7 Santiago (Valparaiso) First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

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
we feel absolutely cheated out of our holiday money. We are battling farmers who have saved our money for what was to be the holiday of our lifetime. Firstly, there was an 18% service charge on everything we bought, then there was a place ... Read More
we feel absolutely cheated out of our holiday money. We are battling farmers who have saved our money for what was to be the holiday of our lifetime. Firstly, there was an 18% service charge on everything we bought, then there was a place on the invoice for a tip. A few times it was underlined. A cheap bottle of wine we bought in a supermarket in Santiago for $4.50 was on the menu for $35 + 18% etc. They X rayed your bag if you'd been ashore checking that you hadn't bought any alcohol with you. We paid gratuities in package purchase price in Australia, but when aboard, they charged again. When my wife inquired at the information desk she was told that was only for the room boy. Everywhere we went someone was trying to sell us something. It wasn't only us that felt cheated either. There was not even a picture theatre on board, instead you had to sit in the bough of the ship in the open air. The free shows were all second rate. There was a poor old fellow who gave seminars on various topics, he was good, but we got the feeling he was only paid by a free trip. If this is what cruise ship holidays are about, count us out on any more. Last holiday was on a Trafalgar bus tour around Eastern Europe. That was much better value. I wouldn't advise anyone to cruise Celebrity! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We loved the cruise. After 5 nights in Santiago, we took turbus for $8 each to Valporaiso for 3 nights before our embarkation. ( hotels were Galerias and Cirilo Armstrong respectively. Wonderful stays) Embarkation was easy, but ... Read More
We loved the cruise. After 5 nights in Santiago, we took turbus for $8 each to Valporaiso for 3 nights before our embarkation. ( hotels were Galerias and Cirilo Armstrong respectively. Wonderful stays) Embarkation was easy, but involves going to the passenger terminal a few miles from the ship. Then once you are checked in, Princess transports you to the ship which is docked at the container port. We were able to enter cabin immediately upon hoarding. Lunch at horizon court and then got to know the ship. Princess Star is very well maintained and beautiful. We had a balcony cabin aft port side on deck 10, caribe. Extra large balcony with 2 chairs that recline with footrests and a table. We enjoyed the balcony to the fullest, even when the weather turned cooler as we went farther south. We just put on our jackets and brought out our coffees our cocktails/ wine. The entertainment was fabulous. Both cultural events and historical lectures were held almost everyday. Tango lessons, tango orchestras, line dancing south of the border style, port lectures, historical/cultural lectures, you name it, these activities abounded. And we went to almost all. The movie entertainment was top notch. Under the stars got chilly a few nights, but blankets were brought out. And movies were also shown in the Vista Lounge. Dancing music was throughout the ship at several venues everyday. We love the Piazza. And the International Cafe. That brings me to food. Delicious!!! We had anytime and were able to get a table for 2 every night. Loved it. Great wait staff throughout. Great choices on the menus. We also used room service frequently for coffee, juice in morning on our balcony. Excursions were enriching and lots of fun. We chose Princess for every stop except Stanley, and Montevideo In Stanley we took the public bus to gypsy cove for $20 each to see a few penguins. In Montevideo we walked the ciudad vieja on our own and had lunch in Puerto Mercado/great grilled steaks. Beautiful beach and we even saw a few emperor penguins. We felt that value wise, Princess delivered a great excursion at every stop. Punto Arenas had to be skipped because of the weather. We disembarked easily, feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and culturally enriched. We remained In Buenos Aires for a week more in a condo I found on flip key. Great place, "Hollywood condo." Then went to Colonia in Uruguay for 3 nights on buquebus. Stayed at Poada Don Antonio and loved every minute. Ended trip with 5 days back in Montevideo at My Suites Boutique hotel in Pocitos. Great little hotel We loved our whole trip and the Princess Star cruise made it all the better. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Itinerary: This cruise was a South America cruise which embarked in Valparaiso Chile and terminated in Buenos Aires Argentina. The ship went along the west coast of south america (Punta Monte, Puerto Chacabuco, and Punta Arenas), through ... Read More
