Mike and Renée
Cruise South America Around the Horn
On Star Princess.
March 18-31, 2008

This was our 33rd cruise, and our tenth on Princess. The Star Princess is one of the wonderful megaships of Princess with all the attractions and amenities. We had cruised her sisters previously so we were expecting a wonderful ship and that is what we found. This is an amazing itinerary and we had a wonderful cruise.

Things did not start out so well. American delayed our flight to Santiago for almost eight hours, so we missed the ship! Two days later in Puerto Montt, we got on the tenders and boarded the ship just as the passengers were getting off for their shore excursions.

We prefer to concentrate on the wonderful cruise after that! We got on the ship, visited the buffet first (of course!) and then settled down into shipboard living. Basically we just relaxed this first day as if we were at sea. This evening we decided to have our dinner at Sabatini's, the specialty Italian restaurant. We enjoyed the tasting menu here and also the friendly waiters.

Then there followed two very nice days at sea, cruising south along the coast of Chile. We took advantage of all the ship had to offer. We played trivia, attended the lectures and demonstrations, enjoyed afternoon tea and relaxing around the ship, and particularly liked the Thermal Suite in the spa! We visited it twice a day for our lounging around on the heated benches, enjoying the sauna, steam room and aroma room, and the wonderful tropical rain and icy storm showers!

By some strange law, the casino was closed all the time we were passing by Chile. This led an old lady we met at lunch to complain, "There is absolutely nothing to do! No bingo, no casino! What a waste of time." Truly cruising is what you make of it.

The next morning we got up bright and early and saw the stunning sight of the sunrise over the Andes. We cruised through the deep channels and fjords along the coast of Chile and arrived at the Amalia Glacier. This is a beautiful sight, and is definitely comparable to the best we have seen in Alaska.
For Easter the ship was beautifully decorated with chocolate eggs all over, including this wonderful display in the atrium.

The ship was sailing through the Strait of Magellan, and the beautiful scenery continued constantly.

We enjoyed a lazy morning, playing trivia and relaxing around the ship, and then went ashore at Punta Arena, Patagonia, "The most Austral continental city in the world". The ship's tender operation was very efficient. There was a welcome center at the pier, and there were numerous taxis waiting offering various tours. However, we decided to pass up the tours and just walk around the city. We visited the small Plaza Bernardo O'Higgins and had a good time ashore.
Returning to the ship we once again enjoyed the Thermal Suite. It is beautifully decorated in Oriental style with tinkling fountains to soothe. Because it is co-ed it is nice to enjoy with your sweetie.

We dined in Sterling Steakhouse this evening. Renée is the steaklover, and she said the meat was very very good. They also had nice side dishes such as creamed spinach and corn casserole that were outstanding. By and large, however, it is really not much different than the dining room experience.

During the night we left the Strait of Magellan and began sailing along the bottom of the island of Tierra del Fuego in the Beagle Channel. The weather for most of the trip was partly overcast, and the sun among the clouds cast constantly changing light and shadow over the scenery. The wind was very high in the Channel. Renée braved the crossing across the bow of the ship and was almost blown away!
We arrived at Usushia, Tierra del Fuego. However, due to the heavy winds we could not make the dock, and instead anchored offshore. The Coast Guard refused permission to use the ship's tenders. Eventually, three large local catamarans were made available and those who wished to could go ashore. Many tours, including our wildlife cruise, were cancelled. Renée used her Elite Priority Tender Pass to go ashore, but many passenger sreported waits of up to two hours to tender.
Sailing from Ushuaia we moved through the islands into the open sea and began "Rounding The Horn." To give the Starboard side cabins a view of the Horn, the Captain turned the ship and sailed westwardly. This gave us the true experience of the 49er's trying to make their way around against the current and the wind. It was indeed a rocky sail. Turning the ship 180 degrees was even rockier, but then as we took up an eastwardly course the sailing became much calmer and it was very easy for us to round the Horn in that direction.
We were glad that we had an outside cabin, even with an "obstructed view". However I am afraid that sitting on a balcony during this experience would have been a frigid time! Once round the Horn, we set sail for the Falkland Islands with a beautifully calm sea.
We arrived in Stanley, Falkland Islands the next morning. Renée and I just lazed about the ship during the morning and enjoyed having it mostly to ourselves. Then we tendered ashore. The Falklands are famous for their penguins and many passengers had penguin tours, either through the ship or booked on the dock at the welcome center. However, this was the closest we came to the penguins!
We walked around the town a bit, only a few blocks in each direction. In the center of town is the famous whalebone arch, made from the jawbones of whales.
Of course there was shopping available, with lots of penguin souvenirs and some nice local wool and leather items. Climbing the hill we came to Deano's Bar which looked interesting so we gave it a try.
In Deano's, surrounded by a lot of locals and a few other tourists, we had fish and chips. The locally caught fish is hake and it was very good. Accompanying fish and chips with peas seems to be the local way. Of course a half pint of Guiness was necessary to wash it down.
Leaving the Falklands, we set out for two days cruising North. This was some of the most beautiful weather we had the entire cruise and we had a great time just relaxing around the ship, visiting the Thermal Suite frequently, and even lying by the pool.
This was a good time to visit the buffet and eat on the open deck. Sadly, as on all ships of this class, the buffet is limited, to say the least. It has plenty of basic food to make a meal, but the amenities of other lines such as made to order sandwiches and a lavish salad bar are missing. We also enjoyed the poolside grill with burgers and hot dogs and the pizzeria. Then to top it all off there was Death By Chocolate from the Scoops Ice Cream Bar, a bargain at $3.50.
Our final port of call was Montevideo, Uruguay. This was our only ship's shore excursion and it was a great one. We visited a working estancia to see the gauchos. We had a short tour of the city and drove through the countryside, passing lots of pampas grass, to arrive at the ranch.
The most senior of the gauchos was entrusted with maintaining the barbecue fires. The huge grill was covered with chorizo, chicken, beef, pork, kidneys and sweetbreads. The cooking process was long and slow.
While waiting for the meat to cook we had a hayride tour of the ranch. We boarded a variety of different vehicles and drove past the cattle in the fields and the recently harvested maize. We arrived at the Rio de Plata for a restful interlude, then returned to the estancia.

