A Travellerspoint blog


Beautiful Valparaiso

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

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

Arrived in Valparaiso under a clear sky, a calm sea, light breeze and warm temperature rising to 23 °C. Our arrival was marred by the presence of five gigantic container cranes blocking our berth. What should have been a simple task turned into a two hour delay because one of the cranes broke down and had to be pushed along by one of the others, an excruciatingly slow process. As you could imagine this threw the entire schedule out the window.

Eventually we were directed to the shuttle which took us almost three Km through the working port to the 'Terminal' where our tour coaches were waiting. We left almost exactly two hours behind schedule but that didn't detract from the tour. We spent four hours weaving in and out of the many hill-side neighbourhoods. There was every style of architecture from palaces and five star hotels to shanty towns clinging to the hillsides.
The city is scattered over about 40 hills with steep gullies separating them. The city grew as money was available and a need existed. It surrounds all sides of a horseshoe shaped bay and climbs from the water's edge to the hill-tops with almost every structure having a view over the bay.

The sun was fierce but provided a pleasant change from the previous cold weather. The guide warned repeatedly to avoid sunburn in the high UV readings due to the location by applying lots of sunscreen.

We returned to the ship, had a snack lunch and then attended the third Muster Station Drill for the cruise. Many of us who boarded in Ft Lauderdale displayed a high level of disinterest. For the 600+ passengers who boarded in Valparaiso it was more interesting and many appeared to enjoy the experience of trying on the life jackets. Made our way to the dining room for a lovely meal in a subdued atmosphere with well over 50% of the seats unoccupied.

Went out on deck to experience the departure which ultimately was delayed for an hour beyond the revised 1930 scheduled time. The ship will need to make up three hours to arrive in Coquimbo on schedule. Indications on the navigation screen are that we are sailing at 20.5 knots, very close to maximum cruising speed.

We sail into Coquimbo/La Serena, Chile tomorrow.

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 17:15 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Approaching Valparaiso

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Today is the third sea day as we sail up the coast of Chile. The sun rose in an almost clear sky and presented little colour. After breakfast the first event for us was the Culinary Demonstration by Chef Alfredo Marzi. An interesting and entertaining show as he demonstrated the creation of three dishes. After the show we were conducted through the massive stainless steel galley on Deck 5.

Next stop was the Wheelhouse Bar where there was an English Pub Lunch where they offered a variety of dishes which included 'Fish and Chips', 'Bangers and Mash' and 'Steak and Kidney Pie'. There was only a small crowd and the service was very efficient.

We decided to watch the Destination Presentation on the TV in our cabin. The port after Valparaiso is Coquimbo and La Serena and it sounds like an interesting region. Yesterday I indicated that we'd make an independent trip ashore on the second day in Valparaiso, that won't be happening as we only have the one day in Port. I got confused.

We spent a very pleasant two hours in the Theatre watching the movie "The Grand Seduction". A very funny show with a quirky plot and some fabulous characters. Diner was the traditional 'Last Day' theme due to the fractured nature of the cruise. We didn't stay for the traditional Bombe Alaska parade of the waiters, we'll leave that until it is really our last day.

The first part of tonight's show was a short segment by the ventriloquist who was just as funny as the first time. The singer who featured for the second segment didn't enthuse me so I walked out.

I'll try to perform the upload tonight instead of 0230 as I've done for the past few days. Jenny has perked up after her visit to the Medical Centre, there are a lot of unwell people on board.

We sail into Valparaiso, Chile tomorrow.

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 17:10 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

North Along the Chilean Coast

Monday, 2 March 2015

An overcast sky prevented a visible sunrise and the temperature on the open decks was struggling to reach 10 °C. A simple breakfast in the Horizon Court and then back to the cabin to shower and dress for the day. There are not a lot of activities to attend to today. Jenny is feeling a bit off colour so she's reported to the Medical Centre. It appears there are a large number of passengers with symptoms of flu. Jenny's complaint is not infectious but she has been prescribed are variety of medication to prevent a bronchial attack.

I attended the Destination Presentation, our next port is Valparaiso for the city of Santiago. We have a Shore Excursion booked for the first day and will most likely walk ashore independently on the second day. These talks in the Theatre inevitably lead to massive overcrowding but this time they have arranged a simulcast on the stateroom TVs. There were lots of empty seats but I hope they keep up the simulcast idea.

