A Travellerspoint blog

February 2015

Punta Arenas in Chile

Saturday, 28 February 2015


View 2015-02 South America on greynomadm's travel map.

I hope this isn't becoming boring but I was treated to a spectacular sunrise on a calm sea with little to no wind. Temperature was below 10 °C as we sailed into the harbour for Punta Arenas which is located on the Strait of Magellan and dropped anchor as the wharf is not capable od accommodating a ship of our size.

Breakfast completed we returned to the cabin and prepared to go ashore. The priority tender service ensured we had only a short wait in the Wheelhouse Bar before we boarded. A short ride on a calm sea brought us to the terminal building where our back-pack was scanned for prohibited imports. Different rules here in Chile.

A short walk brought us to the centre of the town and I was on a desperate search for a toilet. We were directed to an upmarket shopping mall but the toilets were still locked. Fortunately a café across the street was open for breakfast and fortunately there were facilities in a back corner. We ordered a Coke and a cappuccino. The Coke bottle was a peculiar shape and the coffee came in a glass with a straw and a mound of whipped cream. The cost came to the equivalent of US$6 which I thought to be quite reasonable.

We visited the local cathedral, a simple interior with some very lovely statues and a large mural on the ceiling above the altar. We walked over to the park where the market stalls were just coming to life. An awesome array of goods for sale with most knitted and woven items claiming to be genuine alpaca. There was no way of confirming their authenticity but they were very reasonably priced.

Found our way back to the terminal building and confirmed that the prices there were at least 10% more than identical items at the markets. By about noon we were ready to return to the ship. A nice feature of the tender embarkation area was an enclosed shelter, not that the weather was bad but it would be most welcome if there was a strong wind.

A leisurely lunch and we went to the Theatre to watch the movie "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" which lived up to the bizarre title. Jenny left before the halfway mark, I stayed to the end. I think I know what the story's about but it seems like a cult thing. Took some time to capture some more pictures from Deck 19. The dominant feature was the thick clouds that developed in all directions.

Back to the dinning room for diner but without Donald and Mary. There were many empty or partly filled tables and the service was very slick. We were out of there within an hour even after staying for a second cup of coffee. Tonight's entertainment was provided by ventriloquist Don Bryan and his very clever partner "Noseworthy". The jokes were well practised and presented and the ventriloquism very believable.

We are sailing Southwesterly in the Strait of Magellan as we backtrack before heading Westerly into the Pacific Ocean. We have come to realise that this tip of South America is a maze of islands large and small with two significant passages from East to West.

The Internet problems continue so I will have to hold off until things get better. My apologies for this bulk upload.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 22:13 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel

Friday, 27 February 2015


View 2015-02 South America on greynomadm's travel map.

After yesterday's turbulent encounter with Cape Horn we sailed serenely into the port of Ushuaia. We had a booked tour this morning and our rendezvous was scheduled for 0730. Everything proceeded so smoothly we were aboard the coach by 0745. Our tour took us into the Tierra del Fuego National Park where we visited a number of coves and camping and hiking areas. With summer time maximums not exceeding 10 °C one wonders who would undertake such activities.

We found a Post Office at one of these remote places. Jenny spent $US 3.00 each to send post cards from the most Southern Post Office on earth. We also drove to the end of the highway that runs from Anchorage in Alaska to this remote part of Argentina. The landscape is dominated by many stark peaks with most of them sporting a covering of snow.

We returned to Ushuaia and left the coach to explore the town on foot. The feature which attracted me most was the diversity of the architecture. Pieces of buildings appeared to be haphazardly attached and roof lines would have been a roofer's nightmare. The tourist shops were groaning under a mountain of goods ranging from sensible clothing to gaudy trinkets and even snow-domes.

We walked back to the ship and had a late lunch then tried to snatch some sleep in anticipation of tonight's encounter with the glaciers in the Beagle Channel. The ship was due to depart shortly after 1530 but at 1630 when we got up the ship was still in port. There had been a delay in evacuating a passenger to the local hospital. The ship had called for an ambulance but when it finally arrived it was found to be inappropriately kitted for the task. There was a further delay as a second ambulance was dispatched.

Meanwhile we prepared to attend the Captain's Circle Cocktail Party and event that we often ignore. Today we decided to attend and met up with Donald and Mary. Numbers were low and cocktails and canapés were plentiful and eagerly delivered. On entry to the venue our invitations are collected and placed in an ice-bucket. One of the features of the party is the drawing of three entries from the bucket for a bottle of champagne. First card out - Mr and Mrs de Bont of B241. The next one drawn was Donald's, two bottles on the one table and we don't even drink !!

After the party I rugged up to try and capture some of the scenery from deck 16. The light was starting to fade, the temperature was going down and the wind speed was going up. I managed to record some of the ice-field but the truly significant glacier was blocked from view by a heavy rain squall. Back to the cabin to dry the camera, download the foggy images and write this tale.

It is now almost 2200 and we are still sailing Westward through the Beagle Channel as we head for Punta Arenas in Chile.

There is a written warning of unstable Internet Connectivity so will have to hold off until things get better. My apologies for this bulk upload.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 22:10 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Cape Horn, Meeting of Three Oceans

Thursday, 26 February 2015

We woke to find the ship fighting strong winds and currents under an overcast sky. No significant sunrise event and with temperatures around 7 °C I didn't spend much time on the open deck. As we had our breakfast we worked out our schedule for the day. The 'Rounding of the Horn' was scheduled for 1630 and should last just over an hour.

