A Travellerspoint blog

Falkland Islands

semi-overcast 14 °C
View South America on winmouse's travel map.

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.

Later on.....
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.

Posted by winmouse 13:36 Archived in Falkland Islands Tagged animal Comments (3)

Punta Arenas/Ushuaia

semi-overcast 16 °C
View South America on winmouse's travel map.

Punta Arenas/Ushuaia

We have had a busy week so have not had much time to sit down and prepare an entry for our curious followers.
We boarded the Star Princess on Tuesday December 8th and had three days at sea. We had loads of fun checking out the daily entertainment – trivia, wine sampling, comedy acts, gym and the lotus spa. We have really enjoyed the luxury of the spa – sauna, aromatherapy steam baths, hot stone beds and whirlpools. But most of all our balconies have been fabulous to watch the seas. The weather has been great considering it could be high winds and rough seas.
December 12 we arrived at Punta Arenas and had scheduled the Magellan Island excursion. This is a two hour ferry ride to an island that houses 150,000 Magellan penguins. We were SO excited to have a great morning and saw thousands of penguins. This is by far the best excursion to take at Punta Arenas. Otway Sound is another excursion but there are only 300 penguins, so the viewing isn’t as good. Check out the photos to see our penguins. We will try and upload some video because that is the best coverage. We walked along a roped walkway, but it was in the middle of their route to the ocean to shower. When we arrived, it was their “shower time” so penguins were trying to cross the road. However, alot of passengers did NOT GET it and tried to rush the penguins as they got close. Darwin and I had a riot watching them.
The town of Punta Arenas is quaint but nothing over the top. Shopping was minimal.
The next day December 13 we arrived in Ushuaia ( pronounced Ooo-sway-a). This is the southern most city in the world. We went to a post office at the end of the world. This is a BEAUTIFUL City and well worth visiting. We could easily spend three days here. What was interesting is the weather does not fluctuate much – temperatures range from 1-19 degrees. They do not get the severe cold that we see in Canada. On average, Ushuaia gets 20 days over 15 degrees and we had one of them. What a spectacular afternoon. We were dressed for cold, windy weather but had a sunny spectacular day. Our excursion was a train to the end of the world (beside the Pan America Highway) and then a visit to the Ensenada Bay (little bay). This excursion was $120 but not worth it. When we arrived back at the port, we talked to a taxi driver and were informed we could have taken a taxi for $30 and done the same tour (minus the train ride which was only 7 km long). So lesson learned. We bought some great penguins here and enjoyed cocktails in the town. This was a great day.
Today (December 14) we are at sea. We rounded Cape Horn at 8:50 this morning and are now heading north to Falkland Islands. The Cape was a great experience. Our suites are on the port side of the ship (thanks to Kim) so the four of us watched the cape from our rooms. As we passed the Albatross monument at the cape, we had cocktails this morning and made a toast to Neptune, all sailors who have passed away attempting to circle the Cape and to the Albatross. Legend has it that sailors souls live in the albatross, so it’s unlucky to kill an albatross. As new mariners, Darwin and I definitely enjoyed this morning. We have spent the rest of the day relaxing as tomorrow we have two excursions to see Rockhopper and King Penguins (if we make it to the Falklands. 60% of ships do not get into port due to the weather).
I think that’s it for now. It’s 5:30, so off to cocktail hour.

We have had a busy week so have not had much time to sit down and prepare an entry for our curious followers.
We boarded the Star Princess on Tuesday December 8th and had three days at sea. We had loads of fun checking out the daily entertainment – trivia, wine sampling, comedy acts, gym and the lotus spa. We have really enjoyed the luxury of the spa – sauna, aromatherapy steam baths, hot stone beds and whirlpools. But most of all our balconies have been fabulous to watch the seas. The weather has been great considering it could be high winds and rough seas.
December 12 we arrived at Punta Arenas and had scheduled the Magellan Island excursion. This is a two hour ferry ride to an island that houses 150,000 Magellan penguins. We were SO excited to have a great morning and saw thousands of penguins. This is by far the best excursion to take at Punta Arenas. Otway Sound is another excursion but there are only 300 penguins, so the viewing isn’t as good. Check out the photos to see our penguins. We will try and upload some video because that is the best coverage. We walked along a roped walkway, but it was in the middle of their route to the ocean to shower. When we arrived, it was their “shower time” so penguins were trying to cross the road. However, alot of passengers did NOT GET it and tried to rush the penguins as they got close. Darwin and I had a riot watching them.
The town of Punta Arenas is quaint but nothing over the top. Shopping was minimal.
The next day December 13 we arrived in Ushuaia ( pronounced Ooo-sway-a). This is the southern most city in the world. We went to a post office at the end of the world. This is a BEAUTIFUL City and well worth visiting. We could easily spend three days here. What was interesting is the weather does not fluctuate much – temperatures range from 1-19 degrees. They do not get the severe cold that we see in Canada. On average, Ushuaia gets 20 days over 15 degrees and we had one of them. What a spectacular afternoon. We were dressed for cold, windy weather but had a sunny spectacular day. Our excursion was a train to the end of the world (beside the Pan America Highway) and then a visit to the Ensenada Bay (little bay). This excursion was $120 but not worth it. When we arrived back at the port, we talked to a taxi driver and were informed we could have taken a taxi for $30 and done the same tour (minus the train ride which was only 7 km long). So lesson learned. We bought some great penguins here and enjoyed cocktails in the town. This was a great day.
Today (December 14) we are at sea. We rounded Cape Horn at 8:50 this morning and are now heading north to Falkland Islands. The Cape was a great experience. Our suites are on the port side of the ship (thanks to Kim) so the four of us watched the cape from our rooms. As we passed the Albatross monument at the cape, we had cocktails this morning and made a toast to Neptune, all sailors who have passed away attempting to circle the Cape and to the Albatross. Legend has it that sailors souls live in the albatross, so it’s unlucky to kill an albatross. As new mariners, Darwin and I definitely enjoyed this morning. We have spent the rest of the day relaxing as tomorrow we have two excursions to see Rockhopper and King Penguins (if we make it to the Falklands. 60% of ships do not get into port due to the weather).
I think that’s it for now. It’s 5:30, so off to cocktail hour.

