25 Santiago (Valparaiso) Romantic Cruise Reviews

South America Santiago, Chile March 14, 2019 to Los Angeles, March 30, 2019) appealed to my wife and I. We enjoyed Chile (Santiago and Coquimbo), Peru (San Martin and Lima) and Costa Rica (Puntarenas), less so Nicaragua (San Juan del Sur), ... Read More
South America Santiago, Chile March 14, 2019 to Los Angeles, March 30, 2019) appealed to my wife and I. We enjoyed Chile (Santiago and Coquimbo), Peru (San Martin and Lima) and Costa Rica (Puntarenas), less so Nicaragua (San Juan del Sur), that was rushed and felt a little unsafe, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, that was a free day to unwind. We chose eZAir for our flight (13 hours) from LA four days earlier and the only regret was not arranging our departure from Phoenix via LA/Santiago. The Star Princess was a welcome relief after a disastrous inaugural repositioning cruise with MSC Seaside. We have been on the Emerald Princess a number of times, so the Star Princess, a sister ship, was very familiar and a welcome relief. A few glitches arose such as the 5:15 PM supper start; 6:00 PM is much better and definitely preferred. Entertainment and food selection at Supper seemed to be slightly less diverse then previously but was vastly better than my previous encounter on the Seaside. Food would rate a 4/5. Dining, cabin, bar and general services were exemplary and would rate 4/5. The one exception was the staff member at the Captain's Circle Counter who was not courteous when I spoke to her rather somewhat short/rude. Entertainment was good (3.5/5), especially the stage productions, but overall slightly more muted (comedy, rock bands, classical music, etc.) than my last Princess cruise from Rome to Ft Lauderdale. Most of our shore excursions were private as there are no guarantees with Princess and we get, more for less. Most of these I will review through Trip Adviser. Overall this cruise provided some healing from past cruises and new friends. We will once again return in 2021 for a 31 day fall cruise via Vancouver to Sydney, Australia. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We picked this cruise in 2017, and booked on last cruise as we had been to Antarctica and thought the Chilean fjords and around the Horn sounded great. Picked our tours on line, had our special C1 stateroom, over wake, and looking ... Read More
We picked this cruise in 2017, and booked on last cruise as we had been to Antarctica and thought the Chilean fjords and around the Horn sounded great. Picked our tours on line, had our special C1 stateroom, over wake, and looking forward to cruise. Found out after final payment--our stateroom cost dropped almost to 1/2 our price--Celebrity was not easy to deal with-got a couple perks??? Then the "looking forward to" tours were cancelled for one reason or another?? The fjords were a waste --what we could see--the time of day--the weather--the Captains choices--same for going around the Horn (did not have to be early early morn)--soooo many things spoiled this expensive cruise. Food poising from the Murano restaurant, with nothing from hotel manager after being informed!! The entertainment was so poor---captive in the theater!!! The very last gift from Celebrity--the terrible cough many of us brought home with us--and still have. Think the new CEO is a bean pusher as the cost of everything has gone up-the quality is down--want the Celebrity Line from past 20 years??? GONE! The staff who is there to be of service to the clients are, as always, the top of the cruise lines---but hate to hear them beg for 10s on survey!! We will have to really think about returning to Celebrity---there are other lines to try--Elite Plus does not mean quite what it did. Unhappy with this cruise--can you tell?! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We chose this cruise because we did not want to go around the horn but wanted to visit S. Am. We have sailed on Princess several times in the past and like to book our next cruise prior to leaving the ship. Princess always seems to have ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we did not want to go around the horn but wanted to visit S. Am. We have sailed on Princess several times in the past and like to book our next cruise prior to leaving the ship. Princess always seems to have excellent entertainment, food, and services. The one downside members of our group mentioned this trip was the lack of Happy Hour at the Wheel House. That has always been a gathering place of many in the past and we were sorry to find it was not included on this trip. Also the wine package was listed as being available prior to sailing and upon sailing they found this also was not available and many wines listed on the wine list they did not have. This did not affect myself or wife as a rule but I did hear other passengers growling about these issues. Overall this was a great cruise again this year. If you ever see Dinesh, tell him hi from the group of 8 from the area of Wyoming. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to experience South America and Cape Horn. There were wonderful excusions on offer. Glaciers, lakes, penquins, guanacos, cormorants, dolphins, extinct volcanos, Ushuia, the southernmost city in the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to experience South America and Cape Horn. There were wonderful excusions on offer. Glaciers, lakes, penquins, guanacos, cormorants, dolphins, extinct volcanos, Ushuia, the southernmost city in the world, Cape Horn, Faukland Islands, etc etc The food was excellent. Our outside obstructed view cabin was spacious and bright. The obstruction was a life boat that hardly obstructed our window. The special dining was great. The crew was perfect! Everyone bent over backwards to make us feels well cared for. We celebrated Christmas and New Year on board. There were Christmas decorations everywhere. We loved Agagio where we could sit quietly contemplating the sea while having a drink. Perfect Mojito there! We loved the music on deck 5 as well as the Tango Show. Share served great food. We had wonderful steak at Curtis Stone. We were sad to leave. The debarkation was surprisingly easy and well organized. We can’t wait to go back! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We had a great time. Met lots of interesting people and basked in the glow of the service. Loved Cagney and La Cucina. Seven seas and Four Sesons also served exceptional meals. Enjoyed the Cast shows and windjammers. the cruise director ... Read More
We had a great time. Met lots of interesting people and basked in the glow of the service. Loved Cagney and La Cucina. Seven seas and Four Sesons also served exceptional meals. Enjoyed the Cast shows and windjammers. the cruise director was always visible and the staff in general could not do enough to keep us happy. One glitch on embarkation but we got through it. Planned our own excursions. The gym regularly had machines open and was clean. The weather was amazing as we passed Capr Horn and except for the first night of 5 meter seas we we had smooth sailing. Our cabin steward did a great job and kept us amused with his towel animals. The drink Package was worth it. Having spent a career in the navy I appreciate the effort put forth making our stay enjoyable by the crew. The Falkland Islands was a highlight with the trip to Volunteer point in the Range Rovers to see the penguins. Puerto Madrid was also worth the trip to see more penguins. Loved our South American experiance on the Sun. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
