1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Royal Caribbean International
  4. Royal Caribbean International Cruise Reviews

15 Royal Caribbean Santiago (Valparaiso) Cruise Reviews

We had chosen this cruise for the itinerary and sights to see, and had planned and looked forward to it for three years, but as we were about to begin our cruise in Valparaiso we were denied entrance to the ship because we had no ... Read More
We had chosen this cruise for the itinerary and sights to see, and had planned and looked forward to it for three years, but as we were about to begin our cruise in Valparaiso we were denied entrance to the ship because we had no Brazilian visas ! After the initial shock, we found that there were many others , 30 or more, in the same situation. No help was offered, other than being told we had two choices: go home or catch the ship in Punta Arenas (4th day,) IF we could get our Brazilian visas in time. Many were told that their luggage COULD NOT be retrieved to be given back to them. After the ship had left with many of the people's luggage already on board, including breathing machines, and Chemo medications, a bus was found to deliver some folks to Santiago by 11 PM. My husband and I had already paid $200.00 to go back to Santiago. 19 of us stayed in a hotel and decided to go to the Brazilian Consulate the next morning, where we explained our situation and were told that if we would do the leg work and accomplish each step individually and in person we MIGHT get the visas in time to fly to meet the ship. Each of us had to turn in our passports to the Brazilian Consulate, then go to get passport pictures taken and do an electronic application for the visa, scanning in our pictures, using one of two hotel computers. None of us were familiar with the process or the computers and the computers were timed to give only 1/2 hour for each use. Many attempts were made by each of our group of 19, and 24 hours later we all had finally had submitted the visa apps.electronically. Some pictures were unable to be scanned in, so they were taken to the consulate when we went to check to see if they had received all of our applications. Then we had to find foreign currency exchanges to change $190.00 per person into Chilean money - banks wouldn't do it for us - and take the money back to the consulate. We were given deposit slips and told that we needed to take them with the money to the consulate's bank and make the deposit, then bring back the receipts to the consulate.We were told to check back with them in several hours and maybe some of the visas would be ready. When we checked, ours were ready, so we went to the Lan Chile airlines office and purchased our flights to Punta Arenas, the next port for the ship. We flew out of Santiago at 2:30 AM, arrived in Punta Arenas at 5:30 AM, found a motel where we rented rooms for two days so that we could check in early, get some sleep, then spend the night and meet the ship early on the day it docked. The rest of the party ended flying at 2:30 AM and arriving at 5:30AM, just as the ship was pulling in. We all had missed the most spectacular part of the cruise,first four exciting days, the cruising along the coast, the views of the Andes, the glaciers, the ice and the beauty of that part of the world. All of our party made it, but with much anger, anxiety, monetary expense, aggravation and the feeling that all of this could have been avoided if RCL had let it be known ahead of time that Brazil required a visa. Once on the ship we found that it was in quite a state of disarray, compared to other RCL ships we have been on. Our Grand Suite was nowhere as nice as others we had been in, and amenities seemed to be lacking. Quality of entertainment, quality of food, variety of music and dancing -all were less than expected. The ship seemed crowded, the Diamond Lounge spilled out into an area where games were being loudly led by Portugese staff who couldn't be understood in English. The Concierge Lounge was also crowded and spilled into the Viking Lounge. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We chose this cruise because of the Itinerary. With the end point being Brazil, this offered us an opportunity to extend our vacation and see some additional sights (i.e.: Rio De Janeiro, Iguazu Falls. The logistics for getting to the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the Itinerary. With the end point being Brazil, this offered us an opportunity to extend our vacation and see some additional sights (i.e.: Rio De Janeiro, Iguazu Falls. The logistics for getting to the embarkation and disembarkation points can be very expensive. A shuttle trip of 1 1/2-2hrs is needed in Valparaiso Chile and Santos, Brazil. Overall Rhapsody staff did very well accommodating language differences. The Food in the Windjammer was acceptable, although at times impossible to obtain seating. The main dining room cuisine was great with a variety of choices. The portions were acceptable. Sometimes trying to obtain a second bread roll was met with a funny look. We Americans love our bread :) Chops Grille steakhouse was extraordinary. The entertainment could have included a little more variety. I am not an opera or piano, violin aficionado so to have the entire evening performance with one discipline was a little trying for me. The disembarkation at ports was at time extremely difficult with my elderly parents. The were many ways of emptying into the small lower decks which made it impossible to know where the end of the lines were. Tempers were often an issue. Plus if a Royal employee with an excursion crowded in, all bets are off you will thrown off. Perhaps an earlier Excursion only exit would be more amenable to everyone. My guest room was unfortunately to close to the Centrum. Even though the solid door is closed at 10pm, people going to their cabins open the door and leave it opened. I had to get up and close the door several times. Shore excursions were extremely expensive through Royal. I would say a small mark up would be acceptable but at time the excursion price was %100 more than any independently reserved. Overall a good deal for the price paid. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Royal Caribbean Cruises; Rhapsody of the Seas - April /May 2016 Cruise Chile to San Paulo Brazil with two day stop over before cruise in Santiago Chile (19 nights in total). ... Read More
Royal Caribbean Cruises; Rhapsody of the Seas - April /May 2016 Cruise Chile to San Paulo Brazil with two day stop over before cruise in Santiago Chile (19 nights in total). --------------------------------------------------------------- My wife and I have been cruising now for 40 years altogether, we always pick the itinary over the shipping Company therefore only cruising with this company Royal Caribbean Cruises 4 or 5 times. The last time was two or three years ago and we would just like to let people know the subtle in some cases and not so subtle changes that have been made without telling the passengers b before they book. Now you have to accrue points by spending money with the Company to get a better service, a service that was always expected at all times otherwise now your just a economy no frills passenger. To a new person going cruising the first time I suppose it looks good but there have been cut backs with crew making their workload crazy, staff in the Restaurant and buffet are so short and nobody seems to be bothered but just smile and tough it out except for one lady waiter cracking up one night and running out)?, The whole atmosphere has changed dramatically. In the formal Restaurant it always took two hours to get our meal served and finished (50 minutes before ANY service if you don’t count the glass of water)!! THE FOOD IN THE BUFFET WAS ALWAYS COLD. AND IN THE RESTUARANT ONY 50% HOT Of course the trips are so expensive it’s ridiculous, 4 hour trip EACH WAY to see penguins (hundreds of pounds)? Taking over 8 hours in total, just as an example. Hand disinfectant machines were evident at most locations but an attendant only accompanying the machine at Restaurant and buffet, it’s a shame a hint was needed to some passengers as in any ship but anywhere else on board with no attendant very few used them, this tended to result in diarrhoea all over the place in the toilets on decks. Leaving the ship at the end of the cruise was chaotic, people arguing and shoving in the massive queues for passports and