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Crewbie

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About Crewbie

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    Land, air, and sea, maybe the occasional penguin
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    Alaska

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  1. Hi, ldog, We had arranged through Tours By Locals. It wasn't flawless: I made arrangements and confirmations several months in advance (with upkeep in communications all the while), but was informed a little under two weeks before (and while on the cruise) that the guide had regrettably been unable to clear the date from their full-time employment. Happily, our original guide did recommend another guide (from outside the TbL database; they had been classmates in the tourism specialty) as a substitute to Tours By Locals - and we did have a wonderful day with him! I'm sorry that that's the extent of my knowledge to share with you. I hope that others and other threads may provide additional feedback on other potential services. To be fair, these occurrences do happen with any company, independent or cruise; even with the stress of not knowing what was happening with the plans at the time, we still lucked out with a very nice day.
  2. Thanks for this, AryMay! Sounds like you had a great experience overall and the information is definitely useful. I hope you don't mind my tagging in with a few additional comments from my December Star Princess experience. (Pre-emptive comment: When planning for South America, consider downloading WhatsApp as lots of vendors use it and it was invaluable for real-time communication.) Santiago - We were in-transit on this day and took a ship tour. Regrettably underwhelmed, and a mistake on my part: When planning, remember that stated tour capacity is not the same as number of people taking the same tour. You can be in a group at tour capacity... along with the 5 other groups at the same capacity on the same itinerary. Keep in mind that San Antonio port is still around 90 minutes away from Santiago, and maybe look for excursions and/or independent vendors that provide a focused experience. Puerto Montt - Seconding Denis Purtov. Great correspondence; very clear. We had a great day with our guide, and traveling in a small minibus meant that our group could skip forward when all the ship buses were at the falls and catch a few extra sights. Puerto Varas was pleasant, but the highlights were definitely with the nature, for me. (Max group size 16; $65 pp; additional park entry fee and lunch) Punta Arenas - We pinned our hopes on El Pedral and Volunteer Point and decided against Magdalena Island. If you're looking for alternatives, we thought that Punta Arenas was pretty walkable. We wound up using Tour Guide Ushuaia taking its Fort Bulnes and City Tour. Being the holiday season, we ran into a brief hiccup with guides, but TGU coordinator Edgar is exceptionally organized and responsive and we ultimately had a great day. I was very glad to have a guide to help navigate entry/ticketing into the Park of the Strait of Magellan/Fort; the Fort/City combo is logically done since the park didn't open until late morning. I'd wanted to visit the park from the get-go and wasn't disappointed - it's more a collection of sites connected by short car distances, but the main historic museum is very new and informative (lots of Spanish, but a good amount of English) and the Fort is interesting. There's a viewpoint a short walk past the Fort which is very lovely. Revisiting walkability - there was more than enough time after the tour's end for me to walk back to the square and then over down to the "Punta Arenas" sign. (Max group size 10; $126 pp inclusive Park of Strait of Magellan entry; additional expenditure for any other museums and food/lunch) Ushuaia - We took two excursions with Gerardo Germain; he was great and also very good with our camera in taking photos! Seconding AryMay on getting out of Ushuaia and including a view of the Lake District; the scenery is simply amazing. Tierra del Fuego National Park is worth it, but I'd recommend smaller vendors as they can make a few more stops with more flexibility. Also keep in mind that any cruise ships will keep a steady flow of excursions to the Park. (Charges per vehicle, per excursion; does not include any park entry or meal costs). Falkland Islands - Volunteer Point. Amazing. Magellanic, gentoo, and king penguins; stretch of lovely white sand beach. The ride is rough; four passengers to a vehicle means that someone will be in the middle seat for the ride. The cruiselines and independent vendors all go to the same place with the same itinerary - try to book with an independent vendor (we used Estancia Excursions) for a greatly cheaper price. They do fill up! ($200USD or 140GBP pp inclusive of bag lunch) Puerto Madryn - Seconding El Pedral as an option. A shorter distance than Punta Tombo or the Peninsula. Book directly for half the cost of a comparable