The ship itinerary and naturalist, Mickey Live couldn't be beat on this fantastic voyage leaving from Valparaiso, Chile and sailing around Uruguay to Buenas Aieres, Argentina. Tours were well organized on the ship but overburdened on ... Read More
The ship itinerary and naturalist, Mickey Live couldn't be beat on this fantastic voyage leaving from Valparaiso, Chile and sailing around Uruguay to Buenas Aieres, Argentina. Tours were well organized on the ship but overburdened on land with two ships in port often on the same day. When that occurred, which was frequently, guides could be inadequate and stops could be too crowded to view. The beautiful Raille Museum in Uruguay was just one of the many places where we had to rush in and out to let the next tour group in. The next day it would stand empty. There were also some tours where the guides remained in the bus while the guests walked on the own even though other tour guides were with their groups. Even with the problems the ports that we visited were exciting and the local people were wonderful. Meals in the main dining room were not as good as we have had in the past and were never served hot, although service was good in the dining room and through out the ship. The shows were pretty good most evenings and were always musical or aerial due to the multilingual crowd. I felt that other musical entertainment was severely lacking in the common areas and bars. The ship in the common areas was acceptable but the cabins were threadbare. They definitely needed updating. Still, there was an element of elegance remaining. I would do it again! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We are a couple from the Mid-west (age 53 & 62), no kids, retired and Platinum latitude members. When we booked this cruise as our winter getaway, we did not have much knowledge of South America. We arrived in Santiago 2 days ... Read More
We are a couple from the Mid-west (age 53 & 62), no kids, retired and Platinum latitude members. When we booked this cruise as our winter getaway, we did not have much knowledge of South America. We arrived in Santiago 2 days early, a city we really enjoyed; easy to get around and very nice honest people. We booked a private transfer tour from Santiago to Valparaiso and stopped for wine tasting in the Casablanca Valley. Embarkation was long; you stop in a terminal building and then get assigned a number to ride a shuttle bus to the ship, on the ship you then complete the process on board the ship. We were pulled out of line and taken to the concierge desk and assigned VIP status, we never really found out why this happened? I coordinated the CC Meet & Greet for the first time, so this may have had something to do with it? Anyway it was GREAT, the ships crew were extremely accommodating and helpful to our CC group during the whole cruise. Yahira the concierge and Shi the group coordinator went above & beyond for us! Our luggage was in our room by the time we got there. No rest for the weary though, we delivered invitations for the CC activities to everyone and finally sat down for a lunch at 7:00pm. Food- We ate in the buffet, both main dining rooms, LaCucina, LeBistro & Moderno and all were very good. The nice thing about the Sun is that there a lot of space around the buffet that they open during the day, the sports bar, Moderno, etc.. Cabin- we were in an Aft balcony 9277, very adequate for the two of us, I continue to detest the shower curtains on this ship as they stick to you in the shower. We had a few minor issues with the cabin and they were fixed as soon as we reported them. Our stateroom attendant Chris was wonderful! The view can't be beat! Activities: We had our Meet & Greet on the first sea day, NCL arranged a room, refreshments and sent senior officers to give a short talk. As a group we decided against a gift exchange, I had an icebreaker bingo game for people to get to know each other and had purchased a small prize from the gift shop, when more than 1 person won, Shi threw in a 2 bottles of wine! There was a CC mid-cruise dinner, the group was given a private dining room and NCL threw in wine! I am detecting a theme.... We had the beverage plan for the first time and loved it! It was fun trying cocktails we normally wouldn't try. Ports & Shore excursions; after we booked this cruise we did our research and discovered there was a 50 / 50 chance of making some ports due to rough sea's, so we were prepared for this. Fortunately it became quickly clear that this was not Captain Ronny Borg's first rodeo- we made it to all ports. The scenery on this itinerary is just stunning. We used NCL for all our shore excursions and for the most part they were excellent. My favorite ports were the Falkland Islands & Puerto Montt Chile. Disembarkation- the ship had an overnight in Buenos Aires, we had a private a walking tour of the city which I highly recommend. We booked an NCL transfer / tour to the airport and while tour part was good.. there were issues at the airport. As part of our tour our luggage went directly to the airport, it was raining and we were dropped to pick up our luggage at Terminal 1, which is where our guide told us "most flights leave from". Well not this day, we had claim our luggage in the rain and then walk 2 blocks to terminal 3- it was covered. People were dropping like flies- the line to check into Delta was beyond long- after an hour or so they started bringing out wheelchairs for people about to collapse- not a good way to end a fabulous trip. Summary- this really turned into a trip of a lifetime; we really enjoyed meeting people from all over the world that we traveled with, the crew of this ship is outstanding, and the itinerary can't be beat! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
From Santiago Chile to Cape Horn, then across to Antarctica for a cruise of the coastal waters for 4 days, then the Falkland Islands, Madryn Argentina, Montevideo Uruguay and then finally Buenos Aires Argentina. Was in Antarctica for New ... Read More
From Santiago Chile to Cape Horn, then across to Antarctica for a cruise of the coastal waters for 4 days, then the Falkland Islands, Madryn Argentina, Montevideo Uruguay and then finally Buenos Aires Argentina. Was in Antarctica for New Years. Have to say this was the most spectacular cruise we've ever been on. It was perfect in every way. The most friendly crew we'd ever experienced. They were having as much fun as we were, which made the whole thing just that much more fun. Nice room, great food and excellent excursions. The views from the ship were just breathtaking. So many good photos, some of them almost surreal. We signed up for the departure day waterways tour with transfer to the airport at the end, and departure went unbelievably smooth. The last day was almost a full day of adventure, and it was easily as good as any other excursion day. The night before departure, we had dinner at "a closed door restaurant" in Buenos Aires, and THAT was really special too. The perfect last meal for a perfect cruise. Like our title says ... this trip was ... S P E C T A C U L A R. really. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