customs, lots of handbags at dawn sort of thing, to make it worse the Captain came along with a lady putting her in front of us who had been waiting for 45 minutes so far and my wife asked about the queue jumping being wrong he just looked then walked off. (Even he didn’t give a fig). Nobody was taking ANY responsibility whatsoever just passing the buck to someone else etc etc. A very expensive holiday that was a nightmare, the weather was as expected so that wasn’t an issue but he decided NOT to call at two place one being round the horn as it was rough, taking into account we had been in 30ft swells and very large wave all day anyway. Many got the impression he just wanted a quite life but we certainly cannot challenge his judgement, but it did seem silly. After 40 years cruising worldwide under our belt this one has made a easy decision for us to pack it all in starting with the normally good in the past Royal Carrabean. The ships are so large now that for the Company it’s just a case of fill the cabins and smile all the time at the passengers even though your tips are now inclusive and you don’t have to work for them now. Our tip for future cruise DONT go on these massive ships they are very impersonal, not as friendly as the small cruise ships. We both were ill and still are over a week after the end of the cruise, toilet, toilet, toilet. Very disappointed, NO. Feel as we have been ripped off passengers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Purchased this cruise to go around the Horn and visit Cape Horn, which did not happen. The dining room staff were very slow and inexperience. They seem to have a lack of customer service and a "don't care" attitude. Had to ... Read More
Purchased this cruise to go around the Horn and visit Cape Horn, which did not happen. The dining room staff were very slow and inexperience. They seem to have a lack of customer service and a "don't care" attitude. Had to ask our dining room waiters each night to bring the wine I purchased to the table. Lobster was not served any night on this 14 night cruise. Very poor communications from guest services. Could not get an answer from anyone regarding the Meet and Mingle meeting. Call twice to guest services and was promised to get a return call but no one ever call me back with the information. Only by talking with other cruisers did I find out the Meet and Mingle meeting information. No one received the usual notices in their cabins regarding this meeting. Entertainment was not up to the usual RCL standard. Shore excursions were very expensive and did not meet expectations. Embarkation staff were rude and discourteous. We paid for the bus transfer to the airport at disembarkation & was directed to the wrong bus by the local agent outside who was in charge of loading the buses. Fortunately as we were getting on the bus, a RC staff lady recognized us and directed us to the correct bus. This cruise was a very big disappointment and very expensive. The requirements of a Brazil visa and the Argentina "reciprocity fee" should have been explained by the "Next Cruise" agent when we purchased this cruise. We've sailed over 30 cruises with RC and this cruise was a very big disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I am Sooo Done with Royal!!! I am a veteran of more than 50 cruises, many (Emerald) with RCI. This cruise from Valpariso (3/27/16) to Sao Paulo was a total disaster. When we arrived at the port in Valpariso we were ushered to the ... Read More
I am Sooo Done with Royal!!! I am a veteran of more than 50 cruises, many (Emerald) with RCI. This cruise from Valpariso (3/27/16) to Sao Paulo was a total disaster. When we arrived at the port in Valpariso we were ushered to the "Priority"line for Emerald /Diamond customers. Ha! We waited for over two hours in line while the incompetent check in people took their sweet time. Where were the Royal executives to maneuver the lines? The checkin person told me this was first day on the job! She took my credit card and scanned it. I watched her do it. The windjammer was terrible. Not one seat was available at any regular eating time. we had to eat standing up. The "top tier" brunch was so crowded that we had to ingest our food while standing. Not a seat was available. Imagine! The entertainment was below par. not up to normal standards on other Royal cruises. Upon disembarking in Brazil, we also waited two hours in a priority line. When we actually arrived to scan my sea pass card at exit, I was held up from leaving with my group because I was told that I had a cash account which had not been satisfied. I had visited the cruise services desk for a copy of my account on at leas 4 occasions during the cruise and was never told that I had a cash account. I argued that I never had a cash account and in fact my credit card was successfully scanned at the port in Valpariso. Nonetheless, I had to fight my way back to guest services and wait in a giant line....again. The rep said there was no credit card on file for me. Imagine!!!!! Why did they not notify me in my room during the 14 days on the cruise but waited to embarrass me at exit? Royal....I have had it with you. Never again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We did this cruise from Feb 28 to Mar 13 2016. It took us to Puerto Montt, Puntas Arenas, the Chilean Fjords, Ushuaia (the end of the world port, southern most city in the world), then up to Montevideo and Buenos Aires. About 5,000 miles ... Read More
We did this cruise from Feb 28 to Mar 13 2016. It took us to Puerto Montt, Puntas Arenas, the Chilean Fjords, Ushuaia (the end of the world port, southern most city in the world), then up to Montevideo and Buenos Aires. About 5,000 miles in total. Going down in that area you can't be sure of the weather. We started out with very good weather and had cool days and blue skies going down the Chilean coast. Saw volcano Orsono (looks like Mt Fuji). The cruising through the Chilean Fjords was awesome, easily as pretty as Alaska. Saw glaciers and the narrow fjords surrounded by mountains were awesome. Puntas Arenas is a small town we walked on our own - saw a few small museums, had a beer. Ushuaia is at the foot of big mountains. The air is crystal clear. Toured apart of the huge Tierra del Fuego National Park for some gorgeous sights. We did not get to go to Cape Horn - high winds and high seas, and heavy rain made the captain's decision easy. We also did not get to Puerto Madryn due to high winds. Clear skies, but 60 knot wins on the stern. Ship was remarkably stable. Then we got to the big cities, Montevideo (which was nice and manageable) and Buenos Aries (which was big and pretty in places and poor in places). The ship's crew was awesome. Great and friendly service. Food was quite good, some of the entertainment was down right excellent (and we cruise a lot and can be picky). Captain was apologetic about the weather and even gave a15% credit off a next cruise (nice touch). I would strongly recommend this cruise for those of you who want to see a beautiful part of the world and are willing to take chances with weather and are comfortable being a little out of your comfort zone culturally speaking. English is spoken by some, but not like in Europe. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
It is a very nice cruise for the price. We really liked the itinerary. It was a truly international cruise with many cruisers from US, Canada, Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico. Meeting people from variety of nations was the most ... Read More
It is a very nice cruise for the price. We really liked the itinerary. It was a truly international cruise with many cruisers from US, Canada, Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico. Meeting people from variety of nations was the most enjoyable experience. Obviously, many of us were disappointed as we could not got to Cape Horn and Puerto Madryn due to bad weather. The RCL is promising 15% of the cost of the cruise as credit on any of their next cruises. That is appreciated. The quality of the food in the Windjammer and main dining area was OK. The Windjammer was extremely crowded at peak times. The service at lunch time in the main dining room was very poor. There were very few options for us vegetarians although they did try to satisfy with whatever we requested. Compared to previous cruises, we felt that their were not enough activities, especially when couple of port calls were missed. Bad weather made it difficult on walk on upper decks. But, we knew about the potential about bad weather and do not blame RCL. In general, it is the best vacation for the money. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