ship excursion to Punta Ninfas; their communication style is definitely more no-frills in advance, but the trip is absolutely worth it. Puerto Madryn itself has a walkable main beach strip, but that's after the fact. ($120 payable to hostess at site inclusive of lunch) Montevideo - There's a very walkable circuit for do-it-yourself (this again was a port where I was able to walk back to the square with plenty of time after our tour). Tour Guide Ushuaia has a City Tour and Barbecue option - the barbecue (with ample food, wine, and spending time on the back patio of our guide's home with his entire family) was definitely a lasting memory for our entire group. (Approximately $90 pp with roughly 17 group size; inclusive of lunch) Buenos Aires - We booked with Cultura Cercana and had a very pleasant day. Though we had booked a 12-capacity group, we were very surprised to find that our group of 12 was placed in a full-sized coach (with an expert driver). By the end of the tour we similarly were very grateful for this air-conditioned refuge; the heat and humidity definitely kept a cap on our energy. Cultura Cercana had the best and most coherent correspondence of all my communication in advance. I do recommend in any planning to try to enumerate any specific stops desired - a difficult thing to identify since we were first-timers, but there are specific things like the Flora Generalis, the El Ateneo Grand Splendid, or a little more time on Palermo that might be worth inquiring about. ($65 pp at group size of 12, not inclusive of lunch) We also took a debarkation ship's tour to the Tigre Delta - this was a more pleasant surprise than Santiago. Stops were very brief, but the river tour was interesting and with decent room for passengers to get a seat on the single-level, covered ship (large windows with good views).
  3. Hi, Kiwi - We stopped in Coquimbo last December with a little less time than we would've preferred (in port from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Due to those hours, we decided to play it safe with a La Serena and Coquimbo independent tour - I think we actually wound up enjoying Coquimbo more, to be honest. The itineraries I saw when researching La Serena usually included the Lighthouse, the town square, and La Recova marketplace. These were fine, but I can't say that they were quite as memorable or meaningful in a traveling experience - we had more a sense of place from our walk down the market street, visits to the nearby churches of different periods, and from a stop at the university vista. There's an archaeological museum nearby, but do note that it was under extensive renovation at the time of our visit. In Coquimbo, we did manage to include a trip to and up the Cross of the Third Miillenium, which was very worthwhile (tickets were purchased by our guide for us). The top floor and interior are rather small, but the second viewing deck and the overall view with the weather cleared up... that was definitely a highlight of the day. I however don't know that we would've been able to make it there and navigate it on our own - if you're booking a guide and have this as a stop, make sure that you clarify if the trip simply stops at the Cross, or if you will be going up into it (and with the requisite ticket purchase). We sadly didn't have enough time to make it to Fort Lambert. All in all, I feel like the two vista points - the Cross and the university - were well worth it; La Serena possibly worth a short jaunt but avoid the touristic route. Other groups, even with our shortened day, seem to have made the trip into the Elqui Valley as well (not a recommendation, but just a comment that that limitation seems to have not been a concern in the end). I hope this helps! We weren't quite sure what to expect on our visit there, either, but we're still glad that we got out from the ship!
  4. "Warmth" will depend on what you're comfortable with, but when we took our trip in December it really felt more divided between 'dressing for summer' and 'dressing for the elements.' Seconding macaroni; no problem with a lack of full boots but was glad to have a lighter pair of shoes for easier days (and doubling for dressier occasions) and then a sturdier pair. There are a lot of different walking environments one can encounter - examples include city environments, beach, and paved/boarded/unpaved walking trails that can be dusty in a dry spell or muddy with some rain/spray. (We saw a lot of dust traveling in the smaller locales, particularly with the travel on unpaved roads in Ushuaia at the park, Port Stanley out of town, and heading out of Puerto Madryn.) My recommendation would be to pack towards guarding against wind and sun (don't forget to make sure you can hang on to your hat!). For us, Ushuaia and Punta Arenas were cool, but not bundle-up cold, especially with walking around. Coldest times are probably when doing scenic cruising on the ship and one wants to be out on the deck - again, the wind is really the greatest element. I hope this helps!
