Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

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Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 19 Feb 2018, 22:48

1. Prologue

Having done quite a few cruises in local waters we have started to get more adventurous lately and getting disillusioned with P&O we have in the main jumped ship to Princess. Sometime in May last year Mrs QBob had her attention caught by a half page advertisement in The Times by Imagine Cruising offering a cruise from Santiago to Buenos Aires going around Cape Horn and more importantly calling at the Falkland Isles amongst other stops. I was rather taken by the option of visiting the Iguazu Falls and of having a stay in Rio de Janeiro. The cruise lasts fourteen nights and operates in both directions with a choice of several dates. One thing led to another and before I knew it we were getting quotations. We chose a January departure from Chile to Argentina, mainly to avoid the dismal winter evenings.

The quote from Imagine Cruising was reasonable but I wasn't too happy with the flights and I wanted an extra couple of nights in Santiago and a bit longer at the end. Eventually I decided that I could do better myself and booked the cruise direct with Princess themselves. Now for the flights and hotels. Princess do flights but they couldn't understand that there are two airports at Iguazu, one on the Argentinian side and one in Brazil, and could only offer a convoluted flight via Rio. Eventually I used British Airways to book flights from London out to Santiago (via Madrid) and back from Rio. They couldn't offer the internal flights so I booked ones from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu on the Aerolineas Argentineas website for £61.70 each and separately from Iguaçu to Rio with LATAM for £71.60 each. If you buy just the flights with BA then you have to pay the full amount immediately but if you add even one night in a hotel then it becomes a holiday and you're covered by ATOL and don't have to pay the full amount until just a few weeks before departure, which helps a lot with the cash flow. I chose two nights in Santiago, three in Iguazu and three in Rio. It would have only been two in Rio but I wanted a direct flight back.

Now we had an itinerary.

Overnight flight via Madrid to Santiago
Two nights in hotel Regal Pacific
Fourteen night cruise round Cape Horn to Buenos Aires
Flight from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu
Three nights in Belmond Das Cataratas
Flight from Iguaçu to Rio
Three nights in Belmond Copacabana Palace in Rio
Overnight flight back to Heathrow

The rest will be somewhat experimental. I shall try to post as many photographs as possible.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Ranchi » 20 Feb 2018, 07:50

Bona....enjoy.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Dancing Queen » 20 Feb 2018, 09:05

I shall look forward to reading this review :thumbup:
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by GillD46 » 20 Feb 2018, 10:59

Looking forward to this.
Gill


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 20 Feb 2018, 16:42

2. Getting there

Our flights out are on Sunday 14th January overnight. Our booking was for a guaranteed BF grade balcony cabin but it wasn't until the Monday before that I received the cabin allocation and was pleased to have an 'upgrade' to a BD grade on C deck. Emerald Princess is the same class as Ventura and also has a similar walkway up around the bow on the promenade deck. We once had a balcony cabin on D deck on Ventura which was very good but on Emerald Princess this desk is all given over to mini suites so we were happy. Early on at 04:58 Friday 12th January I get an email from Princess with a 'Moveover Offer'. If we would like to move from our balcony to an inside cabin they will give us "A 2,030 USD per person refundable Onboard credit (1,500 GBP per person)". Effectively we would have the cruise for free. After a few moments discussion we decide that this is not the sort of cruise that we wanted and we don't take up the offer. Our daughter thinks we are mad.

We had over eight months to prepare our packing for this yet somehow it all comes down to the last few hours. I have a car booked for 13:10 to take us to Heathrow even though it only takes an hour to get there and the flight is not until 17:10 but there is not point sitting at home twiddling your fingers when you can do that at the airport. We sit in an airport lounge until our flight is ready and everything goes smoothly with a flight time of 2h20. The aircraft is an A320 operated by Iberia. There is a choice of several flights a day to Madrid and I had allowed for a wait between flights of just over three hours in case of problems.

Madrid airport late on a Sunday night is rather quiet and it is easy to spot all the other couples on the same flight to the same cruise. The age, the white hair, the Marks & Spencer outfits are unmistakably British. We pass the time with a very nice meal in a very nice restaurant on the concourse. Jamon Iberico and a goat's cheese salad followed by paella for two all washed down by a bottle of Albarino white wine. MQB likes paella and it is always for a minimum of two so i have to have it too. I'm good like that.

The aircraft is and A330 operated by Iberia. This has 2-4-2 seating so I had prebooked seats by a window. The flight over was long and tedious but less than the scheduled 13hours and somehow we survived it. The geology underneath was very interesting. I missed the Amazon because it was still dark but the Paraguayan Pampas appeared at dawn. Very flat and agriculture everywhere. A good view of the foothills of the Andes which looked very dry and dusty, being in the rain shadow of the mountains. Lots of red and multicoloured earth. I was a bit disappointed with the Andes themselves, not as high as those further north in Peru and Ecuador but there was some snow on the tops. It was fascinating to look at the small roads and tracks winding through the hills, hills which were well over 10,000 feet high.

Over the Andes we turn south to make our approach and find beneath us a complete carpet of low-lying cloud. We drop through to an overcast but bright sky and land smoothly at about 09:30 on Monday morning. Apparently because we are early there is no gate ready for us and we have to wait 10 or 15 minutes on the apron. An American Airlines plane arrived at the same time so immigration was slow but we've had a lot worse.