The ship is still beautiful, my only negative towards the ship is that they have taken away bar space & other venue space to cater for the totally unnecessary paid Restaurants.(Which we never have & never will use !!!) The ... Read More
The ship is still beautiful, my only negative towards the ship is that they have taken away bar space & other venue space to cater for the totally unnecessary paid Restaurants.(Which we never have & never will use !!!) The embarkation was an absolute debacle & people were lined up in the hot sun for at least 2 hours before they even got close to getting inside the shed, let alone checked in. We were VERY lucky this time as we had a Junior Suite & got checked in almost immediately however, our friends that we arrived with, had to wait over 2 hours. Our cabin JS 8082 was sensational. Heaps of room, quiet, a lovely sitting area & the BEST cabin Steward, Helena, ever !!! The service at night in the Dining Room was excellent with the waiters we tried to stay with on My time dining. Some of the ones on the other tables were hit & miss. The food however, was pretty good. A good variety & good quality. Forget breakfast or lunch in the MDR, it was like half the staff were missing, which I found out later was true. SOME of the staff only wanted to work the night shift so would call in sick for the breakfast & lunch shifts & the other poor staff would have to work twice as hard to make up for them. These same staff, when they did decide to turn up, were absolutely useless anyway & just stood around & watched the good staff work !! All the same, it took 45 minutes on 2 occasions to get served our meal at both breakfast & lunch & on a couple of occasions, the meals were stone cold & had to be sent back!! Actually, if it wasn't for Emminne's presence in the Dining room at all times, we wouldn't have bothered going there at all. She was AMAZING !!! Windjammer food was pretty good though. A bit hard to get a table for 2 at breakfast & lunch as they didn't really want you to sit at a table for 2 so they made it really difficult to get one even though there were many spare ones. I had a cold for half the cruise so didn't really want to share that but, each time, they made us wait 5 to 15 minutes before they would allow us a table for 2. Very unhappy about the guy in the Restaurant with his walkie talkie who was responsible for this !!! We called him the MDR Nazi !!! We ended up having breakfast most days in the Park café which was great !! We had some rough weather on this cruise but Rhapsody handled it really well & we NEVER felt queasy at all even though sometimes the winds were blowing at 90klms. Not too much ricking & rolling considering the weather we had.We had to miss a couple of ports because of this. We stayed an extra night in Ushuaia as we couldn't get off the wharf as the wind was so strong & we didn't get to go around the horn because of the wind but we were very pleased with the captain's decision on this one as we could have been blown onto rocks or anything as the wind was coming from the west. A wise & safe decision Captain Dimas. Then we had to miss Puerto Madryn as, when we got close, the authorities decided it was too dangerous & they closed the port. Ditto with Punta Del ESte so we went straight to Montivideo where we overnighted & RCCL supplied free shuttles to Punta del Este for anyone who wanted to go. Well done RCCL !!! The Lectures by Patrick Goodness were fantastic & we tried not to miss any of them. WE used the ship's shore excursions a few times & they were great. The Production shows were good except for one singer (the blonde wigged one) who was off-key most of the time & it was like nails on a blackboard. The dancers were excellent !! Some of the headliners were not to our taste but you have to cater for the majority I guess !! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We took a 15 night cruise from Santiago -> Buenos Aires with a family of 5. Pros: 1. Great itinerary even though we weren't able to make a few stops due to inclement weather. Chile has a long coastline and most parts south ... Read More
We took a 15 night cruise from Santiago -> Buenos Aires with a family of 5. Pros: 1. Great itinerary even though we weren't able to make a few stops due to inclement weather. Chile has a long coastline and most parts south of Puerto Montt are not accessible to cars, so this cruise was the best way to see this pristine part of Patagonia. 2. Food: Dinner at the main dining were great. Lunch at main dining was slow, but had much better food than the buffet. Service was warm but slow. They were very friendly towards our family of 5, which included a toddler. 3. International crowd. Mostly older, sophisticated people from around the world: Many South Americans, Germans, Brits, Americans, Australians, Asians, etc.. Few first-time cruisers and we were one of about 12 families who brought their little kids. 4. Entertainment programs were great. It helped that many of the organizers were Brazilians and they knew how to have fun and engage the crowd. 5. Other amenities: Sauna was great, fitness room was adequate, running deck was nice. There were enough activities to do on a small-sized ship. Cons: 1. Smoking. Smoking was allowed in the indoor casino and the ventilation system was non-existent. The Casino was in a central location on deck 5 and smoke would reek throughout deck 5 to the floors above and below. We had to either walk outside or go several decks below just to get from one end of the ship to the other. One night, they banned smoking in the Casino after 1800 and it made a huge difference. 2. Embarkment/Disembarkment: The security people, especially the bag scanners were generally quite rude for no good reason. The process was very slow at times. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
First, I'll start with the positives. The ports were amazing, the staff was very friendly, the ship is just the right size to tour the Chilean Fjords. The captain was a very friendly and noticeable person. For the most part, he ... Read More
First, I'll start with the positives. The ports were amazing, the staff was very friendly, the ship is just the right size to tour the Chilean Fjords. The captain was a very friendly and noticeable person. For the most part, he kept us informed of what was going on, whether it was good, like cruising right alongside of the glacier, or bad, like being stuck in Ushuaia and missing Puerto Madryn. Neither RC or the captain have control over the weather, so they cannot be faulted for the missing ports or the extra day in Ushuaia. There were 2 different groups of dancers on the ship. The WA dancers from Brazil and Igor and Anastasia from Belarus. Both were awesome! The instructions they gave were so much fun and watching them was so inspiring. The lecturer, Patrick Goodness, was really good. In addition to being informative, he was an excellent speaker. This was a very nice surprise on this cruise. The nightly shows, for the most part, were excellent. The dancers, magicians, and even the production cast were very good. (Except, as someone else pointed out, the blond wigged girl. Poor girl must be tone deaf). Check in was a disaster, even in the priority line. Enough said. The ship, though still beautiful, is in need of repair or overhaul. The showers are the old type with the curtain rather than the rounded shower door, there is plenty of rust on the balconies, and many of the cup holders in the Broadway Theatre are either broken or rusty. Even though the ship is primarily smoke free, smoking in the Casino caused issues for non-smokers. The layout of the ship forces passengers in the middle or back of the ship to walk thru the smoke filled casino to get to the theater. The circulation is so poor that you can usually smell the smoke in the Centrum area as well. This, to me, was a very negative aspect of this cruise. The passenger list was very diverse and people came from all over the world for this cruise. Because of that, and the limitations on liquids enforced by the airlines, I think RC could be slightly more generous with it's bathroom supplies. They give the smallest bar of soap you have ever seen, something