The Crown Princess needs some work. IE: Paint, repairs etc. That being said the crew (nearly everyone) we came in contact with were fabulous, friendly, helpful, informative, polite, & accommodating. Food overall was the best we have ... Read More
The Crown Princess needs some work. IE: Paint, repairs etc. That being said the crew (nearly everyone) we came in contact with were fabulous, friendly, helpful, informative, polite, & accommodating. Food overall was the best we have ever had with Princess on a longer than 7 day cruise. Local entertainment that joined us in several ports were great. Though the music was very good we need more on deck during the sea days. The exercise room should & needs to be open at 6:00 not 7:00. We were there everyday & there was always a large group waiting to get in at 7:00. We are Casino players & the staff was on the most part very friendly though we could have used more BJ tables. Only 2 were open most of the time. We seldom ate in Horizon court as we opt for a light healthy breakfast from room service. Lunch mostly was the Lido grill or Pizza; always good as per normal. We ate at Crown grill twice & it was great. Dinner was always fun (great wait staff) & mostly VERY good & if we did not like something we sent it back & opted & received another choice cheerfully. We originally signed up for the 31 day cruise but cut back to 17; though the other ports coming up next probably would have been just as exciting as ours were. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
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
I had chosen this particular line due to a group of factors such as route, the number of days, ports. Analysing by the shipping point of view is visible that is one of the older ships of the Norwegian Fleet having the necessity of a ... Read More
I had chosen this particular line due to a group of factors such as route, the number of days, ports. Analysing by the shipping point of view is visible that is one of the older ships of the Norwegian Fleet having the necessity of a more constant maintenance visible especially on the days at sea. Also, the configuration of some areas such as the buffet that create like an air tunnel on one side and other can be very unpleasant leading to some health problems such as flu. On the part of the staff, it's visible the significant effort to keep everyone happy, but missing some points of details that would be good to see improved. Clear communication in a case of food allergy between the hotel staff and the shore excursions staff which so far doesn't happen. If you suffer from any allergy, you'll need to inform the shore staff, all the time. Also, the internet on board is a complete rip off if you don't have the full package for the entire cruise, and very very slow. Entertainment on board is good considering the size of the boat. Interior cabins are big and spacious. Good experience, if any of the down points aren't too important for you. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
My wife and I have 300+ days with princess. Every time we go back we worry (just a bit) after reading current reviews on CC. Before writing this was glad to see all south American reviews (except one) were quite positive. Princess DID NOT ... Read More
My wife and I have 300+ days with princess. Every time we go back we worry (just a bit) after reading current reviews on CC. Before writing this was glad to see all south American reviews (except one) were quite positive. Princess DID NOT disappoint us once again. We did the Valparaiso to LA "we're done in SA" repositioning cruise. Recommend going into Santiago early to spend several days at it is one great city. Used private tour to get to cruise port which worked well and for not much extra than Princess transfer from airport. Embarkation was great and efficient. The ship was in great shape with only some of the furniture looking a little tired. Captain Mario Ciruzzi was very informative and very visible around the ship. Shore excursions are always hit or miss so we are doing more on our own (being very careful) and even did one with a CC group. All in all ports were all great with the exception of Coquimbo but it could have been the tour we chose. We always do fixed late MDR. We are not picky eaters so we ALWAYS found something on the menu to please and are servers were great getting to know our likes and dislikes after the third day. We were lucky to experience the Princess entertainer of the year Nathan Foley. Go out your way to see this guy! Other production shows were ok and nothing that we really hadn't seen before. 100+ passengers on the 3 day shore excursion to Machu Picchu had plane problems and we had to leave Lima without them. Princess did an outstanding job getting them back to Lima for the night, flying them to Ecuador, busing them (3 hours) to the port of Manta where we made an unscheduled stop and picked them up to a heroes welcome two days later. One week later we had a medical emergency for a crew member with the USCG air lifting him off the deck and transporting him to a hospital in San Diego. All in all a great trip on a great ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We boarded the ship without any issues or delays which is a great way to start any cruise. On this cruise, we had the mini-suite and we found it to be in excellent order. It appeared to me that the ship had recently been refurbished as ... Read More
We boarded the ship without any issues or delays which is a great way to start any cruise. On this cruise, we had the mini-suite and we found it to be in excellent order. It appeared to me that the ship had recently been refurbished as we saw quite a bit of new carpet, paint, etc. I will say that the service on this ship was some of the best that we have ever had, especially our room steward and dining staff. The two bartenders in the Crooners lounge must be mentioned. Ruben from the Philippines and his female co-bartender learned our names (and everyone else) on the first day and never forgot. They made everyone feel so welcome that their bar was packed every night. The entertainment was so, so. Some acts were better than others but the worst was the pool band. Someone needs to tell the lead singer to find another profession – he cannot sing, to the point that people at the pool were laughing at him – even the staff. The first comedian was very good but the second one from Ireland sounded like he was reading two year old jokes from the Internet. The food on the ship was very good but not the best that I have ever had. The dinners were fine but I cannot put my finger on what was missing. We had lobster twice but even it seemed somewhat bland. Again, it was good, just not great like our last sail on the Ruby Princess. Overall, I would highly recommend this ship and this line. We really enjoyed ourselves. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