  5. Hi, Kiwi - When we were on Star Princess in December, the ship was able to dock at the (long!) pier located convenient to the city. Cruisers could walk down its length; I also believe there were free shuttles going back and forth to the main gate. Puerto Madryn itself has a fairly walkable strip once off the pier, but from my impression I wouldn't say it would be a highlight compared to excursions heading out. We had a fantastic day by booking directly with El Pedral's Full Day Trip with Penguins for Cruisers- with about an hour's drive we were able to take a view from the cliffs, visit a penguin colony, and be treated to a delicious lunch. I was nervous about booking directly through email, but once we managed to find them at the pier among other vendors near the ship and got to our guide and shuttle, the rest of the experience made up for it in spades. CCer scubacruiserx2 also has some great visuals of their day in Puerto Madryn and traveling to Punta Tombo (page 13) - you can check it out as linked below.
  6. Hi, seababe - From what I understand, Gary and Richard just arrived over for CD/ED on Ruby.
  7. Hi, Ombud - I honestly can't speak to what the Elite transport experience is like or if it differentiates from any previous experiences you've had - I hope that maybe someone in your Roll Call or another person passing by this forum might be able to provide more information. As far as I could tell, a staff representative directed Elite-class travelers to sit nearby and then they were out first. As a note, the 'shuttles' we encountered in Lima were bus capacities - for Lima first day on a Friday morning, though, the entire issue for Star Princess, Elite or not, was that no shuttles were making it back from the first round for independent, non-excursion travelers. Apologies that I can't provide more on that!
  8. Hi, CCBB - Your Princess Patter (the daily print-out newsletter) will include information about when the shuttles will first begin running, their expected intervals, and their destination. The 'shuttle bus ticket' is a small paper ticket (about the size of a business card, nothing fancy) with a number on it - it is essentially a "tender boat ticket" system except that the tender boat is the shuttle bus. The system is different for Elites, but, alas, I am not. ­čśé For both tenders and ticketed shuttle bus, the numbered tickets are handed out to each person as they enter the designated waiting area of the ship - your Patter will have information on the waiting area and approximately when the tickets will begin to be handed out/when passengers will be allowed to enter the waiting area. Once the tenders/shuttles begin running, staff members will be calling out brackets of numbers to exit the waiting area to board the transportation. I have a more detailed reply elsewhere of my experience with the Star Princess and Lima traffic situation, if you're interested - I hope that your day is more straightforward and less complicated, but I think it has some relevant information that I would've liked to have known in my own planning of the trip. I hope this helps!
  9. Just tried to do some clean-up and updating of the list - and even then, it will likely be outdated once again as some of the skims I was doing said there are still some more expected changes ­čśé. Ombud - The Star Princess CD was Fernando Cunha during our Star sailing in December. I think he had come on with the rest of us in LA for the South America season, though at this point I don't know if he is still there or for how much longer before the ship repositions back for Alaska.