in a container that they call shampoo, and no conditioner or body lotion. Since other cruises I have been on supplied these very essential items, I was not prepared for this. Other reviewers have said the food in the Main Dining room was OK. I will not be so generous. I thought it was pretty bad. I was on Jewel of the Seas in January of this same year and I will say there was no comparison with the food. Even though, for the most part, the menu was the same, the preparation and presentation were no where near the same. For example, a Chicken pasta dish was noodles with cream of chicken soup on top. I had the horseradish crusted fish on both cruises. It was very good on Jewel and, literally, awful on Rhapsody. Escargot was smothered in cheese, no shrimp cocktail, which is usually standard on other RC cruises. We had lobster night on Jewel, no such thing on Rhapsody. And the desserts were weird. For example, the one that was offered every night was "Baileys Creme Brûlée " . Really? You need to add Irish liquor to a french dessert? At every serving we were asked if we wanted pepper on our food. If the chef was doing his job we wouldn't need to add pepper. The excursion offered by RC were really good. The tour guides were knowledgable and friendly. My complaint is that they cancelled excursions with only hours notice, not giving us time to book something privately. For example, in Buenos Aires there were 2 "food" excursions offered. Both were cancelled the night before because of lack of participation. I felt like they should have given more notice. If they notified us earlier that there was little participation in these excursions and they would have to cancel one or both, guests may have switched from one to the other. I know I would have, but by the time they gave the notice, both were cancelled and the other interesting tours in Buenos Aires were filled. There was not enough activities for the sea days, and there was no contingency plan for the unexpected sea days. The day we were stuck in Ushuaia, we were not allowed to get off the boat, yet there was nothing to do on the boat. On one of the sea days, they decided to empty both pools, even though this was the only activity available. This was actually only the second day that the outdoor pool was even open, so why did it have to be emptied when we could finally use it. Overall, I'm happy I took this cruise, but I think I'll stick to Celebrity or Princess in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Our Mariner of the Seas TransHorn was outstanding! There were several glitches, that at the time were very annoying. However, looking back, they were just part of an itin and new crew and staff that were different and subject to ... Read More
Our Mariner of the Seas TransHorn was outstanding! There were several glitches, that at the time were very annoying. However, looking back, they were just part of an itin and new crew and staff that were different and subject to mistakes.We met friends in Miami and flew LAN overnight to Santiago. Some confusion at the gate, but after boarding it was really a nice flight and great service from LAN. Immigration and customs were no problem. Had time in Santiago for a very much needed visit to a coffee shop for coffee/tea and snacks. Our cruise line bus to Valpo was right on time and the 1 1/2 hour ride was itself an interesting excursion, having never done this route before.Boarding in Valpo was the first glitch. No D/D+ check in lines were visible. Everyone in a big crowd. Walking to a restroom I spotted a nearly empty line, kinda hidden, with a red carpet and flowers, but no signage. Ran back, grabbed our friends and got in this line. It was D/D+, but not advertised. We were very soon at the check in and something seemed wrong, as the clerk was confused and asking many questions behind the counter to a supervisor."Something wrong?", we asked. "Yes, we have no sea passes for you. I will have to give you a handwritten boarding pass and when you board take it to guest relations and they will give you a sea pass."As everyone left the terminal with their sea passes in hand, we were carrying a little handwritten boarding pass on a 3x5 piece of cardboard.In Valpo there is a shuttle bus that takes you from the terminal to the ship. It was about a two mile ride around the dock area to Mariner. We were there for two days and had to ride the shuttle a few times for excursions, etc.Arriving pier side at Mariner we joined the line to board. Everyone's sea pass was "ding, ding, ding . . ." as we boarded, except us. As I gave the RCL person our little card board pass he, of course, was puzzled and called for a supervisor. A phone call to the terminal soon got us aboard and up to Guest Relations.We were now ready to sail to the "End of the World"! Mariner around the Horn, Part 2 --------------------------------------------------------------------Well, not quite ready to sail. We were to spend two days in Valparaiso, leaving at 5p.m. on Wednesday 2/2.After finally boarding on Tuesday, we grabbed lunch in the WJ, went to our cabin, JS 9628, which is our favorite Voyager class cabin. It's on the port side on the hump, right near the CL. Very convenient. Our cabin attendant, Carlos Brown, was exceptional. He couldn't do enough to help us throughout the whole 14 day adventure. He informed us that our luggage could be several hours away. We decided to meet our friends and take a walk into town.Mariner was docked just a short walk from the entrance to the pier from the town. As we walked down the pier, there was a woman advertising a free ride to "the shopping district", than a free ride back. Several people were taking the offer, we joined them. We rode in a van for about 3 or 4 miles before we reached a retail area and the store that she worked for. It was a gift/clothing/souvenir shop. As the others walked inside, I walked a block or two in each direction and saw no signs of anymore shopping. Several businesses and stores, but nothing a tourist would enjoy. We bought a few trinkets there and than asked to be transported back to the pier. No problem.After being dropped off at the pier we walked about the area for an hour or so, just looking around. There is a small park nearby, a Western Union that all the crew uses for phone calls, money changing, sodas and chips, etc. We used the restrooms.We decided we needed to take a break and look for the Valpo "Irish Pub", which was recommended by someone on board and was said to be close by. We stopped at a Chilean Tourist office nearby and I, in my broken Espanol, asked "where is the Irish Pub?" He replied, "BRB", and disappeared, returning in a few minutes with a huge pile of tourist posters! He insisted I take them. Talk about something lost in the translation! They were extremely nice posters, but they couldn't help us find the pub. We eventually distributed the posters to the Mariner staff and crew and they all said they would hang them in their cabins.By this time, the heat, the redeye flight, the time change, all were catching up to us. Even though the LAN flight was very nice, none of us got much sleep. And we were up almost 36 straight hours. It was time to go back to the ship and take a break.Arriving back to 9628, we found our luggage had arrived and also a bottle of champagne from C&A. We opened the champagne and enjoyed it while unpacking. That's the only way to unpack.Dinner the first night was, of course, casual. We had a table for four and enjoyed our first dinner on Mariner with our good friends from Miami. Drinks in the CL before dinner, as usual, and a couple after dinner bevvies. It's been two long days travelling (Mon.