My wife and I had a wonderful cruise on board Zaandam. The ship, despite being 16 years old, is still in very top condition. The cabin washroom is equipped well and looks quite modern. All common areas are well maintained. This is our 12th ... Read More
My wife and I had a wonderful cruise on board Zaandam. The ship, despite being 16 years old, is still in very top condition. The cabin washroom is equipped well and looks quite modern. All common areas are well maintained. This is our 12th cruise and second with HAL. The previous HAL cruise was on Westerdam. Service is no doubt ahead of the other cruise lines that are of similar pricing structures. Cruise director arranged very good shows and none disappointed us. The Gala night that replaced Formal benefited many passengers, although a few tuxedos could be seen in the dining area as well as in the theatre. I played tennis with a front desk staff while off duty. That is service beyond call of duty. Food was great, especially the lobster night at one of the gala attire evenings. Tender boat arrangements of three ports were very well managed. We had enjoyed the great weather every time we went ashore. I felt so lucky that we were being toured around at Falkland Islands to see Penguins by an independent agent Patrick Watt on Tuesday, March 15th. Patrick organized about 8-10 4X4 and we travelled to Bertha’s Beach as well as other places. Bertha’s Beach is the home of a large colony of Gentoo penguins who have the freedom of a beautiful long white sand beach. We also saw two King penguins, a bonus. In addition, we also saw many Magellanic penguins. Great experience for us. Patrick is the third generation in Falklands and he knows the place, history extremely well. His expertise and actual experience of the Falkland War gave us more in-depth understanding of the historical event. On that gorgeous day of March 15th, both my wife and I really enjoyed every moment of the excursion. If you are thinking of seeing penguins in your South America cruise, you owe it to yourself not to contact Patrick Watt - pwatts@horizon.co.fk. He responded to email very promptly, and in great details. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We flew overnight from Miami to Santiago, arriving 8:30 a.m. We had an interesting 3-hour Turis (Pauline and driver Juan) led tour of Santiago. A very thorough introduction to the historical and cultural highlights of Santiago. Five bus ... Read More
We flew overnight from Miami to Santiago, arriving 8:30 a.m. We had an interesting 3-hour Turis (Pauline and driver Juan) led tour of Santiago. A very thorough introduction to the historical and cultural highlights of Santiago. Five bus loads of Zaandam passengers stayed at the Sheraton Santiago Hotel which made the transfer Sunday morning to the port city of Valparaiso very convenient. Sunday morning’s 1.5 hr. bus ride with one potty break transfer from Sheraton to Valparaiso terminal. Lilianna was our bus #4 guide who narrated the entire trip. Very informative. As you walk through terminal shops be sure to sample the Veremonte Reserva Sauvignon Blanc from the Villa de Casablanca vineyards, Chile. HAL registration very smooth, taking barely 25 minutes in queue and processing. Sea Days provided good opportunities to look back to reflect on activities done, classes or upcoming port expectations. Our Location Guide Ryan was inspirational and a really positive influence as we looked forward to seeing and hearing his presentations. EVENING ENTERTAINMENT: The Zaandam entertainers and the HALCat band were consistently good. Classique starred the Singers and Dancers was wonderful. Wife even commented she would have paid a fee to see; it was that good of a cruise ship show. Monday SHOWTIME WAS Jaz Danion who entertained us with world class juggling and feats of strength and balance. Tuesday SHOWTIME featured International renowned Harpist Shirley Dominguez performing "When the Harp goes Latin." Backed by the HALcats and superb theatrical smoke and lighting, we few who attended Shirley's passionate performance were really entertained. Truth be told, we went expecting to listen to her first song. We happily stayed her entire 45 minute show. Wednesday’s SHOTIME performer was British operatic Tenor Lee Brantley. We opted for March Madness. Our loss! On Friday we were entertained by both Shirley and Lee…fast paced and powerful. A very good show. Monday’s SHOWTIME was highlighted by Salvatore Hasard, singer and multi-instrumentalist performing "Life is Music." Moving effortlessly from his "Bride," his pearl white electric guitar, performing several songs with Harmonica, Piano, from which he performed several 'solo-duets,' Saxophone, and Drums from which he performed a tribute to his favorite multi-instrumentalists...Stevie Wonder. His between-song stories and solid playing and vocals made this a fun show. Tuesday’s SHOWTIME entertainer was Comedian Andrew Kennedy. Reality (family) Comedy. From his 83 year old Mister McGoo, proper Brit father to his 5'0" Columbian Latina mother, lily white Andrew looks at life (never judging a book by its cover) through the multi-cultural eyes of a bilingual boy who was born to the interpreter to his father and mother. Showtime entertainment Thursday featured PAMPAS DEVILS GAUCHOS: a traditional South American gaucho show including the Argentinean Tango, Bolas, and Argentinean tap dancing as well as a little comedy featuring show man, Juan Pablo Vino. Showtime entertainment Friday featured the HAL singers and dancers who performed a really professional program entitled simply, "DANCE." We closed each evening with Piano Man Van, a very versatile club piano man / show man. PORTS OF CALL: Tender ports—Puerto Montt, Puerto Chacabuco, and Stanley…tender operations went very smoothly. In Puerto Montt we had an easy transfer from ship to comfortable bus. I enjoyed the ride as our guide was easy to understand and very informative. First stop, after a short drive, the rushing cascades of Petrohue Falls. We spent 45 mins. there with plenty time to shop a bit at a handicraft market. Our tour took us next up the steep and winding roads to the near peak of Osorno Volcano. Unforttnately, cloud cover blocked our view of the volcano all day. Stopping for lunch at a German Restaurant was a highlight. The food was delicious, lovely atmosphere and beautiful flowers in the gardens. Lastly, we spent an hour shopping in Puerto Varas. The 7 1/2 hour excursion made for a wonderful day. In Puerto Chacabuco we took the HAL led Northern Patagonia and Coyhaique City tour, an enjoyable day exactly as the brochure describes. Not mentioned was the ‘snack’ we had halfway through the trip…awesome. In Punta Arenas we scheduled the Off the Beaten Path: Magdalena (Island) Penguin Reserve (as a Plan B in case Stanley didn’t permit entry.) There were still 20,000 to 25,000 pairs of Magelanic Penguins in residence. We had the ultimate in good fortune. The