I am back from a January 5 (but really January 6) to January 17 cruise from Valparaiso, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I return from a cruise for the first time with a mixed review and a feeling that perhaps land based travel is my future.
I should start by stating my biases. I travel to see places I want to see and, for the most part, have not seen before. I am not a foodie, do not care particularly for cruise ship entertainment (except a good comedian), do not play bingo or trivia and can do without country and western night. The Good: The good is easy to identify. Both and after the cruise, we had wonderful tours. In Chile, Pedro from Christian, The Van Man, picked us up at the airport, gave us a tour of Santiago and then on the way to Valparaiso embarkation port drove us through the wine country of Chile. We stopped for a winery tour and tried wine tasting for the first time in my life. We then toured Vina del Mar, a wonderful seaside community before reaching the Star Princess around 3:30 PM.
In Buenos Aires, post trip, WOW Argentina and their tour guide Carina provide us a fabulous eight hour tour. We saw the tourists stops in the am and then in the afternoon, went to one of the neighborhoods where the street tango dancers performed, the shops were wonderful and just being the people was a treat. Carina loves her city and country and the tour reflected that. I would recommend WOW Argentina to anyone who wants custom tours of Argentina (as well as Chile and Peru).
In Punta Arenas, I enjoyed a trip to Magdalena Island where I had a chance to interact with Magellan penguins. This type of tour was replicated in Puerto Madryn, our unscheduled stop. Also, in Montevideo, Uruguay, I enjoyed a trip to a family run ranch, where all participated in a hay ride, had an excellent lunch, and the opportunity to ride a horse, milk a cow and shear a sheep. All of the above was good, but it was not enough.
Our trip got off to a late start (indeed we did not leave until 3:30 am on the 6th) and for the Pacific side of the trip were constantly late. The prior cruise arrived eight hours late because of foul weather and we fell even further behind. We were scheduled to arrive in Puerto Montt, our first stop, at noon, four hours late, but did not arrive until 3:00 PM. As a result 2/3 of planned tours were cancelled.
The bad weather also fouled up the Chilean fjords visit. The low lying clouds and fog did not give us a clear view of the fjords and Amelia Glacier, The big downer was the decision of the Captain (and Princess) to cancel our stop at the Falkland Islands made two days before we were do there. Many of us on the boat were highly interested in the penguin rookeries on the Falklands, particularly Wilderness Point, home to the majestic King Penguins. High winds and bad seas were cited as the reason.
The following morning we could also not round Cape Horn—check off another objective not achieved.
The Captain, in my humble opinion, was a negative force on this trip. His daily announcements were downers. Early in the trip, members of the crew started volunteering how much the Captain was disliked by the crew and how some were trying to get transferred to another ship. You know how things are going when a ship based comedian made the Captain the butt of his jokes inn two different shows.
Puerto Montt: We arrived very late and most of the tours were cancelled, including the one I had signed up for. I got on an eco-hike through a big forest-very nice, very refreshing, but not worth a trip to South America. Punta Arenas: A great tour of Magdalena Island with the Magellan penguins. Ushuaia: It was wet and rainy, people were held on the tenders for as long as 45 minutes. The Train Tip to the End of the World should have stayed there. What a waste of money. A catamaran trip to the Beagle Channel would have great on a good weather day.
Puerto Madryn: A poor substitute for the Falkland Islands. Montevideo: As described above, I became a gaucho.
I am going to take a break from cruising and start returning to land based trips. Much of my bucket list is not located at seaports. I wish all of you happy seas and many wonderful cruises.