I have a transfer booked and it's with some relief that we see our name on the board and the driver Juan waiting for us. Our hotel is on the other side of town but this is our first time in South America and everything is new to us. I had requested an early checkin and our room is ready for us when we arrive just after 11:00. Wonderful news

(Now let's try this some image posting)
https://photos.app.goo.gl/7ZRRUCrsovKyrPcU2
https://photos.app.goo.gl/o49QHs10VySuflvi1
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Bl2qaghGijhjhdWu2

Image
Last edited by Quizzical Bob on 20 Feb 2018, 16:47, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Dennis The Menace » 20 Feb 2018, 18:33

Really enjoying it so far Robert, looking forward to reading some more 😀

Thanks for taking the time to do this.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by GillD46 » 20 Feb 2018, 18:54

South America is so very different from anywhere else we found. Looking forward to more.
Gill


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 21 Feb 2018, 00:06

Some photos from Santiago.

View from hotel room. A curious mixture of established residential and new high-rise business buildings.We were in Las Condes district which is away from the town centre but on the Metro line at 'Manquehue', pronounced 'manky way'

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Not a bad hotel. Reasonably priced and booked through BA. Very friendly people.
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Quite a pleasant area around the hotel.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Jan Rosser » 21 Feb 2018, 09:10

Enjoying your reports especially with the photos - thanks for posting - looking forward to more :thumbup:
Janis

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Manoverboard » 21 Feb 2018, 14:13

We had Rio to Santiago, with 3 added days in each, booked in 2013 on Adonia but P&O axed all four of the Argentinian Ports ... we, in turn, axed the holiday so will read your report with great interest.

ps ... I cook a very tasty Paella for Mobietta and I but there is always more than enough for four :lol:


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 21 Feb 2018, 15:12

Manoverboard wrote:
21 Feb 2018, 14:13
We had Rio to Santiago, with 3 added days in each, booked in 2013 on Adonia but P&O axed all four of the Argentinian Ports ... we, in turn, axed the holiday so will read your report with great interest.

ps ... I cook a very tasty Paella for Mobietta and I but there is always more than enough for four :lol:
There are political problems with ships that are perceived to be British callling at the Falklands. The Argentines get upset about them. That's one of the reasons that we chose Princess, which is seen as an American line.

Thanks for the offer. There might be a bit too much rice in it for me :shock:

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Mervyn and Trish » 21 Feb 2018, 15:29

Sounds like an interesting trip


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 21 Feb 2018, 16:13

3. Santiago - Monday 15th January

Once comfortably established in our room the hotel doorman casually mentions that the Pope is visiting Chile and will be arriving that evening in Santiago and that as a popular gesture the President has declared that the following day (Tuesday) will be a national holiday so that the hundreds of thousands who wanted to attend an open air mass in a park in the city could safely take the day off work with a clear conscience. Consequently we should expect that Santiago would be effectively shut for the day. Fortunately I was ahead of His Holiness on this occasion and had previously booked a full day wine-tasting tour for the Tuesday. Knowing that we had a transfer to join the ship in San Antonio booked for early afternoon on the Wednesday that only left the Monday afternoon for the delights of central Santiago.

We still had a little time before lunch so I ventured outside on a reconnaissance mission to see if I could get some bottles of water and a few nibbles to satisfy the evening munchies. A little corner shop only did large flagons of water and I ended up in a supermarket called 'Lider'. I ought a couple of bottles and some crisps and also some Dove deodorant because she couldn't remember packing hers and I wasn't going to risk holding my nose for the next three weeks or so. By the time I returned she had found it anyway.

There were quite a few cafes and fast-food places near the hotel including Burger King and Dominos Pizza but we don't see the point of going halfway round the world just to eat in the same sort of joint that we could find back home so we had lunch in the pavement cafe associated with the hotel restaurant. I had a hamburger and she had a pizza.

Once nicely fed and watered we were up for a trip into the city for a quick shoofty. This involved taking the Metro. They don't take cash and you need to buy a 'BIP' smartcard which you load up with smartdosh. Most Metro stations have a ticket office (Boleteria) and it was straightforward to buy a card preloaded with four trips. It only took twenty minutes or so to get into the city centre and we soon popped up out of the ground into the bustle and noise of a strange city. Mrs QB wasn't up to walking too far and the sun was beginning to break through so it was getting warmer. I had thought of going to the fish and fruit market but the day was getting on and it was quite a distance and probably past its busiest hours so we wandered towards the main town square. This was in the process of being cordoned of for the visit of Pope and all around were street sellers busy gluing plastic Vatican flags to giant drinking straws in the hope and expectation of making a peso or two. Somehow I resisted the temptation to buy some.

Architecturally the city itself was not all that interesting, at least not what we saw. Built up, unstructured, quite closed in and noisy, but at least we can say that we have been there and it was cheap to do so. Dinner that night in the hotel restaurant. It had a sort of Italian theme but is really Chilean. We had a couple of Pisco Sours in the bar as a gift of the hotel. This is a nice aperitif made from Aguardiente (literally fire-water) and lime juice and sugar. Then a couple of mojitos. The television coverage was all about the Pope arriving at the airport. I wonder if he managed to get an window seat.

