We chose the Stella Australis as the culmination of a 3.5 week trip to Argentina and Chile. Cruising had never appealed to my husband but he was attracted by the fact we would be trekking in remote places and, of course, visiting Cape Horn. He also liked the fact that it was a small ship.
We departed from Punto Arenas and had a few hours to explore the place and stop for a Pisco Sour which was nice. Both embarkation and disembarkation were extremely slick.
The ship is very pleasant. Being smaller than many cruise ships, you have a main dining room and three bars/lounges. The cabins are fine. We were in a standard cabin and had tried to upgrade but it wasn't possible however the beds were comfortable, the view good and the place was scrupulously clean.
You are designated a table for dining at check in and you are there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It worked out fine for us as we were with a really interesting American couple but it might not have been so great if you didn't gel with your dining companions!
Being focused on trekking and the flora, fauna and geology of the area, the entertainment is really the bar plus a variety of presentations covering glaciology, indigenous people and the story of Ernest Shackleton. These were good but sometimes too long and nearly always started late as the crew fiddled with the technology. The other thing is that there was no quiet area as all of the lounge areas were being used for presentations in different languages so there was no escape apart from to your cabin.
The crew and the service was exemplary. Stella Australis should be very proud.
When ashore, it was really to trek and there were a variety of treks from easy to challenging. In our early 50's, we were among the younger clientele on board and the challenging treks didn't challenge us!
I wouldn't go again but only because I would want to go to another destination but I have to admit that I quite enjoy the cruising concept.
Functional, clean cabin. The upgraded ones give more space but were harder to come by.