previous day’s tour was cancelled as was our afternoon’s trip. We had smooth sailing (2-4’ seas) for the 2.5 hour ferry ride to the island. Returning though seas built to 8-11’ seas and building. What a magnificent encounter with these burrowing creatures. Our dockage at Ushuaia was delayed by 1.5 hours due to high crosswinds and very choppy seas. We had an interesting excursion. Our 6:30 departure was adjusted to 7:30 so we were able to do our entire Drive to Tierra del Fuego National Park excursion during which we stopped at a lake across which was an Argentine mountain range which was lovely. We then backtracked to a visitors center / restaurant for a bite to eat / photo op. Another view of the same lake and similar mountain views. In this lake we saw five ducks bobbing in the growing swells. Then we made a stop at crazy Carlos, keeper of the End of the World Post Office in a shack on a wooden pier. Despite getting near 6:30 on Sunday afternoon, he was still open, quite happy to sell post cards, hawking some that bore images of himself in a number of different poses and designs taken over his 30 year tenure. The absolute pinnacle of our South American journey was the Patrick Watts led Bertha’s Beach / Gypsy Cove excursion which we had booked and hawked to our Cruise Critic Roll Call Family. We wound up with 26 on this excursion. We arrived Prince William Bay / Sound a little ahead of schedule. The trip to Stanley was smooth as silk. In fact, the largest swells occurred when we encountered the wake of oncoming tenders retuning to the Zaandam from Stanley. Excellent boarding of tender, really calm bay to and from Stanley pier. Patrick and his team were right where we expected him to be.. With driver Sara we were in a 7-9 SUV caravan. Tremendous colony of Gentoo penguins. A comical juvenile kept Gypsy Cove , a mine strew beach, a remnant of the Falklands war. Despite there only being 7 Magellanic penguins this late in the season, the elevated walkway around the cove provided beautiful views of the Zaandam and Stanley city in the distance. In Montevideo we ventured out into town on the suggestion of our location guide Ryan. Armed with a “Circuitous Turistico Walking Tour” map, rain suits and umbrellas, we walked the 15 blocks effortlessly to independence Square. On the way we scoped out the stores we wanted to walk through on the return to the ship. Despite the morning rains, and the persistent threat throughout the afternoon, we got to see and do everything we had set out to do. Due to our 9:50 flight home on Sunday, we had two full days in Buenos Aires. Saturday we did the HAL led Gaucho Life on the Pampas: great fun—gaucho horse ballet, trick riding, nice walk around estancia, terrific meal of b-b-q steak, chicken, sausage after which guitarists played / sang, and Tango dancers performed. Local wines were very good and, like at every other port, flowed like (excuse me) wine. And oh, those all you can eat empanadas. Sun. Mar. 20 BUENOS AIRES disembarkation was smooth as silk. Highlights & Tango Show w/airport transfer for those with flights later than 8pm. Buenos Aires tour was very interesting, esp. Recoleta cemetery (Eva Peron (Duarte) story. The Pink Palace from which she addressed her people, Pope Francis's municipal cathedral, the famous La Boca neighborhood, Camalita Street, the soccer stadium. The highlight was the luncheon Tango Show at Cafe de los Angelitos before heading to the Airport. Read Less
Sail Date March 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 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
Our cruise on the Celebrity Infinity was from Valparaiso cruising Northward seeing South America, Panamagg Canal and ending in Ft Lauderdale. Let me discuss some of the pre-cruise events. Our flight to Santiago was uneventful with the ... Read More
Our cruise on the Celebrity Infinity was from Valparaiso cruising Northward seeing South America, Panamagg Canal and ending in Ft Lauderdale. Let me discuss some of the pre-cruise events. Our flight to Santiago was uneventful with the airport recovering from the 2010 earthquake which significantly damaged the International airport. Our private tour guides, Sergio and Annaliese from Perfect Day tours where perfect hosts and gave us a customized tour of Vineyards, Isla Negra, Vina Del Mar and dropped us off in our Valparaiso B&B called Hostel Morgan. The B&B was reasonable, in a fun area with many food options but a bit noisy at night. Thankfully, we had earplugs! Embarkation was easy and reasonably efficient. The cab was 8,000 pesos which included 2,000 peso tip. While most of the ports of call were arranged using private excursions (all amazing), we did arrange two Celebrity tours with Celebrity. The full day tour to the Altiplano from the port of Arica was amazing with Llamas, Guanacos, Vincunas, Alpakas, and Chilean Flamingos. The guide was informative and fun. The next port excursion with Celebrity from Pisco to the Ballestra Isle which also had great views of bird and sea animals but the trip was delayed with a late arrival of our boat. Leaving less time for wildlife. The Celebrity Infinity staff welcomed us onboard. The crew needed a long time to clean and sanitize any ship based in South American typically struggle to control Noro that's brought in from SA ports. They did keep us comfortable in the buffet until our rooms were ready at 4pm. Our stateroom was clean and in good order except for a broken telephone which we reported to our stewards when they came to meet us. The Celebrity Infinity main dining room service was excellent and the staff was top-notch. Our food was as good or better than other cruise lines we have used (HAL and NCL). The at sea teaching classes were also good providing good information and background on the upcoming ports and culture of the ports/countries that we would visit. However, the entertainment onboard was poor and wasn't appropriate for a South American cruise. Seeing poor Broadway shows and performers from everywhere but South America was disappointing. On other cruise lines, when we would pull into a port, they would have periodically have culturally relevant shows (e.g., in Scotland on a 2013 cruise, we had Scottish Bagpipers and on a trip with a port call in Istanbul, we had a Turkish dancers). The entertainment was unimaginative and inappropriate with some singers who were off-key. I've seen High School musicals which showed more imagination. We used one shore excursion from the ship and it was delayed (with our group losing an hour waiting for a boat and guide). Very upset cruisers who had to stand in the sun for an hour by the pier waiting. My phone voice mail system wasn't operational for the entire cruise which hampered our Cruise Critic groups from getting together or updating tour. We called repeatedly throughout the two-week cruise and finally got a senior staff member who indicated that "it's a French voicemail system and we've been having issues with it". However, I would not that after noting this on a comment card, they gave us some onboard credit (so at least they finally tried to provide restitution for our inconvenience). I'll likely not use Celebrity in the future based on price/ value but did enjoy the South American ports and Panama Canal. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Because we there was the only cruise from chile to come back home at the time, the buffet are is way too small, I never had to make a long line to eat at any other cruise company. We did not like it at all to go to the buffet, and the food ... Read More
