10 Santiago (Valparaiso) Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise as we were a group of 10 persons who have all travelled widely and were looking for new destinations. The Panama Canal cruise with South American ports of call ticked most of the group's boxes. The ship's ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we were a group of 10 persons who have all travelled widely and were looking for new destinations. The Panama Canal cruise with South American ports of call ticked most of the group's boxes. The ship's facilities were excellent as were the entertainment on sailing days and evening theatre. The state room cabins were excelent and were perfectly serviced by the cabin steward. The stand out service on the ship was the evening dining in the Trellis Restaurant. We were provided with a group table for 10 persons and were attended too excelently by a waiter, assistant waiter and sommellier every evening that we dined in the restuarant. The shore excursions were excellent with well trained guides in attendance. The shore excursion to Manta was not to the same standard as the other excursions. Unfortunately, what could have been a 5 star cruise and matching survey was really let down by the chaotic embarkation at San Antonio, Chile and the even more chaotic disembarkation at Port Lauderdale where most of the ship's passengers were kept in line for over 3.5 hours waiting for US Border control to allow entry. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
The cruise's itinerary is interesting. However the ship itself is old and needs refurbishing. Reception desk - could be better. They weren't very helpful when a problem arose. Room - needed refurbishing ... Read More
The cruise's itinerary is interesting. However the ship itself is old and needs refurbishing. Reception desk - could be better. They weren't very helpful when a problem arose. Room - needed refurbishing badly. Bathroom appliances are old and need a replacement. But cleaning service did their best to keep the cabin clean. They also worked very fast and immediately responded to every request. Port and shore excursions were very good, and local guides were exceptional. Dining - very good in the dining rooms and buffet, a lot of attention from the waiting staff. Embarkation - our luggage arrived after 7:00 PM. We realize that if was due to the issues in the port, but we traveled a long distance and we had no cloth to change to after taking a shower. Disembarkation on the other hand was very smooth and well organized. Entertainment - I will give a C+. Two of production shows were simply awful, mostly because of female singers. Music around the ship is not impressive at all. Same goes for the featured singers and comedian that performed in the theater (except for Teacake). One will wonder if any of the artists had any auditions before getting the job. On the other hand comedian that performed in the Explorer lounge was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and it was our first time on HAL. We had sailed Celebrity and Norwegian before. The Guarantee room landed us in 2500 which was actually a handicap room with a spacious bathroom and smaller ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and it was our first time on HAL. We had sailed Celebrity and Norwegian before. The Guarantee room landed us in 2500 which was actually a handicap room with a spacious bathroom and smaller bedroom. It was pretty cramped but we were not there a lot. The embarkation in Valparaiso was quick and the transfer arranged with HAL from Valparaiso was great, some stops and a good guide. Favorite ports were Coquimbo and Jose de San Martin . Excellent tours that we organized with Ecotours and South American Secrets. The Isla Ballista tour was fantastic! The ship decor is very dated with lots of Venetian style stuff although the signed musical instruments were cool. The small shop was very limited and there is the same old jewellery that gets flogged on every cruise ship. I like the size of the ship and I thought the food was good. Maybe could have spiced up some of the dishes but overall, excellent service in the dining room and the Lido and we always found the food tasty and lots of choices. Trivia seemed to be the activity most popular but by the time we wanted to join in, there was no group to partner with.The musical team of singers and dancers are excellent. We were treated to guest singers as well and a Card Illusionist i guess you would call him that gave a stunning show of aptitude. We attended all of the lectures by the guest Naturalist and appreciated his knowledge. The Captain was interesting with his anecdotes every day. The ship was kept very clean and a big thanks to all of the cleaners and service folks. One unusual thing is there was a cardiac arrest on this ship. Because of the time it took for personnel to arrive it made me wonder why there are not Defibrillators on every floor. I never saw one at all. But maybe that is the case on all of the ships. One staff can then rush to the area and defibrillate if needed quicker than waiting for the whole crew and equipment to trundle along the deck. Just a thought. Disembarkation was smooth and efficient, we left at 0930 so most of the crowd had left. I would recommend this itinerary and this ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I booked this cruise because I was told that we would be going through the New Canal but we did not. I would not have gone because it was my third time through the Panama and one of the other times was on the Infinity also, the Blu ... Read More
