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Home > Virtual Cruises > South America: Around Cape Horn on Regal Princess
South America: Around Cape Horn on Regal Princess
Day 1: Pre-Cruise Stay in Buenos Aires
Day 2: Embarkation, Cruising the Rio de la Plata to Montevideo
Day 3: At Sea
Day 4: Valentine's Day in Puerto Madryn
Day 5: Port Stanley
Day 6: Rounding Cape Horn
Day 7: Ushuaia
Day 8: Punta Arenas
Day 9: At Sea/Amalia Glacier
Day 10: Puerto Montt
Day 11: Disembarkation in Valparaiso, Post-Cruise Stay in Santiago
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Day 3: Thursday, At Sea
At Sea"For those of you who have a strange fantasy of having your photo taken with the captain, I'll be hanging around like a bad stink for the rest of the evening."

Those were the parting words in Captain Hamish Reid's "welcome aboard" speech last night, but it wouldn't be the last photo session this short, joke-loving Scottish captain would attend. Today, in honor of Valentine's Day, he conducted vow renewals for about a half-dozen couples (tomorrow is actually Valentine's Day, but we'll be in port so it wasn't possible to fit it into the schedule). The couples were remarried in a group ceremony, with Captain Hamish up on the stage. Mike and I sneaked in on the balcony level just in time for "you may kiss the bride." It was a really sweet, nice gesture on the part of the captain ... and afterward, they were all able to get a photo with him up on stage.

Mike, by the way, has not forgotten that Valentine's Day is tomorrow; he bought me a huge box of Godiva chocolates that he couldn't wait until tomorrow to give me. Yum. And by the way, in regard to hanging out 24/7 together and sleeping in a cruise cabin with no balcony -- so far so good; we haven't had any urges to kill one another yet nor has either of us succumbed to claustrophobia.

Without a doubt, we are the youngest couple onboard, and I'd be lying if I said the age difference didn't matter. Walking around the ship today, there were times when we felt a little out of place, particularly when being glared at as if we'd crashed a members-only AARP party. But then again, other passengers have been so friendly and easy to talk to, full of life, insights and fascinating stories. We met one couple from Columbus, Ohio in the elevator that has been on 25 cruises! And our friends at dinner have been all over the world -- Thailand, Australia, China -- and happily wax poetic about their experiences. Ray and Elaine (who recovered from seasickness swiftly) told us one of their most memorable travel experiences was soaring over St. Petersburg in a hot air balloon; they had to arrive at the field at the crack of dawn to help blow the thing up! Now that's a hands-on travel experience.

Indeed, this itinerary tends to attract more mature, worldly travelers, as well as an international crowd: Mike and I chatted with JJ, the cruise director, who told us that the number of non-English-speaking passengers onboard Regal Princess has grown with each South America sailing. There were approximately 250 onboard the last voyage; this voyage, 450, and Regal Princess expects nearly double that amount on the next sailing -- which is nearly two-thirds of the ship! All announcements are made in English and Spanish on these sailings, but JJ admits they are a bit worried about continuing to communicate with the many folks who speak other languages (we've heard French, Portuguese and even Korean). JJ tells us that they're careful not to plan too much entertainment that would appeal to only one group; for example, comedians will appear, but not many (jokes aren't funny if you can't understand them!), while Broadway-style shows will be ample as they can be enjoyed through the costumes, dances and the beat of the music if not the lyrics.

Regardless of demographics, a day at sea with our fellow shipmates was much appreciated after jumping straight from traveling into nonstop sightseeing in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. We finally had the blessed chance to sleep in a bit (we got that hour back from those time thieves in Uruguay), and our room service breakfast arrived promptly at 10 a.m. (A continental breakfast is available in-stateroom, consisting of cereals, fruit, coffee, tea, juices, and breads such as rolls and croissants.)

We didn't hole up in our cabin for long though, as there was a lot going on onboard and folks were finally out and about. A really impressive group turned out at The Stage Door, the ship's disco, for today's Latin dance classes. In fact, there may have been more people on the floor for this than for the mandatory muster drill at this same location a few days ago! Partners were given visual examples of how to sway their hips, and when the music flipped on, everyone shook rather comically. The instructor told the men to "keep your legs together as if you've eaten too much Mexican food." The participants immediately started laughing -- but I was actually pretty surprised potty humor went over so well with this seemingly conservative crowd!

