I’d like to thank all of those who responded to the first edition of my South American adventure. Please continue to provide feedback.
After a 90 minute car ride from Santiago to Valparaiso, we boarded the ship (Celebrity Infinity) on Sunday afternoon. We had originally purchased a suite; about a week before we left home, we were upgraded to a Royal Suite. The accommodations are quite wonderful. We have a huge living room and dining area, a small bedroom (both have TVs), a decent sized bathroom, lots of closet space and a huge balcony that has on it a table and 4 chairs plus 2 chaise lounges and a jacuzzi for two. I wanted to include a photo of Marty in the jacuzzi here but the internet is soo slow today that I am incapable of adding pictures to this blog. Sorry.
The ship is huge; it has 2000 passengers plus 1000 staff. Everyone is pleasant and helpful. There are numerous places to eat; the food is plentiful (a plus and a minus!) and good. Every evening there’s a show and it’s mostly quite good, ranging from a group of young singers and dancers who do a lot of Bway musical stuff (they are wonderful) to aerialists who are amazing and work without a net to tango dancers.
There are quite a number of days at sea in between ports. This allows you to relax from the exhausting days in port (!) plus take advantage of the activities on board. So far I have gone to a lecture on alpine glacial scenery (I thought this would be only about places we are going to on this cruise but it wasn’t so I wasn’t totally pleased; my traveling companion slept through the presentation!), a cooking demonstration from one of the specialty restaurants (that was fun and delicious; my traveling companion stayed in the cabin), BINGO (my traveling companion stayed in the cabin), a massage (ditto), and a backstage tour of the theatre that was great (ditto again). (Joyce; you would have loved it.) We’ve gone to the gym each day we’ve been at sea; my traveling companion did manage to do that! In all fairness, during SOME of the activities mentioned above, he was working.
Initially, we stayed pretty much by ourselves but we’re starting to branch out and meet some people. Like Tyler, I need time to get used to new situations! There are people here from 35 different countries speaking 12 different languages. We met a couple from a small town in Switzerland that has fewer people than are on the ship! They seemed a bit overwhelmed. We also met a couple from Riverside Drive and 103rd Street who live in the same building as a friend of mine!
A word about the weather: Since South America is in the Southern Hemisphere, we are currently in their summer. Which means that when we were in Santiago it was in the high 70’s and when we get to Buenos Aires it will probably be in the 80’s. However, here in the southern part of the continent there really is no summer; temperatures have been in the 40’s and 50’s.
So far we’ve been to 2 ports of call, both in Patagonian Chile. Patagonia encompasses the southern part of South America so it is in both Chile and Argentina. The first place the ship stopped was in Puerto Montt which is the capital of the Lake District. This is the end of the road when traveling by car (or bus or train) in Chile. If you want to go further south in Chile, you have to fly or take a ship. There was not much of interest in Puerto Montt.
We took an excursion to 2 other towns–Puerto Varas and Frutillar. Both are on Lake Llanquihue which is the second largest lake in Chile. In Puerto Varas we went to a handicraft market. In Frutilar we went to a regional museum. This town was founded by Germans and retains a Germanic flavor. The museum showed how these people lived. The museum was the best part of the day. (The worst part of the day was that I lost my favorite necklace; the clasp must have opened and slipped off my neck; thank goodness it is insured!) We were not too impressed with this excursion and were hopeful that things would improve. They did!
The ship then went through the Chilean fjords which were quite pretty. The next port of call was Punta Arenas which is on the shore of the Straits of Magellan. There are many sheep here and there is a thriving wool market. We went on an excursion which took us 45 miles away to Otway Bay to a sanctuary for Magellan Penguins. They were much smaller than I expected. They use the protected shoreline to make their nests and raise their young. They pair off for life and have a new baby (or two) every year. There were hundreds of penguins. It was fun. (And I bought a little marble penguin for my collection of animals.) (Would have added a photo here but alas…)
The tour drove us back to Punta Arenas and left us off in the main square there. Via Fodor’s I had found a pizza place for lunch. It was full of locals when we arrived so we took that to be a good sign but the pizza was quite mediocre. From there we went to the Historical Museum of Magallane which was quite good. They had various rooms set up from the 1800’s including a billiard room. I wanted to attach a photo here too… We were happy here not being on an organized tour.
That’s it for today. Hopefully, the next blog (which will be about the ports of call in Patagonian Argentina) will contain photos.
Looking forward to hearing from all of you.