Dinner was a weird salad for me of palm tree hearts with lettuce and shells and cheese and whelks and things followed by fillet steak washed down with a glass of local red wine whose name I still cannot remember. She had the set menu with a starter that I forgot to notice and can't remember what it was followed by a mushroom risotto that was 'delicious' and afterwards a modest coconut froth and strawberry ice cream dessert that we had a long wait for. An early night and soon snoring ready for our trip out at nine the next morning.

ps Pisco Sours are delicious.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Gill W » 21 Feb 2018, 16:37

I'm enjoying your reports so far, will look forward to more
Gill


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 21 Feb 2018, 16:47

4. Santiago - Tuesday 16th January

We had not been to South America before, unless you count a day spent in the visitors terminal in Cartagena, and weren't at all sure what to expect when we got there. I was fairly confident that it would be a modern, friendly society but Mrs QB was expecting dirt roads, adobe houses with corrugated iron rooves and people with wooly hats standing on street corners and playing the pan pipes. My plan therefore was to find a good local guide who could take us out into the countryside and maybe show us some vineyards and scenery. After some research I settled upon Chile Wine Trails which is a business owned and operated by Kylie Sherriff, an Australian girl originally from Melbourne but who has now been living in Santiago for several years. She has perfect reviews on TripAdvisor and they are well deserved.

She offers a choice of several tours and before leaving home we had chosen the 'Perfect Pique' option because it didn't involve too much travelling. I wanted to see something of the foothills of the Andes and also to have grilled meat for lunch. The white wines would have been good to taste but these are grown in the cooler coastal region and we would be travelling that way the following day anyway. The more easterly vineyards are predominantly red wines but we can drink those too.

Kylie arrives early before nine. One of the advantages of the Pope's visit is that there is hardly any traffic. The weather is perfect. Clear blue skies and 28 degrees. First stop is the Santa Rita boutique hotel and vineyard less than an hour away. We pass a few gauchos in horseback wearing the iconic gaucho hats. I want one and if I can find one in my size I am going to have one. I never do.

The setting and scenery are wonderful. After a quick look round the grounds we are told that the local Andean Museum is open (free) and not expecting a lot we venture inside. This was formed from a private collection of artefacts and was unexpectedly very interesting with many archaeological exhibits dating back hundreds of years and some impressive examples of Inca (?) gold jewellery. By the time we emerge our wines samples are ready. We work our way through these in the very pleasant gardens.

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Views to the foothills
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The tasting garden
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https://chilewinetrails.com/tours/pirque-with-lunch/

Part two follows...

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by anneed » 21 Feb 2018, 16:59

This is excellent - I think you take the prize for best cruise report ever on this site. The photo's really make everything come alive. Looking forward to the next instalment!


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 21 Feb 2018, 17:47

anneed wrote:
21 Feb 2018, 16:59
This is excellent - I think you take the prize for best cruise report ever on this site. The photo's really make everything come alive. Looking forward to the next instalment!
Thanks Anne. Coming from a journalist that means a lot to me :)

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by GillD46 » 21 Feb 2018, 18:53

The garden is beautiful.
Gill


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 21 Feb 2018, 19:02

GillD46 wrote:
21 Feb 2018, 18:53
The garden is beautiful.
Even better with a few glasses of wine ;)

http://www.santarita.com/international/
Last edited by Quizzical Bob on 21 Feb 2018, 19:03, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by GillD46 » 21 Feb 2018, 20:33

Quizzical Bob wrote:
21 Feb 2018, 19:02
GillD46 wrote:
21 Feb 2018, 18:53
The garden is beautiful.
Even better with a few glasses of wine ;)

http://www.santarita.com/international/
My husband would say the same.
Gill


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Ray B » 22 Feb 2018, 11:28

Very good read and the photos add to the story, keep it coming Bob.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 22 Feb 2018, 13:49

4. Part 2 - Santiago - Tuesday 16th January

Onward and into the hills for our next winery 'Haras de Pirque'. There is another couple from Cheshire waiting there who have made their own way. They want to try the chardonnays but that's not my favourite grape. The vineyard insists on showing us their production facilities of which they are justifiably proud. Built into the hillside they operate entirely on a gravity system. We don't want to spend too long there and once you've seen one stainless steel fermentation tank or wooden wine vat made from smoked French oak staves lovingly transported across the Andes by armadillo you've probably seen them all. In the tasting room we try three reds and a cadge a taste of a couple of whites. Spectacular views outside north up the valley and across to the Andes with wonderful clean air.

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Time for lunch. We drive past the vast Concha y Toro complex. These are responsible for the Caillero del Diablo range of wines as commonly found in Tescos and all good wine merchants. Only 800m down the road is our restaurant is 'El Manso Toro' where we take lunch in the gaden under the trees, very civilised. After a starter of a cheese and prawn empañada I had a steak and various salads, she had tasty chicken with the same. There was also a fish option but the waiter said it would be his third choice. Special mention must got to the celery and avocado salad which was 'delicious' according to my personal salad expert and who am I to disagree? A couple of Pisco Sours and more glasses of wine and we have now have a another very civilised an pleasant memory.

Image

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 22 Feb 2018, 13:59

4. Part 3 - Santiago - Tuesday 16th January
Artwork at the restaurant reminds us that Easter Island is part of Chile.
Image

Enough time left for us to call in at a small wine store next to the road on the William Fevre estate. Three more wine samples follow. I'd love to buy some bottles but am concerned about getting them on board the ship. We return to the hotel after a memorable day somewhat dehydrated and thirsty. I say 'memorable' but to be honest the details of which wines we had tasted are rather blurred. We skipped dinner that evening.