Because we there was the only cruise from chile to come back home at the time, the buffet are is way too small, I never had to make a long line to eat at any other cruise company. We did not like it at all to go to the buffet, and the food was nothing to talk about, we do not like rosemary spice and the chef used it almost in every dish, we had a talk with him and he said that the recipe call for so that was that. Our waiter at dinner time, we eat around 6 pm, at set down dinner, was more interested in serving the tables that order lots of wine and drinks than us that we were only two and only order wine, so we had to way a very long time to get any thing the service was terrible. The people at the crap table in the casino were very nice. Our thoughts about the cruise is that they need to train there people the way celebrity cruises does, in celebrity you feel special but in princess you do not. The only good thing about this cruise is that we meet some great new friends that are from chile and were coming on vacation to Los Angeles , Vegas and San Francisco . Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
My husband and I honeymooned on the Zaandam over Thanksgiving. We knew that HAL is known as a cruise line for an older set but we were intrigued by the itinerary. We didn’t regret our choice for a moment. We had a large ocean view cabin ... Read More
My husband and I honeymooned on the Zaandam over Thanksgiving. We knew that HAL is known as a cruise line for an older set but we were intrigued by the itinerary. We didn’t regret our choice for a moment. We had a large ocean view cabin and honestly, it was perfect for us. It was large enough for us to unpack and the bed was extremely comfortable (we stayed in a very nice hotel in BA after the cruise and mourned the loss of the Zaandam bed). I guess we’re not very picky but everything the room was just right for us. Our amazing stewards, Dodt and Tsiot, did a fantastic job with two fairly untidy people and we so appreciated them for it. I’ve sailed on several cruises before and being kind of a foodie (even if that term is overused and silly), I wasn’t expecting much from the food on the cruise. I have to say, I was very impressed, especially with the food in the dining room. Formal night meals were also phenomenal, last night my husband and I were talking about the surf and turf dinner. It was that good. We also appreciated Sebastiano, the chef, making the rounds of the dining room and chatting with everyone. It’s a nice touch. We didn’t go to too many shows but we went to the Filipino crew show and it was spectacular. It’s lovely that HAL encourages their staff to show off their culture. They were clearly very proud and it made for an entertaining evening. Last but not least, we can’t say enough good things about the crew. Lance’s talks were informative and I never felt like he was hard selling the ship tours. Kara, the librarian, has the patience of a saint. Eka, our dining room server, was charming and remembered not just our names but our preferences. Sonny, the wine steward, was personable and always on top of things. Last, but certainly not least, Jeremy, the show host helped to make our honeymoon awesome. He got my husband (never really a joiner) to participate in activities, kept the dance parties going for us and is certainly a highlight of the Zaandam. He is cheerful, fun, energetic and everyone we spoke to loved him. We’re so glad we picked the Zaandam for our honeymoon.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
My wife and I, along with five other couples recently completed a 14 night cruise from Valparaiso, Chile to Miami via the Panama Canal. The purpose of this cruise was to celebrate my 70th birthday. This was our 18th cruise and we have ... Read More
My wife and I, along with five other couples recently completed a 14 night cruise from Valparaiso, Chile to Miami via the Panama Canal. The purpose of this cruise was to celebrate my 70th birthday. This was our 18th cruise and we have Elite status. I mention this so that others realize we are not new to this game. We flew into Santiago four days early, staying at the Marriott hotel, in order to spend time in the city and take a day trip into the Andes. To reach Valparaiso we also hired a van at the hotel and toured our way to the ship. Boarding went very smoothly, and in less than 20 minutes we were aboard, and in our Aqua class cabins. Everyone in our group seemed more than pleased with the ship. the food, the crew, and just about everything connected with this cruise. Two of the couples having recently completed a cruise from Istanbul to Dubai on Regent, seemed especially pleased, so much so that they cancelled another cruise with the same line for this fall, and booked a Celebrity cruise instead. In fact four of the couples also booked a 14 night cruise with Celebrity for next March. The only negative was a small outbreak of Noro that reared up. Having said that, I must commend the ship's staff for keeping the outbreak under control by constantly cleaning, cleaning, and then cleaning again. It worked! The number of cases was held in check, the spreading of the virus was stopped and the cruise continued. Yes, it did cause some confusion and a bit of chaos in Oceanview, but I figure that so many crew members were wiping down the ship that some services suffered. A first world problem, really. I suppose that if one was confined to one's cabin, then the trip would suffer, but what other choice is there? As for ports on this cruise, I would refer you to other reviews. In general, I concur with what others have written. The passage through the canal was fascinating, and Cartagena was our favorite stop. We got off the ship right on time and were deposited quickly at the airport. That is another story for another time! Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
This was our 1 cruise on a Crystal ship and we had heard only good things about Crystal Cruises, but there were also some negative items we did not appreciate at all. First to the good things: nice ship, good size (below 1'000 ... Read More
