lighter fabrics on the furniture (gray), small dance floor, beautiful bar. Pictures of different "stars" on the walls including, Babs. Later in the cruise I noticed - not a lot of activity here....such a waste of a beautiful space.
Club.Com/Library Area - This was one of my favorite areas. 15 or so computers, light woods, modern desks outside of the main computer room with three computers. Extensive video library. Great seating area to read books etc. See Photo at Chilean Fjords 3, number 72 and Chilean Fjords 1A, and number 378.
Garden Promenade - Photo at Chilean Fjords 2, number 358. Art - Art for sale???? This stuff shows up all over the ship. Personally, I do not like the idea or most of the items for sale. The problem for me is that it takes away from the beauty of the ship. I liked the wicker chairs/tables in this area. People work on puzzles, relax/read etc.
Connoisseur Club - I love this room and I don't smoke! Photos Chilean Fjords 2, numbers 345 -350. I loved he leather chairs, extensive use of woods and that cute fireplace! What a cozy, comfortable room.
Horizon Lunge - Photos Chilean Fjords 2, numbers 351-356. Beautiful (everything on this ship is just beautiful/tasteful elegant!). Again, great woods, colors, and glass, which is placed to give a curved effect and lookout at the back of the ship. Teak deck and table chairs are accessible for this lounge.
Signatures - Photos Chilean Fjords 1A, numbers 191 -199. Beautiful, glitzy, tasteful colors. I really liked this smaller intimate setting for dinner. Great colors - tans and the chair fabrics are in a light wine color. Beautiful woods, modern etched glass.
OK....I am done again for a while!
Decks 7, 11 and 12
Deck 7 - Judith Jackson Spa, Gym, Casino, Boutique, and Atrium
Judith Jackson Spa - Beautiful full service Spa and Salon. The Spa has extensive use of marble and wood. The Spa rooms are off a central circular entryway with marble floor. Each Spa room is a pie shaped room. The Beauty Salon is off the Reception area.
Gym - Good sized, emphasis on cardiovascular equipment. If you are looking for Free Weights, bench-presses etc. you will not find it here. They do have dumbbells. Over the years in my travels for business I have encountered gyms like this before. You just need to get a little creative with the dumbbells. They do have adjustable benches. There is a large Aerobics area with mats and inflatable balls. Great locations as the Gym and Aerobics area have windows.
Casino - Nice sized Casino with a few tables (3 I think). There is a bar, Cashier's office and rows and rows of slot machines. Seemed to be a good size for the ship. I did go there twice and will talk about it later in the review.
Boutique - Forget something? Need batteries for your camera? Lost your luggage and need to outfit yourself for a few days? Need some Le Cordon Bleu paraphernalia? This is the place for you. It's really a nice shop and has most of what you need and some other special high-end items like jewelry, expensive liquor etc.
Deck 11 - Pool, La Varanda Restaurant, Pool Grill, Atrium
Pool - Beautiful (and much larger than the Paul Gauguin!). Plenty of room to layout or sit at a table in the shade. 3 hot tubs and showers to rinse off.
Pool Grill - Opens up a bit earlier than La Verandah. Great place to grab a quick bite before a shore excursion.
La Veranda - Casual beautiful seating indoors and outside. Buffet type setups. I did think it was a bit cramped in the buffet area. Lunchtime here is a bit busy and crowded. I actually prefer to be served. We ate here once.
Deck 12 - Observation Lounge, Jogging Track/Sports Area
I really like this location just to see where you are and going. Extensive use of woods and glass. Large Bar. There is a plasma screen showing the route of the ship on a map. Great views covering about 180 degrees. Great location for viewing the glaciers in the Chilean Fjords in a climately controlled environment. This was a favorite place for many people in the Fjords. Will discuss later. Coffee and Danishes served in the morning.
Jogging Track/Sports Area - Need to keep up on that jogging regimen? Need to practice your golf swing? Shuffle Board your thing? Up for a game of paddle tennis. Well this is the area for you. All done in Astroturf. This was also a great place to view the Chilean Fjords and Glaciers.
Cruise Critic Meeting - Monday November 10, 2003
A funny thing happened to me (one of many on this cruise) after boarding the ship. I think I had just unpacked or something and was leaving my Suite to check my laundry (more on that later) and I was walking down the hall. A gentleman was walking down the hall and we passed. He turned around and came back and said - "Are you Todd Riley?" I said, "Yes are you Ken?" He said yes. It was Ngaire's husband. I recognized him from The VOF (Voyager - October 1, 2003 Venice to Rome) pictures from Marcie (petlover). Ken was going around delivering the invitations to the Cruise Critic Get Together in the Connoisseurs Club at 7:00 pm. We chatted for a bit.
