This was my 20th cruise on HAL, third to Antarctica, and one on which I attained 4-star Mariner status, so I was looking forward to a wonderful celebration of all the quality and excellence which introduced me to HAL 20 years ago.
Instead, I found a cruise whose guests included too high a proportion of those for whom etiquette was never a strong point, an indifferent cruise director and front staff, a captain conspicuous by his absence, and a ship whose dining room and Crow's Nest were an ice box (16 degrees Celsius). That the weather was foul for all but eight days did not help, and I feel truly sorry for the dining room and cabin stewards who now have to service four times as many guests, per staff member, as they did 20 years ago. How they manage to remain polite and cheerful under such strenuous conditions is beyond me. They deserve every dollar in gratuities that they receive, yet still many, especially those from countries in which tipping is not expected, remove tips from their onboard accounts. In addition, there were many customers who selfishly cut in lines in the Lido, when obtaining tender tickets, and boarding. At times it felt like we were with football hooligans, which management did nothing to control.
I have been taking this specific cruise now every five years, just to research for myself the ice depths in Antarctica as the itinerary is always the same, and it is interesting to compare what I observe with my own eyes to what other groups claim with regard to whether or not there is evidence of global warming. On this occasion, within Antarctica, the weather was worse than ideal, however, the Captain chose not to go even visit the Lemaire Channel (he announced he had spoken to other ships who said it was icy), and blamed ice for his decision not to sail behind Couverville Island, even though a Silversea boat traversed the channel, and which a different Captain on Zaandam had done five years ago.
Lovely scenery on a nice day. If weather is bad, don't get off ship!
When there were penguins at Seno Ottway, this was a wonderful stop. However, mining activities are believed by some to have led to the penguins' departure three years ago. So now you just have a pleasant little market place to buy wonderful woolley clothes, and take advantage of the free Chilean Wi-fi.
Captain elected not to dock. A shame as the sun was shining and I wanted to take a picture by the end of the world sign in my shorts and flip flops, as on my previous two trips, I was wearing waterproofs from head to toe.
I love the Falklands. The people are so polite.
The Uraguayan tour guide was so proud of his country it made the tour personal.
A typical South American city. We did enjoy our wanderings, and came across the National Toilet Museum (between Opera Colon and Recolettta). Fascinating.