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abbydancer

Live (somewhat) from the Eclipse SA and Antarctica

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Hello!

 

Because we do get wifi, and I love live from threads, I'm going to do another one.  So far, 100% on X, although I've yet to stay live, I have always finished.

 

So here goes another one.

 

Tomorrow (Wednesday) at oh dark thirty, we are heading to Houston with a 9 hour layover and then onto Buenos Aires.  

 

First, a bit about me.  I'm a very experienced Princess cruiser, who tried Celebrity for the first time in 2017.  My first Celebrity cruise was an Eastern Caribbean with my sister, followed a month later with an eastern Med on the Reflection with my husband, who will henceforth be known as Glen, because that's his name.  In July of 18, my sister and I did Western Caribbean.  So this is my fourth X cruise, and first time on the Eclipse.

 

We booked this while on the Reflection.  We'd done the Antarctica drive by in 2010 on the Star Princess, and loved it, so we thought it would be fun to do again.  So we booked on board.

 

About a year earlier, we'd interested some friends in cruising, and had done a coastal cruise with them earlier that year.  We thought it would be fun to have company so we convinced them to join us.  They will be known as Mike & Kathy (and if they want they can add their thoughts here too, since they are both members of Cruise Critic).  

 

So the plan was that we would go to an airport hotel tonight, Tuesday, because nobody was willing to drive us up here (we live about 25 miles south) at 4:00 am.  So here we are in our room, getting ready for what will amount to a power nap before our 4 am wake up call.  We're a little concerned about TSA times, but so far things seem OK.  

 

Mike & Kathy are flying non stop from LAX to EZE, and we will meet them in the hotel there.  We're in Business class, and I was hoping to see the new Polaris Lounge in SFO but apparently not this time, as we board 5 minutes after they open.  We will see the new one Houston tomorrow.

 

More tomorrow, when I have lots of time.  

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This is Mike.

 

Kathy and I have a slightly easier schedule. We have a 2:30pm flight to catch, so we don't have to wake up that early. We do live about 100 miles from LAX so we can't sleep too late. We may get to use the AA lounge in LAX if rain and procedures don't eat up our morning. We'll land at 2:30am and it will be 7:30am ART. I've had jetlag before but this is a different level. It turns out if you're 22 and you fly LAX-CDG starting at 9pm, you land in the late afternoon, and you can just stay up and crash at about midnight, and that's cool. So in a way, the 5-hour time difference is less practical and I'm not 22 anymore. We'll probably need some sort of nap.

 

We have had a good time cruising. Part of that is because Abby and Glen have been with us on all but one of our cruises. We also have ended up having adventures in ports. For example there is no dock for water taxis at the Office in Cabo. And when someone turns up missing at 3AM, they wake the whole ship with announcements until the person turns up--Okay that wasn't in a port. It was the talk of the tenders though. Although one seldom goes far from port, the thing about cruising is you go someplace over a period of days and you have your own place for your stuff. We also have fun running lines from a certain movie when we board a ship. We're basically in a kind of honeymoon with cruising and we hardly think of destinations that don't have harbors, unless it's to visit family or friends. 

 

Traveling on a Celebrity ship for the first time will be a fun thing for us. It's clearly going to be different in lots of small ways. Celebrity seems to be encouraging the skippers to be out on social media so we've been following @captainkatemccu and @captainsympouras on Instagram. The latter is our skipper this cruise. 

 

See you on board and remember, every day that the funnel is above the keel is a good day.

 

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On the same cruise in just over two weeks! Sooo looking forward to your "live" reports!

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Abby and Mike,

 

Having done the Eclipse SA tour just last December, I do recommend that you arrange your disembarkation transportation   before you embark on the ship. The taxis can be a ripoff. Also, expect a longer-than-usual embarkation process. However, disembarkation was actually pretty smooth. Ship wifi was really, really slow on sea days but acceptable on port days or during late night hours. Our cruise didn't go to Antarctica, but otherwise if you have any questions about the Eclipse, feel free to ask!

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Keep in mind that you can easily use Uber in Buenos Aires.    I never had to wait more than 4-5 minutes for a car and the prices are about 25% less than cab fare.  

