PRE-CRUISE: I elected to stay in Santiago for 3 days prior to the cruise. I chose a 4 star hotel that gave me a very reasonable rate and a large room. On the down side it was not too close to restaurants. I found the people of Chile very accommodating, although it would have been easier for me if I spoke a little Spanish. Most places I went shopping accepted USD or credit cards. Before I left I printed out the most current exchange rates from OANDA.COM. The little cheat sheets came in very handy. On the last day we did a tour that transferred us to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso. After touring those towns we went to the pier for checkin.
CHECKIN: Arriving in a small group at the passenger ship terminal had its advantages. While the large buses were trying to get organized, we gathered our bags, tipped our driver and headed inside. First thing we found out was some additional forms that we had to fill out before we could check in. They did have priority checkin for More
D/D+ members, so I had virtually no wait. They did take my passport upon boarding and gave me a receipt and advised me that I should have some photo ID to replace it when I get off the ship.
THE SHIP: I have said many times that the Radiance class ships are the best class ships in the fleet. The Colony Club is absolutely beautiful and a great place to relax on sea days. Unfortunately on a cold weather cruise, the Solarium, as big as it is, is just not big enough. On the warm weather days of our cruise, there was plenty of room because everyone was around the outside pool and hot tubs. Some may not consider this a complaint, but I enjoy being rocked to sleep at night and did not feel any movement even when we rounded the Horn.
THE FOOD: Generally I only ate a late breakfast and Main Seating dinner. I had my breakfast in the Windjammer. I found out the when you are traveling with people from South America, they also like to eat late in the morning, so the buffet was packed at 10:30. The food was varied and good, although it is hard for me to pass up the oatmeal. Almost every night I had dinner in the dining room with a group of people who were on our thread from Cruise Critic (quire bt chance). One night a couple of decided to do the Mystery Dinner Theatre which is served in Portofino's; really enjoyed the story and had a great time. Another night the whole table went to Chops Grille. All in all the food in the dining room was pretty good and if we asked for anything they would get it for us. Head Waiter was excellent and waiter and asst waiter were even better. Don't know if got treated the way we got treated because we were all D or D+ members at the table.
ENTERTAINMENT: To be honest I can't remember the names of all the performers during the cruise, and I was not about to take notes. First of all the production numbers by the cruise staff were their usual excellent selves. We had a couple who did the Tango we were amazing to watch and another gentleman who sang tango music. There was a pair of aerobic performers who work with those curtains, they were very impressive and performed a second time because they went over so well. We had a Beatles cover group. A comedian who played the piano; was actually very good at it, but made you laugh. There was a Motown group that sang songs of many of the groups of Motown. A violinist and like I said and can't remember everything, but I was entertained every night.
PORTS: I am going to be the person who says nothing about ports. I cruise to cruise. I did get off in all ports and did take some tours. I saw the penguins in Porto Tombo, I woke up at 5:30 AM to make sure I saw Cape Horn when we rounded the Cape, Punta de Este was probably the prettiest, I got one of my biggest thrills in Ushuaia when I was able to take a ski lift to the base of a glacier Less