So before the Cruise Critic Get Together, I well, put a load of laundry in the machines across from my suite. Why? How could I possibly have laundry on the first night? Well, I traveled on a Saturday, arrived on a Sunday, had a few changes of wardrobes during this time and well, I packed light on whites to save space. So I thought - hey Laundromat across the hall - how convenient! Why pay when I can just run the washer and dryer across the hall. Let me tell you this was only one out of two times I could use the machines, That place was so busy - all the time. The second time I got to use it was at 12:15 am on another night. I didn't quite follow the washing machine instructions...apparently there is this prewash area on the dial that I used......normally a wash cycle was around 35 minutes or so....not for me - it was over an hour.....This delay pushed my timing right up to when I was supposed to be at the Cruise Critic Get Together....In the Laundromat it was like waiting for a kettle to boil. I moved the dial on the washing machine to skip a rinse cycle (1 of 3) so I could get the wash into the dryer. Mission accomplished and I was ten minutes late to the Get Together and I still had to go back and get the stuff out of the dryer in 30 minutes!
So who was there in the Connoisseurs Club? First off this was arranged by countFlorida (Michael) - thanks Michael! Since I was late - everyone was there:
Ngaire and Ken, Joe and Maryland (sansue), their friend Shirley, Carl and Dale (count di savoy), Michael (countFlorida) and Pat, Dave and Judy (non posters from the Bay Area ), Olivia (jhp) and myself (mp8shnt).
What a great get together. Lots of laughing, talking about Cruise Critic, upcoming events - Canopy Adventure (later cancelled) and Chilotito Marino (what a blast that was!). The crowd started to thin a little past 8. I made one announcement to the group and that was the Todd Cosmo party in Ngaire and Ken's suite on Thursday at 6:30 pm. Oh I almost forgot to mention 30 minutes into this get together I had to run back to the Laundromat to get my stuff out of the dryer. By the way, these people in the Laundromat are ruthless - 5 minutes late and your stuff will be taken out of the washer and dryer.
No pictures of the event - maybe Ken took some????
Olivia and I joined Ken, Ngaire, Dave, Judy and Michael and Pat at dinner in Compass Rose. I just love being able to walk up when you want and with whom you want and a table is yours - and no waiting! I do have pictures of the dinner (www.ofoto.com login as email@example.com password cc. Photos 174-182. I can't remember the appetizers.... but I do remember the main - Filet Mignon. Ngaire taught me this...it was not on the menu - all I had to do was ask! The waiter was not sure, but did not come back to say no and it showed up! Also, I do remember the drinks - Grey Goose Cosmo, and red wine with dinner. The food was great and just my size. I am not a big eater and I find the portions on Radisson to be just right. I love the Compass Rose Dining room. It is so elegant and huge!
So what did we do after dinner? Olivia and I ran to the Constellation Theater to see the Fiesta Latina show. What I saw (last 5 minutes) was quite good. Apparently the dancers boarded in Lima and had been practicing this new show for a few days. The theater was crowded and I noticed quite a few of the staff were present as well, including the Captain.
Then it was off to the Casino. I tried my luck at Black Jack - $60 and 20 minutes later I was all washed up. Then it was off to bed.
Tuesday November 11, 2003 - Mal De Mar, Quick Fix Facial and Seven Seas Society, and Signatures with Jos Coppers
The day started off when I was wide awake at 6:30 am. I tried to go back to sleep but could not. I got up and thought - what to do???? So I got up and took some pictures of the scenery - nothing but water and fog. Go to www.ofoto.com sign in as firstname.lastname@example.org and password cc. Look in Chilean Fjords 1A and photos 183 - 190. When we left port the night before I thought nothing of my seasickness preventative measures. The ship's first night sailing was very smooth. I did not go to bed with my Sea Bands on. I did not take Ginger Pills or any Bonine. The ship was moving in the morning. I ordered Room Service. I heard so many comments about Eggs Benedict on Cruise Critic I had to have that my first morning. I ordered that, fresh fruit, coffee and juice.
The Room Service arrived quickly - within 15 minutes. I can never tell when it will arrive. I never order by placing the card out the night before for fear I want to sleep in and my food will wake me (or at least the Room Service Waiter). Room Service always catches me in the middle of something - a shower, shaving, brushing my teeth etc. This time I think it was shaving. The food was delivered, nicely arranged on a linen tablecloth and placed on the table conversion piece, which sits on top of the coffee table in the Living Room area. I actually put it out for the waiter. I had read a few reviews that mentioned them and knew where to look - under the sofa. So this must have been around 8:30 am or so. I knew something was wrong when I really wasn't interested in eating. But I tried anyway. I ate one of the Eggs Benedict, had the juice and coffee. The coffee tasted awful to me. I am not sure it was the coffee or the way I was feeling (I am pretty sure it was the way I was feeling as the coffee was pretty consistent on the ship). I could not eat the fresh fruit or the last Eggs Benedict I was just not hungry. Realizing that I might have a Seasickness problem.....I grabbed the Sea Bands and put them on.....I then took some Ginger Pills. None of these things helped the nauseous feeling that came over me......I was sick! It was all over in 3 episodes and 5 minutes. I then went for the big guns - Bonine.
Feeling awful in my room that was moving - I decided to go to the gym.....why? Because if everything was going to be moving and making me uncomfortable I might as well be on the Stair Master and doing a work out. It would also keep my mind off the "situation". So off to the gym it was. I found the gym to be fine. I have stayed at hotels with much smaller gyms and I just make do with what they have. This gym is mostly dedicated to cardiovascular and aerobic activities. There are lots of treadmills, stair steppers, bikes etc. They do have dumbbells and I did use them creatively to get in some good workouts. My strategy or the Bonine really worked. I did not feel as bad at the gym.