Itinerary: This cruise was a South America cruise which embarked in Valparaiso Chile and terminated in Buenos Aires Argentina. The ship went along the west coast of south america (Punta Monte, Puerto Chacabuco, and Punta Arenas), through the straits of Magellen to Ushuaia, Beagle Channel, around Cape Horn, to Falkland Islands (Stanley), to Punta Del Est Uraguay, and then to Buenos Aires. These were all great destinations and ports of calls. We saw sea life, glaciers, Penguins, local artisans and the weather was in our favour with calm seas when rounding the Cape. Ship Amenities: The Norwegian Sun holds about 2000 passengers. In our opinion, the ship is just the right size - neither too small to take on the seas of the voyage, but also not so big that we felt lost. It is going in to dry dock this spring for some minor enhancements, but for the most part, everything on the ship was in good condition and very clean. It gets pretty crowded in the main buffet during meal times, hard to find vacant chairs on the pool deck in the sun on sea days, and the gym gets pretty crowded at peak times in the morning and early evenings. Cabin: We chose cabin 9320 because we wanted to get an inside cabin mid-ship with no noisy rooms above and below us. It turns out deck 9 and part of deck 10 are the only floors where there are no noisy rooms (such as dining rooms, gyms, dance floors, etc) below or above us. The cabin was very spacious, clean, and comfortable. If you are looking for a cabin with a balcony, the room across the hall from us would be good also. Dining: Food was always plentiful, and for the most part delicious. We seldom ate at the main buffet because of it was very busy and noisy. We often went to the sit-down dining room (Seven Seas or Four Seasons) for dinners, or to the buffet in the Moderno room for breakfast or lunch. There was also the deck out back on the 11th floor which was good for lunch on a nice sunny day. We tried three restaurants which had cover charge (we bought a restaurant package for $69) The Japanese Tappenyaki dinner was not very good in terms of both food quality and entertainment value. The Brazilian dinner in the Moderno was excellent in terms of quality of the food (Brazillian BBQ steaks, etc) as well as the ambiance and the service. The Steakhouse at Cagneys, was also excellent in terms of the steak quality and quantity and the service was very good. What we liked: - Service: All the staff looked genuinely happy and provided excellent service. - Shore Excursions: People complain about how expensive the shore excursions are, but I think they are well worth it, in terms of quality of experience as well as the destinations. We went on the Petrohue falls and Lake Esmeralda excursion at Puerto Monte, Coyhaique and Scenic Simpson Valley at Puerto Chacabuco, End of the World wilderness trek in Ushuaia, and Lagoon bluff in the Falklands.. All were great experiences. - South American Lecture series: We attended the regular South American Lecture series provided by Peter Croyle. Highly recommended to get the full context of each of the areas you are visiting as well as the richness of the history and the culture of South America What could be improved: - buffet (ambiance and food variety): The main buffet was a zoo. It was mainly because it is laid out poorly so that there often were a congregation of people in the popular areas. Also some of the more esoteric food (like Indian and Asian food) were tucked away in a hard to reach area. Part of the problem was also the lack of manners of some of the passengers. I think there is value to the phrase "take all you can eat, but eat all you take" - sports equipment: some of the equipment were older and did not work. The floor of the gym was heaving. Hopefully this is one of the areas they will fix in dry dock. - internet access: slow and expensive Tips & Hints: - choosing your cabin location: Key for good night sleeps. Choose mid ship and quiet floors, away from elevators. Inside or balcony based on your preference and budget. - choosing who you hang out with: Not everybody you meet on the cruise are your type, but we did manage to find some people we could hang out with, and avoid the people we did not like - budget for onboard spending: There were no surprise charges. But you must budget for the service charges and how much you would spend on excursions and drinks and trinkets. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Our family loves to travel, but recently several members were diagnosed with Celiac Disease. We quickly discovered that eating out, let alone vacationing internationally, posed what seemed to be an insurmountable problem. After a great ... Read More
Our family loves to travel, but recently several members were diagnosed with Celiac Disease. We quickly discovered that eating out, let alone vacationing internationally, posed what seemed to be an insurmountable problem. After a great deal of research, I trepidatiously arranged a two week cruise, hoping that eating in a consistent environment would permit us to travel without fear of cross contamination or illness. While we prefer more authentic cultural immersion and extended stays in our chosen destinations, we were thrilled that cruising presented a compromise, allowing us to balance travel with significant dietary/ health concerns. With appropriate pre-departure notification, the crew on the Norwegian Sun successfully enabled our family to have a fabulous vacation with healthy, GLUTEN FREE cuisine that was varied and scrumptious. We spoke with Rosalia Dizon, the Maitre D, on embarkation and she arranged for us to eat in the same dining facility with a reserved table and assigned us a dedicated and knowledgeable waitstaff. This allowed us to prevent cross contamination and the need to repeatedly explain our dietary restrictions at every meal. Our waiter, Christopher Song, was impressively diligent and consulted continuously with the chefs, who often put together special dishes for our group of five. Although the crew was taking care of hundreds of guests, Christopher and Rosalia graciously made our dietary restrictions seem effortless. While I would not typically chose to travel by cruising, NCL did a fantastic job and if you are looking for a GLUTEN FREE vacation, this is a manageable option. While I can't speak for other NCL cruises, I can confidently state that Rosalia and Christopher on the Norwegian Sun kept our family healthy and well fed and their hard work deserves commendation! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We left Valparaiso on a boat that had just been in a huge storm but we would have the best weather in years. A bit of waves on the second night, but the free motion sickness pills stopped any problems quickly. The first stop was ... Read More
