We left Montreal Jan 2 to head out to Santiago Chile before our cruise on STAR PRINCESS from Jan 5 to 17 .As per our agreement MICHAEL THE GERMAN PIRATE from MY Valparaiso met us .Getting out of the airport took 2 hours of lines to pay entrance fee,customs and agriculture and to retrieve bags .Michael waited patiently . DO BEWARE NO FOOD ENTERS CHILE . THey are VERY strict and will fine you even if you were not aware of the rules .ALL BAGS ARE XRAYED UPON ENTRY Michael was the best .We went to wine country and country side .It was very nice .Bought great wine ,enjoyed empanadas in country and visit to unique Artist's home by the sea. WOW what a magnificent view and such an interesting old man Really enjoyed this visit .Michael promised special visits and did deliver I highly recommend him The next day he picked us up at the BEST WESTERN VINA DEL MAR for our walking tour of VALPARAISO .This hotel was very nice ,nice staff ,nice breakfast ...just a tad noisy .Be advised VINA is MUCH cooler then Santiago dress accordingly Had dinner at LA FLOR DE CHILE ....charming Our walking tour was VERY interesting .Michael provides before and after pictures to display changes over time .He is organized and well informed .I would never venture into Valpo without a guide and glad we were in a big group of 12 .SAFETY IN NUMBERS WE walked for hours but did see the whole city Very interesting I would NEVER have done it alone It is dangerous so do be careful. Michael advised us our ship was arriving late ....6 hours late and that became the PERPETUAL theme of our cruise ...DELAY OOPS SORRY >>DELAY ...OOPS SORRY >>DELAY ....OOPS SORRY
We went to the Terminal around 6 pm to a total chaotic mess We were told to leave our luggage by a wall ./I chose to stay with it to make sure it was safe.Only after meeting with Princess staff did I feel confident in leaving it Some people never got theirs The terminal was a madhouse!!!!We avoided long lines because I was Platinium ...apparently membership does have its privileges!!!! A bus took us to embarcation and we soon found our aft Caribe balcony ...totally covered ..very convenient on cold days .I did use our balcony a lot inspite of cold because we were sheltered BUT we did ROCK AND ROLL IN the back of the ship a...lot a...lot a... lot ....almost continuously for 12 days .THANK YOU GRAVOL for making my tummy safe !!!! The ship itself is nice,clean , good food good shows good service
nOw for the cruise ...WHAT CRUISE???? What we had was a sea voyage WE sorta kinda missed the first port with a long delay a ridiculous tender system and 2 hours to visit LEARN>>>>GET YOUR TENDER TICKETS EARLY ...I waited ...OH bIG MISTAKE ...only had 2 hours to shop in first port went the wrong way ....bought NOTHING SEcond port Princess excursion on Magdalena island to see penguins .Well organized .Expensive but only place we got to see them ...so glad I did this Shopping here was fine People quite nice Next port RAIN RAIN RAIN POURING in USHUAIA .Did Beagle Channel INteresting Saw seals ..LOTS of RAin .TENDERING HERE WAS LUDICROUS Argentinian authorities blamed Princess ,Princess blamed authorities ,,\.....do the Math ...someone is a PINOCCHIO!!!!
We were soaked to the bone ...such is life Did I mention it rained ....a lot ...a tad too much people got sick on tender ...a holy mess!!!! The whole tendering system on this ship needs MAJOR REVAMPING Truthfully a disgrace .THREE HOURS TO GET OFF SHIP when you have 6 in all What can I say HARDLY saw any of South America Falklands was cancelled due to weather ..so what else is new???? Captain came on everyday APOLOGIZING profusely for our compounded problems ..and the CHERRY ON TOP OF THIS CAKE >>>WAIT FOR IT >>>NORO VIRUS!!!! Thank god we did not get it but 10% of pop did .We saw BIOHAZARD teams everywhere ...NOT A PLEASANT thought We did have a makeup port in Puerto Madryn ...Lovely little town for shopping Thank you Captain Kent .I finally set foot in Argentina!!!! Montivideo was GRAY and ugly ....SORRY but true .Did a little shopping Another dangeous place .STAY in TOURIST areas WATCH YOUR purse Watch your camera Buenos Aires Our hotel THE GRAND KING HOTEL on Lavalee near Florida ...BIGGEST DUMP IN THE WORLD .Horrible place smelly rundown dilapidated YUCK .They would not give me a better room because I booked with EXPEDIA .DO NOT STAY HERE .Lobby looks great ....rooms are a DISGRACE Breakfast had burnt rolls and spoiled fruit People at reception NASTy LADIES .They sent me flying when I asked for a better room .THey were unhelpful throughout!!!I speak fluent Spanish and believe me they could not care less about PR or good will gesture .She said I could write anything about this hotel ...TOO BAD ..she could not care less .I ordered a Taxi for our departure ...they nEVER reserved it !!!NOT NICE My friend stayed at the TRYP WoW what a difference .He paid almost as much as I did Modern clean elegant marble bathroom ....such is my luck!!!! Florida street and Lavalee are fun places but do be vigilant Cheating tourists seems to be a SPORT in BA .CHECK everything your wallet ,your change,your bill ...ooops sorry came up a lot when I pointed out mistakes Got RIPPED off at PORT Taxi should have been 5$ he charged me 50$ CROOKS ABOUND everywhere Il Caminito is fun place to spend Sunday afternoon .Recoleta cemetary gave me the CREEPS .TRULY what is the fascination with cemetaries ????I just don;t get it fOund a nice restaurant 2 blocks away RODI"S ..GREAT food good prices Beware some restaurants DO rip you off El Palacio de Papas Fritas has the BEST FRIES ever !!!Big and fluffy Visit to Delta and Tigre river a big puzzle ...muddy waters with nice homes ..Another thing I do not understand ..people were swimming in the mud ...YUCK !!! WE took public transportation It was fine Coins are hard to get you need them for busses and subte I bought Gum to get some change ...nO ONE WILL GIVE YOU ANYHold on to yours
Overall I did South America ...oh so little of it ..but I got REAL tired of looking over my shoulder expecting to be mugged or robbed ...WHO NEEDS IT Been there done that ...NEXT PLEASE To top it all off Side pockets of my suitcases got robbed at the EZE airport HoW desperate to steal undies ...albeit designer stuff ,bras and my son's briefs and socks ...YUCKY!!!!POOF ALL GONE !!!My umbrella 2 rain coats Next time I will lock ALL!!!! Was this cruise a disappointment ...YOU BETCHA!!!Apparently weather is TOO often problematic in the region ...I did not know this beforehand ...but now you do ...my advice think twice .This cruise ...pardon me..... sea voyage was VERY expensive when you add up cruise cost ,entrance fee ,air hotels etc etc Not EXACTLY worth it .TOO BAD ship was nice but it would have been nice to SEE actually SEE some of Patagonia ...No..... no next time ...I'm done ...Thanks for reading All in all I feel sorry for our Captain...he really had his hands full ...and how much can you apologize for all that went wrong I'm sure he is happy to be home now