Antarctica, Sailing on Celebrity’s Infinity
February 16 to March 2, 2014
Plus Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls
February 10 to 15, and March 2, 20a4
This is a wonderful trip and a great experience, and if this is on your bucket list, GO!
But, before you book you must keep in mind:
Buenos Aires and Montevideo are lovely cities, however one must be prepared for poorer sectors, graffiti, litter, and crime.
Many do not speak any English, i. e. Taxis, shops, restaurants
Weather: Tropical hot and humid, mosquitos, damp chilling winter cold with high winds, snow, rain, and sun causing severe sun burns.
Due to weather be prepared for: missed ports, itinerary changes, and heavy seas
This trip was booked in March of 2012 as a cruise tour with Celebrity. After looking at prices, we found that we could do six days instead of three at the same price. We dropped the tour with Celebrity in April of 2013. Discovery Uruguay, Diego Kraidelman handled all of our ground arrangements. The price, and arrangements included all entry fees, English speaking guides, ground transportation, hotels, airline tickets to and from the falls, and dinner with tango show. We were very extremely pleased with all, and we personally would highly recommend Discovery Uruguay.
Prior to booking with Diego, we had done extensive research via books and the net, and we knew we wanted to stay in the Recoleta area in a high quality hotel and we knew what sites we wanted to be included in the tours. We sent Diego a list and a suggested itinerary. Between our list, and his recommendation, we came up with the final itinerary. I would highly suggest you research prior to booking, and know what you want to see and visit, and what you are getting for your monies. One couple while in line at the Pink Palace, ask me, why we were going into this building. Another gentleman thought he should be on a private tour. Doing your research, which takes a lot of time, will avoid disappointments and afford a wonderful experience.
All tours were set up as small group tours which meant that we would have groups no larger than twelve. We were only two on some days, 4 on other days, 8 on one day, and 12 at the falls. Private tours can be arranged at an additional charge. All guides spoke English. The transportation drivers do not speak English. We would highly suggest getting a translator app for you mobile phone. One couple was left at the pier due to lack of communication. Please note: that Taxi drivers also do not speak English.
We reconfirmed all of our tours and excursions prior to our departure, and all went as planned.
February 9th: United Airlines from Orlando to Houston, and then nonstop to Buenos Aires. Arriving on the 10th. Caution, United has a very unusual boarding procedure, and Economy Plus, although paying additional fees, gets no boarding priority.
February 10th : Arrived in Buenos Aires. Driver was waiting outside of customs with sign. Taking us to Buenos Aires Grand Hotel. The Grand is only a year old and was wonderful. Staff was outstanding. Room was great! Caution, they do not provide tissues or wash cloths.
At 1:00 PM in the pouring rain, we were meet by our guide Sebastian for a three hour walk of the Recoleta Area. Tired and wet, we had dinner at the hotel.
February 11th: Meet by our guide Sebastian at 1 PM. We were off to Evita’s Museum. We would say, this is a must. Our guide’s family has lived in the Recoleta Area of Buenos Aires for many years. He gave us a fantastic insight on the life and style of Evita.
We were also to see Carlos Gardel Museum, however when we arrived it was closed. We went instead to a special library which used to be a theater with outstanding murals. A library is actually a book store. We had empanadas in a local eatery, and went to a fantastic leather shop, Los Corrales. We had dinner that evening at an Argentinian Steak House, recommended by our hotel, La Cabrera. It was just OK!
February 12th: At 2PM we were off to Iguazu Falls with another couple. Stored some of our luggage at the Grand. We were picked up promptly by our driver and taken to the local airport. We arrived at falls about 6 PM, and again our driver was awaiting our arrival. Our hotel was the Panoramic Hotel. It was OK, but in hind sight, I would have upgraded to the Grand. It did have a great view of three countries; Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.
February 13th : At 7:30 AM our van arrived to take us to the falls. We had a full day tour of the falls with 10 other person. We were accompanied by an English speaking guide. We were able to see all three trails. It is indeed spectacular and should not be missed. Be prepared for a lot of walking and getting wet viewing the falls.