The next day would be embarkation and for the transfer to San Antonio I had again used Kylie and Chile Wine Trails. She had originally suggested 14:30 but that was a little late for my liking so we agreed to bring it forward and we retired to our room in anticipation. I briefly consider a visit to the bar for 'one last' pisco sour but wiser judgment prevails.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by GillD46 » 22 Feb 2018, 15:30

We didn’t get to the west coast of South America, just from Buenos Aires up the coast and the Amazon. From your photos, the Pacific side looks lovely.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 22 Feb 2018, 16:07

GillD46 wrote:
22 Feb 2018, 15:30
We didn’t get to the west coast of South America, just from Buenos Aires up the coast and the Amazon. From your photos, the Pacific side looks lovely.
Indeed it was, we were very impressed with Chile. Politically stable, a strong currency and plenty of room to live and breath. I should mention the fruit which was unbelievable/ Large, fresh, plump and pineapples the size of traffic bollards. Delicious eggs for breakfast too.

Mrs QB has a friend whose husband came from Chile originally. He was born in Punta Arenas and brought up in Santiago and we had previously dismissed Chile as a backward country on the other side of the world. Not any more.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by GillD46 » 22 Feb 2018, 16:34

You have dangled a carrot!
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Dancing Queen » 22 Feb 2018, 17:27

Enjoying this so far ..nothing to do with me being quite partial to a nice Chilean red :clap:
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 22 Feb 2018, 17:46

GillD46 wrote:
22 Feb 2018, 16:34
You have dangled a carrot!
And I recommend that you take a bite! If you think that looks tempting just wait until you see the rest, it was quite an adventure.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by gfwgfw » 22 Feb 2018, 17:55

The Giant and Ferrets are enjoying Mr & Mrs Bobs sojourn

Luubboo all :wave:
Gentle Giant of Cerne Abbas :wave:


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 23 Feb 2018, 23:11

5. Embarkation - Wednesday 17th January

When I booked the cruise last May I never gave a thought to getting from the airport to the ship.The advertised packages just said 'transfer' and in my naivety I just thought that Valparaiso and Santiago were virtually the same place. It was only when I checked that I found that it was 87 miles from the hotel to Valparaiso and a two hour journey. That would be another cost that I hadn't allowed for. I toyed with the idea of booking a stay in Valparaiso but decided against it. Then in September I get notified that the cruise would depart from San Antonio instead. Another look at Google and I see that this port is further south and slightly closer at 82 miles. There are motorways to both ports.

Some of the holiday packages include a wine tasting before embarking and it's true that the white wine vineyards are between Santiago and the coast on account of the cooler conditions. I rather suspect that some holiday companies will transfer you direct from the plane when it touches down in the morning calling in to a vineyard halfway through the journey. This is something to bear in mind if booking a similar trip. I ask Chile Wine Trails if they do something similar and Kylie advises me against it saying that most vineyards in Chile tend to have late lunches. In general you cannot just turn up at a vineyard in Chile and expect a tour and tasting and these have to be booked in advance. I settle for a shared transport from her in the same minivan and driver that collected us from the airport when we first arrived. Initially she suggested collecting us at 12:30 which would get us to the port by about 14:30. This is a little late for us since we can embark as soon as we get there and I always like to leave enough time for a puncture so we compromise on leaving at 12:00, which is also our checkout time.

There's not long enough to do any sightseeing in the morning so we sort out our packing and wait in the lobby. We had noticed several other couples in the hotel who were obviously also on this cruise including some who had been on the same aircraft. The receptionist tells me that they have 30 guests who are going to the ship. Their record has been over 80. At about 11:30 a couple arrive with their baggage having just come off the ship that morning which is comforting in two ways, firstly that the ship has actually arrived and secondly that the roads are clear.

Juan turns up in the minibus a few minutes after twelve and we squeeze in with the other two couples who are already inside. They are all Canadians and they had been on one of Kylie's tours to the Casablanca Valley the day before so this trip would cover the same route. Two of them only speak French but I have a pleasant chat with them before we run out of things to say and tiredness catches up with us. The journey takes 1 hour 45 minutes through mainly flat countryside with low hills on either side and we pass several of the Sauvignon Blanc vineyards on the way. There is a pile up on the opposite carriageway with a long queue towards Santiago and I'm glad that we didn't leave too late.

San Antonio itself is not a very big place with the one main street that I could see with a few bars and cafes. I wouldn't have minded a look round, perhaps on another day. Juan knows the way into the docks and we turn up at the departures shed and there are plenty of willing and friendly faces to take our luggage and answer our questions. The embarkation shed is the usual old warehouse tarted up with a lick of paint and personalised with some hanging posters telling us that we should choose to cruise with Princess. A girl notices our priority embarkation form and directs us to the shorter queue on the right but to tell the truth the main queue is not very long and is moving smoothly. They take our passports and keep them which is a bit disconcerting but apparently it is so that the ship can handle all the immigration procedures. We can't really argue and have to trust them.

Transfer to the ship 300 yds away is by a shuttle bus through the docks and our cabin is ready for us once we get onboard. We are pleasantly surprised by the large balcony and hope to make good use of it if the weather allows us. One drawback of a deep balcony is that the field of view is more restricted but it works out okay and there is a large glass panel under the rail so we can watch the sea whilst cruising. The cabin is clean and tidy but there are a couple of touches missing such as a welcome aboard letter and an extra pamper bag in the washroom. The steward promises that we shall have these later that day. We are Elite level and as part of our loyalty perks we get one free minibar setup so the first thing is to ring room service and get all the miniatures changed to gin and the soft drink cans to tonics.

At this point I must thank somebody on this forum who alerted us a few years ago to the Princess practice of transferring P&O cruisers on to their own Captain's Circle scheme at an equivalent loyalty level. We entered on their highest level and in our view their rewards are much more valuable including free laundry, 250 minutes of internet time each, priority embarkation and disembarkation, priority tender access, canapés on formal nights, full afternoon tea on request, one free minibar setup, a free 'grapevine' wine tasting event and 10% discount on purchases in the ship's boutiques (not photography or bars).

