We left Valparaiso on a boat that had just been in a huge storm but we would have the best weather in years. A bit of waves on the second night, but the free motion sickness pills stopped any problems quickly.
The first stop was Puerto Montt. It took a long time to get of the boat as an independent traveller, but the place was superb. In the Lake District of Chile we made a trip to the Osorno and Petrohue Falls. We took a taxi with an other couple and paid less than a third of what a trip through HAL would cost, and had the advantage of just being with 4 instead of a bus full.
The second stop was Puerto Chacabuco. Not a very interesting town, but going up the Simpson River was. A beautiful river with blue flowers all along the road en views over the mountains and the valley.
We sailed south through the Chilean fjords and stopped to see some glaciers. We could get much closer than I expected.
The third stop was Punta Arenas. We visited the penguin colony at Otway and the city. We saw much more than just penguins and the most spectacular cemetery in Latin America.
In Ushuaia, our fourth stop, we went to Terra del Fuego national park. Again a very nice place with mountains, lakes, snow, forest and wildlife.
From there we sailed south to Cape Horn (we saw it in sunshine and with almost no wind) and Antarctica. We spent a few days cruising between icebergs and real mountains seeing penguins, whales, seals and orcas.
The next landfall was Stanley on the Falklands. We went to the king penguins at Volunteer point. This was a highlight of the trip.
After 2 days at sea we stopped in Montevideo and ended the cruise in Buenos Aires. Great is an understatement for this cruise.
Apart form these stops HAL did it's best to make everything as perfect as possible. Very attentive staff, from the captain, down to the waiters and the room stewards. Lot's of information through lectures on flora and fauna of the waters we cruised through to city descriptions and information on where we sailed and marine life on the ships TV channels. Very good food, especially in Rotterdam restaurant. Shows and movies. A library and sports facilities and enough to do to almost make you feel busy.
We had celebrations for Christmas and New Year and the crew really made you feel at home and went to great length to make you feel special.
The only drawbacks I can mention are the prices of alcoholic drinks on board and the shore excursions. The rest was perfect!