My husband and I are well-traveled, active seniors. We booked this cruise through Grand Circle Travel and spent three nights in Buenos Aires before embarking. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city with much to see and do. We stayed at the NH Hotel, right off the Plaza de Mayo, but a poor choice because of the small rooms and lack of drawer space.
EMBARCATION:We embarked on December 6. Luckily, Grand Circle took care of our luggage because the area for checking in luggage was a disorganized mess. However, the rest of the boarding process was long and poorly organized.
CABIN:Our ocean view cabin on the 9th deck was comfortable and had lots of storage space. Our cabin stewards were excellent and very friendly; no complaints there.
FOOD:We ate in either Seven Seas or Four Seasons and the service was generally good. However, some things that should have been served at the same time were not; no maple syrup with French toast and no cream cheese with bagel and lox. More importantly, the food was mediocre. Maybe they're hoping that more people will spring for the specialty restaurants. Lobster was served on two occasions and it was tasteless. Many of the dishes were of poor quality - fettuccini alfredo as a main course? The Garden Cafe was a total disaster. One long line to get mediocre food and then nowhere to sit.
GI VIRUS: My husband and I, along with countless other passengers got sick. Of the 127 people in our group, almost every couple had at least one sick mate. They were constantly wiping down walls, etc. but the ship needs to be taken out of service and thoroughly disinfected. On the cruise before ours, we heard that 100 people were sick. We certainly had far more. The medical care was excellent and free, but it didn't compensate for the time spent in bed. Oh yes, they gave each "patient" a $100 shipboard credit.
ENTERTAINMENT: Generally pretty bad. Since the passengers were of many nationalities, (mostly American, South American, French, and German)they had some entertainment that would be understood by all. The magician, juggler, and "Gaucho" were the worst - better suited to a kiddie party. The Broadway Revue, Spanish singer Elvy Rose, and a Cuban piano player were the best.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: All were good, but over-priced. In Montevideo we took the Jewish Heritage tour and found it fascinating. Walking among the penguins in Punta Tombo was a thrill, but the a/c in our bus didn't work, the guide's English was poor, and the box lunch inedible. We complained and got a 25% refund. In Port Stanley we took a $20 (round-trip) van ride to Gypsy Cove. Scenery was beautiful but penguins were a distance away. The town has an interesting church and a few shops. In Ushuaia, the weather was a balmy 60 degrees and my husband went to Tierra del Fuego National Park, where he enjoyed beautiful scenery. I was sick in bed. In Punta Arenas I took the "highlights" tour while my husband was sick in bed. The tour was very good and there's a nice handicrafts market in the main square, about 4 blocks from the pier.From Puerto Chacabuco we went to Coyhaique and Simpson Valley. The scenery was beautiful and the snacks and pisco sours on the way back were delicious but too many people were taken to the restaurant at the same time. From Puerto Montt we went to Puerto Varas and Frutillar. Puerto Varas has some nice shopping & Frutillar has an interesting museum about the German settlers. Puerto Montt itself deserves several hours. Walk along the water, to the left of the pier. There are countless shops. At the end is a very interesting fish market.
DISEMBARCATION: Went well. Then we spent two nights in Santiago at the Crowne Plaza Hotel; a very comfortable hotel in a good location. SUMMARY: The land portion was outstanding, but we won't take another NCL cruise.