Live From Oceania Insignia- Santiago to Rio- Tour Guides

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#1
Toronto GTA, Canada
1,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Saturday, January 17, 08- On Board Oceania Insignia to Rio, currently cruising to Montevideo

Firstly, thank you for all of you who provided us with excellent advice, which we have used to fully enjoy our cruise to date

One caveat on the Oceania Insignia in addition to slow and high internet connection costs is your cabin location on the ship and size will be spatially challenging especially in the shower. Our friends received a last minute call from their travel agent and for another $500 each were upgraded to P 3 which was a large suite with bath tub; but at stern of the ship . In rough seas, those at the stern experienced engine noise (our friends were in Cabin 8060- Penthouse) and those at the bow shuttering noise; with both stern and bow locations moving around a lot. The seas going to and from Falkland Islands can be rough.

For those of you have an upcoming similar trip hope the following contact information for private guides (we are a party of four and just fit into the local taxis) may be helpful.

We found the Oceania Cruise excursions much more expensive than the private tours we arranged and the private tours allowed you to stop for photo shots when you want and meet the locals one on one; and go where you want (all costs in US $) :

Santiago- Jan 3, 09- Tour Guide Alejandro Perez- ([email protected]) full day tour of city with van $220 ($55/). Pick up at hotel 9:00 AM, return 5:00 PM
Jan 4, 09- Same guide. Full day Tour at a cost of $280 ($70/ person), pick up at Hotel Regal Pacific around 9:00 AM with our luggage (6-8 suit cases), tour and drive to Valparaiso stopping at winery House of Morande to make purchases (Recommend- excellent wines), continue on to tour Valpairso and Vina Del Mar and dropped off at Hotel Oceanic around 5:00 PM. Excellent guide and highly recommend

Our hotel in Santiago was Regal Princess- Regal Deluxe King room $155/ night which included a very good buffet breakfast. Hotel arranged transportation from airport at $60 ($15/). Good comfortable hotel with nice bar and dining room. Helpful staff. Gayle and I were in room 1008 which had limited view of the mountains. AC unit could have been better (little noisy and staff kept shutting it off when we were out of the room, resulting in warmer temp at night than our desired 70 F. Small inside pool and a hot tub

Vina Del Mar- Our hotel was Hotel Oceanic, 12925 Borgono Ave located between Las Salinas and Reance Beach. Junior Suite, superior room, king size bed with ocean view $185. per night including good breakfast-The price changes depending to the dollar exchange. Caveat- i) get a room with a balcony facing the ocean- we had room 6 and our friends Room 5. Other rooms hear the noise from the adjacent road. ii) rooms are not air conditioned and when we arrived temp in the room was 81F. Had to leave the sliding glass doors open to cool the room temp down to 70 F at night. iii) Hotel is in a beautiful setting over looking the crashing waves hitting the rocks below with a full moon and city lights in the distance. Which means noise from the ocean and disturbed sleeping conditions. Lovely pool. Nice restaurant which is air conditioned. Nice but unheated pool with shaded area with view

Jan 5, 09- Hotel arranged for a cab to ship, at cost of $40 ($10/). Arrived around 11:00 AM and was slight delay in getting on board ship. Food supermarket within walking distance of ship where one can purchase pop (Oceania- $2.50/ can plus tip), water (Oceania- $1.75 half litre and $3.00 full litre), etc.; all of which Oceania will charge you if you purchase on board ship. Make certain you purchase the water you want- comes with gas and without gas

Jan 7, 09- Puerto Montt. Tour Guide Anna of Jaime Liebrecht ([email protected]). Pick up at pier 8:30 AM for full day tour Petrohue Falls & the Chilean Lake Districts. Web site says will also see the volcano but don't know how since not enough time. Return 4:00 PM. Cost $400 ($100/). Anna had good English and would use again

Jan 8, 09- Puerto Chacabuco- Many taxis all promoting tours for $140. Found a taxi driver with reasonably good English- Patrick (Pato)- Servicio viajes y turismo, Phone- 93113524. [email protected]; [email protected]. Drove us thru Puerto Chacabuco across a "hanging" bridge to Puerto Aisen, stopped off at Artisan market, and then along the Rio Simpson River, stopped off at the Virgin Falls (Sacred River) to Coihaique, capital of Patagonia. Beautiful scenery, reminded us of a mixture of the BC Fraser Canyon and Arizona. Returned to ship after 5:00 PM