-Tues.) and we were ready for an early bedtime.Tuesday we had the ship's excursion, "Valpo, Vina del Mar and the Beaches". It was four hours and very well done. City tour, shopping stops, photo ops, and a ride outside of town to Vina del Mar. VdM is the local seaside resort with stunning beaches, resorts and related attractions. Extremely nice. On the way back we stopped at a resort hotel for snacks and bevvies, all included in the tour. We headed for the CL prior to dinner. The concierge was Diego. What an excellent host he was and a terrific help when you needed his assistance. What a pleasure to see him most evenings. Our dinner was late, at 8:30. It again was casual tonight and our servers were as great as they were the first evening. They maintained the same level of service throughout the entire cruise and we tipped them appropriately. They were really an excellent team.We never went to any of the nightly shows. Usually Bolero's, Viking Crown and/or Casino after dinner. We seldom stayed up late. We got up early and kept busy all day, and after a late dinner and some small after dinner recreation, it was usually lights out by midnight.Tomorrow is Day 3, and a day at sea. The Cruise Critic/RCL Meet and Mingle is at 10:30 a.m., and a very special dinner tonight. DAY 3, At Sea -------------------------------------------------------------------------------The M&M was in the Viking Crown lounge and hosted by Leo (cruise director) and Rod (activities director). It drew a very nice crowd, maybe 100 or so. There was an excellent spread of appetizers and N/A bevvies. Leo and Rod were entertaining and informative and gave away the usual prizes. We managed to meet some new faces to tie in with their names here on CC. That was fun.Leo and Rod also hosted the daily "Morning Show" on the on board RCCL TV. They talkedabout the day's activities, etc., and were a hoot with their added comedy. We watchedit every morning with our tea, except for one morning. That show never made the airbecause the guys had too much fun the night before. Good for them! We had to sneak out of the M&M a few minutes early because of an appointment with the LA, Sandra. We already had the Voyager TA booked for October, but wanted to add the 8 day from Venice to make a B2B on Voyager. While at it, we added a four day pre-cruise tour in the Italian Alps at Stresa. Sandra was very efficient and a pleasure to work with. We would sea her a few more times during the cruise.Dinner was special tonight. We were invited to dinner at the Captain's Table. Mariner's Captain is Per Kristoffersen and we met him for the first time on Mariner last year when she sailed from San Pedro. We spoke with him several times back then, and it was great fun to sea him again. He has his lovely family, wife and two children, on board until they reach Europe after the TA. Needless to say, the dinner event was outstanding.DAY 4, Chilean FjordsToday we soaked in the splendor of the Chilean fjords. What wonderful views, kinda like an Alaskan cruise, but at the other end of the world. Water was very smooth and temp in the low 50's.We attempted to use the computers on board today. Neither one of our sea passes worked. A message said, "No account info available. Go to Guest Relations". Arriving at GR, with both cards, I was told, "You've failed to put a credit card on file"."Excuse me? We've been charging on board four days now, and you tell me you don't have our card?"Somehow, I learned later, that Mariner accounting deleted a huge amount of credit cards from their system, causing tremendous confusion. We would have felt better if they would have come clean originally, instead of trying to shift the blame. There were other IT issues on board, but not worth mentioning here.Other than the IT issue, the Chilean fjords made for an outstanding Day 4!DAY 5, Strait of MagellanCaptain Per warned us last night of high seas and winds when we sail the Magellan Strait. Seas reached 30 feet high and winds approached 70mph! The outside decks were closed for a few hours. Mariner rocked and rolled a bit, but really nothing to worry about. It was actually a lot of fun. Everyone who signed up for this trip expected it. Never saw anyone sea sick. Not that there probably were a few, just never saw them. It is difficult how this passage was made in the old wooden sailing ships of years ago. And, here we are, near the end of the world with the sun setting tonight at 9:42p.m.Tomorrow, we tender in to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world!We've reached the End of the World! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------Day 6, Super Bowl Sunday, Ushuaia, Argentina, "The End of the World". Ushuaia makes the claim that it is the southernmost city in the world. More on this later, when we stop at the challenging jurisdiction in Chile.We have to tender in to town because Mariner is too big to dock there. The Ushuaia docks are big enough to handle the daily flow of shipping there, Mariner is just the odd exception.Today we are on an excursion to "Penguin Island", about an hour's sail down the Beagle Channel in to Chile. The enclosed catamaran picked us up right at Mariner's gangway, no need for us to tender in to town. The tour guide made that hour or so pass quickly as we stopped for many photo opps on the way for sea wolves at "Sea Wolves Island" and the large colony of cormorants at "Bird Island". Finally, we reached the penguins after many twists and turns thru the Argentine/Chilean waters. There had to be 1000's of them in view. Our boat got right up next to the beach where they were all congregating and taking turns diving into the sea. Truly amazing. The government allows only one load of tourists to set foot on the island daily, and you have to book that trip way far out. That excursion involves a bus ride from Ushuaia and a ride in a small boat to the island.We were very satisfied with our catamaran adventure. They served, at a price, snacks and drinks, and a collection of souvenirs, hats, shirts and postcards, etc. for sale. We bought and sent several postcards. The original stamp on the cards was some kind of DHL/Argentina postage. The cards arrived yesterday! That stamp was partially covered with some type of "Mexico" stamp imprint. Who knows what kind of trip those postcards had?Arriving back in Ushuaia, we were dropped off at the pier in town. Shopped a bit, had a very nice Argentine pizza and some bevvies. Now it was time to head back to Mariner via the tenders. Arriving at the pier, the tender line stretched way, way down the street. It took about an hour and a half in line before boarding a tender, and then another 15 minutes idling next to Mariner before boarding. What an experience that was. Capt. Per later later said he was sorry for the "challenge encountered on the tenders". We rarely complain on the ships comment cards, but between this and the IT problems, we ran out of space to write.An hour or so after sailaway, Mariner had to stop in the channel at Port Williams, Chile, for customs to board. Port Williams also claims to be the southernmost city in the world. Chile and Argentina have been challenging each other for this honor for years. A conference many years ago between the two countries gave the title to Port Williams and that was to settle the dispute. However, Ushuaia ignored the whole thing and still claims to be the southern most city in the world because they say a "city most have a population of 5000 or more". Port Williams has 2500 residents. Doesn't matter to us, as we've been to both!We took many pictures on Mariner, but for whatever reason, can't seem to post them here. But can e-mail them. pumbaamd AT MSN dot com.DAY 7, The Legendary Cape Horn-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Quoting from Mariner's Cruise Compass, "If standing between two continents and two oceans was on your list of lifetime must-do adventures, you're about to do it today". We were where the Pacific meets the Atlantic, at the far southern reach of the Andes and the next stop south, if we were headed that way, would be Antarctica. The weather wasn't bad, 49 degrees and mostly cloudy, light winds and minimal waves. Much smoother weather than we had sailing thru the strait of Magellan. There is a very small weather/radio station on the island at Cape Horn. Captain Per had Mariner circle the island so we could sea it all. Not a whole lot to view, just a small, rocky island. Saw very little wildlife. No other vessels. It's a lonely place. But the history of this place and all that has happened here, combined with just where you are, is awesome enough. It took maybe an hour and 1/2 or so to circle the island. We then set course for Montevideo, Uruguay.There were several lectures on board. They dealt with "Darwin and South America", "Ushuaia, Land of Rugged Beauty and Political Darkness", "Chilean Fjords, History and Economic Value", and many more about local cultures and history. This cruise was not just another fun cruise, but extremely educational as well.Sunset tonight 9:11p.m.DAYS 8, 9, 10, At SeaMariner had plenty going on to keep us busy thru three days at sea. They showed four movies each day. Morning, afternoon, evening and later at night. Public ice skating was available