Seeing Patagonia has been on my bucket llst for a while, and we had high expectations for this trip. We booked a year in advance, planned a week in Santiago before the cruise and a week after in Buenos Aires. In a word, everything was AMAZING. This will be a long review wiih lots of recommendations. :-)
We stayed at a lovely, family-run, small hotel in Santiago -- Hotel Mery. Highly recommended. The hotel provided a driver to pick us up at the airport. Juan Carlos was waiting for us at arrivals, and it was a pleasant ride to the hotel. He pointed out places of interest along the way. We did the Hop On/Hop Off bus, and I strongly recommend buying the two-day pass which gives you access to both routes and the funicular. We were lucky enough to be there for the opening night of the symphony, and we got to hear an amazing performance of Beethoven's Ninth.
After a few days in the city, we wanted to get out into nature and hired Juan Carlos to drive us into the Andes on Thursday and to the port on Friday where we stayed overnight and boarded the Star on Saturday. He even stopped at an artisan village along the way -- Pomaire -- where we were able to buy some ceramics and have a typical lunch.
I'm always impressed at the efficient design on ship cabins, whether it's a cruise ship or a 26-foot sailboat. All the nooks and crannies provide plenty of space for clothes and other "stuff."
We travel with magnetic hooks that really enhance our ability to hang caps, bags, sweaters around the cabin. If you don't have any, they are definitely worth the investment.
We wandered around town. When it started pouring rain, we headed to a cafe with WIFI. Some good souvenir shopping near the port.
Took the shuttle to Gypsy Cove to see penguins. Next time, I would book an independent tour to see different species of penguins. The Magellanic penguins were adorable, but I feel I missed something by only seeing one species.
Wandered around the city and admired the architecture and artisan works.