First off, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the cruising world. At this moment, I think I’ve done maybe 6 big ship cruises. Here is a list of some of my personal likes and dislikes.
Like: The ease of cruising, no schedules to follow, you can be as active or lazy as you wish. Scheduled for the 6pm dining? You can blow it off and eat at the buffet or take room service anytime you like. There is always plenty to do, but you don’t have to do anything.
Dislike: At embarkation there is always about a 2-hour window when passengers are boarding and the cabins are not ready. This makes the public spaces very crowded and on top of that everyone is schlepping around their carry-on luggage. It’s loud, dining area is packed, no place to sit, and dining staff is furiously working to clean up all the dirty dishes and tables. Once everyone is allowed in their cabins….aahhh.
Dislike: The loud pounding music at the main pool area. And trying to use your I-pod here is impossible. The loud music forces everyone to yell when talking to one another. I don’t mind passing through this area and hanging out for a little bit, but it’s definitely not my camping out space.
Like: Here is my little secret– I like sitting in the lounge chairs on the deck where the life boats hang. It’s shady, quiet and breezy. It’s lower to the water line and sometimes you even get a little ocean spray.
Dislike: Sitting at a table with strangers for dinner. I’m not good at small talk. There are tables for 2, you can always ask.
Like: On our last cruise we discovered eating lunch in the main dining room, rather than the crowded, standing in line buffet. This became the highlight of our days at sea. We always got a table of our own and we’d have a long, relaxing, three course meal with cocktails, and white tablecloth service.
Dislike: The hairy chest/belly flop contests, I think these events are probably geared more to the Caribbean and Mexico cruises. This probably does not go on with the upscale cruise lines like Regent, Oceania, or Seabourn. I’m getting old, but I’d rather go to high tea in the afternoon or play scattagories.
Like: Days in port and you don’t get off the ship. Sleep in late, while the others are lined up to get out the door, and have a leisurely breakfast (you’ll have the dining room practically to yourself). This is the best time to schedule a spa treatment, the spa runs the best specials on port days.
I love cruising and I’m counting down (7 weeks) and I’m heading out for my 2nd Alaska cruise, can’t wait!
Disembark Punta Arenas Chile. They scanned our luggage coming through customs, but they never looked at our passports, that’s a first coming into a country. There were problems coming into the port (weather) so the ship had to sit out in the harbor for 3hrs. This killed most of the only day I had there. I basically ate dinner (4pm), picked up some snacks, bought more Sudafed and cough syrup, and back to my hotel.
April 7, 2013
Up at 3:50am to catch my 0625 flight to Santiago. LAN airlines- super nice, head phones, movies, great snacks, plus it was a really new plane. I’m not crazy about my Hostel here, my room is super small, kind of dirty, an open window to high to see out of, feels like a jail cell. And it’s on the 4th floor with no elevator to take my luggage up. I like this part of town, one end of the street is the old colonial, cathedrals part of town. The other end is young, trendy, and bohemian type area.
April 8, 2013
Up early again for a full-day tour of Valpariso a coastal resort town, more like a city, it’s huge. It’s about 1-1/2 hrs from Santiago. We also stopped and did a winery tour, very interesting, it was an organic winery. There are chickens all over the place, they are there to eat the worms that infest the vines. They also plant different herbs, plants, and bushes around the vines to keep unwanted pests away and they use Alpaca’s to eat the grass between the vine rows.
I’m sitting in the hostel main living room and all these 20-somethings are just sitting here playing on their phones. They don’t even talk to each other. What’s happened to the hostel culture I used to know? Where everyone would sit around the room talking about their travels?
So, today I was eating lunch in a restaurant and a man (who looked like Johnny Depp) came up to me and asked if I speak English. Wow, that’s a first, it’s usually me asking that question! He couldn’t figure out the menu situation, which I actually knew the answer to. I could hear him over at his table having a hard time communicating with the waiter. I was happy to know I’m not the only one.
April 9, 2013
I was a little weepy this morning, everything was going wrong. I checked out of my private room for a dorm room, just needing a place to basically store my luggage since I am checking out tonight. Front desk gives me a key to the new room. I walk in and it’s a small room, 6 beds, full of guys and their duffel bags. I didn’t know I booked a co-ed room, there is no way my suitcase is going to fit in there. Front desk let me keep my stuff in my old room for a couple hours, then I moved my stuff in with the boys after they’d cleared out for day.
Then my melt down happened when I went to Santa Lucia park. I walked a ton of stairs to the top of this hill and there is a man at a table set up on the sidewalk he was asking me to sign the log. Of course, again I have no idea what he is saying, I refused to sign it. I get into the park and looking around and a security guard comes up to me telling me off, waving his radio, yelling at me. Wow, I turned around and walked back down the hill. That was it, I had to cry for a while.