Jan 9, 09- San Rafael- Purpose of this port is to see the San Valentin Glacier. Problem is that Oceania wants $229/ person on the Catamaran and if you do not participate they will not let you go ashore. Since have been to Alaska we passed and relaxed on board

Jan 10, 11- Cruising the Chilean Fjords; which are not in the same league as Alaska. Ship did not venture closer to the main glacier than one mile away. As result no benefit of hearing and seeing calfing of the glacier (ice breaking off the glacier with a large crash)

Jan 12, 09- Punta Arenas- Taxi's at pier all had fixed prices for the tours. Got a driver with limited English and went to see the Penquins $110 ($55/)

Jan 13, 09- Ushuaia- Purchased a tour to the park from kiosk on the dock, which took us directly to the park and road on the train. Cost $50 each. Do NOT recommend. Would take a taxi and do on our own. Trip consisted small bus directly to park, board the steam engine historical train (cramped), couple of stops, back to bus and returned around 4:00 PM. We then walked the town on our own

Jan 15, 09- Falkland Islands- Graham France was our guide. Sergeant Major approach to the tour= he knew where to stop to take pictures and when walking did not allow sufficient time to take photos (felt we were rushed). 3 ˝ hr tour- A one hour tour to Gypsy Cove to view Magellanic penguins and other wild life which includes black-crowned night herons and rock cormorants, followed by a one hour tour of our city. Were told better penguin stop would have been the Rockhopper Penquin Colony at Murrell Farm. Notwithstanding had a most interesting tour in a comfortable Land Rover. Contact [email protected]

We have retained guides for Rio & Buenos Aries.
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Dean & Gayle
# 45- Avalon Waterways Passion Xmas Market Cruise- Dec 1, 2018 Vienna to Prague
# 46- Maasdam- Jan 6, 2019 Perth to Singapore

# 47- Maasdam- Jan 26, 2019 Singapore to Singapore incl Sir Lanka & Maldives
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#2
Toronto GTA, Canada
1,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Jan 15, 09- Falkland Islands- Graham France was our guide. Sergeant Major approach to the tour= he knew where to stop to take pictures and when walking did not allow sufficient time to take photos (felt we were rushed). 3 ˝ hr tour- A one hour tour to Gypsy Cove to view Magellanic penguins and other wild life which includes black-crowned night herons and rock cormorants, followed by a one hour tour of our city. Were told better penguin stop would have been the Rockhopper Penquin Colony at Murrell Farm. Notwithstanding had a most interesting tour in a comfortable Land Rover. Contact [email protected]. Cost $200 ($50/)

Jan 18, 09- Montevideo- Walked off ship 8:45 and picked up a taxi at Dock with driver having reasonable English- Nicholas, e-mail [email protected] (son's email address). Took us on a "detail world wind" 3 hr tour of City and surrounding residential , stopping when requested to take pictures. Stopped off at five star Belmount House for coffee. Cost 3 hrs $90 ($22.50/) plus tip of $5.00/ Back at ship at 1:00 AM. Plan to use him for return leg of trip
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Dean & Gayle
# 45- Avalon Waterways Passion Xmas Market Cruise- Dec 1, 2018 Vienna to Prague
# 46- Maasdam- Jan 6, 2019 Perth to Singapore

# 47- Maasdam- Jan 26, 2019 Singapore to Singapore incl Sir Lanka & Maldives
Hope to meet you on board
#3
UK
1,745 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
Thank you for taking time out of your vacation, and posting so much useful information.

When you get back it would be great to hear more about which parts of your Puerto Chacabuco tour you enjoyed - we were thinking of getting a taxi either to Puerto Aisen or the Rio Simpson National reserve.

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Cruise Summary

Cunard Crown x 1 - Hurtigruten x 1
Star Clippers x 2 - RCCL x 2
NCL x 2 - Seabourn x 1 - Oceania x 2 - MSC x 1 - HAL x 6
#4
223 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Hello Gale and Dean,

thank you for such usefull information and the live report from INSIGNIA.

We will do teh same cruise in other dicretion (starting in Rio - ending in Valparaiso) departuring on 02/17.

So I would appriciate it if you may give some more information, your impressions and experiences. It will be our first cruise with OCEANIA. We booked a A3 stateroom (7014) and are willing to do an upsell.