several times a day. Lectures, cooking demonstrations, classes, games, casino tournaments, dancing and music, and of course the usual nightly entertainment. The activites calendar was extensive and we were never bored. Kudos to activities director Rod and his fine staff. Leisurely dining also helped to fill the day. We mostly had breakfast and lunch in the MDR with a relaxing dining atmosphere and no hustle and bustle as in the WJ.Next stop, Montevideo.DAYS 10 and 11, Montevideo, UruguayWe would be in Montevideo for two days. We had two excursions here. The first one was the "Juanico Winery & Tasting". We bussed to a beautiful, 500 acre winery about 20 miles outside of town. Gorgeous, well-maintained vineyards as far as we could see.It appeared that there was a small rose bush planted about every other row of grape vines. Why? The roses are like the 'canary in the coal mine'. If a disease develops, the roses will get sick long before the grape vines and there will be time to treat the vines. Pretty clever.We had an excellent tour guide explaining the wine making process from planting the crop to bottling the wine, followed by an outstanding tasting experience with tasty local breads, meats and cheeses. We purchased two bottles of their white wine for having on the ship later. And RCCL allowed us to bring it on board! Our other tour was the next day. It was "Montevideo Highlights" and was a fun city tour. In 3 1/2 hours we saw the many highlights: beaches, parks, government buildings, monuments and more of this beautiful capital city of Uruguay. Sunsets are getting more reasonable now. Tonight, 8:42p.m.Days 13 and 14, At Sea -------------------------------------------------------------------------------We really enjoyed our Mariner days at sea. In addition to our previous sea day reports, we did a few other activities.All of us have seen the vast array of art on RCCL ships. Mariner has some of the best. We took walks around most of the stateroom decks on our sea days (especially in bad weather) and enjoyed the different displays. On our deck 9 on Mariner there was 'motor vehicle' art. Race cars, old classic cars, odd and unusual models, all in paintings, photos or actual scale models. Up on deck 10, there were 'mechanical' type offerings. A few that you could actually turn a crank and a little man or a contraption of some kind would move or rotate. Kind of like the old penny machines in arcades on the boardwalk. Other decks were just as interesting and entertaining. And, we certainly got some needed exercise viewing all this art!Friends of ours were staying in the Royal Suite on deck 10. We spent time up there with them on several sea days. Their huge balcony was the best spot on board for the fjords and the Magellan straits passage. On one of these last two days, one person per family had to report to the dining room to pick up our passports. Mariner did the best they could to handle this, but at times it got a bit heated as some grew aggravated waiting in long lines. We waited until later in the day when the lines gradually became much shorter.Also on our last sea day we had the customary bridge tour and galley tour, and, of course, the Captain's talk in the theatre. One guest actually cornered Capt. Per after his talk and proceeded to tell him several things he was doing wrong. There's one in every crowd! Mariner seemed a bit slow in giving out needed disembarking/end of cruise documents. Luggage tags, tip envelopes and coupons, customs info, airport transfer info, etc., all seemed to come at the last minute.Also coming the last day was our Mariner "Around the Horn" certificate. A nice touch for our Mariner collection. We also received a Mariner crystal block from C&A for another RCCL milestone. That gives us an extra Mariner block. Anyone care to make a trade for any extra blocks you may have?And of course on the last day, the dreaded packing.Tomorrow, disembarkation and goodbye to Mariner.Mariner around Cape Horn, final episode-------------------------------------------------------------------------------We awoke very early on the last morning. We were to meet at 7a.m. in Studio B to meet our group for the 8 hour excursion to the aiport in Sao Paulo. We had some provisions in our cabin for breakfast. We wanted to save some time and not go to breakfast and munch while getting ready. Cereal and milk, rolls and butter, fruits and juices made for an adequate in-cabin morning meal.We met our friends outside Studio B at 6:45. We arrived a bit early so as not be stuck in any kind of long lines. Someone from RCCL arrived at 7:10 or so to let us in and receive the customary sticky number for your shirt. We had #1. The numbers ran up to #12 for later arrivals. Seemed to be about 40 people for each #'d group. Maybe another 15 minutes went by before someone delivered coffee and pastries. Ten minutes later they came back with the coffee cups.After close to an hour waiting, instead of first announcing only #1, they called for "Groups 1, 2 and 3, go to the gangway." About 120 people made a mad dash for the stairs and elevators. We thought announcing #1, wait two minutes announce #2, wait, etc., would have made for a more orderly process. We think they just wanted to get rid of us ASAP.The Brazilian port of Santos operated similar to Valpo. The ship docks a few miles away from the terminal and you are bussed. After being dropped off at the terminal, we were in a large room with hundreds of bags. They were placed according to #'s and colors, as usual, but there were limited aisles and too many people for the size of the room. Not at all like RCCL terminals in Miami or Port Everglades for example. It was very chaotic. Older guests and the handicapped were having a lot of difficulty. We helped some of those folks when we could.After eventually finding all our bags, we walked out the front door to a line of waiting busses. There were no custom or immigration people to be seen. After a short wait on board our bus, we were off to Sao Paulo on our last day of South American adventures. We left the port area, drove thru Santos leaving the coastal area and headed for the crossing of the Serra do Mar mountain pass. What a spectacular sight! Colors of green, red, white and pink everywhere on the mountainsides. Small waterfalls here and there. The hassles of the previous couple hours were soon forgotten as we gazed out the bus windows.Our tour guide, Eduardo, was outstanding. We booked this tour after doing research in to other ways to get to the airport. Didn't really relish the idea of 8 hours on a tour bus but options were limited. Eduardo kept us interested and entertained the whole day. He has spent a lot of time in the U.S. and knew what we wanted to see and do.We toured Sao Paulo until noon time, then stopped at a buffet style lunch restaurant right in downtown. The lunch was very good with a large array of foods available. The price was included in the tour. More touring continued after lunch. It was the usual deal, monuments, government buildings, etc. Before heading for the airport, we stopped at a very large shopping mall to stretch our legs and have a snack and beverage. Many places in this mall would not take our credit card or $US. We eventually found one that would take our CC, "McDonalds"!!! Not knowing any Portuguese, we tried to order a diet coke and an ice water. At this time cold drinks would be just fine. We pointed at pics on a menu of a diet coke and an ice water. When we got the McDonalds bag, we had a diet coke, a cold bottle of water, a double cheeseburger and fries! It was easier to accept the whole package than to try to renegotiate the whole deal, and we knew the food would not go to waste. The fries were gone before we re-boarded the bus, and the burger on the bus.We reached the airport around 5p.m. Our flight did not leave until 11:30. And we could not check in or check bags until 7:30. So, we grabbed a luggage cart, piled our bags on board and headed for the nearest watering hole. We found one very quickly and spent time there with bevvies and some more snacks, waiting for check in time. Heading to the American Airline check in counters we saw a huge line. Probably waited in that line 45 minutes to check in. International flying is so much fun.BACK IN THE USA:The flight to MIA was OK. Immigration and baggage pick up was less than desirable. More hassle. They blamed it on construction (?). We had to go thru TSA again, to board our flight to DCA. And now it's still only 5:30a.m.!Our AA flight to Washington National was called back to the gate twice for mechanical problems. They transferred us to another flight, leaving an hour later. We used up most of that hour on the first plane with the tarmac tour we had. We soon boarded the next flight and were in the air shortly. Arrival at DCA was fine and our bags were among the first to come out on the belt. Our neighbor/driver was waiting outside and off we went.Would we do it again? Yes, we would. The glitches here and there are just a part of the whole deal. And when you travel for 16 days, you see a a lot more of them, but you also during that time see places, people and things that you will never see again.That's why our next long trip will take us to the Italian Alps, Venice-Barcelona on Voyager and then B2B Barcelona-NOLA. Thanks for reading,Rick and Deirdra Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We booked with RCL through a travel agent. We booked air through RCL and stayed at their designated hotel, The Grand Hyatt, is Santiago. We flew on American Airlines, flying from Dulles Airport near our Fairfax County home in the late ... Read More