This was our 1 cruise on a Crystal ship and we had heard only good things about Crystal Cruises, but there were also some negative items we did not appreciate at all. First to the good things: nice ship, good size (below 1'000 PAX), never crowded, excellent food in all restaurants, excellent service and staff. Perfectly organised boarding in Valparaiso and de-boarding in Buenos Aires. Well organised excursions (but VERY expensive but that's the same on other cruise lines). Some of the excursions did not fulfill the expectations, but most of them did. Negative things: Small cabin (everything we needed was there, but we would have appreciated a bit more space in the room as well on the veranda), considering the price paid. Lido Restaurant openings: We would expect that this (morning self service restaurant) would also be open EVERY evening for a light (self-service or service) dinner (why not a steak restaurant) or a place for a 'sightseeing dinner' (nice large windows, ideal for a dinner in places such as the inside passages on the Chilean side, the Magellan Passage, the Beagle Street or the Cape Horn as well as during the evenings in Antarctica or between Puerto Madryn and B. Aires with sunset around 10 pm or regions with warm climate (but unfortunately the Lido was only open on 3 evenings); The other item which disturbed us a lot, was the frequent closure (or closed bar service) at the PALM COURT (the nicest place on board above the bridge with large windows to the front and the sides and a splendid view). We instantly fell in love with this place, but many times when we wanted to go for a drink before dinner (were on late seating), we were refused entry because of some Bridge club happenings or just because the Bar was not attended). Even at times when the Bar should have been open (as per the daily Reflection), the Bar was unattended). I reported this fact, got an excuse from the Hotel manager, but nothing changed. This is, for a deluxe cruise line as Crystal pretends to be, totally unacceptable, since the remaining 3 Bars (one next to the lobby and two very dark and noisy ones, were not at all our taste). What we did is get a bottle of wine and install ourselves on the terrace of the closed Lido Cafe or on our veranda (weather permitting). We were also quite unhappy, with the opening hours of the various food places (everything closed at 6pm !! except the for the dining room and the 2 restaurants). There was no place open to get some finger food after 6 pm, something we have not seen on any other cruise line. Final remark: Crystal Cruises are expensive, provide excellent food and service, have well trained staff. As 1st time cruisers we felt sometimes a bit neglected compared to the C.C. society members. We would have expected to be personally informed about the future Crystal cruise society benefits (there was plenty of time on a 19 day cruise for an information session on a sea day with all 1st timers). So yes we liked some of it, but it was not enough to convince us to book again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We chose this itinerary for it's potental to demonstrate the capricious beauty of Mother Nature, and she did not disappoint. We sailed through gale force winds, high seas, rain and fog, but nothing could dampen our appreciation of the ... Read More
We chose this itinerary for it's potental to demonstrate the capricious beauty of Mother Nature, and she did not disappoint. We sailed through gale force winds, high seas, rain and fog, but nothing could dampen our appreciation of the wonders of nature on this itinerary. The Chilean Fjords are windswept, desolate, and breathtakingly awesome to view. Due to limited times in ports because of rough weather, the high point of our journey for scenic cruising was really the morning we slid by the five glaciers in the Beagle Channel on the way in to Ushuaia. What little we could see due to the low lying clouds was spectacular. Though the logistics of the cruise did have problems, which I will mention later in this review, the beauty of one of the most desolate places on our planet more than made up for any inconveniences. This was our second voyage on Princess. The Star Princess is a lovely ship, and though large, there are many places for you to enjoy so you never really feel too crowded, unless you are trying to tender ashore. More on this below. The good: Dining: We chose Anytime Dining and ate primarily in the Portofino Dining Room. The head waiters Wolfgang and Lazlo(?) were excellent at getting us seated at great tables, or helping us find tables for two. They always remembered us, which was kind of nice. Our favorite waiters were Valentina and Godfredo and Jorge from Brazil, who was a great singer by the way! The food was very well prepared, and we never had to wait for a table. We ate one night at the Crown Grill and had a fantastic meal and a nice table over by the window where we could look out at a gorgeous sunset. Stateroom: We were far aft on the Baja deck and definitely felt the high seas back there, but we loved our location. The shower was larger than the one we had on the Island Princess, and we really liked our stateroom layout and found the room clean and up to date. Our stateroom attendant, Rhoderic, was excellent. He went above and beyond the call of duty and we considered him one of the best attendants we have ever had on any cruise line. Shore Excursions: We took a Princess excursion in Uruguay to an estancia and had the best time ever. We had to book a Princess excursion in Puerto Madryn because the weather made the scheduled trip to the Falklands out of the question and we had no plans for this new stop. We went to the Peninsula Valdez and thought it was a really great excursion. Lots of wildlife to see, including Rheas, Guanacos, Elephant Seals, Penguins, and Sea Lions. We even saw a little fox by a visitor's center. The Not So Good: LINES: The tendering operations were by far the worst we have ever encountered on any cruise. On the day we were to tender to Puerto Montt, the line for tender tickets for people going ashore independently snaked twice around the atrium. As usual, there were some people who wanted to jump ahead in line, and this caused a near riot at one point. We only got to spend a few hours in port, and because there was only one, yes one, dock space for a single tender at a time, the lines to get back to the ship were horrendous. People were standing out in the rain for ages. It wasn't pretty. Then, in Ushuaia, same thing. One tender at a time to pick up and drop off passengers. With 2600 passengers, (with most wanting to go on shore), it was a recipe for disaster. Passengers were throwing up in the tenders while bobbing around waiting for their turn to disembark at the dock. At the end of the day, Princess enlisted a catamaran to move passengers from the dock (where we stood in freezing rain waiting for single tenders to load up) to the ship. We were out of the rain, but had to wait to unload at the ship since it was, you guessed it, one at a time. It was a real mess and unacceptable. The Star could really use some improvement in this area. Horizon Court: The food was OK, but not much variety. For a ship of this size, we thought the buffet was small and uninspired. Breakfast was OK, but no omelet station for example, and very little variety. Every morning, same thing: an offering of fried eggs, scrambled eggs, and little pre made omelets, sausage, bacon, etc. We purchased a soda card since the only drink offerings at the Horizon Court were water, ice tea, coffee and tea. You have to ask for lemonade....At breakfast there is juice, which was nice...we are usually pretty easy to please, but we were underwhelmed with the buffet on this ship. On several sea days, they had special lunch buffets, which kind of livened things up a bit. Nothing to write home about that's for sure. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was my 12th cruise overall, and 6th on Princess. Six cruises makes you an "Elite" member of the Captain's circle. The only important upgrade is $100 worth of free internet, which we greatly appreciated. We flew to ... Read More