February 14th: We again picked up at the hotel at 7:30 AM. We went back to the falls and did a boat ride in the river and under the falls. We upgraded to a longer boat ride at the falls. In hind sight, we do not know if this was necessary. Caution, you get soaking wet all over including you shoes. They do give you a wet sack to place your personal articles in. If you want to take photos, advise a water proof camera. Getting up and down to the boats is a lot of steps and sometime areas have no hand rails. It also rained that day, the walk ways were slippery, and we had two people fall in our group.
At 2 PM our driver took us directly from the falls to the airport. Fortunately, we had a complete set of dry clothes and shoes to change into. We flew back to Buenos Aires that evening, our driver again was waiting at the Airport, and again we stayed at the Grand. It was Valentine’s Day, the restaurants were booked. We just had a sandwich at the bar. If you’re going to be there on Valentine’s Day, make sure you have a reservation.
February 15th: We were off (4 in total) to a full day tour of Buenos Aires, Cemetery, and La Boca with our private guide Patricia Kanelson. It was a fantastic tour. We were supposed to go Puerto Madero but our group spent far too much time taking photos in the Cemetery and we ran out of time. One of the highlights of the day in addition to the cemetery was La Boca where we had lunch in a local restaurant that featured a tango show and more. La Boca is a great area to pick up gifts, however be very watchful of your pockets, and pocket books in this area, and do not wonder off.
That evening we went to a tango show. We had some Great difficulties. The driver was late and did not appear to know where he was going. It took us forever to get to the restaurant. They wanted to seat us in a corner and we refused the table. After a few words, we got a good table. The tango lesson was a bit of a joke. Dinner was good, and the show was outstanding. We were in a small intimate restaurant, not the typical theater which holds a couple hundred people, like the ship’s tour. The show was the story of the tango, and the stage was close to our table. The performers actually danced in the aisle next to our table at times. Diego’s people booked this for us, however all of the arrangements were made by the tango restaurant, such us pick up etc. Make sure you get a contract name, number and the name of the restaurant so if you have a problem you can call.
February 16th: 12 PM off to the port two meet 4 of our friends who we were sailing with, and again our driver was there awaiting out departure.
February 16th and 17th: We were at sea. The beyond the podium lectures were very good. On the 17th we had the 1st of our three night dinner package in the SS United States restaurant. It was outstanding.
February 18th: We were informed of our first itinerary change due to adverse weather conditions. We were not going to Ushuaia on the 20th but going on the 23th. We were skipping Elephant Island, however we adding a port in Argentina. Instead of arriving in the Falklands on the 25th, we were arriving tomorrow. This announce was made at 1 PM. We immediately left lunch and email Patrick Watts whom we had a private tour with in the Falklands to Volunteer Point. He emailed back, and stated due to another ship being in port, he could no longer accommodate us. Shortly thereafter, we got another email stating he managed to get a few vehicles, and would accommodate us and our friends, because we were his first bookings. He took 18 out of a group of 68. Advice, double book early with Patrick, and the ship. The ship also had to cancel many reservations because of lack of available vehicles.
February 19th: We had a great trip to Volunteer Point with Patrick Watts. Would highly recommend. We saw hundreds of Penguins including the King’s. Windy and cold—need warm clothes, hats and gloves. Plus the drive is long and bumpy.
February 20th: At sea with another itinerary change. Overnight in Ushuaia, added sailing the Beagle Channel, and Elephant Island is back on. Puerto Madryn is cancelled along with the added port. We now have no port days after Ushuaia until the March 1st in Montevideo. A fuel tanker hit the Infinity while refueling in the Falklands. It damaged a davit for a life boat. We were about 9 hour late leaving the Falklands. This was the reason for the new itinerary.