The Captain is Martin Stenzel and the Cruise Director is Paul Chandler-Burns, both of whom we had on the Crown Princess for our transatlantic crossing last September. Emergency safety drill is at 4:15 so I make sure I have a puzzle book with me when we go down to the Muster Station. One case has arrived whilst we are downstairs but the other hasn't turned up. I later go looking for it and find it being used to prop open a loading door. We had chosen anytime dining so dinner was not be a rush that evening There is a brief welcome aboard show in the theatre where we learn that the ship is completely full with over 3100 passengers from 44 different countries. The top numbers were (from memory)about 950 from the US, 460 from Canada and 445 from the UK with Australia and the local South American countries next.

Thursday is a sea day (thank goodness) and we are really looking forward to it.

I have included a link to the first two days 'Princess Patters' here. This is the equivalent of the P&O Horizon daily magazine. Please respect the copyright and use for private research purposes only.



Our cabin on C deck is bright and cheerful and clean
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The balcony has plenty of room for external activities
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San Antonio port. Hmm...
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Last edited by Quizzical Bob on 23 Feb 2018, 23:12, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Whynd1 » 24 Feb 2018, 07:38

Am really enjoying these reports and the photos make the whole journey come alive.

Lindsey

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Manoverboard » 24 Feb 2018, 10:50

Re the idea to allocate P&O points to Princess to gain their Elite Level ... it could have been me cos I posted it but others also advised this idea. Our experience was a first time cruise on their tiddler ship to become ADONIA where NO points applied but following that cruise with Princess we were able to transfer our P&O points to their scheme for use at the Elite level on any subsequent cruises.

ps ... it is no longer possible to transfer the points from P&O, allegedly.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by GillD46 » 24 Feb 2018, 18:49

We transferred our points over 10 years ago, I agree Princess Elite loyalty perks are good, and if perchance you have a suite, many of them (the mini bar set up for one) are doubled - or at least they used to be. Plus we were given totally unlimited internet access.

Really looking forward to the next read.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Kenmo1 » 24 Feb 2018, 20:07

Fascinating reading, Bob - thank you for taking the time to do the review. Looking forward to the next part of the review.

Maureen.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 27 Feb 2018, 22:19

6. At Sea - Thursday 18th January

The first day of the cruise is always the same pattern. Thousands of people wandering around and wondering where they are and how they are going to get to the dining room and how they are going to find their cabin later. There were a surprising number of first time cruiser on this trip and I salute their bravery. Our cabin was on the port side so we got the sun in the morning whilst we were heading south. I got into the routine of leaving the cabin curtains open so that the rising sun would wake us up which was very pleasant. We lost the sun by the afternoon of course and it took me a few days before I realised that the sun was leaving us and moving anticlockwise around to the north. However I cannot verify that the water was going down the plughole the other way. I was rather pleased to see that there were so many quizzes throughout the day, except that they call these 'trivia' in Americanese.

One of the great things about long distance fly-cruising is that you learn so much more about the geography of the countries that you visit. I found out that Santiago and Buenos Aires are on approximately the same latitude as Sydney and Cape Town for example. Until a few months ago I had always thought that the bottom of South America was a long thin wedge with the Andes running down the middle with Chile on the west and Argentina on the East. I knew that the most southern part was a big island called Tierra Del Fuego separated from the mainland by the Straits of Magellan, which I thought was a long narrow sea passage rather like the Bosphorus or Straits of Messina, and I thought that Cape Horn was the southernmost point on this island. This could not be further from the truth. When you look closely at a map of southern Chile you find that it is not all land but is instead a maze of waterways and large bays. Indeed, the extreme south of Chile is not connected by road to the rest of the country and the only road access is via Argentina. Puerto Montt, our first port of call, is situated some way from the ocean at the northern end of these waterways.

We have a morning tour booked with an 08:00 assembly time so early to bed it is.

'Princess Patter for tomorrow in Puerto Montt':

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 27 Feb 2018, 22:55

7. Puerto Montt - Friday 19th January

Tender port. Arrival 07:00 - All aboard 17:30

We had been pleasantly impressed by Santiago but now we find out whether our preconceptions of Chile as a country full of towns with corrugated iron roofs and mud brick walls was true. We wanted to see more than just the town but didn't want to go too far or spend too long so I had booked a 4.5 hour trip not far to the north to the towns of Puerto Varas and Frutillar, where there is a small German Settlers museum. This is a common pattern for us, an excursion in the morning followed by coffee and perhaps lunch and then Mrs QB goes back to the ship to relax whilst I go marching off exploring for the afternoon.

Assembly for the tour took longer than was reasonable. After collecting our number stickers in the Wheelhouse Bar we then waited in the theatre for over half an hour before getting called to the tender. In total it took over 50 minutes from initial assembly to getting on the bus. Initial impressions were good, the town seemed modern with good roads. The guide was very informative and explained the history of the region. There was a large German influence following government sponsored immigration from 1848. The town is named after Manuel Montt who was president of Chile at the timeand has a population of about 220,000. There is a train link to Santiago but it has had a checkered history and we were told that it was not running at the moment.


The passenger terminal is the hut on the left. This port also serves the large island of Chiloé to the south-west. Highway 5 which runs all the way from the Peruvian border continues on to the southern end this island where it ends. There are not many people south of here until Tierra Del Fuego.

