This was our 16th cruise, 9th on Princess. We sailed from Valparaiso, Chile around Cape Horn to Buenos Aires, Argentina. We flew into Santiago Chile and spent one night in Valparaiso before boarding the ship. Embarkation was very chaotic. A strike by port workers that day prevented taxis from entering the port so we were dropped at stop where a shuttle bus would take us into the port, which was all a little confusing. Once in the terminal building confusion reigned. It was unclear where to leave your bags. Lines were not well defined and there weren't many staff available to clear things up. There was one other ship in port and I think both ships were delayed disembarking because of the strike and that was affecting our boarding process. After getting checked in, we then had to wait for another shuttle bus to take us to the ship. Overall it took us about 2 hours from arriving at the terminal to board the ship.
The Pacific was fairly rough when we were out in the open sea. The first 2 days were probably the worst. When we were in channels protected by islands it was fine, and the Atlantic side of the cruise was very smooth.
Our first port was Puerto Montt and there was another unannounced strike at this port as well. Picketers were blocking vehicles from leaving the port area. Eventually they did start letting 2 or 3 buses go at a time. We sat on our bus for over 2 hours before we were able to get out, and our excursion was cut short a bit as a result.
After the initial rough seas and strikes, everything went quite well. We had generally very good weather and we were able to make all the ports, which doesn't always happen in the part of the world. The Crown is starting to show its age somewhat. Our cabin had a very slow shower drain (which was quickly repaired by staff) and drawers that stuck in the cabinets and were difficult to open, but all in all we were comfortable in our cabin and service was excellent.
Food and service in the Botticelli dining room were very good. There was a nice selection at dinner and we were very satisfied with everything we had to eat. The buffet was ok, nothing to shout about but it wasn't terrible either. I require a gluten free diet and Princess always takes very good care of me in the MDR and they always have a gluten free dessert in the buffet.
Entertainment was generally good. The magic and music show in the main theater was outstanding. Onboard activities were generally well run and enjoyable. Trivia was very popular. The port lecturer, Julio, was very informative and entertaining. His presentations were a big hit, always with standing room only in the Princess theater, so much so that they should have scheduled him twice for each of his presentations so everyone could have had a seat.
The ports were all great. The Falkland Islands was the best. We had a beautiful day and the Bluff Cove Penguin excursion was one of the best we have ever taken. It included an entertaining 4 mile off road ride to get to the cove and then time to spend with some King and Gentoo penguins. And the town of Stanley was very enjoyable. Puerto Madryn was the least enjoyable port. We did not take an excursion there and there isn't a whole lot to see or do in the town. Temperatures ranged from the low 50s at the southern end of the continent and close to 100 in Montevideo and Buenos Aires.
Disembarkation was a breeze--fastest we ever had--about 5 minutes. Well organized, easy to find luggage, and we were out of there. We stayed in Buenos Aires for 3 days following the cruise and enjoyed that.
Cabin showed its age a bit, but it was fine. Service was excellent.
Valpo is ok to spend a night. Pretty, hillside city. Stray dogs running all over the place. We stayed at the Hotel Verso which was pretty good. It was pretty high up on the hillside with excellent views. We also had an excellent dinner at the hotel.
This included a 2 hour ferry ride to Magellenic Island where the penguins are. The ferry was quite large and it was a pleasant enough ride. The island is excellent. Many close up views of the penguins.View All 32 Penguin Reserve Reviews
Got a close up view of all the birds, sea lions, and lighthouse in the Beagle Channel. Weather was very good and the scenery was excellent.
We just walked around the old town for 2-3 hours and enjoyed it very much. The cathedral is beautiful and there were interesting buildings, shops, and people watching.
Very colorful area. Pleasant to walk around.
Saw Evita's tomb. Could have spent a little more time here.
one of the best excursions we have ever taken. Very well organized. Fun 4 mile ride in off road vehicle to get to and from the cove. Gentoo and King penguin colonies there. Also enjoyed looking around Stanley, a very picturesque town.View All 37 Gentoo Penguins in Bluff Cove Reviews
The excursion itself is a very good one. We were delayed by 2 hours because of a strike at the port and then we had some rain. But the Petrohue Falls are beautiful. We also had a pleasant cruise on the lake, but rain and drizzle prevented us from seeing all the beautiful scenery. The excursion included an excellent lunch in Puerto Varas.View All 36 Petrohue Falls Reviews