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Abbydancer, I'm interested to see if there are differences between your Princess Antarctica cruise and the Celebrity version. Ex) port stops, time in port, availability of excursions, what you could see from the ship, any activities and/or entertainment specific to So.America or Antarctica, etc. We recently cruised  on the BA roundrtip on the Eclipse and had a wonderful time. We're considering booking an Antarctic cruise on whichever cruiseline will give us the best experience.  Please share your comparative opinions as you post during your cruise.  

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I'm getting on the ship when you get off so I'm looking forward to hearing about your experience and any tips you have.

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Greetings from Houston, where I just figured out that unless I can sleep on the plane or in the hotel room in the afternoon, I will probably have a total of 10 hours of sleep between Sunday night and Friday night.  I will be very cranky, I'm sure.

 

So, our alarm woke us up at 4 as expected (something by Renaissance on Glen's IPAD) and quickly did our morning stuff in time to hit the 4:50 shuttle to the airport.  We arrived around 5:05, checked our bags and were through security by 5:15.  We have TSA precheck, but even the regular lines were pretty short at that time.  Note that apparently the TSA has some sort of contract thing at SFO, so they are actually getting paid.

 

There is absolutely nothing of interest to report on the flight, other than the very strange breakfast choices - some sort of chilled oatmeal thingie,  and an egg white panini, which we selected - a panini roll with some sort of egg white thing, I think it had cheese from the texture.  I ate some of the egg out of it, but it was odd.

 

After breakfast, I watched a movie (Chappaquidic) on personal device entertainment and some recorded TV on my laptop.  

 

The flight arrived roughly on time.  Our plan was to leave the airport and have some good Cruise Critic friends (who we'd never met) pick us up, and we'd go to lunch.  

 

I spoke to our friend and she was about 15 minutes out when we reached the passenger pick up point.  So we hung out, they showed up, and we drove out of the airport area to a BBQ place called Rudys.   They sell everything a-la-cart, so Glen and I split 1/2 pound of brisket, with bread, and each a couple sides.  We then had an enjoyable meal before heading back to the airport via a Walgreens, since last night I realized I wasn't sure if I had enough contact lens solution for 17 days.  

 

The International Business lounge (Polaris) is in terminal E,  but we missed the lane for that, so we just had her drop us at terminal C, which is in the same physical building as E.  On the way out, I'd checked with the United Club that one could walk from the lounge back to C, since that's where our gate was.  Since she said it was possible, we decided to go through security at C.  

 

It was very fast for the TSA precheck line - I'd say about 5 minutes and then a 15 hike through C to the middle of E.

 

We arrived here at about 4pm, and I grabbed some juice and have been working on email, as well as stuff for the roll call for the cruise.  We did chat with another passenger on his way to Frankfort, and apparently he's booked on the Apex.  We gave him some tips from our brief experience on the Edge.

 

Now we'll get a snack at the restaurant in a little while and then board the plane.  

 

By the way, the cruise is on Sunday.  We'll be doing some sight seeing - a steak dinner on Thursday at a Secret Steakhouse, city tour & tango show on Friday, Pampas visit and roll call dinner on Saturday.

 

And some comments from above:

1.  The Princess trip was 16 days - one more in Antartica and a stop at Puentos Arenas Chile, which is where the second extra day went.

 

2.  We booked (all 4 of us) a tour from Celebrity with airport drop off at the end during one of their excursion sales.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I'll be following along also since we're hoping to do this next year.  Don't you just love mysterious plane food?

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51 minutes ago, TeaBag said:

I'll be following along also since we're hoping to do this next year.  Don't you just love mysterious plane food?

This was absolutely the strangest breakfast I've ever been offered on a plane.  

 

We just had a pre dinner snack, since dinner is likely not to be for another 3-4 hours, and lunch was 5.5 hours ago.  Quesadilla and some dessert for me.

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5 hours ago, AD in MD said:

I'm getting on the ship when you get off so I'm looking forward to hearing about your experience and any tips you have.

Me too...WooHoo have fun and hope the waters are calm

 

Edited by neenee61

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By the way, I did put the last one (2010) on my personal blog.  Way too many typos and unfixed grammar, but if anyone wants to read it, it's here.  I didn't cross post with Cruise Critic.  (I will be doing that now, but the blog copies will probably start in a couple of days.