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Last edited by Quizzical Bob on 27 Feb 2018, 22:56, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 27 Feb 2018, 23:09

7. Puerto Montt - Friday 19th January - part 2

This wooden cathedral is one of the first buildings in Puerto Montt.
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Looming over the town away to the north-east are two volcanoes, Orsono and Calbuco. We shall have a better view of them later.

Orsono from Puerto Montt

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Calbuco

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We are taken through the town before joining the motorway on the northern outskirts. There are plenty of modern buildings and out of town shopping centres and the roads are modern and in good condition. The countryside is not what you might expect. Gently undulating ground with arable fields, trees, hedges and occasional farms, much like what you might see in rural France. There is a large lake over to the north east called Llanquihue (Yan-key-weh) which our guide says is a local word meaning 'sea level'. After about 45 minutes we leave the motorway and take a road on the right which drops down into the town of Puerto Varas. This is a pleasant surprise.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 27 Feb 2018, 23:17

7. Puerto Montt - Friday 19th January - part 3 (I keep pressing 'submit' instead of 'preview' :( )

We have 40 minutes in Puerto Varas which is just enough time to have a quick look or a coffee or a comfort stop but probably not all three. This town is on the shores of Lake Llanquihue and for all the world you could be by the side of a lake in the Alps.

Puerto Varas promenade
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Puerto Varas lakefront
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Orsono in the distance
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Orsono again
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Calbuco sits forlornly to the south of Orsono. Calbuco used to be just as handsome as Orsono but an eruption a few years ago completely changed its appearance. Fortunately for the Chileans all the ash and debris was blown by the westerly winds onto Argentina, our guide says. Now it broods silently as a reminder to its neighbour of its destiny and that beauty is only transient.

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We find a cafe and have a couple of cortados coffees. In the small square a busker is setting up an amplifier and some pan pipes. He only manages a couple of short test tunes before we have to board our coach again. If only he had been quicker he might have had bigger takings.

A lovely town but deserves a longer stay.
Last edited by Quizzical Bob on 27 Feb 2018, 23:23, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 27 Feb 2018, 23:39

7. Puerto Montt - Friday 19th January - part 4 (I've done it again. And you can only have 5 links in a post)

It's only a short drive further north to the town of Frutillar. This is in two parts, Frutillar Alto (Upper) and Frutillar Bajo (Lower) which is down by the lake and is our destination. We have a quick orientation tour but it is not very large and the German influence is very evident in the names and style of the buildings. The coach parks outside the German Settlers Museum and our guide buys the tickets. Another comfort stop and there is just enough time to enter a couple of the buildings. These are reconstructions of the types of houses and workshops that would have been used in the mid 1800s. The gardens and views are worth a longer stay.

German Settlers Museum. View from the house balcony
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German Settlers Museum. Another view from the house balcony
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The lake is a short walk away

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The German influence is everywhere

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After a quick tour of the souvenir shops and a several fridge magnets later we take our guides advice and find a cafe to try the famous local strudel. I cannot resist the temptation to try a glass of the local 'Kunstmann' draft German beer. The strudel is delicious but the beer is fabulous. Wheaty, malty and slightly salty.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 28 Feb 2018, 00:08

7. Puerto Montt - Friday 19th January - part 5 (you can only have 5 links in a post)

Pleasantly surprised by the morning's trip we arrive back at the cruise terminal soon after 13:00. I see Mrs QB onto the tender back to the ship and boldly march off along the road on the one mile trek to the town centre. The sun is out now and it's getting quite hot so it means keeping to the shade where possible. I try a couple of small leather shops but they mainly have small souvenirs and not the hats or belts that I might want. The high Street has a mixture of shops, food supplies, shores, electrical goods, clothes but I suspect that the better outlets are in a mall somewhere else. I return to the terminal along the shoreline. Near the terminal is a van selling fruit and my eye is taken by a beautiful tray of succulent cherries and only a couple of dollars a kilo. For some reason I convince myself that I cannot take them back on board. I'm still not sure why. We had been told many times that the stringent Chilean regulations did not allow us to take food produce ashore but there was nothing about taking goods the other way. When I mention the cherries to Mrs QB she asks why I didn't buy any and I am on the point of going back ashore again but 'wiser counsel' prevails.

Main street in Perto Montt
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A couple of locomotives and small railway exhibit. These are 5ft 6" broad gauge
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Emerald Princess at anchor
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A warning sign reminds us that this is an active seismic region.

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Tendering back to the ship
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As we sail away south through the Reloncaví Sound we enjoy an evening G&T on the balcony . The temperature drops with the sun.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by GillD46 » 28 Feb 2018, 05:33

This is most enjoyable and looks a charming part of the world. Thank you.
Gill


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Ray B » 28 Feb 2018, 10:38

love the photos with the report, on a cold day here in the UK, a little bit of warmth. Keep them coming Bob.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Dancing Queen » 28 Feb 2018, 17:27

Really enjoying this.
Jo


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 02 Mar 2018, 14:50

8. Scenic cruising and Amalia Glacier - Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st January

The weather gets colder surprisingly quickly. The previous evening we had wrapped up and sat outside on the balcony and watched the land slip by as the sun went down. These are effectively 'sea days' but much of the sailing is in sheltered waters through the haphazard passages between the Chilean islands. Whenever we have been in the open ocean there has been a noticeable swell coming at us from the west and the captain aims to allow us as much shelter as possible by sailing through calmer waters protected by the offshore lands. Lumpy weather doesn't bother me but Mrs QB sometimes suffers and has brought her Stugeron with her but remarkably managed to get through the cruise without it. A couple of first-timers ask me if it's always as bad as this. "As bad as what?" I mischievously reply.

