Marina Cruise Review by dhmjdds
- Sail Date: December 2016
- Destination: South America
- Cabin Type: Penthouse Suite
We had one penthouse suite and two concierge staterooms. The penthouse suite was an excellent choice. Just big enough without being ridiculous (and ridiculously expensive), plenty of storage, room for our whole family to sit and play games or have drinks before dinner, very nice bathroom. They do have a clothesline in the tub, unlike some other ships (looking at you, Celebrity). The walk-in closet is great. Our butler, Churchill, was fabulous and a big plus for us, though we are pretty low maintenance.
I agree with the comments about the small size of the staterooms, concierge or otherwise. Really tight for space and storage. People always complain about the small size of Crystal's staterooms, but these seemed even smaller. The beds are really short for our 6-foot-plus family members. The closets seemed tiny too and clothes for two people for 17 days just wouldn't fit.
The food was pretty good, but I would not rate it "the best at sea." The breakfasts and lunches in the Terrace Cafe got really boring; to be fair, the area we were sailing was not the easiest for them to restock the ship at the various ports, so with a full ship that may have been a challenge. The food in Grand Dining Room (the main dining room) was uneven; I've had worse, but I've had better. The wine selection seemed small, especially by the glass. There are only four bars on the ship (not counting ones that serve the dining rooms/restaurants); one is at the pool, so when it was cold (a lot on this trip) that one is closed, then there's Martini's, Horizon, and the Casino Bar. None were as distinctive or interesting as the bars on Celebrity or Crystal. I would recommend to *not* get the beverage package, a lot of things are not included in either package, the wine selection on it is tiny, and it's really pricy. So caveat emptor with that.
The specialty restaurants were generally great; our favorite was Jacques, then Toscana, Polo, and last of all Red Ginger, which I found not good, except for the sashimi I could not find anything I liked at all. Not a big fan of the open seating in the main dining room; we like getting to know our servers and developing a relationship with them, which was essentially impossible. We never had the same one twice; they were all competent, but we missed that personal touch.
Two of us did the La Reserve wine-pairing meal, which was absolutely superb and highly recommended. We also reserved La Privee for Christmas dinner. This I would not recommend. There really isn't anything that special about it; you don't get anything for the $250 except the fancy room and a dedicated waiter, but since we never got more than one piece of bread (no basket, no additional bread served), for example, not sure what the benefit was. Maybe I missed something.
There were a lot of rough seas on this trip, which isn't surprising given the location, but the ships stabilizers, if used at all, weren't at all effective. We crossed the North Atlantic to Iceland last summer and it wasn't nearly as bad on that trip (on Crystal). Lots of seasick people on this trip. Be aware that they do not have scopolamine patches in the medical center, only dramamine, so if you are susceptible, be sure to plan ahead.
We did not do much with the entertainment except trivia most every day, which was always done by the cruise director, Peter, unlike most ships where some poor staff member gets stuck with the b*ing and moaning. Peter took no guff and really seemed to enjoy doing it most days. Trivia was great fun. Some of our party went to karaoke and the 70's dance party, which was described as a "bunch of drunk old people" by the younger ones in our group. Some people we did trivia with played bridge almost every day and said that was great and generally well organized and well attended. Also did two of the cooking classes, which are worth the price and fun to do.
Shore excursions through the ship were very well run and the ones we picked (tango class in Buenos Aires, biking in Montevideo, Sea Wolves Island in Punta del Este, Tierra Mayor trekking in Ushuaia, and Deer Island Adventure in Puerto Chacabuco) were all nice and active and had very good guides. The Tierra Mayor trekking was especially strenuous, which was great for us, but there were a few people who b*ed and moaned the entire time. We felt sorry for the guides who had to deal with them. Read the descriptions, people! These were all excursions that were included in our five "free" excursions, so I was pleased with all of them.
We rented vans in three ports, Puerto Madryn, Punta Arenas, and Puerto Montt since we had a pretty big group. That worked well for these ports, so we weren't on buses with dozens of people. We also arrived at Punta Tombo penguin reserve (out of Puerto Madryn) before any of the buses, so we had the place essentially to ourselves for awhile and could stay as long as we wanted. What a fabulous place! Definitely go there if you get the chance. It's a long drive; pretty much uses up the whole day.
Something else worth doing that takes up the whole day is booking with Penguin Travel on the Falklands to go see the king, magellanic, and gentoo penguins. You can't do this one through the ship. Wear/bring very warm clothes and rain gear. The weather in the Falklands can be astonishingly atrocious. You will be in a 4X4 for hours on very rough terrain just to get there. But the reward is amazing!
In Buenos Aires we stayed in San Telmo at a Hilton Curio Collection hotel. Wonderful place to stay. We didn't stay in a hotel in Valparaiso or Santiago on the other end. Took an all-day tour from Valparaiso to Santiago with South Excursions since our plane didn't leave until 10pm. This was an excellent value; stopped at a beautiful winery in the Casablanca valley on the way.
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