After the gym I went back to the room. Then the room attendants came. I asked them to please clean the room while I was in it. I would be sprawled out on the couch while they worked. With the door partially opened.....Olivia was walking by and spotted me on the couch. I explained to her the morning's events. She looked sympathetic. Olivia and I agreed to go to Compass Rose for lunch at 12:30 pm.
I went to pickup Olivia at her suite at 12:30 pm and well, apparently she had not been feeling well since she left me earlier in the day. She too posted of this. Well, off to lunch we went. We both ordered light lunches!
What else can you do during a sea day???? How about a Quick Fix Facial at the Judith Jackson Spa? That's exactly what I did. It was some sort of Lavender facial - 20 minutes. I looked at the menu for the facials and was not that impressed from a man's perspective. They really don't have any that are specifically for men. So the best I could find was the "Quick Fix". I kind of needed one based on the days earlier experiences....The facial is 20 minutes and is performed in one of their spa treatment rooms (the pie shaped ones described in my first impressions). Scrubs, lotions, etc and after 20 minutes I was done - $40. You know I really liked my Pual Gauguin experience better for the facial. The Paul Gauguin has the Clarita Spa and they have a 55-minute treatment for $65. I think the Clarita Spa is a better deal - at least for the facials.
I think I took a nap after my facial and later got ready for Dinner with Jos Coppers - Hotel Director at Signatures and the Seven Seas Society party at 6:45 pm in the Constellation Theater. Invited guests included Dave and Judy, Ngaire and Ken, Celine - Hotel Concierge, Olivia and myself. We needed to RSVP with Reception! Pictures 191 - 199 in Chilean Fjords 1A album (I really like pic 199 - we were a really good looking group!). Dinner was at 7:30 pm and we all met at the restaurant. The attire for the ship that night was informal and well that worked out great because we were eating at Signatures, which has the same dress code.
First was the Seven Seas Society Party in the Constellation Theater - Pin Provided. Funny thing about the pin is that I could not get the clasp off. So I went to the party with pin in hand until I met the Captain and Brian O'Brien. I asked if they could help. Brian could not get it off either, reached into his pocket and took out a new one. He was having troubles getting it out of the plastic and the Captain took out a buck knife and it came out. Brian still had a bit of a problem but managed to unclasp it and then put it on my suit. The party was crowded. There were about 270 people out of 440, which were Seven Seas Society members. There were appetizers and Caviar served. There were Bar Hosts and Hostesses passing out champagne as well as taking orders. I grabbed some shrimp and sat next to Ken and Ngaire for the event. I ordered a few Grey Goose Cosmopolitans. They were pretty good (but small - see next paragraph).
Signatures gorgeous restaurant - more intimate than Compass Rose - Reservation only. See detailed description under First Impressions part of review. So I cannot remember exactly what I ordered that night but I know it was beef for the main - because out of 6 nights I had beef 5 nights and I believe most were Filets. The food was amazing as was service; never did I have to reach for salt or pepper to add to the flavor of the food. I thought it was quite good. Comparing to Apicius on the Paul Gauguin - I thought it was much better. This is the Le Cordon Bleu at Sea restaurant whereas the Apicius is the two Star Michelin Chef Restaurant by Jeanne Pierre Vigato. All I can say is that it was great as was the service. I had a great time with the company at dinner, Celine, Concierge, was to my left and Judy, to my right. Both great dinner companions. There was a little camera disaster at the table......I'll leave it photo - 195. Oh and I might as well add this here, the martini glasses on the Mariner - yes the whole ship - they are small, I mean small. These must be about 5 ounces total. This surprised me as the Paul Gaguin had hearty sized glasses - maybe 7 - 9 ounces.
After dinner? I believe Olivia and I ran to the Constellation Theater to see the last part of the Jason Chase show. He's a comedian and sings. From what I saw - he was quite good. I actually met him a few times on board. Very nice gentleman. After that Olivia and I went briefly to Stars Nightclub - a rather sleepy place on the ship.....kind of odd for a nightclub! Anyway, there was a very charming bartender there - Mario photo 200.
I think Olivia and I next went to Club.com for a bit to check Cruise Critic then it was bedtime.
Wednesday November 12, 2003 - Puerto Montt, Chilotito Marino, Party in Suite 1000
I forgot to mention the buzz in the computer room on Tuesday afternoon concerning the Canopy Adventure in Puerto Montt. I had arranged for an independent tour to go to the Canopy Adventure by private van with guide for five people. The Canopy Adventure is basically platforms built onto high trees and steel cables that connect the platforms. Guests wear a harness that attaches to the steel cable and they go flying from platform to platform. I had never done this and was really looking forward to it. I convinced a few people to also do this the list included Ken, Michael (countFlorida) and his wife Patty, Dave and myself. This was arranged through Patricia Duffolcq at Travelsur.com. So the buzz in the computer room Tuesday afternoon was that the Canopy Adventure (Radisson's) had been cancelled. A slight panic took over me and I went to the Tour Desk to see if it was Radisson's tour company or the Canopy Adventure itself, which cancelled the trip. Well it was the Canopy Adventure Company that cancelled and not just Radisson. Apparently the owners of the Canopy Adventure had a dispute and started dismantling the Canopy Adventure by taking down the steel cables etc. What to do???? I checked my email and sure enough there was an email from Patricia Duffolcq explaining the situation and offering alternatives, including full cancellation. We decided to do a guided tour of Puerto Montt that Ngaire and Olivia were doing with Travelsur.com. I emailed Patricia back saying explaining that there would be about 6 people coming for the tour of Puerto Montt. I also explained we would be off the ship around 9:00 am by tender after most passengers with Radisson shore excursions had been transported to shore.
