This blog post is a summary of many of the various portfolio entries covering our cruise around South America in March 2016. Flying from Heathrow to Paris then onwards to Buenos Aires we picked up the Star Princess ship operated by Princess Cruises for a fabulous trip that saw us visiting the countries of Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, as well as spending a day in the Falkland Islands. This memorable trip that saw us tick off experiences and achievements such as cruising around Cape Horn, seeing penguins in the wild, seeing whales migrating, seeing an albatross, watching a dolphin swim alongside us, dance a tango, and look at the Milky Way from the Southern Hemisphere (amongst many others) was made so much better by easily the best crew we’ve ever had the pleasure of cruising with.
The port of Buenos Aires on arrival provided some industrial photography for anyone who likes the regular coldness of container ports whilst leaving allowed me to witness and capture its brutalist beauty. In the Argentine capital city we got to walk the streets after a visit to the resting place of Eva Perón, La Recoleta Cemetery. After visiting the Metropolitan Cathedral (where our timing was perfect to see the changing of the guards) we resumed walking the closed off streets of Buenos Aires (there were protests against the government taking place) to watch a tango show and eat the best steak we’ve ever tasted before visiting the wonderfully colourful and artistic area of La Boca. A coach ride back to the cruise ship showed us some of the more poverty-stricken areas of the city but this didn’t impact how we felt about Buenos Aires: we absolutely loved it and would go back in a heartbeat.
Our final Argentinian port of call was at the southernmost tip of the country in the incredibly breathtaking Ushuaia, a place to witness the staggering beauty of the Martial Mountains and get up close with the local population protesting (an Argentine national pastime) about the government. Our day in this fascinating city included a boat cruise down the Beagle Channel to look at the jaw-dropping splendour of the region’s landscape and witness birds, seals, and a lighthouse up close. This highly recommended trip can be seen here in parts one, two, three, four, five, and six.
Our day in Uruguay included short visits to Plaza Independencia and Parque Batlle (which still looks like it’s spelled wrong even though I know it isn’t) but was mostly filled with a fabulous ride on a steam train to the Juanico Vineyard where the most generous wine tasting we’ve ever experienced led to a certain somebody (it might be me) getting up in front of a room full of fellow passengers on the excursion as well as the ship’s videographer who was filming the event for the souvenir DVD and proceeding to “dance” with a Uruguayan tango dancer. Apologies for treading on feet did take place.
Living in the port that saw the departure and return of the fleet that sailed to victory in the Falklands War in 1982 we couldn’t pass up a visit to the battlefields of the Falklands when we were there, including walking around a destroyed Chinook and standing at the base of Estancia. We had time to wander around Stanley where we explored the museum and grabbed a drink in a local bar, and we were accompanied by a dolphin as our tender boat made its way back to the Star Princess cruise ship from where we could take some photos of Blanco Bay and other parts of the Falkland Islands landscape.
Our stops in Chile were at Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt (where we got to watch a Chilean Navy submarine cruise past our balcony cabin). We also visited the town of Puerto Varas after lunch around Lake Llanquihué and cruised down the fjords to see the Amalia Glacier before cruising back out of the fjords. The highlight for us in Chile, though, was heading to the Petrohué Waterfalls and then up nearby Osorno Volcano by chairlift.
The staff on board Star Princess turned an already incredible cruise into something against which we measure other trips. We never encountered an average member of staff; from dramatic pouring of drinks to staff remembering your name and preferences inside a day and always going that little bit extra to make you feel like the most important people on board, each and every one of them combined to almost eclipse some of the stunning sights and experiences of the cruise as a whole. We’d taken the cruise as a 20th anniversary of our first date (any excuse) and it’s our intention to repeat this cruise at some point in the future. We didn’t quite get the rough seas going around Cape Horn that we’d hoped for this time (although we did get some a little later) so there’s always something to return for.