We left Valparaiso on a boat that had just been in a huge storm but we would have the best weather in years. A bit of waves on the second night, but the free motion sickness pills stopped any problems quickly. The first stop was Puerto Montt. It took a long time to get of the boat as an independent traveller, but the place was superb. In the Lake District of Chile we made a trip to the Osorno and Petrohue Falls. We took a taxi with an other couple and paid less than a third of what a trip through HAL would cost, and had the advantage of just being with 4 instead of a bus full. The second stop was Puerto Chacabuco. Not a very interesting town, but going up the Simpson River was. A beautiful river with blue flowers all along the road en views over the mountains and the valley. We sailed south through the Chilean fjords and stopped to see some glaciers. We could get much closer than I expected. The third stop was Punta Arenas. We visited the penguin colony at Otway and the city. We saw much more than just penguins and the most spectacular cemetery in Latin America. In Ushuaia, our fourth stop, we went to Terra del Fuego national park. Again a very nice place with mountains, lakes, snow, forest and wildlife. From there we sailed south to Cape Horn (we saw it in sunshine and with almost no wind) and Antarctica. We spent a few days cruising between icebergs and real mountains seeing penguins, whales, seals and orcas. The next landfall was Stanley on the Falklands. We went to the king penguins at Volunteer point. This was a highlight of the trip. After 2 days at sea we stopped in Montevideo and ended the cruise in Buenos Aires. Great is an understatement for this cruise. Apart form these stops HAL did it's best to make everything as perfect as possible. Very attentive staff, from the captain, down to the waiters and the room stewards. Lot's of information through lectures on flora and fauna of the waters we cruised through to city descriptions and information on where we sailed and marine life on the ships TV channels. Very good food, especially in Rotterdam restaurant. Shows and movies. A library and sports facilities and enough to do to almost make you feel busy. We had celebrations for Christmas and New Year and the crew really made you feel at home and went to great length to make you feel special. The only drawbacks I can mention are the prices of alcoholic drinks on board and the shore excursions. The rest was perfect! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
As stated in the title, this cruise really was the best of times and the worst of times (with apologies to Charles Dickens). First, the worst of times (Travel, transport to the ship, embarkation) We were among the Canadians who missed ... Read More
As stated in the title, this cruise really was the best of times and the worst of times (with apologies to Charles Dickens). First, the worst of times (Travel, transport to the ship, embarkation) We were among the Canadians who missed the first days of Celebrity Infinity's March 13-28/2010 cruise from Valparaiso, Chile to Fort Lauderdale. As first-time cruisers we booked our flights through Celebrity, assuming this would make the journey from Calgary to Valparaiso smoother. As it turned out, American Airlines (the carrier appointed by Celebrity) provided dreadful customer service in Calgary and dismal in-flight cabin conditions the whole trip. When our first flight from Calgary was cancelled due to mechanical failure during takeoff, the airline booked us through to Santiago next day. They promised, but failed, to book us on a connecting LAN flight from Santiago to La Serena - Infinity's first port of call. We have taken these matters up with AA directly and they have issued us with a $400 credit, which is pretty much useless as AA doesn't fly into our home airport. But at least they have acknowledged the problem. Although the mechanical failure of our American Airlines flight from Calgary to Dallas initiated the chain of missed connections that delayed us, it was our experiences while trying to reach the ship that made the cruise "the worst of times". Our travel insurer provides a 24-hour on-call concierge service. We contacted them the evening of March 13 - the same day the Calgary/Dallas flight was cancelled. They reported that they couldn't reach the Celebrity to notify them that we would miss the sailing from Valparaiso - the customer service desk shut down at 8:00pm. The concierge finally did make contact the next morning, and arranged for us to be met in Santiago by a Celebrity representative who would see that we reached La Serena in time. He/she would have our tickets to La Serena in hand and we would arrive at the ship in good time. However, when we arrived in Santiago on March 15 there was nobody to meet us. We were absolutely and completely stranded in an earthquake-damaged airport - unable to speak Spanish and no idea of what to do next. We were at the mercy of the taxi jackals, who were determined to take us from Santiago to La Serena by taxi, a distance of some 350 km. A kind LAN baggage agent allowed us to use his office telephone to contact the insurance company once again. After a series of three-way conversations, we were told that there was no way we could get to La Serena before the ship sailed - we would have to stay in Santiago two nights and join the ship in Arica. This was the last straw. We were completely demoralized and on the verge of returning to Canada when we stumbled into the hands of a local, English-speaking American Airlines security