We cruised befor several times with the famouse QE2 and also with the QM2. We are from Switzerland.


It is very funny, I organzied all landtours (except the catamaran tour in San Rafael) by myselfe and I have choosen several times the same touroffices or guides you recommend.

Thank you for all information and all the best to you!

Dennis
#5
Toronto GTA, Canada
1,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Jan 19, 09- Buenos Aries- Monica Varela, email- [email protected]. Had an excellent 8.5 hrs with Monica and driver with van (large van could of taken more with us on the tour). Cost of $50/ hr plus tip. We will be using Monica again on our second leg of the trip- Feb 3 & 4, 09, details TBD.
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Dean & Gayle
# 45- Avalon Waterways Passion Xmas Market Cruise- Dec 1, 2018 Vienna to Prague
# 46- Maasdam- Jan 6, 2019 Perth to Singapore

# 47- Maasdam- Jan 26, 2019 Singapore to Singapore incl Sir Lanka & Maldives
Hope to meet you on board
#6
Toronto GTA, Canada
1,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Jan 19, 09- Buenos Aries- Monica Varela, email- [email protected]. Had an excellent 8.5 hrs with Monica and driver with van (large van could have taken more with us on the tour). Cost of $50/ hr plus tip. We will be using Monica again on our second leg of the trip- Feb 3 & 4, 09, details TBD and likely using public transit to reduce hourly costs
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Jan 24, 09- Rio de Janeiro- Martha Vasconcellos, e-mail- [email protected]. Unfortunately day started socked in with clouds and rain. As morning progressed, rain and clouds lifted allowing us limited views from Corcovado Hill (Christ the Redeemer Statue)- still panoramic; and clear views from the first cable car station on Sugar Loaf but rain came back with the clouds at the top/ second station. Notwithstanding we had an outstanding 8 hrs of time with Martha and car with driver, being picked up at the cruise terminal around 8:30 PM and returning around 4:30 PM. Cost 8 hrs $385 ($97/ each) plus tip plus Tijuca National Park Entrance fees and Sugar Loaf cable Car Fees.

In the evening Martha arranged for us to be picked up by a taxi friend of hers and driven to Rio Scenarium Bar, a well known "night club" with show. However, this did not work out. Martha had booked a stage front table but on arrival it had been given away to another party. We returned to the ship and Martha provided us with a full refund for the reservation costs.

We ended this leg of the cruise with our good friends who headed off the next day to Iguazu Falls. Accordingly, all following costs are for two people unless otherwise stated

Jan 25, 09- Rio de Janeiro- Another wonderful 8 hr day with Martha Vasconcellos. Looked liked we were going to have another wet day but rain and clouds disappeared. Spent the morning as a private tour with her using the public transportation (bus, subway, taxi as required) and the afternoon as part of a small group for a Favela Tour (approx 20% of the Rio population live on lands (overlooking Rio) as squatters and many build their homes from "borrowed materials" All of the Favelas, except one, are controlled by Drug Lords. Only a few guides have arranged with the Drug Lords for "right of safe passage" and part of the tour costs (R$65/ each) goes back into the community to maintain a public school (more to follow on this interesting experience in a separate report). Cost $90 ($45/each) plus tip plus public transportation plus R$65 each for Favela Tour

Martha has a passion for her city that makes her tours sparkle and for a party of two her rate, without car is only $18/ hr

Jan 26, 09- Rio de Janeiro- Martha was not available and she arranged for her friend/ fellow tour guide Ana Lemos to take us on our last 8 hr private tour of Rio. This time we focused on downtown historical sites and Rio's amazing Botanical Garden, which Ana had great enthusiasm and knowledge. Another delightful day at a cost $148 ($72/ each)

We reluctantly left Rio planning to return again

By now, you may be thinking to yourselves that we are spending a ton of money on private tours. Yes, we found it expensive compared to our other cruises but Oceania's excursions are substantially more expensive
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Dean & Gayle
# 45- Avalon Waterways Passion Xmas Market Cruise- Dec 1, 2018 Vienna to Prague
# 46- Maasdam- Jan 6, 2019 Perth to Singapore

# 47- Maasdam- Jan 26, 2019 Singapore to Singapore incl Sir Lanka & Maldives
Hope to meet you on board