Posted by winmouse 12:33 Archived in Argentina Comments (2)

Santiago Overview

sunny 21 °C

Well we arrived safely in Santiago and got checked into our Marriott Hotel. This is a fantastic hotel and the service was excellent. We strongly recommend this hotel for any traveller to Santiago. The views are spectacular.
Gateways tours conducted an excellent private tour for us. Our guide Jose and drive Claudio were extremely professional. Jose has worked in several parts of Chile and Brazil so had excellent advice for our tours after the cruise is over.
We toured downtown area, Government plaza (he explained about the September 11, 1973 military coup with Pinochet. He was a bellman at the Sheraton when this occurred, so he has very vivid memories of this experience). The public washrooms here cost $300 pesos ( $0.60) per person and very clean. The church in the market square was quite spectacular. It has been rebuilt 3 times due to the earthquakes in the area.
We also took a drive to the Virgin Mary. This is a very important landmark for the locals. Today was a national holiday celebrating the Immaculate Conception. The road leading to this statue is closed today as several thousand citizens will hike to the top of this hill to pray to the Virgin. This statue was built by the same artist as the Statue of Liberty.
We had a fabulous seafood dinner at El Apero which means cowboy gear (saddle to spurs) in Spanish. It was fantastic. Jim Stanton, check out the photo taken at this restaurant. It reminds us of a bottle of wine we drank with you.
Today, we toured the countryside on our drive to Valparisso to catch our ship (Star Princess). It reminded us of California and the Okanagan. Plenty of cactus and produce. Their main exports include table grapes, kiwis, avocados, peaches and tomatoes.
Vina del Mar (wine by the sea) is a beautiful tourism area for the locals and is located next to Valparisso. The wealthy spend their summer vacations here and most Argentina vacationers who live in the western part of their country, also travel to this City, as it’s closer than Buenos Aires.
We had a great departure from port and are now at sea for three days on our way to Punta Arenas. Can you believe we have a great ship to explore and we have decided to order room service and stay in and watch movies. We are all EXHAUSTED from the past few days. I broke my toe on the airplane ride to Santiago so need to get it taped tomorrow so I can function properly.
Just a reminder to those we promised to Skype from the ship, it DOES NOT work, so you need to call us on Skype. We will only have the computer on sparingly so if you see us online try and skype right away.
I will try and post as many photos as possible but it may take time and at the rate of $0.75/minute you may have to wait until the end of the cruise to see some of our photos.
We hear it’s cold in Calgary....too bad.
We will post again once we see Punta Arenas.

Posted by winmouse 17:17 Archived in Chile Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Cannot Skype from Princess Cruise

Hey gang, just so you know we cannot skype during the cruise as the cruise ship does not allow this. however, Jake just got through to us so you can try and skype us if you get a chance. We are 4 hours ahead of Alberta time. Will prepare a more detailed posting and show photos tomorrow. Great cruise ship and everyone is well.

Posted by winmouse 16:41 Comments (1)

Santiago Surprise

Ultimate Skype

sunny 25 °C

Well this is turning out to be quite the adventure. As I wrote yesterday, i was going to Skype Kevin today to confirm we arrived in Santiago safely....Well last night at the Miami airport, Darwin and I are waiting for our flight and I'm people watching as Darwin plays with his iphone. I looked down the hall and I YELLED to Darwin..... OMG Darwin I see Kevin. Darwin looks at me and says... Mouse....you and your comparisons to how people look like others. I yell at him...no it's really kevin and OMG Kim is there too.... so I run up to them and say "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN MIAMI?" I was shocked and then it dawned on me.... they are joining us on the cruise.... Talk about the ultimate skype experience. Here I am face to face with Kevin and Kim. forget about skyping them for the next 14 days... This is going to be a blast. So now we are in the lounge at the Marriott after a great tour of Santiago. Will post photos and a summary of our tour later on. Need to get back to my glass of wine. but thought everyone would want to know about the great surprise.

Posted by winmouse 17:21 Archived in Chile Comments (2)

(Entries 31 - 35 of 41) « Page .. 2 3 4 5 6 [7] 8 9 »