By the time we'd attended the Destination Presentation on Punta Arenas there was an announcement from the bridge that due to the severe weather our arrival at Cape Horn had been delayed to some time after 1700. I stayed for another 'security' lecture by Peter LaSorsa during which he reminded us of the type of 'electronic signature' we created whenever we used our smart phone for any of the many transactions the apps have enabled.

Just before attending the Future Cruises presentation the latest message from the bridge revised the expectation of our visit to Cape Horn. Worsening weather would delay our expected arrival to about 1800 and sailing around the island was now most unlikely.

Most of the exposed decks were closed due to the high wind across the deck. The ship was also rocking and pitching under the combined influences of the wind and the waves. We spent some time in the cabin and at 1600 I got up and covered in multiple layers made my way to deck 19 Aft. There were a number of other hardy individuals and we managed to retain our footing in the buffeting winds but only by hanging onto the rails.

Almost precisely on schedule we approached Horn Island and were able to snatch some reasonable images. At times the Westerly blasts almost knocked the camera out of my hands. After a while the ship made a 180° turn and we sat in the lee of the island while we soaked up the experience. It is an experience that few of us are likely to repeat and the issue of a 'Certificate' will be a life-long reminder of the day. The sea in this area is influenced by the Pacific Ocean to the West, the Atlantic Ocean from the East and the Great Southern Ocean from the South. The wind howls from the West having an uninterrupted passage around the world.

We returned to the cabin and stripped off many layers of clothes before proceeding to the Theatre to be entertained by Greg Schlotthauer again. After the show we had a quick meal in the Horizon Court. Many styles of german sausage and both red cabbage and sauerkraut, perfect for a cold night.

We are now sailing West in the Beagle Channel as we make our way to Ushuaia.

There is a written warning of unstable Internet Connectivity so will have to hold off until things get better.
If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 22:08 Archived in Argentina Comments (2)

Stanley. East Falkland

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

This morning was cold, windy and very bleak as we approached the port of Stanley on the Falkland Island. Today's visit is a tendered port which requires us to be ferried from ship to shore in small boats. The process is well practised and quite efficient. Boarding the tender has never been easier and the 20 minute ride to the pier was relatively smooth but quite cold.

We were dressed in multiple layers which proved to be adequate until we started to walk into the wind. Although it wasn't raining we donned our rain jackets which took the edge off that chill wind. The houses are all painted in a variety of colours and most appear to be well maintained. There were many Union Jack flags flying proudly in the brisk breeze. The island people are proudly and fiercely British and have a wealth of memorials to demonstrate their gratitude for the action taken by Margaret Thatcher to drive out the Argentines.

Gift shops abound and all have a plethora of penguin memorabilia. Stuffed toys in many sizes and ceramic version adorned many shelves. Churches and public buildings are well maintained and there was no shortage of high end 4X4 SUV vehicles. Modern Range Rovers and Land Cruisers competed with some vintage Landrovers.

We walked for over two hours and managed to leave the island without doing much for the local economy. Speaking of which, the island is economically fully independent with the exception of Defence which is provided by Britain. Any military presence was low key except for a quick fly-over by a jet fighter.

The return trip on the tender was again uneventful and we were back aboard in time for a late lunch.

Managed to stay awake through the Afternoon Movie, strange show called "Foxcatcher" supposedly based on a true story.

Dinner on our own, Mary and Don didn't make it. Finished in time to make the early show in the Theatre where we were treated to two excellent performances. First up was Lee Bayless who again talked his way through a number of funny tales. He then topped that off with a number of very clever 'magic' tricks. He was almost overshadowed by the second act in the form of some very clever and funny renditions of songs by Dan Riley who managed to extract an impressive amount of audience participation.

Back to the cabin to pen this tale as the ship heads towards the Cape Horn on a SouthWesterly course. Tomorrow we sail around the Cape and then on to Ushuaia.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 15:46 Archived in Falkland Islands Comments (1)

At Sea - Still Heading South

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


View 2015-02 South America on greynomadm's travel map.

The clouds and colours of this morning's sunrise went through a lot of changes over 45 minutes. We're still at sea heading South towards the Falkland Islands. The outside temperature is about 10 °C and will get progressively colder over the next four days, it was only days ago that the temperature was close to 30 °C.

Sorry for the 'late' posting of yesterday's blog and picture. I had a devil of a time trying to maintain a connection and wasted 12 minutes while achieving nothing. I went down to the Internet Cafe at 0500 this morning and was able to upload everything without a problem.

The series of lectures continues with Amy Rubin presenting the music of Brazil's composer Heitor Villa-Labos. I'm not sure that I'm understanding it more but I still enjoy it. We also found out that fellow passenger Al plays the flute and we arranged a private concert for this afternoon. It isn't all that grand, he's agreed to play it for us in the limited confines of their cabin.

The Destination Presentation once again attracted overflowing crowds with people siting on the stairs and standing around the sides. He described the scenic cruising around Cape Horn, our viewing of the Chilean glaciers and our visit to Ushuala. His show was followed by another lecture by Peter LaSorsa during which he provided a number of practical measures we could take to reduce ourselves as target for criminal attack. Many of his tips were very innovative but somewhat impractical.

Had a quick bite of pizza before joining Al and Deb in their cabin. Al played some lovely tunes and deb sang along to one of them. There was a lot of feeling in their music.

Dressed up for another formal night and enjoyed a lovely meal again with Mary & Don. The photographers urged us to pose for a snap at the dinner table. Could be a nice one to buy if it turns out. We're not bothering with the "Production Show" tonight which leaves me with little else to report.

Tomorrow we arrive in Stanly in the Falkland Islands.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 13:43 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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