15.12.2009 - 15.12.2009 14 °C
This is the port we were most excited about visiting. After all, we did name this blog based on originally spending a week here to visit the wild life. Over 50% of the ships do not arrive in the Falklands due to the weather. Well, the weather goddess was on our side and we arrived safely in Port Stanley. We had two excursions booked and they did not disappoint.
We spent our morning at Bluff Cove. It was about a 40 minute drive away (20 minutes via van and 20 minutes via 4 x 4 jeep). The landscape here is very rugged and we discovered that roads were only built after the 1983 invasion. Marshall was our 4 x 4 driver who helps drive cruise tourists to see the gentoo and king penguins. His full time job is in the power plant. So it was great listening to his stories about the island. He was born in the Falklands and would never live anywhere else.
We arrived at the rookery and were disappointed at first because there were only 200 penguins on site and 6 king penguins. The rope was at least 5 metres away from the penguins, so our interactions was not as good as Megallan Island in Punta Arenas. However, we got to see some great chick moments and when we walked down to the beach we found a single male King penguin looking for a mate. He is new to the rookery and is a single bachelor trying to find a mate. It was fascinating to watch him and I think we captured some great photos.
The afternoon was spent at a rockhopper rookery. Darwin and I love the movie “Surf’s Up” and that is how we discovered the rockhoppers on the Falkland Islands. Darwin decided to dress up as one, tuxedo and hair. It was an absolute riot and the highlight of our trip so far, to watch these guys in action. We have watched several videos on these guys, but nothing like seeing them in person. Their calls are unique (we captured some on video and will try to post later on facebook once we get off the cruise ship). But it is their hops that make them distinctive from other species. We laughed for the hour we watched them, amazed at their aggressive personalities. Definitely, a MUST tour for anyone interested in animal life. This excursion also had us travelling by 4 x 4 jeeps for 40 minutes to our destination. Our drivers Arthur and John were both local men (one a sheep farmer and the other runs fish trawlers and long liners catching Chilean Sea Bass) . Chatting with these locals was a surprise highlight for us. Normally cruise excursions involve large tour buses and minimal interaction with the locals. So having this opportunity to understand life in the Falklands was fabulous. Because of our interaction with them, we all agreed returning to the Falklands would be a great idea. The wildlife opportunities here is abundant and they love hunting and fishing. Doug/Pat you would love it here, they are big trout fishers here – both reel and fly.
Returning to the ship, we took Kim out for her one month belated birthday dinner to a restaurant that charges $20/person (since food is included in your cruise package, most passengers do not spend the extra money at the specialty restaurants). What an experience. We had a 13 course meal, including cavier, crab cakes, artichokes, pizza, soup, salad, pasta, main course and then desert. So you can bet it was worth $20. We can bring our own wine to the restaurants, so we had a great Carmenere with dinner. The wine here is extremely cheap – the most expensive bottle we have purchased is $12.00.
Last night around 10:00 we had to turn back towards Falkland Islands for a medical emergency. A passenger had to be airlifted to a hospital. We were lucky to be close to land and the weather was good for transporting. Our thoughts are with the family. Kim and I both know what its like to get a call when a parent is travelling and becomes ill. Today was a sea day, so we relaxed in the aromatherapy steam bath and sauna. We had sun this afternoon, so checked out the main pool hot tub and had some cocktails. We tried out the golf simulator and then participated in our daily sea day trivia game. We are not doing so well compared to the senior travellers on this ship. Apparantly one of the passengers has been on more than 200 cruises and knows all the trivia questions, so no one can beat her team. But it’s a great way to spend part of the afternoon. Today’s trick questions - what is a chromatophobic irrationally afraid of? What Christian name literally means dark water? I will give the answers in our next post.
Tonight is formal night, so must put on one of Kim’s cocktail dresses and meet up with them for some wine. Once again I’m struggling to get all photos loaded on to the travel blog, so please be patient. There are some great penguin photos I think you will enjoy.
Just returned from a great evening of entertainment. We have been frequenting the wine bar on the 5th floor of the ship called Vineyards. We have enjoyed a bottle of wine here before our dinners. Tonight we met the ship’s Sommelier – Jack Marshal – Age 21.... Now I know you would expect an older gentleman, we certainly did, but Jack is someone special we met. He is completing is Wine Masters certification and has completed 6 of 7 levels to receive this distinction. If he is successful with his studies in the next two years, he will be the WORLD’s youngest recipient of this honour. His parents own a restaurant in the UK and he startled sampling wine at 14 (our kind of guy). His passion was contagious as we discussed wines for over an hour. He provided us with some great tips as we travel through Chile and Argentina later in January. Dwayne, he recommended you try Felton Road – Barrockburn while in New Zealand (it’s on his top 10 wine list).
Tonight’s menu at dinner included lobster or steak with foie gras, David recommended the following wines with our dinner Sancerre – Savignon Blanc (Loire Valley France) and Brunello del Montalcino (Italy). Even though the wine selection on the ship is limited, these were still excellent choices.
What a tough night. Fabulous dinner – duck breast or pear/blue cheese appetizer, pheasant soup, main course as described above and then chocolate mousse brownie or banana cream pie. All this included in your cruise. Life is tough.
We are now travelling through some thick fog as the ship’s fog horn is sounding every three minutes. We also turn our clocks ahead one hour as we approach Uruguay. Tomorrow Darwin is going on a ship tour which should be interesting. I hope to spend more time around the pool enjoying some sun.
Hope all is well and i’m sure everyone is busy with Christmas preparations. Talk to you soon.