I booked this cruise because I was told that we would be going through the New Canal but we did not. I would not have gone because it was my third time through the Panama and one of the other times was on the Infinity also, the Blu restraunt is a very nice change from the large dining room, it is quieter and more relaxed service. We where in Aqua class cabin 9049 which has some noise issues no carpeting so you can hear walking over head and movement of chaiselounges in late night hours and early morning becauseit is under the solarium. The chef's table was a great experience well worth the up charge. The food and service was the high light of the cruise. The main Infinity shows entertainment was good but it was the same shows we had on the Millennium cruise to Alaska in June so it would have been nice to have something different. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
The inland passage of southern Chile fiords with glaciers and to visit relatives in Buenos Aires was our need. One glacier off the many we could see - because of the big ship we missed many others. Cabin 6141 very nice situated ... Read More
The inland passage of southern Chile fiords with glaciers and to visit relatives in Buenos Aires was our need. One glacier off the many we could see - because of the big ship we missed many others. Cabin 6141 very nice situated mid-schip, we locked forward to a relaxing cruise. We found the right cabin for restless honeymooner - sleep hard to get because of vibrating (could be felt even on the thick madrases) noise from an air duct under nice the cabin floor. 24 hours, 7 days a week, 12 month a year endless sound. The reception was unable to find a better cabin or suit for us. Even my body was affected and a visit at the medical ship nurse had to be done - very nice and helpful nurse! Mostly the reception was helpful, beside one attractive girl, dressed in blue uniform which send you to other destinations instead giving you the information and forgot to give full information. It was hard to get information about Chilean vins on board - it looked more that the special ship selection was pushed. Wenn we spook about this cabin 6141, we have been the lough of the cruise. It is a pity, most of the personal was kind and helpful, but that was the first and the last cruise with Holland America. By writing this I doubt that this critic will survive on the board, but my give some hints to the owner of HA-line!!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Excellent service. All activities inside the ship where excellent also the food. I went with my family and we joined friends from the cruise to do a tour. We did part of the tour with the cruiseship line in the South of Patagonia by a ... Read More
Excellent service. All activities inside the ship where excellent also the food. I went with my family and we joined friends from the cruise to do a tour. We did part of the tour with the cruiseship line in the South of Patagonia by a company Tango Tour around Beagle Channel. And we did a lovely stop in Buenos Aires with a local lady that helps entrepreneurs so we experience the huge city of Buenos Aires in a very professional way and more out of the commercial issues. Private Groups done by LIZ Andrea. Our nights were fantastic ans they also have shows at night. They also explained all history before our getting off each port in order to know what we will going to watch and to learn. That was very intersting! Good report: Tango Tour-Patagonia Liz Andrea-Buenos Aires (liz2arg@yahoo.com or www.lizflor2.blogspot.com Certificated of excellence in Trip Advisor for many years!) 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
After a disastrous cruise on Royal Caribbean 30 years ago, we swore off cruising - came back after discovering smaller ships - Renaissance, Regent and Oceania. This itinerary - around Cape Horn from Chile to Argentina appealed, so we took ... Read More
After a disastrous cruise on Royal Caribbean 30 years ago, we swore off cruising - came back after discovering smaller ships - Renaissance, Regent and Oceania. This itinerary - around Cape Horn from Chile to Argentina appealed, so we took a chance on Princess - knowing we would enjoy our preselected table mates. We had a wonderful time - but next time we'll be back on a smaller ship. The trip began in Valparaiso, so we came down early and spent a couple of lovely days in Santiago, riding the on-off bus and taking the subway to an Artisans Village at the end of the line. Then we arranged - thanks to a Cruise Critic recommendation - for a van to pick up all ten of us, at 4 different hotels, take us on a tour of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso with a wine tasting stop and a lunch stop, and drop us off at the ship. That worked very well - and we got to ask the guide questions we couldn't ask the recording on the on-off bus. Embarkation was not a problem despite the crowds and out lack of status - we were on our first Princess cruise. We booked a mini-suite with balcony on the Dolphin deck that was as roomy and comfortable as the Regent Suites, including a bathtub. Plenty of drawers and hangar space, and two televisions. Room Steward was excellent, but it took two days to get the bed table lamp fixed. The balcony (port) was fabulous for the