We prefer the sit down meals whenever possible but on occasions needs must and we use the buffet. On Emerald Princess this is called the 'Horizon Court' on Deck 15 aft and is much the same layout as Azura & Ventura. There is normally a serving line on either side with the same selection on each but sometimes only one side is open. It's a roundabout route to walk from one side to the other so with a sold-out ship there is often a shortage of seats. They try to address this by clearing the place settings and laying fresh cutlery on the empty spaces but this often falls down and it is often a struggle to find a place to eat. The seating method for the formal restaurants is also maddeningly inefficient. You walk up to the doors and join the inevitable queue and the lovely young lady asks you if you want a table on your own or are 'happy to share'. Whichever, there is then a wait until a head waiter turns up to find out what you have indicated and then walks off to find a suitable table. Then he saunters back and leads you to your allocated seats. As you can imagine, this all takes some time. It doesn't help that the restaurant is not in view from the entrances.

There is however a 'Prego Pizzeria' on Deck 15 midships that makes some good stuff.


Early evening we enter the Canal Fallos to avoid the weather. This route is never more than two miles wide. We return to the Pacific through the Canal Ladrillero.
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It was on one of these days that I saw the dolphins. I was walking on the port Promenade Deck at about 11:00 when I saw them a couple of hundred metres away. There was a lot of them, around a hundred and fifty I estimated. These appeared to me to be Spinner Dolphins. They were leaping vertically right out of the water (and spinning) and they had those very slender tail flukes and a thin body just in front of them. Later in the bay I saw a few bottlenose but these weren't quite so enthusiastic.

There were quite a few seabirds around too but suddenly I saw the first albatross. It was unmistakable with its enormous wingspan and large body but I very quickly lost sight of it.

Cruising through the fjords
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In the early morning of the 21st we enter the fjords again through Can Andres and later Canal Pitt and we have to get up early if we want to see the Amalia Glacier that we had been promised. Many people had not seen the notifications about the time that we would get there and missed it. This was to be a common theme as we progressed.

First views of the glacier
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At the glacier, not far from Argentina.
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Relevant Patters here:


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 02 Mar 2018, 14:56

8. part 2. Scenic cruising and Amalia Glacier - Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st January

We get to within just under 2 km of the glacier so it's not an intimate visit. The ship does a slow pirouette so that both sides can get a view and then heads off back out to sea. The ice itself has a beautiful blue tinge to it.

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Fascinating stuff but no big chunks falling off and there are others, all much easier to get too. Worth setting the alarm for I suppose, but there are more to come later.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 05 Mar 2018, 16:21

9. Punta Arenas - 22nd January 2016 Arrive 07:00 - last tender 18:30

Newsletter and port guide:

At 20:45 on the Sunday evening we enter the fabled Straits of Magellan. These are not straits as I had always imagined them, not like Gibraltar or Messina or the Bosphorus, rather they are a collection of haphazard waterways which link the Pacific and the Atlantic with a narrow stretch some 2km wide and 12km long at the northern tip of the island of Tierra del Fuego. Punta Arenas is an important Chilean naval station and a major base for expeditions to Antarctica to the south and the Torres del Paine national park some 300km drive to the north. The nearest Argentinian border by road is about a 200km drive to the north east.

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A major attraction here is the penguin colony on the island of La Magdalena where there are thousands to be seen. Whilst we were very keen to see more penguins in the wild there would be other opportunities later on the Falkland Islands and failing that at Puerto Madryn. On top of that, official Princess tours are shudderingly expensive, in this case about $200 each. I had left considering which tours to take until just a few weeks before departure and when I did my due dilligence research into this one I found that there was a 45 minutes bus trip to the ferry dock and theen a 2 hour trip over to the island in what was little more than a glorified landing craft with only basic facilities. It would take just as long on the way back of course. There is normally an option to take a high speed RIB but the local agent was sold out as was the official tour too. Just as well at $300 each. If there is no cruise ship in town then the local operators will take you for much less than half these prices. We decide to do our own thing here and save the money for later delights.

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This meant that there wash no rush for a change so after a leisurely breakfast most of the tours have gone and we take the next tender ashore. The terminal had a good range of souvenirs so we grab a couple of enamel pins and fridge magnets and join the mad throng outside. There are a couple of small museums here including a Naval and Maritime that I wanted to see but especially a privately owned site some 9km up the coast which has replicas of the Nao Victoria and The Beagle amongst others. Nao Victoria was the only one of Magellan's five ships to complete the first circumnavigation of the world in 1522. I am a sucker for things nautical but even for me 9km was a bit far to walk and it could have started raining at a moment's notice. I was looking for a taxi but they had all just driven off and the tour touts were offering a two hour tour by minbus including this museum for $40 per person so we climbed aboard the minbus. And waited. And waited. And waited

I saw a load of taxis tuen up so we jumped off along with another couple and proceeded to haggle. The drivers spoke no English but my evening class Spanish was enough to agree a price of $40 per hour for up to four passengers.The other couple were happy to share the cab for a two hour trip and so off we went with me in the front as 'translator'. After a drive up and down the town the first stop was a viewpoint from which we could survey the town itself, the straits, our ship and the distant islands of Tierra del Fuego some 30km away and Isla Dawson just over 50km.