We booked with RCL through a travel agent. We booked air through RCL and stayed at their designated hotel, The Grand Hyatt, is Santiago. We flew on American Airlines, flying from Dulles Airport near our Fairfax County home in the late afternoon of Friday, Jan. 30 to Dallas-Ft. Worth to connect to Santiago, Chile. We had good economy seats on both flights. We took Benadryl and slept much of the night to Santiago. Entering the country for the first time, Chile charges a reciprocity tax (which means they charge us because the U.S. government charges them when they come to the U.S. The tax was $131 for U.S. citizens, $132 for Canadians. They make an entry in your passport, so you can reenter with no new charge as long as you have that passport. Entry into Chile went smoothly and there was no problem finding our bus to the hotel, although we were not met by anyone associated with RCL until we reached the bus. Santiago is a beautiful city with many modern areas and numerous parked. Even in high summer, snow capped Andes peaks are clearly visible from the city. The city has small, muddy, rushing rivers lined by parkland and mountain parks with great views. Like most of the World, the recession had hit Chile, and over-extended real estate building and speculation is a big problem. Nevertheless, the shopping malls and impressive and full of shoppers. We went from winter to summer from cold to hot and from the middle of a school year to back to school sales getting underway in Santiago. The parallels to California are striking. Traveling around, I sometimes thought I was approaching Livermore or Santa Rosa. However, we went up to Portillo near the Argentine border, up above 9000 feet. The mountain valleys have lush farmland along the rivers, but there is no region of pine forest on that trip. This area is more barren than the Sierras or Cascades of California. I'm sure that further south in Chile that is not the case. The Grand Hyatt is a true 5 star hotel. We knew from trip advisor reviews that we'd wait for a room, since we arrived in the morning. Our wait was unusually long, but we got in around 3:30. They need to set up a smoother process and guide people into city tours or mini-tours in this time period. Our room was beautiful, and the hotel service was great. I enjoyed the fitness center and the pool, but we ate out except for the included breakfasts. We did not ride their excellent subway system, but, because of summer vacation, many local residents were away, and traffic was lighter than normal, so touring the city went well. On Tuesday morning, Feb. 3, they transported us to Valparaiso. It is not a particularly attractive port city, but Viña del Mar, the wealthier town next door, is quite lovely. Getting processed for boarding in the terminal was a snap, and there were concession booths there. We were able to buy 2 bottles of vodka (Stoli) and 2 bottles of Chilean wine and take them on board with us. One couple we knew from the hotel, came back to the terminal from the ship to do it again, after taking a taxi tour with some other friends, so they ended up with 4 bottles each. Our balcony room on level 6 was fine. A few design flaws. Shelf access in the closet could have been designed better. We had some minor plumbing odor backup in the bathroom at times - minor. The shower was adequate. I weigh 210 pounds and could move around okay, stout as I am. I could even pick up something from the shower floor, like a razor, if I dropped it. In one of the ship's couples games, one couple confessed to having tried to have sex in the shower and admitted that did not work out well. The Mariner of the Seas was transpositioning from Port Canaveral to Los Angeles. About 850 passengers did the entire 46 day transpositioning trip. The major leg was from Rio in Brazil around the horn to Valparaiso. A lot of Brazilians joined for that segment. People told us that even around the horn the trip was mainly smooth water sailing. A lot of the time if was hard to know you were at sea when inside. The Mariner was the largest cruise ship to ever visit many of this trip's ports. In Buenos Aires, reporters were out in boats and helicopters to cover the visit. Nothing like that happened in Valparaiso. This final 16 day leg of the transpositioning carried only about 2200 passengers, including only 20 children. I can report on this cruise, but it is unique and cannot be used to talk about the 7 day Mexican Riviera cruises the Mariner of the Seas will be running out of Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo. Having previously cruised with my older daughter and two of her kids on the Explorer of the Seas, I happen to love these huge ships. We were all in a mini-suite on that trip, but I was quite happy on this trip in a regular balcony room. I don't need a tub, but I did use the big walk-in closet in the mini-suite as a dressing room, sharing a cabin with three women. (I showered and shaved up in the Fitness Center on that previous trip.) My wife, Lynn, was not happy with the food. I, otoh, found the food to be fair to good. I don't have any complaints. Lots of the wait staff is Indian. Our waiter, Yoghit (Yogi) was Indian, as was our head waiter. There were always decent Indian dishes available and they pushed some of their favorites on us, even when we ordered other main dishes. Our dinner companions were excellent. We were at a table for eight right by a starboard window. Yogi was the best waiter I've ever had on a ship. His lovely assistant, Adriana, Brazilian, was terrific. Three of our table mates were born in Brazil and spoke Portuguese and Spanish, as well as English. Lynn and I just speak Spanish and English. We had two seas going from Valparaiso to Arica up by the border with Peru. We took the Altiplano tour. Our entourage consisted of 3 passenger busses, a back-up bus, an ambulance, and a police escort. We saw a long irrigated valley, some of the World's driest desert, fox, an animal like a rabbit that isn't a rabbit nor a hare, some people saw a condor. We saw guanacos, alpacas, llamas and vicuñas, villages and churches. We saw perfect cone volcanoes, lakes and streams and went to an elevation of over 4500 meters, 15,000 feet. Some people had trouble breathing and some needed supplementary oxygen. Near Arica, we saw giant petroglyphs. It was quite a day. We had one sea day to Callao/Lima. We hired a taxi with a Canadian couple and toured and did some Indian market shopping. We saw a lot, but skipped museums, except the gold museum. All their exhibits were awesome. Their armaments, swords, and guns exhibits were incredible. The NRA should run tour groups to Lima just to see that museum. Three wonderful sea days. They had a film festival on board. After "Young Frankenstein," Cloris Leachman discussed making the film. Another day, she did a one women show on her career and life. It was fabulous. They also showed "Dirty Dancing" and "Gotta Dance" and the producers discussed it. I give the ice show a ten. In Punta Arenas, Costa Rica, we toured the town and went on an eco river cruise, seeing crocodiles and at least 35 species of birds. They fed chicken to the biggest croc. He was named Tyson, and was over 16 feet long. Two sea days to Acapulco, where Lynn and I revisited sites from our honeymoom (luna de miel) from decades ago. Then a sea day to Cabo, being entertained by Marty Allen and his wife. She is one great singer. The film festival showed "Thoroughly Modern Millie," and Carol Channing discussed the filming of that movie. Cabo delighted us with Grey whales, pelicans beyond counting, barking sea lions and wonderful weather. From our balcony along the way (many days) we had lots of dolphins, sea turtles and flying fish. Leaving Arica, the dolphins were performing, jumping high out the water. The grey whales of Cabo would breach, lifting close to a third of their bodies out of the water. On our final sea day, Carol Channing did a show covering career highlights. She even sang for us both times she was on stage. We got t-shirts and a visor for our fitness activities. Disembarkation was flawless - except for passport clearance on board, and our flight back to Washington was fine. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