 

abbydancer2003.blogspot.com

 

It's the 2010 section.

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Abby, which cruisetour, drop at the airport are you doing? We're doing one also-The Tigre and Delta River. We flew in overnight and are just settling in at our hotel. See  you at the Cruisecritic meeting.

Rich

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6 minutes ago, rsail203 said:

Abby, which cruisetour, drop at the airport are you doing? We're doing one also-The Tigre and Delta River. We flew in overnight and are just settling in at our hotel. See  you at the Cruisecritic meeting.

Rich

That's what we're doing.  And we're about to head out to our secret steakhouse dinner.

 

Just curious, what flight are you on back?

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We're actually staying overnight at the airport Hilton. One redeye flight a trip is enough. We're flying back to NY during the day on Feb. 4th. This way we can also see the Super Bowl in the comfort of a hotel, instead of on a flight.

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Good evening from a rock 'em sock 'em day in BA.

 

We last left off just before boarding our connecting flight to BA.  As we started to pack up to leave the lounge, a couple came up to us and asked if we we on the Eclipse.  (They saw me perusing the X board on Cruise Critic apparently.  Turns out the are on the ship too.  We chatted for a few minutes and exchanged room numbers.  Since they are in a Sky suite we'll probably continue to run into them on the cruise.  

 

Soon after we headed to our new gate (third gate since arriving) and got in line.  In about 10 minutes we were safely tucked into our seats. 

 

I grabbed the headphones and decided to start watching movies.  I first picked a movie I'd never actually seen - It's a Wonderful Life.  I suspect now that I finished it we can say that it's a movie everyone has seen.    It took a while to get through it because they kept interrupting it with things like safety announcements, service announcements and on and on.

While it played we had dinner.  Once the movie was over, I started Crazy Rich Asians.  About 30 minutes in, I decided to take a nap, on the theory that I could finish it while I had breakfast at the end.

 

I then spent the next several hours trying to nap, with only a small degree of success.  I'm not terribly good at sleeping on planes.

 

About a hour and half before we were supposed to land, they started the breakfast service.  I opened to  the window to discover we were flying over the Andies.  Cool.  Took a picture, but honestly it just looks like random mountains.

 

As we were descending, the pilot came on with what he sad was bad news.  We were cruising for an early arrival, but he said we were put into a 20 minute holding pattern.

 

About 10 minutes later, we got the now 30 minute hold.

 

About ten minutes after that, the flight attendants were told to sit down for landing.  And a few minutes later, we landed.  

 

We headed towards the gates - it was about 10 minutes before our official arrival time, and if we could have made the gate quickly, we would have been on time.  I also noticed a lot of planes parked along runways, as well as trucks.   But no,  there was no gate for us.  So we pulled over to a side runway and wait for a gate.  The pilot also told us that because of runway closures, they were told they could land, if they could do it on a short runway.  He apologized for the heavy thrusting and braking on landing, but praised the first officer for doing it.  (I asked Glen later, and he said he didn't notice anything different, and he used to fly).

 

The net result was 20 minutes late.    We quickly deplaned, and headed immigration.  There we found a very crowded immigration hall.  There were about 8 switch backs and we were at the end of number 6 when we got there.  By the time the plane emptied, the line was beyond the switch backs.  I think it took us between 30-40 minutes total.  When it was our turn, took our passport and boarding passes from the plane, scanned the passports, took our pictures and finger prints, asked us where were staying, and sent us on our way (someone on the roll call said that they'd been asked for proof of leaving, but we weren't.  

 

Next stop baggage claim, where bags from our flight were already coming out.  I'd say within 5 minutes we had our bags.  We headed with those, and with the barely understandable custom forms we were given (included a set of field for info about your cell phone, and a few lines for purchases that didn't actually specify what kind of purchase) to the next room, which was an X ray machine.  There was no real line, we were told which machine to go to and waited behind another couple.  The agent had us put everything on the conveyor belt, she looked at the images, and sent us on our way.

 

So, I'm falling asleep as I write this, so the rest will come tomorrow.  The burning questions of "Did they meet their ride"?  Did the hotel have the room ready" and did she take food porn pictures of the amazing dinner"  will all be answered in detail tomorrow  (the short answer on all is yes).