  10. Princess Ship: CD / ED (Last known sailing or update) Caribbean´╗┐ Princess´╗┐: Michael "Micca" Reitano (Jan 2019) Coral Princess: Crown Princess: Peter Tredgett (March 2019) Diamond Princess: Emerald Princess:´╗┐ CD Kaylee Lloyd / ED Lisa Ball (Jan 2019) Golden Princess: CD John Loney / ED Tim Donovan (Sept 2018´╗┐) Grand Princess: CD Peter John DeKock / ED Lee Childers (Aug 2018´╗┐) Island Princess: Majestic Princess: Pacific Princess: ´╗┐Neil Rose (Jan 2019) Regal Princess: CD Lexi Comley (Feb 2019) Royal Princess: CD Matt O'Brien (Jan 2019) / ED Billy Hygate (Oct 2018) Ruby Princess: CD Gary Golding / ED Richard Joseph (Feb 2019) Sapphire Princess: CD Marcus Prince Juanta (?) Sea Princess: Sky Princess: Alex Yepremian (upcoming) Star Princess: CD Fernando Cunha (December 2018) Sun Princess: CD Benny Yau (August 2018)´╗┐ TO UPDATE THE PRINCESS CD/ED LIST: DO NOT push the "Quote" button. It creates a copy that the next person cannot properly update. DO select and copy ALL of the text, including these instructions, from the most up-to-date Princess Cruise Directors list. Go to the bottom left of the latest post and click the "Post Reply" button.´╗┐ Paste your copied text into the box that opens. Make your modifications to the list.´╗┐ Click "Submit Reply" button just below the list you are modi´╗┐fying. Confirm that everything is ´╗┐correct - you can edit for up to 20 minute´╗┐s.
  11. The post response system seems to have disappeared; thanks for answering my curiosity about your photo process, scuba! Having a good time hearing about and seeing other experiences with the same places. Volunteer Point was definitely a highlight for us; we honestly felt very fortunate/breathed a sigh of relief to know that we would be able to tender in to Stanley the day of.
  12. Hi, scuba - Thanks for taking us along on this great write-up of your cruise! As a little bit of a behind-the-scenes curiosity, hope you don't mind an ask on what you do with your photos. I imagine there are a lot of images to go through and choose from; are you having to post-process/edit as you go along? Do you have a usual post-cruise workflow at this point? And wow, that Puerto Madryn... and Stanley... have really enjoyed re-living some of the sights! (We were on the Star Princess in the same timeframe.) That color when going over the continental shelf... simply unreal.
  13. Hi, jascal - I know it's probably not a satisfying answer, but it really depends on what you're looking for and what you're comfortable with. I also did not join the "Lima On Your Own" Princess excursion, so I cannot specifically (or personally) "recommend" it. Lima has a lot to see and a lot of opportunities to do so - since the Princess itinerary overnights in Lima, to me it made more sense in our planning to maximize the time on the first day. With the 'On your own' duration listed as only five hours, we - a group of five people - thus didn't even consider it as a first-day option. The courtesy shuttle might've been a pain to work with in getting out (and getting back in), but it was free and did get people into Lima to get the most out of the day as long as they were willing and comfortable doing the legwork to get elsewhere. We took the "Larco Herrera Museum and Indian Market" four-hour excursion on the second day, for comparison. We enjoyed it for the most part - definitely could have been a little longer for the museum and YMMV with the Indian Market - and it felt like a very comfortable fit for the time we had in port before departing for Pisco. If we had felt like we wanted a "Time in Miraflores and Indian Market" excursion and hadn't been worried about redundancy in visited sites, then maybe we would have done the "On your own" option on the second day as a Princess-based option. I hope that relating our reasoning and experience helps to answer your question!
  14. Agreed to really check with your itinerary/line in your case. The Celebrity itinerary that I could find for reference (leaving from Buenos Aires as you mentioned in the other thread) looks like it favors starboard, but that is weighted on 1) the approach to Ushuaia and 2) the appearance of its route in Antarctica. This is counterbalanced by the Cape Horn rounding (the Star Princess does go counterclockwise - we heard the same thing, Anthony!), any other specific navigation of your ship in coastal cruising (how it handles smaller stops/features), and a lot of distances at which port/starboard might matter less (mostly sea days and how much you engage with sunrise/sunset). The question is a lot more easily resolved if it's a simpler east-west / west-east itinerary (the San Antonio to Buenos Aires routes) - the land-facing side has a much stronger presence with the scenic cruising/glacier viewing and is pretty consistently on one side of the ship. Hope this helps!
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