Speaking of potty humor, I had an important event to attend today -- my first Cruise Critic roll call get-together! Eventually we ended up in a conversation about bidets, bathroom habits of people across the globe, and random toilets we've encountered in our travels. Let's just say Cruise Critic members are certainly among the most colorful travelers I've ever met! Member Coiran (Ron) was the one who suggested we have a little Cruise Critic party at Characters Bar, and was sweet enough to make name tags for everyone who'd participated on the thread. We met Wayne and Carol from Canada, and Carolyn and Fran. Most of the group had, like us, spent a night in Buenos Aires. Ron and his wife Connie started their trip at Brazil's beautiful Iguazu Falls, which is taller than and twice as wide as Niagara Falls, and one of the top tourist destinations in South America.

Mike and I had considered the Iguazu Falls trip, but decided at the last minute that we didn't have the time -- plus, we knew U.S. citizens need to take the extra step of obtaining a visa for travel into Brazil (though we found out later that you can also view the falls from the Argentinean side). Conveniently, a visa is not required for Argentina, Chile, Uruguay or the Falkland Islands, the four countries on this itinerary.

After a few good laughs and drinks, Mike and I attempted to get a little fresh air and exercise up on the top deck (six laps on the longest track equals one mile), but the wind was a bit of a deterrent, literally taking our breath away when we walked into it. So we tabled that for another day and did a little shopping. Neither of us had packed watches (the battery in Mike's was dead, and mine was simply missing in action), so we were on a mission to find timepieces to get us through the next two weeks and beyond. There are four shops that make up the Galleria that surrounds Regal Princess' atrium. The Signature Collection sells sundries and logo wear, and the Steamer Trunk features men's and ladies' fashions. We made a beeline for the watch counter in the duty-free perfume and cosmetics shop (there's also a "fine" jewelry store).

After trying on several styles -- and having links taken out for a perfect fit (the staff can do this for you for free on most models) -- a brand-new Kenneth Cole watch was on my wrist, my second Valentine's Day gift. (Don't they say things happen in threes? Hmm...) Mike was sporting a shiny DKNY. We had all the best intentions of taking a nice, leisurely lunch in the Palm Court, the ship's only main dining room. The menu was enticing -- Mike wanted stuffed peppers, and I was planning on shepherd's pie -- but we happened to walk past Bravo, the pizzeria, and the smell of melted cheese, tomato sauce and Italian seasonings was so enticing we forgot all about our earlier plans.

Bravo is open from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., and then again from 6 until midnight. It's a sit-down yet casual alternative to eating in the main dining room or the Lido buffet. It's small and cozy, with round tables covered in red-checkered cloths. There's no fee to eat here (but you must pay for drinks, as in the main dining room; tip is discretionary). Oddly, you can't order pizza by the slice here (though they do send some over to the adjacent Characters Bar during the afternoons as snacks); a pie is about the size of a 9-inch dinner plate, so if you're hungry you could probably make a sizeable dent. At least I could, when I've got my "cruise stomach" going on (that's what my girlfriend Deb and I lovingly call the black hole for fat and calories that only seems to emerge when we're on a ship). Today, I decided to take it easy and split a calzone with Mike stuffed with ham, mozzarella and artichokes. It was delicious, with crust that was soft on the inside, crispy on the outside. Mike pointed out that the crust was just like the ones my Italian father makes at home -- a lovely compliment.

"Cruise stomach" was in full swing at the Palm Court this evening, and we were literally the last table to finish up and waddle out. Time flies when you're having fun, and we were never once rushed, which is important to Mike and me -- there's nothing worse than feeling pressured to vacate the dining room while you're still chewing your last bite of food. It was also one of the best meals we've had so far, ending with a delicious bananas foster flambe. The maitre d' laughed when we asked if there was any more fruit in the galley they'd be willing to douse in liquor and set on fire for us. If only he knew we were really serious!

Talking to people you meet onboard is a great way to learn things about ports or the ship you may not have otherwise known (it's impossible to be in two places at once!). Diane, for example, told me that the doctor on Regal Princess is wonderful -- she'd scratched her eye pretty badly handling a contact lens, and he listened to her and took care of her right away. He'd also treated Elaine for yesterday's nasty seasickness. Elaine also told us about a Holocaust memorial they had visited in Montevideo yesterday while we were at the ranch. Turns out, Uruguay has a long-established Jewish community, even though many fled (mostly to Israel) during the economic crisis in Latin America between 1998 and 2003. Montevideo houses several synagogues, a Jewish cemetery and a Jewish museum in addition to the memorial, which has been declared a national historic landmark.

The main evening show -- a violinist -- seemed to be turning folks away, so we opted not to vie for a seat and instead turn in. We have another early day tomorrow in Puerto Madryn, but luckily we gain yet another hour tonight.
Day 2: Embarkation, Cruising the Rio de la Plata to Montevideo red arrow Day 4: Valentine's Day in Puerto Madryn

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