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The Patagonian Fjords and Cape Horn had been on the bucket list for a long time. Seeing the National Geographic TV programme about the trip pointed us in the right direction and we were not disappointed. We had some concerns that doing this straight after an amazing trip to Antarctica (see our review of Akademik Ioffe) would result in unfair comparisons and disappointments, but this did not happen. It did give some useful comparisons. Australis is purpose built for these trips with very shallow draft that allows her into places like Pia Glacier. It does mean that she rolls more than other ships her size but this is only an issue in fairly short stretches of open water, which are normally minimised with appropriate route selection. The ship has lots of comfortable lounge spaces for watching the amazing scenery pass by, but could improve how slide shows and movies are displayed as you need to be early for a decent screen view! The gym has been removed due to lack of use……. The cabin had plenty of space with the largest bathrooms we have had on a cruise ship, but effective storage space was sadly lacking. With only one small cupboard for hanging clothes you need to decide if this is wet or dry when gear gets wet. Food was good and choice was generally very good with buffet for breakfast and lunch. One disappointment was set places for dining so you had the same company at every meal – we would have preferred flexibility. Whilst wine was included with the meals, there was only ever one red and one white. The only beer on board was 4 different lagers, which is disappointing with the excellent pale ales and other options available in the area. The expeditions are well organised, although the group/language splits became rather confusing with some parties switching to which ever group was at the front of the queue each trip. The guides were very knowledgeable, but we found concentrating on commentary from non-native English speakers rather tiring at times. A very wet first day was handled well and the trips still well worth it. We appreciated the offering of 2 or 3 options for the land trips, depending on the amount and difficulty of walking you wanted to do. The Cape Horn landing was amazing and normally involves wet feet, but they handle it extremely well. You have an 80% chance of getting ashore there apparently. We watched the penguins from the zodiacs, which was a bit disappointing after the onshore experiences in Antarctica. Mauricio the expedition leader has an unequaled passion for Patagonia, its flora and fauna and his job. He knowledge lifts the whole experience to another level, so get to know him. Highlights were Cape Horn, sitting and listening to/watching Pia Glacier and the cruise down "Glacier Alley". Despite having been to Antarctica, the glacier experiences here were very different and just as impressive. In fairness we had better penguin encounters in Antarctica We would suggest the Punta Arenas to Ushuaia trip over the shorter return trip. Despite a few shortcomings we would not hesitate to recommend the trip unless you are more interested in what happens on the boat against what is outside.

Excellent expedition in an amazing part of the world

Stella Australis Cruise Review by Kiwi As

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
The Patagonian Fjords and Cape Horn had been on the bucket list for a long time. Seeing the National Geographic TV programme about the trip pointed us in the right direction and we were not disappointed. We had some concerns that doing this straight after an amazing trip to Antarctica (see our review of Akademik Ioffe) would result in unfair comparisons and disappointments, but this did not happen. It did give some useful comparisons.

Australis is purpose built for these trips with very shallow draft that allows her into places like Pia Glacier. It does mean that she rolls more than other ships her size but this is only an issue in fairly short stretches of open water, which are normally minimised with appropriate route selection.

The ship has lots of comfortable lounge spaces for watching the amazing scenery pass by, but could improve how slide shows and movies are displayed as you need to be early for a decent screen view! The gym has been removed due to lack of use……. The cabin had plenty of space with the largest bathrooms we have had on a cruise ship, but effective storage space was sadly lacking. With only one small cupboard for hanging clothes you need to decide if this is wet or dry when gear gets wet.

Food was good and choice was generally very good with buffet for breakfast and lunch. One disappointment was set places for dining so you had the same company at every meal – we would have preferred flexibility. Whilst wine was included with the meals, there was only ever one red and one white. The only beer on board was 4 different lagers, which is disappointing with the excellent pale ales and other options available in the area.

The expeditions are well organised, although the group/language splits became rather confusing with some parties switching to which ever group was at the front of the queue each trip. The guides were very knowledgeable, but we found concentrating on commentary from non-native English speakers rather tiring at times. A very wet first day was handled well and the trips still well worth it. We appreciated the offering of 2 or 3 options for the land trips, depending on the amount and difficulty of walking you wanted to do. The Cape Horn landing was amazing and normally involves wet feet, but they handle it extremely well. You have an 80% chance of getting ashore there apparently. We watched the penguins from the zodiacs, which was a bit disappointing after the onshore experiences in Antarctica.

Mauricio the expedition leader has an unequaled passion for Patagonia, its flora and fauna and his job. He knowledge lifts the whole experience to another level, so get to know him.

Highlights were Cape Horn, sitting and listening to/watching Pia Glacier and the cruise down "Glacier Alley". Despite having been to Antarctica, the glacier experiences here were very different and just as impressive. In fairness we had better penguin encounters in Antarctica

We would suggest the Punta Arenas to Ushuaia trip over the shorter return trip.

Despite a few shortcomings we would not hesitate to recommend the trip unless you are more interested in what happens on the boat against what is outside.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 328
Good size with huge window. Window can't be opened, so you need to tweak the heating (we struggled to get the cabin cooler, so not sure if there is air con as such). Bathroom was the most generous we have had on a ship. For a good size cabin, the lack of storage was frustrating. Only one small wardrobe with about 4 hangers - decide if it is for wet or dry gear! No desk or chair.