This was my 12th cruise overall, and 6th on Princess. Six cruises makes you an "Elite" member of the Captain's circle. The only important upgrade is $100 worth of free internet, which we greatly appreciated. We flew to Santiago direct from Toronto and arrived one day early, staying at the Diego del Almagro hotel, 1 km from the airport, with free shuttle service. A very good choice if you just want to rest up from the overnight flight. Next morning we got the shuttle back to the airport at 9 am. There were Princess people everywhere, and our bags were immediately put on a big truck headed for the ship. We boarded a coach and set out for the 2 hour drive to Valparaiso shortly thereafter. Arriving in the port around 11:30, we were taken to a very nice Sheraton hotel, where there was a registration desk set up in a ballroom, with refreshments available. Very pleasant way to check in for the ship. We had about a half hour to walk along the waterfront and then back on the coach to the pier. We had to line up in a cargo shed to get our key card and then on a shuttle through a mountain of containers to the ship. We boarded and were in our cabin at 1:10. Very efficient overall. The ship was sparkling. She had recently been through a dry dock and almost everything looked fresh, especially the paint on the exterior. The Atrium has been renovated to resemble that of the newest ships. The only sign of neglect we noticed was the fabric on the chairs in the Dining Room (we ate in the Portofino almost all of the time). There were stains on many of the chairs which was a bit of a turnoff as you sat down to dinner. We were midship on Caribe deck and delighted with our cabin and our room steward. We enjoy the much larger balconies to be found on Caribe. We eat almost all of our meals in the Dining Room, breakfast and lunch included. It is far more relaxing, better tasting food and controlled portions than if you eat a lot in the buffet. On the second night of the cruise, we discovered Table 126 and its other Table for 2 neighbors in the Portofino dining room. We had a tremendous waiter, Luis from Portugal (Hi Luis!), assisted by Mihai, who was on the last cruise of his contract but didn't act like it. They were extremely friendly and helpful and really made the cruise for us. We have been fortunate to have had several great waiters on Princess over the past few years (Daniel on Golden, Ryan on Island come immediately to mind). We like Anytime dining but also like to have the same waiter each night, once we find a good one, and since we like to eat a little later than the first sitting of Fixed, and want a Table for 2, Anytime works for us. I wish you could actually make a standing reservation for a specific table at a specific time, but they wouldn't do it for us this time. So we just made sure we arrived in time to get one of Luis's tables each night. Overall, the food was very good, I thought. Taste seems to have improved on Princess in the past couple of years. We had a few disappointments, but not many. The disappointing thing is that they seem to have cut way back on quality and quantity of beef entrees. I never had any really good beef on the cruise, and Prime Rib was never even offered. We ate our Anniversary Meal in the Crown Grill, and it was a major disappointment. I will not spend the extra money to go there again. The Filet I ordered was tasteless and the service was poor. Overall the food is not quite as good as on Holland America and upscale cruise lines, but it isn't that far off. Entertainment - The Star had a veteran Cruise Director - Richard Joseph, making his first trip on the Star, and Deputy Julie James. We have cruised with both of them before and they are both very good at their jobs. The rest of the Cruise staff were mediocre, as we noticed on our last cruise on the Island. The Production shows were predictably good (we had seen two of them on other cruises, but enjoyed them nonetheless) and the solo entertainers brought on board were generally very good. There was a good variety of musicians playing at various venues on the ship. One thing we did notice, is that the "prizes" offered for winning various passenger participation events have been cheapened considerably. We received a rose and 4 chocolates for winning one event - winning the same event last year netted us a bottle of bubbly and $300 Spa certificate. Itinerary - I have added comments about the various ports elsewhere in this review. Overall, I would say the itinerary is disappointing from Valparaiso until you get to the Amalia glacier. After that, it is great. It is a very special experience to round Cape Horn. We enjoyed cruising the Chilean fjiords and loved Stanley and Montevideo. Note, if you are cruising in the same direction as us, starting in the Pacific and ending in the Atlantic, you want to be on the Port side of the ship for the best views. Or Starboard if going the other way. Disembarkation - This was not a highlight of the experience, once leaving the ship. Utter chaos on the gangway and in the terminal. We were supposed to be getting on a coach to begin our land tour, and even the usually helpful Shorex guy had no idea where we were supposed to go. We stood in a cramped area for what seemed like a very long time, getting bumped and jostled, before someone finally came along and directed us to the coach. Land tour - We began our 6 day land tour, with 2 days each in Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls and Rio de Janeiro. It was the best part of the trip for sure. We had just an outstanding Tour Director - Neidle Lee of SAT Tours. I have done a lot of land tours, especially with Globus (for whom she also works) and have never met her equal. It was a most pleasant way to end the trip. Overall, this cruisetour exceeded my expectations. I was not happy to learn after final payment had been made for the cruise, about all the extra charges, such as the $132 US pp entry fee for the privilege of landing at Santiago airport. It was bureaucracy at its finest, as the agents were rejecting even slightly used US currency. Be sure to bring crisp new bills! And then there was the fiasco of having to send our Passports to the Brazilian embassy for Visas - which cost over $250 total and meant we were without passports for over a month. The ridiculous excess baggage fees flying to Iguazu Falls, and finally the departure tax to leave Brazil, which I was delighted to discover had already been paid when I purchased my air ticket. But while those annoyances still lead me to feel I will not be back this way any time soon, I still enjoyed the trip immensely and come home with many good memories. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009

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