glaciers, Cape Horn and even pulling into Buenos Aires. The ship was much bigger than the last five ships we've sailed, and the endless hallways lined with cabins on both sides was somewhat depressing. It was a ten minute walk to the laundromat, with the laundry in a suitcase on wheels The public spaces were more numerous and confusing - what was the difference between the seven lounges on board - was there one that would appeal to me? Finding our assigned dining room was tricky, as only two of the ships fourteen elevators served it, and they weren't well marked. Even approaching on stairways required scheming. We had a table for ten for the late seating, with a delightful wait staff who quickly learned our idiosyncrasies and replaced my Diet Coke with a new one the minute it emptied. The food was better than I expected - but still not up to Oceania standards. We certainly never went hungry or suffered from lack of choice. Some items were great. The same can not be said for the Horizon Court - the buffet where most people eat breakfast and lunch. It was, at best, mediocre, and at worst, bad. Service was rushed and impersonal, and it often took half the meal to get the Diet Coke after it was ordered. We ended up eating most breakfasts and lunches at the only Dining Hall open for those meals, and it was only open on at-sea days. On board activities that did not generate additional income for Princess were lacking - the Steam Room was a one time charge of $189, but the gym was free. There were no talks about South American history, geology, the issue of the Malvinas/Falklands or anything else of intellectual interest. There were two cooking demos - one in English and one in Spanish with the same food. The after dinner entertainment that I assumed would be better on a big ship was dismal - 30 minute shows with mediocre singing, mediocre choreography, and lots of pyrotechnics, or a ventriloquist. Fortunately, we got MSNBC on the television in the room. We took only Princess excursions, which were big buses with bored guides - but the penguins in Puerto Madryn were great. We missed the ones in the Falklands due to weather. About half the passengers were South Americans - Argentines, Brazilians and Chileans - it is summer vacation. The other half included many Brits, Canadians and Australians. We met many interesting people. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Our trip began with a week in southern Patagonia near Puerto Montt for some fly fishing and sigh-seeing. We booked the fishing through Jack Trout Fishing. he is an American, married to a Chilean, with guiding business in California in ... Read More
Our trip began with a week in southern Patagonia near Puerto Montt for some fly fishing and sigh-seeing. We booked the fishing through Jack Trout Fishing. he is an American, married to a Chilean, with guiding business in California in our summer, and SA in their summer. Overall the fishing was mediocre, but my husband can still say he has fished in Patagonia! From here we flew back to Santiago to spend an extra 4 nights prior to embarkation. We met up with the rest of our group there, 8 couples in all. We got to our room easily, dropped off the carry-ons and headed for a lunch. Our embarkation was between 1 and 2 PM, so we had waited to eat lunch onboard. Our luggage had showed up at our rooms by the time we returned from lunch, so the rest of the time we spent unpacking and getting settled. The ship was due to sail at 5PM. However, we were delayed a few hours due to a pre-land excursion being late getting back. Our group had early seating for their dinner in the main dining room. This worked out well for all of us. We ate every meal there with only one exception, which was to go to the Crown Grill one night as a group. The surcharge for this was $25 per person, however we felt it was well worth the extra money for the special treatment you receive. There is no set menu, and you can still order anything and all you want. Most of us had lobster and steak, which was excellent. I did make these reservations immediately when we got onboard since there was a large number of us wanting this night, but had no problem getting the time or date reserving that early. Entertainment on the ship was fairly good. Due to rough seas the second night, the Princess dancers and singers were not able to perform, so a substitute performer took the stage (piano player). Other entertainment venues included a magician, mind reader, and comedian, who was very good. Movies under the Stars were shown, but a couple of the nights were just too cold to be outside watching. Our stateroom was very nice, and our room steward wonderful. Raymond was always available for us to accomplish any need we had. Most of us did use the laundry onboard. It was $4 per load to wash, and the same to dry. However, the convenience was great, and there are laundry areas on most floors so we never really waited for a machine. The food onboard the Star was excellant in the main dining room, some of the best we have ever had on a cruise. The buffets left a bit to be desired, but there was always pizza, burgers, and the international cafe to fill in those voids. Once we had set sail, we had 3 days at sea. The first two days were a bit rocky, however nothing too bad. A few people needed some sea-sick meds, but did not experience anything drastic. The weather did not cooperate (mostly due to the wind) for sunning by the pool much