So I woke up Wednesday morning very excited about basically our only port stop on this mini Chilean Fjords Segment. I started the day with taking pictures of Puerto Montt (pictures located at www.ofoto.com sign in as Cruise@yahoo.com password cc pictures 208-218 in Album - Chilean Fjords 1A although some are pictures of the ship's tenders being lowered, positioned, etc). I then ordered room service. I had the French Toast, Fresh Fruit, Coffee and Orange Juice (picture 207). When I called Room Service and placed the order I was told 30 - 45 minutes. No problem I thought, I'll just start getting ready for the day. I brushed my teeth, shaved, put in contacts etc. in less than 15 minutes so I thought I could jump in the shower....I had 15 - 30 minutes before breakfast. While in the shower I heard a ding dong. I thought, no that can't be....again "ding dong". Well, that time it was loud and clear.....Room Service was at the door. Damn! I put on a towel and ran to the door. I guess this is why my tray was left in my room as in picture 207 as opposed to the usual setup of taking out the coffee table adapter, placing a linen tablecloth down, neatly arranging all items on the table etc....I guess I did have a rather impatient look on my face when I opened the door for the Room Service guy. The French Toast, by the way is amazing, it's thick and has raisins in it. I had it a few times for breakfast - quite delicious!
So I was ready for my shore excursion about 8:00 am. I called Patricia Duffolcq at Travelsur.com from my cell phone to make sure she was aware of the changes identified in my email and to let her know that we would be basically the last off the ship. She said no problem and that she would meet us as planned just outside the gates to the ports. I met up with the group (Dave, Judy, Ngaire, Ken, Olivia) before 9:00 am on Deck 5 near Reception. We were told that tender tickets would be issued for passengers without Radisson shore excursions and to wait in the Mariner Lounge. Basically, tickets were not needed and we were told we could take the next tender, which we did. We boarded the tenders from deck 4 (which is where the doctor's office is). We tendered over to the port and then walked up to the area where all the Radisson tour companies were. This is pictures 221 -223. This is where Lyn was talking to the local reporter for the Puerto Montt newspaper. Lyn speaks perfect Spanish and explained that we were here to do a shore excursion and go to Chilotito Marino restaurant where they have a web cam that our families and friends will be watching us from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm local time.
We continued out the port area and met up with our guide Patricia Duffolcq from Travesur.com. Patricia is pictured in photos 224 and 225, although these pictures do not do her justice. Patricia escorted our group to her van with a driver. Lyn and her husband Richard were going on a separate tour, also arranged by Patricai at Travelsur.com. The tour for the day was a local tour through Puerto Montt, traveling north through the famous lake district of Chile, pass the Osorrno Volcano, to the Petrohue Waterfalls, to Emerald Lake and Puerto Varas.
The high point of this tour in my opinion is Petrohue Waterfalls. Pictures 275 to 305 at ofoto.com. The colors are amazing. Look carefully at the pictures - the water is aqua and emerald in color. We probably spent about 30 minutes here. We ran into the Radisson tour as well. This was definitely a better way to travel with a private guide and van rather than the Motor Coach way. We continued on to Emerald Lake pictures 306-320. This area of Chile is really beautiful and green. There are mountains and volcanoes, streams and rivers. This would be a nice place to spend a little more time in to explore. We really did not get to see the Osorno Volcano because it was a cloudy/foggy day. We continued on to Puerto Varas.
Our guide Patricia, and her family live in Puerto Varas. We stopped for a bit in the local town and went to the Travelsur store - picture 328. This store is owned and operated by Patricia and her husband. I'll put it in here that Patricia arranges all sorts of travel in Chile. She arranged for car pickups at Santiago airport fro Olivia and I, local tours of Santiago, transportation and tour to Valparaiso. Patricia is also an expert fly fisher. Her family owns lodges that fly fishers frequent. She can arrange this and other adventures in Chile. Her website is at www.travelsur.com
We stayed in town for a bit. Olivia and I had coffee. We then went to Chilotito Marino in Puerto Montt.
Chilotito Marino - Photos located also in a separate album - Chilotito Marino!!!!!!
Below are some threads from the Cruise Critic message board, which captures the anticipation of the event and the event itself (web cam) as well as the local newspaper article and picture.
Patricia dropped us off and made sure we found the restaurant. She wanted to get home so that she could watch the web cam event on her computer. There is a lot of information in the threads above; I will highlight a few things only:
This was truly a special event that I will always remember. It was more than just the anticipation, the fact that this was the only web cam on the Internet in Puerto Montt, it was the warm, friendly, family like feeling that we all felt when we were there. We were not just patrons, not just guests, but felt like part of a large family.
