I had not had Antarctica on my priority list of places to see - probably because I had seen videos of the Drake Passage with small ships lurching back and forth. I still don't know why I decided to go on the Star Princess, but it was the one of the best decisions I have ever made.
As Australians, we flew to Buenos Aires via auckland on Aerolineas Argentineas. I knew the airline's reputation but the flight was worse than expected - enough said! After an overnight stay we flew to Iguazu Falls for 2 nights and stayed in the Hotel Panoramic because at the last minute the hotel was changed by the travel agent from the Hotel Das Cataras due to renovations there. I can certainly recommend this hotel although it is 20 k's from the falls national park. The falls are almost as equally awesome as Antarctica and so not to be missed on any visit to Argentina or Brazil.
After an overnight stay in BA a a Tango show organized by Alan at Buenos Tours (excellent) and a tour which took in downtown sights and La Boca (very colorful) we embarked.
Embarkation Chaotic, to put it mildly, life threatening is probably closer. Firstly, we had to queue with cases on a narrow strip of footpath with buses right beside us, then compulsorily pay for the porters to load the cases on to the conveyor belt right beside us, then scrabble for a registration booth because other people would grab the booth you were assigned to, then wait for a bus to take us to the ship. Unfortunately no-one told the driver of the bus we were ready to go so in over 30 deg C heat, us sardines waited for over 20 mins, mostly standing - people could hardly breathe and I am surprised to this day, that no-one collapsed. The ship was a mere 200 meters away and we all could have walked!
Dining We had anytime dining after changing from the early sitting on the first night. Although we got a table right away, it was sometimes annoying to have to wait until the table was filled before the orders were taken, when we wanted to get to the entertainment early. However, after a while we knew where the best seats in the show lounge were so we just went with the flow. On some formal nights we were not impressed with those who attended dinner in open neck shirt sleeves. Why do cruise lines have dress codes and then not adhere to them?? We went to Sabitini's one night and we will go again in the future, the food and atmosphere were wonderful
Entertainment The production shows and specialty entertainers were excellent but the singer/comedians - well, I am not fond of - my sense of humor must be different but then quite a few others walked out so maybe it wasn't just me. Some of the movies they showed were good, some atrocious. I have to say that with scenery like Antarctica, I was more interested in it that the entertainment. Although every night, I hurried to get a good seat I was always wondering what I was missing by being indoors!!
Antarctic cruising Our Captain was the best. Although we were on the starboard side, which had all the action and early scenery, whenever we got to a scenic area, the Captain did a 360 deg move so everyone on each side of the boat could see. The scenery was spectacular, one just has to experience it. Unfortunately we missed Deception Island and the penguins there because of a storm which came out of the west and we had to make a run for safe passage rather than experience 40 ft waves in Drake passage. Mind you I do think we had those at some stage thru the Drake Passage but all in all, we were all happy with the Captain's decision to high tail it!
Disembarkation Orderly but slow. It may have been more a reflection of Santiago than princess but we were more than an hr late in getting off the ship. While it did not affect us, there must have been some other very anxious people.