We recently returned from Buenos Aires and a our cruise around Cape Horn.
We began in Santiago, Chile which is a splendid city with a definite European feel. The on and off bus provides inexpensive and comprehensive travel around the city and it left less than a block from our hotel (Intercontinental).
We were fortuate to link up with other Cruisecritic members for a ride including a winery stop from Santiago to Valparaiso.
At Valparaiso, the check in with Celebrity was slow, hot and confusing to all. Though there were supposed to be lines for Aqua Class, the whole system broke down. Everyone was directed to the general line and waited their hour or two to check in. The effort on the part of Celebrity was pretty amateur and incompetent, when you realize they do this every week or two.
However, we were greeted by our steward was soon as we entered our cabin and they the pampering began. He and his assistant were outstanding and constantly inquired as to our More
needs throughout the trip. Can't say enough about how well they assisted us.
Blu Restaurant, which seats about 100 diners is open seating and for couples such as us, we sat adjacent to different couples each night. Though there was one night when we had to wait, we determined times when we could arrive and dine immediately. The food was as billed, healthy and delicious. Some of the meals approached gourmet level and the service, we got to know the maitre d and most of the waiters very well by the end of the cruise. They made us feel most welcome and took great care to help us in menu selections. Our sommelier was highly knowledgeable and a really assisted us during the cruise. As we have been devotees of good wine for 30 years or more, we used the trip to sample some wines from less well known regions/appellations (ie. no Cabs, merlots, Chardonnays from Calif., or France, no Barolos, well you get the idea). We sampled splendid varietals from regions of France, Italy et al., that we would ordinarily ignore. The wine list at Celebrity is extensive and extremely well chosen. A highlight of the trip.
As with all Cruise Lines, the internet is poor. One of the officers of the ship explained that there is one company (no competition) that offers intenet to all cruise lines. Until there is competition, they will continue to over charge both the cruise lines and us and offer cruddy service.
Puerto Madryn was a highlight of the trip. We went to see the penguins at the reserve where there are over 1/2 million of them. We took a private tour with other Cruisecritic members and were most fortunate to see these fine animals. They were all over and one had to be careful not to get to close as they do snap and bite. Our private tour arrived early and we were almost alone among the birds and other wildlife. We were fortunate that we were leaving as the hords on the Celebrity Tour buses arrived. I would highly recommend a private tour, not those from the ship's tour operators, if you want to see the penguins away (in time) from the crowds from the ships. Less
Celebrity Infinity Cruises to South America
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9053 is a newly converted Aqua Class Cabin. Everything is brand new and lovely. We were very glad that there was space under our bed for suitcase storage. There was plenty of space for our clothing, and we really needed it as the climate of the stops we made varied from summer to winter (rounding Cape Horn).
The view from veranda is slightly obscured by the jutting out of the ship above us, but that applied to all Deck 9 verandas.
Unfortunately, in a cabin near us some folks smoked during the trip. We weren't particularly surprised as they spoke French. We have dealt with Europeans before and they don't seem to believe that non-smokers are bothered by their smoke. Oh, well....
What a great place, large cosmopolitan and again a European feel. Really enjoyed that the ship arrived a day early so we could take a very long walk and kind of chill alone.
Three museums are within walking distance of the immigration office (a 5 minute bus ride from the ship), but if you walk, there is a eight or ten lane road you have to cross to get into the city proper from the port area. We did but it was a bit daunting.
We walked to three museums, MALBA, a museum of Latin American Contemporary, the National Museum of Decorative Arts, which incorporated a turn of the century home and the art some very old and some fin de sic into a great collection; and finally, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, which is the major art museum in the city. A four hour loop and a great dollop of superb art.
The final day, we disembarked and took Celebrity's day in the city, a ranch and the airport.
The tour was fine for a quick look at the city and stopped at a cemetery for a quick WC break and look around. It resembled the cemeteries in New Orleans. The trip to the ranch consisted of staged shows and an acceptable lunch.
The Buenos Aires airport lacked air conditioning, but the transfer was well done and it was as painless as 4 hours in any airport can be.
What an interesting place. We took a private tour and visited the Cathedral, quite ornate, spots in the old and new city including the Congress, Opera (locked up-darn) and went to a winery for a fine lunch.
The Winery Tour was very well done, we saw the vines, the vats and the storage of wine awaiting release. We did a tasting and enjoyed ourselves.
A highlight, we visited the town of Puerto Montt, the Oserno Volcano, Lake Llanquihue and a lake resort town with a group of Cruisecritic members.
Puerto Montt itself is cute, but there really isn't all that much to see. The trip to the Oserno Volcano is full of stunning scenery. Lake Llanquihue is lovely and we stopped at a "grotto" for a visit. Oserno Volcano is majestic when it is visible. Fortunately, several times the day we visited it was. We walked around near the summit and stopped during our descent to see great views of the summit.
On our way back, we visited a small town on the lake and watch the bathers (we noted that almost no adults were in the frigid water, just kids).
Altogether a splendid day.
We took a Celebrity walking tour (strenuous) up into the hills and were rewarded with terrific views of the harbor, a canyon resembling a cross between the Snake River and the Grand Canyon and trees, shrubs and plants native only to the Southern Patagonia.
It was a bit strange starting out as we had a part-time, who was leaving for home (Santiago) after she did our tour. She got the bus driver lost several times before we were able to begin our tour and paced group so swiftly that several of our companions complained vigorously. (I was rather glad they did as it was even a bit much for me). The other bus's group took fully 45 minutes longer to do the walk than did we, so I imagine that the normal tour doesn't almost kill you. And I am in great shape.
The town itself was fun, with many interesting stores where my wife bought some Christmas ornaments and chocolate. It was quite good (the chocolate, that is.)
We really enjoyed our time in Ushuaia.
We took a strenuous walking tour from Celebrity and it was a highlight of our trip. We walked through peat bogs as we saw the beaver dams, alpine type meadows (almost at sea level) and stunning views of the mountains. The walk required knee length boots through the bogs but we discarded them for the majority of the hike. The pace was fine for us and everyone snapped loads of photos. Gorgeous country.