For anyone planning a cruise round Cape Horn, be aware that sea conditions affect the actual times of arrival and departures which means that your time in port may be significantly shorter (e.g., Ushuaia) than listed in the outlined itinerary (Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt less so). The Veendam experienced heavy seas out of Montevideo for 2 days and did not land tenders at the Falklands. One elderly passenger was medically evacuated there due to a broken hip suffered in a fall during a tango lesson held in the theatre located in the ship's bow. The bow is very unstable in high seas and its easy to lose one's balance. The lesson should have been canceled. Refunds of port charges were made to all.
My plans or a private tour of Montevideo with Marta Marquez were momentarily foiled when she did not show up, but a competitor (Hebert Sismondi- e-mail: email@example.com) was available who gave us an excellent 5-hour tour of the city with time out for an excellent seafood lunch at a local non-touristy waterside restaurant. We made the mistake of ordering separate appetizers and entrees (huge portions). Don't be afraid to use these local individuals. He charged $190 for 4 people-lunch not included (we gave him $200).
Scenic cruising around Cape Horn and in the Drake Canal was fantastic with spectacular snow-covered mountains and islands. In time-short Ushuaia (7am-12:30pm) with nothing open at 7am, we took the $35 Rambo Sur 2-1/2 hr boat trip to view cormorants, sealions, and the lighthouse (no time to view penguins) and harbor with great views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. But one man took up a free-lancer for a city tour plus glacier 3-hr visit for $35 that he said was great.
My car rental reservation in Punta Arenas fell flat when Avis did not have an acceptable car available. We walked around the city instead and had lunch in Sotito's, a good seafood restaurant, but again made the mistake of ordering separate appetizers and entrees (huge portions). Sharing an appetizer and an entree will satisfy normal appetites.
The GVStein good value tour of Puerto Montt, Lake Llanquihue, and Petrohue Falls was a full day and included a simple touristic-type set lunch (pisco sours or soda, salad, salmon or beef, and kuchen, a German style cake) for $95/person. Cloudy weather during the tour hid the two magnificent volcanos, but cleared as we returned to the ship. The two snow-capped peaks, one perfectly symmetrical, the other rough and mighty, were bathed in the afternoon sun as we sailed off on the final leg of the cruise.
Provided that Chile can recover from this horrendous earthquake in a year or two, I strongly recommend Christian the Van Man's Valparaiso pick-up and tour of the area with drop offs at the airport or hotels as needed. In the near term, cruise ships will be avoiding the damaged areas as they strive to recover, repair, and rebuild. Lunch at Cafe Turri on the Mirador Concepcion was fabulous. I just hope the restaurant survived the earthquake.
The food and service on the Veendam was fantastic if you ate in the Rotterdam dining rooms for breakfeast and dinner. We mostly skipped lunches to avoid gaining weight. It worked. There was no need to use the special venues (Pinnacle Grill or Canaletto) at an extra charge. The Lido restaurant provided a wide assortment of foods served in a casual atmosphere that many preferred. The main problem with this cruise for me was the 4 boring sea days sailed in mostly cold cloudy damp drizzly weather. Luckily the weather cleared for the 2 days of scenic cruising. My future cruises will have to visit interesting ports almost every day. I'm thinking Baltic or Mediterranean Seas.