Today I bought a pass to the hop on/off tour bus. That was worth the 20,000 pesos ($40). I was out the whole day stopping and sightseeing at different parts of town. I had Indian food for lunch. Peruvian sandwich for dinner.
Headed home tonight, I’m ready.
- I’m getting old and have out grown hostels.
- Work a little harder on my Spanish. I feel that I missed so much and it could have been a more full experience.
- I miss traveling with my mate, but I won’t rule-out doing something like this again (with more preparation.)
- Nothing weird happened, I never felt I was unsafe.
- I did challenge myself and did things I normally would have whined about if Dan were with me.
Today I embark, Cruceros Australis. Here is a huge bummer—check out at the hosteria is 10:30am. My ship paperwork says I can check in for the cruise between 12pm-4pm, so I aim for 3pm. I check-in at an office in town, they tell me to show up at the pier at for boarding 5:30 or 6:00. You can only walk the streets of Ushuaia for so long it’s just one main street, it’s really tough trying to kill 6+ hrs. I had thrown everything into my suitcase, I didn’t even have a book to read.
I am starting to think that traveling solo is not all that it’s cracked up to be. My dining arrangements on ship is at a table with all French speakers. Wow, this makes dining a little stressful. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, stare at the ceiling, look around the room and chew my nails, or pretend that I am listening and just smile. They seem nice, but I can’t understand a word. This is where my husband that speaks several languages would come in handy. Then on top of that, they announce at dinner that there are 20 nationalities present on board. They name off each country and people cheer. They say” United States”—the room is silent, I wave my napkin and my table cheers for me. The host announces again “United States”, I wave again—that’s it, I’m the only American on the ship!
Another beautiful morning, they have us meet at 7:10am to take the zodiacs to Cape Horn. So cool– we walked up a ton of steps to a monument/statue to the southern most tip of land on the continent (AKA Lands End). Back to the ship for breakfast. It was a leisurely day of documentary films, reading, and watching the dolphins jump along the side the boat.
Lunch is my favorite part of the day. I love having a buffet, such a variety of strange things, I have to try everything. So many things I cannot identify, I was eating a salad, I think if was fava beans? They were huge and looked like clams, but tasted like beans. This afternoon we went out in the zodiacs again to see Piloto and Nena glacier. This glacier was sky blue, unbelievable. On the way back to the boat I saw a sea lion jump out of the water right next to our zodiac, I was pointing and oohing, no one saw it except for one guy who backed me up. I think people thought I was making it up.
I have been sleeping fantastic while on ship, I’ve even been taking 2 naps a day. It does get a little rough, as I write the ship is tossing quite a bit. I did need a Dramamine today.
March 31 Buenos Aires
My first time flying with AeroMexico, I give them 2 thumbs up!
Arrived Buenos Aires, the line going through customs was a mess. It took me almost 1-1/2 hrs to get out of there. I found the Manuel Tienda Leon tranportation desk, I’d pre-paid for a shuttle to their downtown terminal and planned on taking a taxi to my hotel from there. But for 15 pesos more they said they’d take me straight to the hotel.
My hotel ended up being more like a B&B or a hostel. No sign out front, I’m dropped off at building in a residential neighborhood with a door buzzer. Bonito Boutique is only 5 rooms on the 3rd floor. A girl gives me a key ring with a key to the front door of the building, and a key to my room. Then the staff leaves. Neat old building, I have a window with old fashion shutters and no screen, it was great, I slept with the window open listening to the street noise.
I found a nice Italian restaurant were you could see them making pasta through the window. Of, course I just pointed to things on the menu, it was OK, and it cost me a fortune. I need to remember to bring my Spanish dictionary with me next time, since I have no idea what I’m ordering.
It is some kind of holiday today and tomorrow. I walked around the neighborhood and everything is closed. I am looking for an ATM, I went to 3 before I found one with money in it. I was getting nervous, I had no pesos for my cab to the airport.
Ushuaia, very touristy and feels like a Colorado ski town. I couldn’t resist a restaurant with a open flame spit roasting whole pig carcass. I just had to have a piece of that and spent way too much on dinner again. Oh well, I have left-overs for lunch anyhow.
My hosteria is a house in a residential area about 4 blocks from town, I think there are only 5 rooms in here.
Big day today. I took a bus to the Tierra del Fuego National Park where they drop off at a trail head and pick up at the other end. 5-miles is a lot for me, but I thought what the heck, I’ll take my time and make a day of it. It was a beautiful hike, and it got pretty strenuous at times. I had only packed a left over pork chop from last night and a granola bar. I saw some very large woodpeckers, noisy ones at that, they sound just like “Woody” from the cartoon. I was able to complete the hike in 3 hrs, boy was I glad to see civilization, my knees were killing me.
Still some kind of holiday, farmacia cerrado (I need some more Tylenol), restaurants closed, all I could find for dinner was a bar. I had a crab pizza loaded with crab meat.
Heading to the ship this afternoon. Stay tuned!