Traveled with my spouse and 2 other couples. Have cruised with Princess many times and knew what to expect from the staff and crew, generally service was good.We don't cruise just to cruise. For us it's a good way to see many ports in a short amount of time.We like having one home for two weeks of travel..Embarkation was smooth, We arrived at port around 5 PM, as we spent the night on the ship before sailing the following evening. Food isn't as good on Princess as it was 10 years ago. Golden Princess showing her age, needs refurbishing.
Buenos Aires, Stayed at Wilton Hotel for one night pre-cruise, would look for something better next time.Took two walking tours pre-cruise, free BA walking tour (okay), tour with BA Greeters/Cicerone, Paola, which was fantastic.This is a volunteer organization who donate their time to show you their city.They ask for a donation at the end of the tour for the organization (and I received an e-mail receipt).The guides cannot accept any money for themselves.She was to spend about 2-3 hours with us, but we spent the whole day with her.We went to a very typical Argentinian restaurant, toured the city, discussed the history,economics and politics of Argentina. What a lovely person to represent Buenos Aires. Very insightful. One of the best tours we've had all over the world!!
Went to La Ventana Tango show that night, yes, it is touristy but that's what we are. Good food and show, slow service.
Day trip to La Portena Estancia the next day, booked through South Excursions. The pick up time was to be 9AM, guide and driver arrived at 9:15 as 9:30 was communicated to them through the company. La Portena was beautiful, lovely owners, good food. Unfortunately South Excursions did not tell me that we would be missing the gaucho skills show due to the fact that we had to be back to the ship by 4:30 for embarkation.Had I known we would have booked something else.
Montevideo, Uruguay: Booked tour for 12 people with private guide Hebert Sismondi. Perfect weather, great experience, lovely city. In addition to showing us his beautiful city we had the option of BBQ lunch at his home prepared by his gracious wife and beautiful daughters.We learned so much more about their culture than a typical city bus tour. Highly recommend this guide/experience!
Puerto Madryn: Booked tour with Forastero Tours to Penisula Valdes. Good tour, dry arid land, saw Magellanic penguins, sea lions, guanaco (of the lama family), lesser Rhea (of the ostrich family)
Stanley,Falkland Islands: Booked with Patrick Watts. He hires many locals with SUVs to drive tourists through the island countryside through sheep pastures, streams, mud puddles for 2.5 hours each way to see a penguin colony with 3 types of Penguins, Gentoo, King and Magellanic.Learned a lot from our driver,/guide about life on Falkland Islands.Weather was not unexpected, cold rainy, windy. Fun Experience.
Ushuaia: Tour through Edgardo Calaio. Beautiful Area, with lakes, mountains, national park. Cute city, Weather was cold.
Punta Arenas: I had trouble finding a tour that didn't want $ upfront for this port.This port (as others on this cruise) can be cancelled due to bad weather, and didn't want the hassle of getting a refund or the worry of my credit card security. Booked an AM penguin tour through Princess, but was that was cancelled as the penguins migrated early. Walked around the city, went back to the port in time to catch our PM Patagonia Trek booked through Princess.. This was a bus ride out of town to a ski lodge where we rode the chair lift up and hiked down..Unfortunately it rained and snowed that day so the trail was wet, muddy and sllppery. Many of us fell and looked quite bedraggled when we arrived back on the ship.Surprised people didn't get hurt.
Note: We did not get to sail around Cape Horn as there was quite a storm. The ship went instead into the Straights of Magellan for calmer seas. Good decision, the National Geo ship passengers coming from Antartica said it was really scary.
Puerto Montt: Booked with Denis Purtov. What a beautiful area. Volcanoes, Lakes, waterfalls. Stopped for lunch at a very small family run diner, saw the cooks in action, good empanadas.
Valparaiso/Santiago: Disembarkation smooth, after we had to request a different departure time, as usual, those on Princess excursions are given priority.Joined a group of cruisers on a tour booked through South Excursions. Pick up and tour of both cities with wine tasting and drop off at airport. Good guide, lunch at seafood restaurant in Vina Del Mar was good, but price was unexpectedly high-$71 for mediocre food.