On a big cruise ship you don't get to go off the ship onto the ice, but the cost is about a third of the price, so we thought we'd try seeing Antarctica this way and if we really needed to touch the ice, we could do the ... Read More
On a big cruise ship you don't get to go off the ship onto the ice, but the cost is about a third of the price, so we thought we'd try seeing Antarctica this way and if we really needed to touch the ice, we could do the expedition ship in a few years.
We were not disappointed. Captain McBain took us to places not even on the itinerary, and we had a blast doing them. We got to within a couple of hundred feet from the continent so we were more than happy to stay warm in the luxurious surroundings (compared to the expedition ships down there) and pop outside as we needed to, to take photos and just watch the beauty and to steal a line from the iconic Aussie movie 'The Castle', to watch 'the serenity of it all"!
Princess did a fantastic job of entertaining us and showing us the continent. We were lucky to have had calm seas both ways on the Drake Passage and only the first day was foggy in Antarctica (cleared up mid afternoon and from then on it was great).
Embarkation in Buenos Airs, once inside away from the traffic (it was raining) was smooth, disembarkation in Santiago also went smooth. Rough seas up the Chile coast meant we popped in and out of their Inside Passage, so as a bonus we got to see some spectacular Chilean Patagonia glaciers and scenery (and green stuff - maybe grass???)
Our balcony cabin was great - our first time on deck 12 (cabin A619) and we thoroughly enjoyed the different (higher) perspective this gives - we normally cruise on deck 9. Tim our room steward was attentive and patient when we stayed on our balcony all mornings some Antarctica days - we offered for him to skip our room but he always cleaned it twice daily and always with a smile. Then again we've never had a bad cabin steward on Princess (14th Princess cruise but 25th overall - only new to cruising and have only been doing it for 5 years).
Entertainment was more guests than the Princess singers and dancers, although we saw their show Encore for the third time on the third ship and we would be happy to watch this show on every cruise - its that good. On the Bayou was a great show they performed too.
3 guest lecturers were absolutely brilliant, as were the Ice Pilots. One poor comedian Steve Bruner had to compete with the American Superbowl one night and the Captain's free cocktail party on the other night. But those that missed his two shows missed some of the best comedy we've seen in a long time. Thanks for the memories!
Minimal shore excursions this cruise - Falkland Islands were the best and I'm glad i booked early and we saw the Gentoo penguins @ Bluff Cove - worth every cent!
Montevideo and Santiago okay - Punta Arenas we docked on a Sunday and there was hardly anything to do really. Ushuaia was good (train ride excursion) and had great souvenir shops - plus i bought a cheap ($45USD) big suitcase there for all my purchases.
If i knew the Drake Passage was as calm as we had it, i'd book this cruise again for next year.
i did not speak to any person on that cruise who didn't consider Captain Todd McBain the reason why the cruise was spectacular. And the ice pilot Bob said on the last day in his summary of the cruise the captain would take us places not on the itinerary (less icebergs than normal so we could go further than they have ever been able to on such a big ship), saying 'they'll get a kick outta this' or 'they're gonna love this'. Thank you captain - more captains should be like you and realise you guys have the capacity to make or break our holidays. Read Less