There's a seafood buffet in Café Caribe from 1200 to 1330. Based on reports from previous 'theme' buffets we ensured seating well ahead of time. It appears that many fellow passengers had the same idea. By the time the buffet opened there was a queue of at least 100 people. The seafood on offer was short of fantastic and seemed hardly worth the effort. We finished our meal and noticed that the queue was still growing.
I spent some time taking some photos of the public spaces on Deck 7 the Promenade Deck. This deck is totally devoted to passenger space from the Theatre at the bow to Club Fusion at the stern. Other significant spaces include the Wheelhouse Bar, Crooner's, the Explorers Lounge and the Crown Grill.

After a refreshing siesta it was time to start the preparation for another formal dinner. Numbers were down in the dining room, possibly due to the number of people who are unwell. There is a Captain's Farewell Party this evening, primarily for the 600+ people who are leaving the ship in Valparaiso. We decided not to stay around and had no intention to mingle or have photos taken.

Back in the cabin we found a 'Transit Passenger' instruction sheet which contained some misinformation, casually dismissed by the Customer Services staff but incorrect and confusing nevertheless. I'm becoming less and less impressed with the administration. This is partly due to the fact that what we booked as a 49 day cruise is being treated and administered as three back-to-back cruises. This is illustrated by the fact that the on-board account is closed off after each segment and it appears that we will be required to attend another muster drill. Menus have also been repeated and look like being repeated again, not something we've noticed previously. I'm most surprised and disappointed that we've not had any menu items that reflect the cuisine of the countries we've visited. Throughout it is been predominately North American with some 'specials' to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

We continue to sail Northward along the Chilean coast towards Valparaiso. Another sea day tomorrow.

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 Chile Comments (1)

Chile Coast- Sea Day 1

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Woke up early, 0230, this morning and went down to the Internet Café to try my luck with the Internet connection. It was a worthwhile exercise and I managed to upload images and texts held over for the last three days. Hopefully I don't have to resort to such drastic actions again. Sunrise was scheduled for 0733 but the overcast, strong winds and choppy sea prevented any photography.

Most mornings a six member group of men meet for coffee at about 0545 and review the events of yesterday. Most days we resolve most of the issues effecting the world. This morning, Dennis asked me with a very straight face and a serious voice if it was possible to determine if a photo was of a sunrise or a sunset. I had to admit I wouldn't be able to distinguish one from the other. He claimed that he could !! When asked how his answer was "If my wife is in the photo it MUST be a SUNSET, she doesn't get up early enough to see the sunrise !!"

After breakfast I attended an "Advanced Photography Seminar", no doubt it was advanced for some but did nothing to advance my knowledge. As the seminar finished the ship received a sudden wind blast on the port side causing it to tip over to starboard by almost 30°. From a person who was in the buffet area she reported that the lunch-time food trays slipped off the counters and dumped the food over the deck. One can only imagine the chaos in the galley. There was an announcement from the bridge that ballast was being transferred to level the ship as the strong wind was forecast to continue. All access to the open deck was closed for the day and the main swimming pool emptied.

Joined Jenny in the Wheelhouse bar for a future cruises presentation by the delightful Angela who spoke with her usual enthusiasm about the European itineraries for later in 2015 and 2016. Seven of Princess's ships will operate in Europe this Northern Hemisphere Summer season. Certainly plenty of choices but such a long way from home.

After a quick lunch we adjourned to the Theatre to watch the afternoon movie, "The Dallas Buyers Club". The title was familiar and it didn't take long to confirm that we'd seen it before. Jenny left but I stayed and I think she made the better decision. When the movie finished I realised I hadn't yet taken any photos for the 365 Project. I decided to catch some images of the Da Vinci dinning room. As luck would have it the afternoon tea was just finishing. The crew were quite happy for me to poke around and even posed for the camera.

A lovely dinner with Mary and Donald after which I elected to return to the cabin to write this blog, I doubt I'd have stayed awake during tonight's show.

We continue to sail Northward along the Chilean coast with the ship making light of the winds and waves. Another sea day tomorrow.

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 23:28 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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)

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