The food was truly amazing. I don't eat a lot of seafood, so I had the amazing and still talked about Salmon! There were two kinds. One was butter and the other was an onion and potato version. One thing I noticed was that I wanted empanadas. They were not on the menu as this was basically a seafood restaurant .....they went and got them from another restaurant in the same location just for us.
There was music. They had arranged for a local singer to come in. There was dancing, lots of smiles and laughing. It was a truly amazing event. Giovanni presented a plaque to Lyn, a hand-embroidered cap to Richard and key chains to the rest of us (with our names on them!).
While there we also had some Chilean wines, Pisco sours and after lunch aperitifs.
Oh, and the local reporter with a photographer arrived to take notes and pictures of the event.
We were there just 2 hours.
At 5:00 pm we all headed back to the ship after saying our good byes to our new friends at Chilotito Marino.
Back on ship by 5:30 pm and I went to the Club.com to read Cruise Critic. I printed out the threads from the day's event and noted 109 posts and over 1000 reads in about 2 hours! I printed out the thread and gave to Ngaire to bring to the party in her and Ken's suite - 1000.
The party was at 6:30 in suite 1000. I had to hurry and get ready and was at suite 1000 a few minutes past 6:30 pm. The suite was beautiful - about 500 square feet with a 100 square foot balcony. There is a Living Room area, dining area, walk in closet and bathroom, and sleeping area. Basically, aside from the walk in closet and bathroom, it is a very open floor plan - great for entertaining! Pictures 385 - 396. There was a bar and bar tender, plenty of appetizers. The Captain, Hotel Director, Cruise Director were also present - I was quite impressed! Ngaire and Ken hosted a great party.
Dinner was at Compass Rose. I know Olivia and I were there, not sure whom else we ate with because I did not take any pictures! Dinner was great.....as they all were at Compass Rose and I know I had probably the Filet Mignon. There was one night in Compass Rose where they had a mustard type sauce that went along with the Filet - perhaps this was the night.
After dinner - not sure what we did - most likely to Club.com to read and post more about the Chilotito Marino.
Thursday November 13, 2003 - Day at Sea, Todd Cosmo Party, Latitudes and Jackpots!
Well the morning started with foggy, cloudy weather. I was up around 8:00 am and the ships lecturer Terry Breen was on the TV on the channel with the Cam View. She was talking about the Chilean Fjords. I believe this is the day that one or two penguins were spotted on both sides of the ship swimming. See photos at www.ofoto.com login as email@example.com password: cc and go to album Chilean Fjords 2. I took photos 1-11 that morning (oh I will put it here, that using a digital camera it's so easy to take a lot of pictures. Not necessary to carry all that film along etc. I remember hat last time I had a 35 mm camera, almost 2 years ago, I would take about 8 - 10 rolls with me. I think you are a little more conscious of how many pictures you are taking with 35 mm because you need to stick another roll in every 24 or 36 pictures. Digital....well, I keep shooting for 500 then replace). These photos I think are pretty interesting with the fog and clouds hanging on the mountains and the gray tones in these pictures. Photo number 9 is my infamous penguin sighting - I think! I swear those little white and black birds on the island look like penguins. I blew up the picture as well, and those little birds do look like penguins.
That morning I had Room Service and I am positive I was interrupted doing something like shaving when they arrived. I can never tell when they will show up. Sometimes I had an omelet, sometimes the French toast an only once the Eggs Benedict. I had a manicure after breakfast at the Judith Jackson spa. This was called a Lavender Manicure - $30 (seems high). Seemed like a regular manicure to me, but I am not an expert in this area. After the manicure it was off to the gym. After the gym it was lunchtime with Olivia. I think we went to Compass Rose. I really like wait service as opposed to buffets. Earlier in the week I had noticed Ludvic the maitre d' and remembered him from the Paul Gauguin in March. I mentioned to him I recognized him from the Paul Gauguin. At lunch he stopped (he is in photo in the Ludvic album at ofoto, this was during the muster drill - he is on the left) by and we talked about the Paul Gauguin. Apparently he was on the Paul Gauguin for 3 months to change the alternating Apicius set menu approach to a single menu approach. He asked my opinion of Apicius. I explained I had eaten there twice and had actually been to the Apicius in Paris in September 02. I explained I did not think the Paul Gauguins version compared to the restaurant in Paris.
After lunch I went to the Reception area to ask for a converter plug for my computer. I was told they did not have any. I thought this odd. Not one on the ship? I pressed for a better answer. I was told in the rooms I could easily plug in my computer. I agreed, but I wanted the converter plug so that I could go to the Observation lunge to work on my computer. The Receptionist contacted engineering and a converter plug appeared! I did return the plug at the completion of my trip.