after the first morning at sea. And of course, we were heading south to cooler temps! Our third day at sea we entered the Chilean fiords. Very beautiful. Lots of waterfalls and great scenery, but cool temps once again. We docked in Punta Arenas and Ushuaia next. Our day sailling around Cape Horn, early in the morning, was spectacular The weather was wonderful, and though chilly, our views and the sailing were calm, picturesque, and enjoyable. Following Port Stanley we had more sea days, but now were heading north and the weather was getting warmer each day. Enjoying time outside by the pool, the movie under the stars, and enjoying our balconies were all possible once again. Post cruise we all flew back to Buenos Aires for a few extra days before heading home, staying at the BA Hilton. Location was great as there were many restaurants and shopping nearby. Sunday we had went to the estancia La Alameda for the day, approximately 1 1/2 hours outside of BA. We enjoyed a typical asado meal, including wine and beer, plus entertainment of the Argentine dancers as horsemanship show. On Monday, four of the guys had a guide for Golden Dorado fishing in the San Pedro river. They had a great time and even caught the famed dorado as well as piranha! A tango show was also arranged by the hotel concierge for us, which was also enjoyable. Tuesday found all of us checking out of the hotel and relaxing before the long flight back to the states. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
There were 12 people in our group, traveling from Hawaii and LAX to Santiago. After a 12 hour delay in DFW and lots of phone calls and emails, our group of 4 couples arrived at Santiago Airport, waited in line for an hour to pay the ... Read More
There were 12 people in our group, traveling from Hawaii and LAX to Santiago. After a 12 hour delay in DFW and lots of phone calls and emails, our group of 4 couples arrived at Santiago Airport, waited in line for an hour to pay the reciprocity fee and walked out of the customs area into a very crowded area with lots of taxi drivers looking for people needing transport to the city. Chrisitan Montinegro (Van Man), walked up to our group and introduced himself to us. He was very helpful and friendly and got us on our way to our hotel as quickly as possible since it was 2am and we were all very tired. We checked in to Best Western Los Espanoles which was a nice hotel but has no elevators. The rooms varied in size and configuration, each seemed to be different. In the morning, we had a great breakfast, better than expected and met up with the rest of our group and 4 other couples who joined our group transfer/tour to the ship. We were taken on a city tour of Santiago with photo stops, to Emiliana organic Winery, where many of us bought wines to take on-board the ship, then to city tours of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso. Since the Star Princess was delayed in arriving to port, we had lunch at a seafood restaurant in Valparaiso. Our guide apologized to us stating that the service was slow due to many people eating at the restaurant from the ship. The restaurant was on a hill overlooking the ocean and port, we could see the Star Princess. We were at the restaurant for 3 hours, but that was better than waiting at the port to board the Star. At about 6pm, we left for the port and were dropped of near the porters collecting the luggage to take on board. We called a porter and tipped him a few dollars and he quickly collected our group's luggage and took them away. Once inside the registration area, we were given tickets to board the bus that would transport us to the ship, but we never used them as we were sent to register and from there sent to board a bus. We did not pass the photo area so did not get a photo taken. Once on-board, we were greeted by our room steward and sat in our room waiting for the rest of our group to arrive on board. We ate the appetizers and rested. Once we were all on-board we had dinner and explored the ship. The ship left late and Capt Kent tried to make up for the lost time, which he eventually did. We had a Cruise Critic Meeting at Skywalkers Lounge the next day and met many people and lots of information was exchanged. Thank-you, Berda Davis for arranging this. The cruise visited many ports but was unable to stop at the Falkland Islands due to stormy seas and Port Madryn was stopped in place of the Falklands. We enjoyed the cruise as our group usually does and will plan another group cruise in two years. We got to see the penguins and the glaciers, which was the reason for going on this cruise, so we were all very satisfied with this cruise. We especially loved the black comedian, I arrived late to the show and missed his introduction, but he lives in So Cal and does comedy in Las Vegas and wrote for Bill Cosby. After the cruise we stayed in Buenos Aires for 3 days at Tango B&B. Valeria and Jorge were very friendly and helpful and got us reservations to a Tango dinner show and a visit to an estancia. We were picked up and dropped of at the B&B and both activities were very enjoyable. Jorge is an artist and a great chef. We enjoyed two excellent dinners with lots of grilled meats and all you could eat and the breakfasts were very good with fresh fruit, cheese, meats, yogurt, bread and lots of excellent coffee! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010

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