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The town is a pleasant surprise for us. More modern than we had expected with a new hospital and housing estates that would shame some back home. Housing prices seemed comparable too. Driving past the naval base to the museum we see a preserved gunboat the 'Fresia' one of a class which was involved in a confrontation with Argentina in the Beagle Channel just six weeks before the Falklands conflict and in which the Argentinians were forced to back down. I sometimes wonder if this was a factor in Galtieri's decision to invade them.

The Nao Victoria museum is small but very interesting. None of the exhibits is original but they give a good idea of the size of the vessels that used to go off wandering around the world so far from home and I have nothing but the utmost admiration for all the men that took such risks.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 05 Mar 2018, 16:45

9. Punta Arenas part 2 - 22nd January 2016 Arrive 07:00 - last tender 18:30

Mrs QB doesn't understand my passion for all things naval but tolerates it in good spirit so I spend the next 40 minutes climbing up and down decks and playing at being a sea captain.

The Nao Victoria replica. Small and sturdy.
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As ships go the Beagle is tiny at only 90ft long and not much longer than the Victoria at about 65ft.
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The Beagle was of course the ship that carried Darwin on its second voyage of exploration and charting through this area and on to the Galapagos Islands. I feel an affinity to Darwin because he went to the same college as me at Cambridge and in fact I had my entrance interview in what had been his college room. We are all rather proud of what he achieved.

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The small boat in the foreground is a replica of the 'James Caird', the boat that Shackleton sailed to South Georgia from Elephant Island where they had been stranded. I cannot imagine how he and five others could have survived in such a small craft. As far as I know the beached trawler is not a part of the museum.
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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 05 Mar 2018, 17:43

9. Punta Arenas part 3 - 22nd January 2016 Arrive 07:00 - last tender 18:30

We spend a few minutes watching three dolphins fishing in the shallows a few hundred yards up the shoreline. We think they were probably pilot whales but can't be sure.

After a satisfying 45 minutes at the museum we jump in the taxi for the trip back to town. The driver proudly shows us their new hospital and if I understood him correctly they get free treatment. Our companions ask to be dropped at the cemetery on the way back where there is also another museum opposite with ethnological exhibits and collections showing the fauna of the region. We ask to get dropped at the top of town so that we can walk along what shopping streets they have nd see the main town square. He was a lovely driver, very friendly and informative, and I forgot to get his name but if he by any chance gets to read this, muchas gracias.

There are a few market stalls in the town square, interesting but nothing to tempt us. In the centre is a monument to Ferdinand Magellan. Legend has it that if you kiss the foot of the young native lady then you will return to Punta Arenas one day. I wait until Mrs QB has returned on board before trying my luck at a quick fondle of it.

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Mrs QB is ready for lunch and a return to the ship and on the way back we find Café Tapiz which looks inviting. Small but full of local character and locals too we find a table. Last chance for a couple of pisco sours followed and a couple of glasses of local Sauvignon Blanc. I had baked potato pieces with tuna and she had avocado paste with toasts. Proper coffee too. Al in all a very enjoyable and memorable meal. We must go back nest time we are in town.

Then I dropped her ladyship back to the ship and my plan was that I would go and visit the Naval Museum and then another one in a house which housed examples of local life and history. Unfortunatley when I found the naval museum it was closed. Apparently it closes on Mondays but they do open it for cruise ships tours in the mornings and if you're crafty you can buy a ticket and tag along at the back. Now they tell me.
The other museum doesn't open into 4:30 so I trot round to the Hotel Nogueira which has opened a bar in honour of Shackleton and it bears his name. I resolve to have a beer in his memory whilst I'm waiting but when I get to the doors of the hotel there is a notice stuck on them saying that the Shackleton Bar is closed. Not taking 'cerrado' for an answer I go in and ask the receptionist what the situation was. He tells me that the bar is closed but that I could go round and take a look at it. It's very nice with a couple of photos and some watercolours of his expedition and I'm sitting there contemplating them when a member of staff comes in and asks what I'd like to drink. I ask for a draft local beer before he finds out that the bar's closed.

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I dont expect that Shackleton himself ever came here. It is probably just a marketing gimmick but the beer was good..

The other museum that I was interested in showed no sign of opening so I had a mooch around the local streets. This road is delightfully named 'Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins' who was actually Chilean born and freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence.
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All things considered it was a lovely town even if it is so remote from anywhere and has such cold summers. Worth a longer visit one day, maybe on a trip to tha National Parks. Hmmm....
Last edited by Quizzical Bob on 05 Mar 2018, 17:45, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Dennis The Menace » 05 Mar 2018, 18:56

Thanks Robert, a really enjoyable read once again.


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Re: Quizzical Bob goes Round the Horn

Post by Quizzical Bob » 07 Mar 2018, 17:17

10. Beagle Channel 23rd January (morning)

After leaving Puerto Montt we return to the Pacific for the short journey south to the entrance to the Beagle Channel. This was first charted by HMS Beagle in two voyages, the second of which carried Charles Darwin. It cuts east-west across the bottom of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago and is quite narrow in many places. I was awake early and looked out of the window onto an astonishing sight. We glided past one glacier after another, some with waterfalls, some coming right down to sea level but all of them with that luscious luminous blue. Darwin first saw them in January 1833, and wrote in his field notebook "It is scarcely possible to imagine anything more beautiful than the beryl-like blue of these glaciers... " It was blinking freezing outside but I wrapped up as best I could and sat gawping at them for a couple of hours. This stretch of the channel is known as 'Glacier Alley'. Fortunately for us all the big five glaciers are on the northern side of the channel.

We are due to berth alongside in Ushuaia at 12:00.

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