So I went to the Observation lunge - virtually empty after lunch. I ordered a cappuccino and began work on the pre part to this review - the Santiago land portion. I spent about an hour and a half up there. I ran into Nathan - the bar manager at the bar in the Observation Lounge. He said everything was a go for the Todd Cosmo party in suite 1000 (Ngaire and Ken's). I asked about the preparations and indicated some people might not drink cosmos, and asked for wine glasses and champagne glasses - not a problem said Nathan. It thought that was great service by the way! The fact he saw me and made sure everything was taken care of for the party that night.
I dropped off my computer to the room and went around taking some more pictures of the ship I took some pictures of Latitudes (numbers 12 - 17) as it was decorated for a South American theme. I ran into Ludvic at the Maitre D'station and asked about reservations at Latitudes for that night. No problem. I had the reservation made for four. I went back to get ready for the Todd Cosmo Party at 6:30 pm.
I arrived a few minutes to Suite 1000 to check on the preparation for the Todd Cosmo party. Ngaire and Ken had graciously extended an offer to host the Todd Cosmo party. I gladly accepted, as their suite was much larger than mine. The Hotel had set up a bar, similar to the night before in the corner of the room near the walk-in closet. I brought the makings for a Cosmo (alcohol wise that is). I brought Grey Goose (purchased and donated by Olivia), Contreau purchased at Dallas Airport Duty Free. I also brought over a bottle of Chardonnay purchased by Olivia at the Veramonte winery outside of Santiago, as well as a bottle of the standard Radisson Champagne. Everything else was there and ready - Cranberry Juice, fresh limes and plenty of ice and appetizers (shrimp and other items)
The party began promptly at 6:30 pm. 15 guests, including myself attended. Everyone had Cosmos. And not just one! I had a blast. I did a few demos during the party and Ken got behind the bar at one point (photo 40) and did the Todd Cosmo recipe as well! Oh what fun! We did a group shot (Carl and Dale arrived later and were not in the group shot). Other pictures during the party - numbers 24-41. Off to our dinner at Latitudes with Dave, Judy and Olivia.
OK, I will admit it right here.....I knew better and asked anyway and was told "no". I was wrong. So we all get to dinner, sit down, menus are presented when it occurred to me - this is not going to work! Earlier in the week when Olivia and I were touring the ship we took a look at the menu - it was not going to work for me because it had Sea Bass and Veal as the mains. I don't eat either. Why - Chilean Sea Bass is over harvested and I have a problem with veal. I completely forgot. Oh well, the waiter comes and I do my attempt at getting another filet out of Compass Rose. The waiter sends over the Manager. I explained I wanted a Filet from Compass Rose (next door). I was told no because then everyone would do this. Fine, give me a plate of empanadas as my main I said. I enjoyed the meal there and the service was great. They served Veramonte wine as well (from that winery outside of Santiago - a nice touch!).
After dinner??? Off to the Casino! Olivia and I went off to the Casino to try our luck. I put a $20 into a quarter slot and began playing. It was an interesting machine, if you got a certain combination on one line, you go to this big wheel and watch it spin until it lands on a certain number of quarters. Casino pictures 44 - 48. On the same $20 I hit a $160 jackpot - which I tool to the cashier and took the money. I went back and used the remaining quarters and hit an $80 jackpot. A lady came around and said she had been playing that machine for 3 days prior. All I could say is "I love this machine!!!!!". I cashed in the $80 as well and called it a night!
Friday November 14, 2003 Day at Sea - My First Glaciers
Sorry about the delay in posting my review segments....holidays, out of town guests and lot's to do at work.
My day always starts with pictures it seems on this cruise! There was so much to see and this is where it became really interesting. This is where and when I saw my first glacier! (Pictures at www.ofoto.com sign in as firstname.lastname@example.org and password cc). Picture 49 was how I began my morning. Gray, chilly (just about 50 degrees Fahrenheit). I took a few more pictures then caught a glimpse of my first glacier about 25 minutes later! I was AMAZED! Picture 53 is the Pius XI Glacier from a distance. This must have been around 8:00 am. I could not believe the color - even from this distance I could see the powder blue coloring even though it was still kind of dark and gray out. Then there was my first little piece of floating ice....picture 54 and it too had a distinct color to it - almost aqua/powder blue. Also look at picture 63....these floating pieces of the glacier glow! AMAZING! As we got closer to Pius XI there was more floating ice. I believe this glacier was 3 miles across and 26 miles deep.
So since we were quickly approaching my first glacier experience I quickly ordered room service, got dressed and was up to the Observation Lounge as soon as I could - sporting Down Jacket, Scarf, gloves etc! I entered the Observation Lounge about 8:30 am or so and was amazed at how many people were there - it has to be about half the ship or about 200 people. This was definitely the place to be to watch this event, however, the place was not necessarily prepared for this crowd to descend upon it. There were only about two waiters working the area. There were danishes/pastries and different coffee posts set up. The coffee kept running out or they kept running out of cups.....but then again, everyone was there to see Pius XI. The observation Lounge was a great setting/location because you could go outside on the deck and take pictures for awhile and view the glacier then go back in to warm up and get coffee (well sort of!). I ran into everyone up in the Observation Lounge - Ngaire and Ken, Olivia, Dave and Judy, Joe and Marylyn, and Shirley. Ken took some pictures of me 86-88. Olivia ran up to make sure I had pictures taken with me and Pius XI - pictures 93-95. Olivia was all bundled up - Photo 102! The glacier was very impressive. If you look at the pictures, you can see two stripes. This is caused by the ice churning/carving into the land. The blue of the glaciers is caused by compression of the ice so that no oxygen exits in it. The captain used the Pods to turn the ship 360 degrees so that everyone could see the glacier from their suite or from anywhere on the ship. Pretty cool!