The chorizo, kidney and sweetbreads were served as appetizers while we relaxed in the shade, enjoying fruit juices, sodas, beer or wine.

Local women have formed a co-operative and were selling their crafts. Renée found a Nativity scene in a gourd, and also bought a beautiful wool shawl for our daughter.

Of course the proof of the meal is in the eating!! The women of the ranch had made a variety of great salads, and generous portions of all the meats were served. The senior gaucho certainly lived up to his reputation as the barbeque was wonderful!!
After the meal was the entertainment. We had some great dancing by local young people, a chance to milka cow and help shear a sheep. But the highlight had to be the Gaucho Sled! A calfskin was tied to the back of the fine spirited horse, and we had the chance to be pulled around the pasture on it! Ren?e took advantage of the experience. Guess who stayed behind to take the pictures?
Here is the video!!

It was great fun and one of the highlights of the trip. We went back to the ship to relax in the Thermal Suite one last time and have our last dinner. Anytime dining worked very well for us the entire trip. Most evenings we had a large table, but occasionally a table for two. We never had to wait at all.

You know the drill ? suitcases outside the door and off to bed.

It was all in all a wonderful cruise and we had a great time. The next morning we landed in Buenos Aires. Disembarkation was easy and quick and soon we were in our the Wilton Hotel, right in the middle of the bustling city. We explored the local streets and found many outdoor restaurants. We chose one for a lunch of empanadas, a specialty of the city.
In the afternoon we did the tour of the Tigre Delta. We had a bus tour of the city, and then a catamaran tour of the beautiful delta where many weekend homes are maintained by the city's wealthy. We then had a train ride back, and time for shopping in a handicraft area. It was very nice as city tours go and gave us a chance to see this vibrant place in many different forms.
Buenos Aires would not be complete with a Tango Show. We went to Senor Tangos where at 10 PM a 2 1/2 hour show started, with everything from wonderful tangos to Indians riding horses onto the stage. Pictures were not permitted during the show so this shot of the d?cor will have to do.
The next morning we boarded the flight for Igauzu Falls. A short plane ride brought us to the airport and we took a taxi into the National Park to the Sheraton Hotel. We had paid a premium price for a "falls view" room and we were not disappointed. From our balcony we could see the "Devil's Throat" in all its majesty. The roar of the falls filled our room.

We then walked the upper circuit of the falls. This 650 m trail is stunning in its beauty. Around every curve is another beautiful sight. I have so many pictures it was very hard to choose these to feature.

The next morning we enjoyed the balcony while the morning mist rose off the falls in a spectacular display. The lower picture is the link to the YouTube video from the same viewpoint, also showing the easy trail from the hotel to the viewpoints. For young people in good health it is a very easy walk. For someone like me of limited mobility it takes a goodly time, but is entirely possible as the paths are good and fairly level.
Ren?e then went off on "La Gran Aventura," the boat that actually goes UNDER the falls! Sadly it is a long climb back up from the river and I would not have been able to make it. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it!) Look for the lady in the black and white patterned top in the middle row, on the right side of the screen in most of the shots of the video. She says it was an amazing experience!!
After that we boarded the plane for the flight back to the Domestic airport in Buenos Aires, and transferred to the Inernational airport for the flight home.

What a wonderful trip it was, with all the beautiful scenery, rounding the Horn, the gauchos, the magnificent city of Buenos Aires, and finally the wonderful falls. Star Princess is a worthy member of the great Princess fleet. We like to discuss our travels. Email us at thehalls@bully4.us

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