February 21st & 22nd: Beagle Channel, this AM which was fantastic. Viewed from our aft cabin, however it again was very cold. Ushuaia, arriving on the 21st at 10 PM and staying over until 8 PM the following day. Again, all of the tours were fouled up. We had again another ship in port. Again, if you’re doing a private tour, I would double book. Our in Celebrity Tour (Ushuaia in depth) which was to leave at 9:00 AM, left at 7:00 AM. It was a waste of monies in my opinion. It was very cold and the bus windows were all fogged up. It was primarily a bus look and see. Lunch at a local restaurant was interesting. We had dinner at Qsine’s this evening which was wonderful, however the restaurant was freezing cold. Make sure you book this restaurant in warm weather. It actually closes while in Antarctica because of the cold. It is on deck 11 in an all glass area.
February 23rd: Sailed around Cape Horn which was fantastic. Again extremely cold and windy.
February 24th: Schollart Channel, and Paradise Bay. Paradise Bay was spectacular. Again very cold outside. Dressed in layers, viewed from our balcony on the aft coming in often to get warm. Even are friends from Wisconsin were chilly, and had warm clothing on. We had about 2” of snow on our balcony.
February 25th: Elephant Island. It was very over cast and foggy, we had virtually no visibility. Just as we were leaving the fog and clouds cleared so that we were able to get some photos.
February 26th to February 28th: We were at sea with no sights. On one of these day, we had extremely high seas. Ship at bags all over; stairs, elevators, restrooms, etc. On the 27th we had the last of our specialty restaurant. We ate again in the SS United Stated, and had an outstanding meal.
March 1st: Montevideo, Uruguay. Went on a private wine tour with Ryan Hamilton. The vineyards, tour, and tastings were nice. The grounds of the vineyards were beautiful. Lunch was very good in a restaurant near the beach in town. This tour was almost $200 per person. We and our friends felt it was extremely over priced for what we got. After the tour we roamed around the market area. We found the market area very run down as you started up the hill. We were warned to stay with the crowds, and not wonder down empty streets. I would highly suggest a tour out of the city to see the country side.
March 2nd: We disembarked the ship and our driver picked us up at 9 AM. This was part of our package with Diego. We were then deposited at the Obelisco Hotel, our day hotel. This hotel is less expensive however we would not want to stay there for an extended period. We had almost wished we had spent the monies to upgrade, although we were only in the room for a short time. At 10 AM we were picked up for our walking tour by Sebastian our guide. We had a tour of the Pink Palace, which is only open to the public on Sunday. Then we were off to the San Telmo flea market. What a treat! Blocks and blocks of tables with all kinds and sorts to goods; from junk to valuable antiques. This too is only open on Sunday. It is very crowded, and has lot of pick pockets so you must be very careful. We were accompanied the entire time by Sebastian our guide, who bargained for us, and also paid in pesos so we did not have to show are American dollars. There were eight in all. The streets are cobblestones and at times walking is somewhat difficult. At 3 PM we started back to our day hotel, and ran across a couple doing the tango on the street. We arrived back at the hotel with our Wisconsin friends in time to shower, and change for our long flight home.
At 5:00 Patricia Kanelson who arranged all of our ground arrangement, a personal friend of Diego’s, stopped at the hotel with driver who was taking us to the airport. She made sure the driver new which Air Lines we were headed to. We caught our 10:30 PM flight home, and arrived home in Melbourne, FL at 3:00 PM on March 3rd.
In conclusion, we were extremely happy with the arrangements made by Diego through Discovery Uruguay. Throughout the planning process, which was entailed, Diego was extremely gracious and helpful at every turn. I would highly recommend Discovery Uruguay. The disappointment that were encountered by others in our group, we found to be from lack of understanding of what they were to receive. They appeared to have no idea as to what they were doing, or what they had paid to visit. Although, we had some private tours, this was not promised. Private tours can be arranged. Patricia Kanelson who arranges all for Diego is wonderful. You can confirm all prior to arrival with Patricia at email@example.com
In ending this was a special and wonderful trip. Antarctica is truly a special place. Cruising on the Infinity was great, however this is a truly different experience, and cannot be compared to any of our past sailings. Patricia and Sebastian with Discovery Uruguay were outstanding, and tried to please all. I would highly recommend Discovery Uruguay. Please feel free to email if you desire additional information at firstname.lastname@example.org
Johnny and Sandy