Yes there are lots of pictures of this glacier. This is because it was the first and the other reason is that I was looking for the sun to hit the glacier to light it up some more - pictures 145 - 151, 155 -157, and 159 - 161. Then there were the pictures of me in my room beginning around 162.....I used a tripod! Then we left and proceeded through the Chilean Fjords. The scenery was amazing - snow capped mountains, waterfalls, islands, floating ice etc.
I am sure after the glacier adventure I was off to the gym. Had to do my best to keep the weight off!
Lunch on Thursday was at La Veranda. I had lunch with Olivia. We decided on La Veranda for variety. It's buffet style and I prefer to be served, but it was different. The one thing about this restaurant is that the food buffet areas seem a bit crowded. A little too cramped. Food and service were great.
We occasionally ran into other glacier along the way that did not meet the water - see picture 208. Later in the afternoon we came upon Amalia Glacier - photos 215 to 224. This was a Semi-Formal night and I wore a suit. I met up with Ngaire and Ken in their suite for drinks. I took some pictures of the glacier in Ngaire and Ken's suite - pictures 246 to 268. This glacier too was very impressive. It looked like light blue cotton candy and extended for miles up the mountain.
Dinner was at Compass Rose with Olivia, Ngaire and Ken, and Lynn and Richard. Food, Service and Company were great! Of course I had a filet for dinner - cooked to perfection and just my size!
I cannot remember what we did after dinner! Oh well, it's possible I turned in early.
Saturday November 15, 2003 - More Glaciers, Webbed Foot Boobies and the SHHHHHH Incident
The day starts off like most of the rest. Room Service, pictures (www.ofoto.com sign in as email@example.com and password cc). Pictures 314 - 322 in the Chilean Fjords 2 album was the morning view. Well then I was off to the gym, with my camera because we were scheduled to be in the Gabriel Passage by 11:30 am (the captain was always early I think we arrived about 11:00 am in the middle of my workout). With Terry Breen beginning to describe the Gabriel Passage I decided to go up to the Observation Lounge and take more pictures of this event. I honestly cannot remember exactly why this area was important....maybe Ngaire, Ken or Olivia can add that part. What I do know is that there is a cross placed here (look at photo 336 it's easily seen here - look at the pics before and you will see me in my gym attire including shorts....it was a bit cold, but I was in the middle of a workout and we were early!). The cross has been replaced, I believe 3 times by the Chileans.
After Gabriel's Passage and the gym I proceeded to take some more pictures of the different areas on the ship and more pictures of the wonderful scenery through the Chilean Fjords. Then it was time to get ready for lunch. I took a few more pictures of myself with the tripod in the room. Picture 374 (and a few more up to the 380's) is another one of those glaciers we passed that did not meet the water. Pictures 376 and 377 is Olivia waving from her suite's balcony.
Lunch was at Compass Rose with Olivia, Lynn and Richard. You can't beat this place for lunch. Menus, wait staff and great company! During lunch we were talking about the rooms and Lynn and Richard wanted to see mine - they were in a Penthouse and wanted to compare and contrast. While there, I noticed some little birds adjacent to the teak on the balcony. I mentioned this and Lynn was the first out the door to save these little Webbed Feet Boobies. She asked for towels to wrap the little guys up (pictures 389 - 391). I called reception they said they would send someone up for the birds. Apparently these little guys had been there for a while. While waiting we decided to go see Lynn and Richard's room across the hall. We brought the birds with us. Pictures 399 - 400 were in Lynn and Richard's suite. I went back to my suite to meet the person from the ship who was to collect the birds. Found him and brought him to Lynn and Ricahrd's suite. He took the little guys to Deck 8. That's all he said....have no idea what they have going on down on deck 8.
Pictures 402 - 405, 408, 416 - 417 and more in the 420's are of other glaciers that do not meet the sea. We seemed to be in glacier central now. Picture 409 is Olivia on her balcony. Pictures 411 - 415 this glacier actually touched the water and you can see ice floating in the water.
And now we get to photo album Chilean Fjords 3 which starts off with the approach to the Agostini Glacier. There was a lot of ice on the approach to this glacier and the water was emerald colored. In this area you can also see a lot of waterfalls, although small. Pictures 1 through 49 are f this area. Look at the color of the floating ice in pictures 24 - 25....amazing powder blue! Photos 26 and 27 are interesting. It's a sea lion lying on the floating ice. He does not realize that a 49,000-ton ship is moving right in his direction basically until we were within a few feet of it.
Dinner this evening was at Compass Rose with Olivia, Richard and Lynn. We were at a table adjacent to Ngaire, Ken, Dave, Judy, Michael and Patricia. Yes I had a Filet, Grey Goose Cosmo and red wine with dinner. Food and Service were great (no Denny's here!).
