There were 12 people in our group, traveling from Hawaii and LAX to Santiago. After a 12 hour delay in DFW and lots of phone calls and emails, our group of 4 couples arrived at Santiago Airport, waited in line for an hour to pay the reciprocity fee and walked out of the customs area into a very crowded area with lots of taxi drivers looking for people needing transport to the city. Chrisitan Montinegro (Van Man), walked up to our group and introduced himself to us. He was very helpful and friendly and got us on our way to our hotel as quickly as possible since it was 2am and we were all very tired. We checked in to Best Western Los Espanoles which was a nice hotel but has no elevators. The rooms varied in size and configuration, each seemed to be different. In the morning, we had a great breakfast, better than expected and met up with the rest of our group and 4 other couples who joined our group transfer/tour to the ship. We were taken on a city tour of Santiago with photo stops, to Emiliana organic Winery, where many of us bought wines to take on-board the ship, then to city tours of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso. Since the Star Princess was delayed in arriving to port, we had lunch at a seafood restaurant in Valparaiso. Our guide apologized to us stating that the service was slow due to many people eating at the restaurant from the ship. The restaurant was on a hill overlooking the ocean and port, we could see the Star Princess. We were at the restaurant for 3 hours, but that was better than waiting at the port to board the Star.
At about 6pm, we left for the port and were dropped of near the porters collecting the luggage to take on board. We called a porter and tipped him a few dollars and he quickly collected our group's luggage and took them away. Once inside the registration area, we were given tickets to board the bus that would transport us to the ship, but we never used them as we were sent to register and from there sent to board a bus. We did not pass the photo area so did not get a photo taken. Once on-board, we were greeted by our room steward and sat in our room waiting for the rest of our group to arrive on board. We ate the appetizers and rested. Once we were all on-board we had dinner and explored the ship. The ship left late and Capt Kent tried to make up for the lost time, which he eventually did. We had a Cruise Critic Meeting at Skywalkers Lounge the next day and met many people and lots of information was exchanged. Thank-you, Berda Davis for arranging this.
The cruise visited many ports but was unable to stop at the Falkland Islands due to stormy seas and Port Madryn was stopped in place of the Falklands. We enjoyed the cruise as our group usually does and will plan another group cruise in two years. We got to see the penguins and the glaciers, which was the reason for going on this cruise, so we were all very satisfied with this cruise. We especially loved the black comedian, I arrived late to the show and missed his introduction, but he lives in So Cal and does comedy in Las Vegas and wrote for Bill Cosby. After the cruise we stayed in Buenos Aires for 3 days at Tango B&B. Valeria and Jorge were very friendly and helpful and got us reservations to a Tango dinner show and a visit to an estancia. We were picked up and dropped of at the B&B and both activities were very enjoyable. Jorge is an artist and a great chef. We enjoyed two excellent dinners with lots of grilled meats and all you could eat and the breakfasts were very good with fresh fruit, cheese, meats, yogurt, bread and lots of excellent coffee!