PRE-CRUISE: I elected to stay in Santiago for 3 days prior to the cruise. I chose a 4 star hotel that gave me a very reasonable rate and a large room. On the down side it was not too close to restaurants. I found the people of Chile ... Read More
PRE-CRUISE: I elected to stay in Santiago for 3 days prior to the cruise. I chose a 4 star hotel that gave me a very reasonable rate and a large room. On the down side it was not too close to restaurants. I found the people of Chile very accommodating, although it would have been easier for me if I spoke a little Spanish. Most places I went shopping accepted USD or credit cards. Before I left I printed out the most current exchange rates from OANDA.COM. The little cheat sheets came in very handy. On the last day we did a tour that transferred us to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso. After touring those towns we went to the pier for checkin. CHECKIN: Arriving in a small group at the passenger ship terminal had its advantages. While the large buses were trying to get organized, we gathered our bags, tipped our driver and headed inside. First thing we found out was some additional forms that we had to fill out before we could check in. They did have priority checkin for D/D+ members, so I had virtually no wait. They did take my passport upon boarding and gave me a receipt and advised me that I should have some photo ID to replace it when I get off the ship. THE SHIP: I have said many times that the Radiance class ships are the best class ships in the fleet. The Colony Club is absolutely beautiful and a great place to relax on sea days. Unfortunately on a cold weather cruise, the Solarium, as big as it is, is just not big enough. On the warm weather days of our cruise, there was plenty of room because everyone was around the outside pool and hot tubs. Some may not consider this a complaint, but I enjoy being rocked to sleep at night and did not feel any movement even when we rounded the Horn. THE FOOD: Generally I only ate a late breakfast and Main Seating dinner. I had my breakfast in the Windjammer. I found out the when you are traveling with people from South America, they also like to eat late in the morning, so the buffet was packed at 10:30. The food was varied and good, although it is hard for me to pass up the oatmeal. Almost every night I had dinner in the dining room with a group of people who were on our thread from Cruise Critic (quire bt chance). One night a couple of decided to do the Mystery Dinner Theatre which is served in Portofino's; really enjoyed the story and had a great time. Another night the whole table went to Chops Grille. All in all the food in the dining room was pretty good and if we asked for anything they would get it for us. Head Waiter was excellent and waiter and asst waiter were even better. Don't know if got treated the way we got treated because we were all D or D+ members at the table. ENTERTAINMENT: To be honest I can't remember the names of all the performers during the cruise, and I was not about to take notes. First of all the production numbers by the cruise staff were their usual excellent selves. We had a couple who did the Tango we were amazing to watch and another gentleman who sang tango music. There was a pair of aerobic performers who work with those curtains, they were very impressive and performed a second time because they went over so well. We had a Beatles cover group. A comedian who played the piano; was actually very good at it, but made you laugh. There was a Motown group that sang songs of many of the groups of Motown. A violinist and like I said and can't remember everything, but I was entertained every night. PORTS: I am going to be the person who says nothing about ports. I cruise to cruise. I did get off in all ports and did take some tours. I saw the penguins in Porto Tombo, I woke up at 5:30 AM to make sure I saw Cape Horn when we rounded the Cape, Punta de Este was probably the prettiest, I got one of my biggest thrills in Ushuaia when I was able to take a ski lift to the base of a glacier Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Where to start on such a wonderful trip! We arrived in Santiago about 1 1/2 hrs. late two days before our Nov. 23rd cruise. The airport took about an hour to get through. Warning, do not take any type of fruit, or nuts with you. They ... Read More
Where to start on such a wonderful trip! We arrived in Santiago about 1 1/2 hrs. late two days before our Nov. 23rd cruise. The airport took about an hour to get through. Warning, do not take any type of fruit, or nuts with you. They will be taken there, possibly with a fine. Our transfer was arranged by the Hostal Morgan B&B in Valparaiso. We were met outside customs by a wonderful gentlemen in uniform with our name on sign for our pleasant and beautiful drive to Valparaiso. This is the most reasonable of ways to reach Valparaiso without going on the bus. Valparaiso should be visited! This is the most charming city. We stayed on Cerro Alerge at the Hostal Morgan B&B, which was like staying in a boutique hotel in Paris' St. Germain. Within walking distance of great restaurants, especially, La Concepion. Wonderful hosts and accommodations. I would without hesitation stay in Valparaiso after touring the area, which included Vina del Mar. We boarded the ship at 1 P.M. Embarkment went fairly smooth since this was their first trip to this port. We were on within the hour and in our room and up to the Windjammer for lunch. Spent the afternoon on our aft balcony enjoying the warm South Pacific. Our cabin was the best ever. Have had an D1 before and also, an aft, but this one was great. Large and the balcony had a lounge chair in addition to the two regular chairs and table. The food was really good. I am an avid cook, cooking school addict, traveler and I really enjoyed the food. The staff, "B", Victor and Andy were really good. The ship is gorgeous. Friendly staff, clean and some great entertainment. Captain is really funny and entertaining. Would love to have him again. The ports of call were all great, even though we missed Puerto Madryn because of a tanker fire. We weren't too upset because of the beautiful scenery that we had already experienced. We had seen Penquins in Otway and sea lions in Valparaiso. Can't stress enough the beauty you will see on this cruise. The guests were from 47 different countries. Majority were from U.S., followed by Canadians and Germans. Very pleasant. The entertainment was very good, except for one show, which I didn't care for. The tango show was above and beyond great. Better than what you can see in B.A. Clothing needed ranged from really hot weather to really cold. The majority of the trip required cool weather clothes. B.A. is extremely warm. Tours I arranged at the pier, without any problem. Got 12 people together and before getting off the ship and we took vans for $20 pp for 7 1/2 hours. Puerto Montt, make sure you spend some time in Puerto Vargas and Petrohue Falls, (not to be missed). The market in Puerto Montt is the best one you will visit in all South America. Prices are high in Urg. Ushuaia is beautiful and Punta del Este is a beautiful place. Loved Puerto Vargas and will plan to return there. Disembarkment was a breeze. Found a cab to Hilton for $30 in the parking lot without standing in the hour long line. The Hilton is a wonderful hotel. Very modern, great service, beautiful room. Loved this trip! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click