We prefer cruises that highlight nature. Even though the weather did not cooperate at times, the glaciers, mountains, penguins and natural beauty were outstanding. We chose to board the ship immediately upon arrival in Santiago Chile. Most on board had to travel long distances and boarding immediately was a mistake because you travel to the other side of the world. A do over would be to spend time in Santiago. However, there was no problem meeting HAL representatives and getting through immigration. We never saw Santiago. The trip to Valparaiso was longer than thought, an hour and a half. We did a guarantee cabin which turned out to be on the lowest deck (no problem), mid-ship, #1881 (great until our final stop in Buenos Aires). The first couple of nights at sea were a bit rocky but the ship handled it well and that was pretty much the worst of the bad ocean. Cape Horn was rocky but we were too excited to really notice it. We did Puerto Montt by public bus. It cost us a buck fifty to get to Puerto Varas. Of course, the overcast weather prevented us from seeing the snow capped volcano. A small cafe gave us excellent WIFI in Puerto Varas. Taking the public bus was easier when a nice couple from GB joined us (strength in numbers). There were many private hawkers trying to sign us up for private tours. In general, the nightly entertainment was pretty good, the food was high quality and consistent.
We mostly ate in the dining room which is also helpful to discourage you from piling in the food. The lounge entertainment got a bit old after 2-weeks. The service was really excellent. The cruisers were mostly from Canada, Australia and the British isles with a German contingent to boot. We Americans were not a majority at all. The next stop was Puerto Chacabuco where we took a HAL tour to Coyhaique. This was a long bus trip that gave us a taste of Chilean life, natural beauty was interesting, Coyhaique was a hit and miss shopping option but what saved the excursion was an end of day stop at a pleasant farm like set up with snacks and wine and sour drink of Chile. Next was sailing through the fjords, which was amazing. This part of the world is not populated but is quite unique and starkly beautiful. Ship wrecks were seen along the way. We could not get into our next stop at Punta Arenas which was one of the penguin viewing options. The winds were said to be too high to dock but we circled in the bay (not all that rough) for a while until the captain (PJ) had to give up. Once we left Punta Arenas we traveled through the fjords and the glaciers. Wow and Wow, gorgeous. Many photo opportunities.
We had excellent weather for our next stop in Ushuaia in Argentina. We signed up for a bus trip to Tierra Del Fuego national park. This is a lovely park bordering Argentina and Chile. Scenery was lovely but it did take up our time so we did not get to do much at this stop. All the guides we had were very good with English if not cute with some of their words. Then we headed for Cape Horn arriving at 7:30 am with choppy seas. This is one of those memories you cannot forget. We went back and forth with the Captain acknowledging the passing from the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific ocean with a ship horn sound off. Then we headed for the Falkland Islands with decent seas. The weather was chilly once we headed to Punta Arenas and in the Falklands, 50s then 40s Fahrenheit. We booked a tour with Patrick Watts in the Falklands and he was very good to meet us at the pier with our laid back Land Rover driver Hamish. We hooked up with another couple. We went quite a distance to see penguins out in the open at Bertha's beach and then to Gypsy Cove to see another kind of penguin. Comparing pictures afterwards, the HAL expensive tour option seemed to have better pictures. However, we got a good tour and excellent local flavor. We wound up at the Victory Pub where I was harassed (in jest) by Cathy the barmaid.
Bad weather day, we wound up taking a public bus for $1.50 to Puerto Varas. It was nice to go with another couple from Great Britain. Scenery was blocked by low clouds.
The ship could not dock due to high winds.
We walked from the pier and enjoyed a cafe and the architecture. We ran into a cab driver who offered us a city tour for $20 and since his English was good, we did it and it was well worth it. He dropped us back to the business area which was hopping when we got there as the city had awaken on a quiet Sunday.
We took two tours in Buenos Aires, the river tour which was interesting and showed us the suburbs of the city and then on the last day we took the Tango show and transfer tour. The stops were good for this tour (Eva Peron's resting place and the Italian section) but looking out the bus window at the sites one after the other is not very interesting. However, we got a good taste of the busyness of Buenos Aires. The Tango show was quite entertaining and an excellent lunch with beer and wine available. The transfer to the airport was smooth and the tour guide made sure we got to the right place.