person, who cut through the red tape and the jackals like a hot knife through butter: she had us on a plane to La Serena within an hour. We aren't sure who she bumped from the flight but we are eternally grateful to her and to those who gave up their seats for us. In La Serena, we found another Canadian couple who had endured similar difficulties. They had been promised that a Celebrity agent would meet them at the La Serena airport. We agreed to travel with them to the ship when the agent arrived. Again, and to no one's surprise, no one showed up. After a couple of hours and several telephone calls, a gentleman wearing stained blue overalls and driving a Yaris arrived. We pressed him to take all four of us with him and to send our luggage in a second vehicle. He was an excellent driver, and largely because of his efforts we arrived at the ship minutes before it sailed. The luggage arrived before the ship sailed, which was a bonus. When we boarded the ship the crew seemed serenely unaware of our plight, which was a little disconcerting. We were whisked through the boarding formalities and the cruise carried on - with us aboard. We are still concerned that what happened to us could easily happen to others -and might not end happily. We attempted to start a discussion with the Guest Services desk, but while we were promised there would be a full report, we heard no more about it (except for an offer to reimburse us for a taxi we never used). When we went back to Guest Services a second time we were taken aside and quietly offered complimentary massages at the spa. We enjoyed the massages, but we still have a nagging feeling that Celebrity Cruises missed the point. Being abandoned in a creaky building in an earthquake zone half a world from home is very distressing and a bad way to start a vacation. When we arrived home, we wrote to Mr. Daniel J. Hanrahan, President & CEO of Celebrity Cruises (we decided that discussions with mere minions would not suffice). We received a telephone call from a customer service representative who agreed that Celebrity should have done more to make sure we arrived at the ship and that there should be emergency contact information for the ship available to passengers. We have heard nothing since that telephone conversation, which is why I hesitated to write this review. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend a cruise line to others when there is an unresolved issue of this magnitude. By our calculation we missed more than two of the 14 days of the cruise. We were supposed to board ship in Valparaiso on Sunday, March 14. Through no fault of ours we had a harrowing experience that ended when we boarded in the late afternoon of Monday, March 15. We were exhausted, hungry, and angry. It was Tuesday evening before we were able to enjoy the amenities on the ship. We would happily cruise with Celebrity in the future - providing we receive credible assurance that the points at which the system failed us have been identified, and that the kinks have been worked out. The best of times? That would be the cruise itself - the Infinity's crew provided us with a vacation of a lifetime, albeit an abbreviated one. We enjoyed shipboard life, the ports of call, and the other passengers and wouldn't hesitate going on another cruise. The details: Ship and stateroom - the Infinity is starting to show her age but it was still comfortable and very clean. It reminded me of a once-excellent hotel that just needed redecorating. There was good use of wood throughout the ship, and the art work and sculptures added a touch of class. The verandah room was large enough for the two of us and was well-maintained. Activities - aside from a couple of games of cut-throat trivia, we didn't take part in the organized activities. We wouldn't do the trivia again -- people take it far too seriously. Service - the service was superb everywhere on the ship. That's all that needs to be said. Dining - we enjoyed Celebrity Select dining and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others. Once we figured out meals could be pre-ordered for those with dietary restrictions, we enjoyed the main dining room even more. The food at the buffets and in other restaurants was limited for someone like me, but my husband enjoyed the food immensely. A word of caution to those who need information about ingredients of a particular dish - the staff don't always know what's in the food or don't always have sufficient English to convey the message. Entertainment - we found the entertainment to be rather mediocre, aside from the string quintet/quartet/trio (it varied throughout the cruise). The stage shows were mediocre, and for some reason the sound technician insisted on increasing the decibel level to unbearable from merely annoying. The other groups (strolling players, pool entertainment etc) were all right, but nothing special. Shore excursions - we booked all our excursions through the Celebrity website: these were well-organized and exactly what was advertised. We enjoyed Arica (Chile) and Manta (Ecuador) the most, and Cartagena and Lima the least. We would rate each of the ports of call but they are not included in the drop down list in the Port Reviews section. In summary - the cruise itself was wonderful, even with the few glitches we encountered on board. But Celebrity has to work harder at professionalizing their relationship with their overseas agents - no one should have to go through what we did. Will we cruise with Celebrity again? We really won't know until we have had some sort of resolution to our problem: we would appreciate further communication with the cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010

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