After dinner it was Club.com. This can be such a fun place to hang out at night. It seemed like everyone was there this night. Lynn, Olivia, Ngaire, Ken, Dave, Michael and myself. Anyway, we were all looking at Cruise Critic, reading emails etc. I remember Olivia and I were over near Michael and we were reading posts, laughing and having a good time when out of know where this man (I nicknamed him - affectionately - gold teeth) "Shhed" us. I wasn't sure if he was kidding. Olivia asked him if he was kidding and he was not. Then another person shed us. It was rather funny. This place is not a library.....it's an internet cafe! Anyway, after a few incidents of shhing we took picture 92......we were laughing pretty hard by this time about the shhing!
Then it was off to the suite to finish packing. Nice treat about this mini segment was that our bags did not have to be outside the suite by midnight!
Sunday November 16, 2003 - More Glaciers, Ushuaia, and the long trip home
My morning started out with the view off my balcony in photo #55 in Chilean Fjords 3 (www.ofoto.com, sign in as firstname.lastname@example.org and use password cc) a glacier! Photos 55-60 are of this glacier. I did not really know we would have a glacier sighting first thing in the morning. It was kind of cool. Also, the Captain did the pod thing and did 360s for a while in front of this glacier. So this was the last day on the ship. I ordered room service and finished packing. Again, bags did not have to be out the night before. This felt like being in a hotel. All we had to do is call for a bellman when the bags we ready.
Photos 61 - 69 are further views of this beautiful area as we make our way to Ushuaia. After breakfast and finishing the packing I was off to the Observation Lounge to get some pictures. Photo 70 is the flat panel screen with the location of the ship. You can see we were almost to the Southern most point. Again I could find just about everyone up on deck 11 inside or outside the Observation Lounge. Photos 88-91 are of the town of Ushuaia.
Prior to disembarking around 11:30 am we had lunch up at the pool bar. Dave, Judy, Ngaire, Ken, Lynn, Richard and Olivia and I. This was the only place that served lunch at that time and we were disembarking at noon to catch our 2:00 pm flight to Buenos Aires. Lunch was Burgers, Chicken Sandwiches etc. We kept trying to get into the sun on the pool deck because it was probably in the low 50's. The pool staff brought over blankets for us to keep us warm while we enjoyed our lunches. A nice touch!
Disembarkation - a breeze....there were only 4 passengers disembarking in Ushuaia - Ken, Ngaire, Olivia and I.
We waited for the ship to clear formal access to the port (or whatever it's called). Then we were allowed to disembark. All our friends were there to say good-bye. As we were walking down the pier we ran into the Captain. He was surprised we were disembarking here....because it was not a scheduled point for disembarking. This was part of the min-segment that Ngaire had carved out of this larger South American adventure.
Ngaire, Ken, Olivia and I took 3 cabs to the airport, mainly due to the size of the cabs and how much luggage we had (I swear it's the shoes and the down jacket, sweaters and sweatshirts for this trip!). Cute little airport just 5 minutes from the port by taxi. The rest was the 30 hours to get home.
From my post from the ship on Cruise Critic:
God I hope I spelled it right in the title! Anyway....we are about 2 hours from Ushuaia where there will be ONLY 4 passengers disembarking. Guess who they are??????? Ngaire, Ken, Olivia and myself! We then begin our adventures home. We are all on the same flights until Miami where Olivia is off to Philadelphia I think, then driving home from there. Ken, Ngaire and I then continue on to Dallas where they get off.....then it's just me on the way to Burbank.
WHAT A LONG DAY! But I must say WELL WORTH IT! This has been an amazing trip in more than one way. It was a number of things: The people, the ship, the INCREDIBLE scenery along the way....For all those considering Alaska.....I kept hearing all throughout this adventure that this was more incredible than Alaska (I have never been to Alaska).....Do the Chilean Fjords! Amazing!
From Olivia when she got home talking about the deviations:
All guesses are wrong!!! We flew out of Ushuaia at 2:00 and got to BA around 5:30 or so. Then Ngaire and Ken found out about a direct flight to Dallas that just started last week. They gave up their Miami seats, and then it was announced that the Dallas direct flight was delayed, so they switched back to the 10 p.m. Miami flight that left for Dallas at about 9 this morning. Todd never got on that one, because there wasn't an aisle seat, so he went BA to New York and then to LA. I just stayed on my regular route, and all was on time. For me, 26 hours of travel time after getting off the ship. Wait for Todd's great pictures, especially of the restaurant. The warmth of the wonderful family at Chilotito comes shining through so brightly; you are going to love them! Oh, and the scenery!!!!
And when I finally got home:
I am home!
I just got in from LAX. My total travel time was around 31 hours! YIKES! It started getting off the ship at 12 pm and taking that flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. Then that deviation to New York then NY to LAX! 31 hours but worth every minute!
I still have the pre portion to post about (Santiago) and I began that write up on the ship....I see if I can get it finished this week.
This was an amazing trip. The scenery was incredible. The ship exceeded my expectations. But what really made the trip was the people I was traveling with. We had such a great time. I'd like to add special thanks to Olivia for taking great care of me on this trip and to Ngaire for carving out this special segment.