 

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So, I have some time, so here is the rest of arrival day.  

 

We exited the customs area, and quickly found our ride.  We'd booked this part through a travel company, and the trip includes a pickup at the airport.  We quickly found our guide, Florencia, who would also give us a tour tomorrow morning.  She called for our driver and we were quickly on our way.  

 

While we were driving, she explained the money situation and other things about BA.  Without much trafffic, we quickly arrived at our hotel.  Maybe because of the delays, our room was ready when we arrived.  We're on the club floor, which I think means a higher floor, and maybe some improved bathroom amenities.

 

I checked out the club lounge (OK) and settled down for a nap.  For some reason, the room was very noisy, but hopefully would be quieter at night.

 

About an hour in, around 3:30 or so, the phone rang.  Mike was on the phone - apparently Donna, the other couple on the steak dinner tonight, was stuck in Iguazu because of a last minute two day pilot strike.  Their flight was cancelled and they apparently couldn't get on another flight on time.  Donna asked me to let the hotel know.  

 

We chatted for a few minutes and then suggested maybe we head out for a coffee.  Mike was up for it right away, but we wanted to showers.  I decided as Glen took his, that I would just freshen up, and take my shower after our coffee but before our dinner pick up.

 

We met Mike in the lobby around 5pm.  We asked the desk person for suggestions for coffee, but I'm not sure we understood them.  So we wandered down Florida street towards San Martin square.  All we saw was a Starbucks, so we turned around at the square and went back.  On the way back we saw the Florida Garden Restaurant, which was, I think, where we went for coffee in 2010, so we stopped there.  We ordered coffees, and I learned that Cafe con Crema was whipped cream, I should have ordered con Leche.  It was still good until the whip cream ran out - then it was just a pretty potent expresso.  After enjoying our coffee, Mike decided to pay with dollars, and turns out it wasn't enough.  Glen had some pesos, though so we paid with that.  I think it was about 8.00 US for 2 doubles and single, so very good price.

 

Following that, we went back to the hotel.  First thing I had to do was talk to the front desk about switching out the van transfer to the restaurant to a car, since there would be only 4 of us.  I finally met the guest services agent I had been emailing with for months, and she said it wasn't a problem.  Went back upstairs and I took my much needed shower, after reminding M&K that we were meeting at 7:10 in the lobby, and that the restaurant took credit cards.

 

We met them downstairs at 7:10 and noticed a car waiting out front.  No one came into the lobby to get us, though, so we waited.  At about 7:20, I asked the front desk to help us find the car.  He called the company and after some back and forth, determined that it was our car.  The driver didn't speak English, but showed the, for lack of a better term, order sheet.  I sure couldn't read the writing, but it appeared to be OK, so we jumped in and headed out.

 

About 25 minutes later, we arrived at what looked like the correct address.  It was a non descript building with no outside signage.  Once we were out of the car, we noticed that the opaque window in front did say Steaks By Luis, but facing inward.  The door was locked, but we noticed a doorbell.  We rang it, and it was quickly opened by Silvina, the hostess and apparently also the reservation team.  

She confirmed that we were on her list, and asked to wait in the vestibule just inside, as we were about 13 minutes early.  Between then and 8pm a couple from Portland arrived, three young gentlemen from Malta, and a couple of other guys, who I never really met, and they sat at the other end of the table from us.  

 

Just before 8, Silvina gave us a welcome glass of champagne, and then at 8 ushered us back to the main room.  There was a table set for 15, and a counter in the back.  On the counter there were several bottles of wine, a plate of very large uncooked NY strip steaks, a plate of sausages and meat, a rind of cheese, and a plate of cheese, meats and empanadas.  Note by this time, the others, including Ed & Judy from our roll call arrived.

 

Luis introduced himself and the team, and then Silvina explained we'd start with the appetizer platter, followed by a salad, and the the cheese item, which would be grilled, along with the sausages and meat (pork shoulder and another normal meet cut that I can't remember), along with what she said were "a couple of surprise items that she wouldn't describe until after we at them.  To me, that means stuff I wouldn't try if I knew what they were, and probably won't anyway because I probably wouldn't like them.

 

That would be followed by the steak.  Luis recommends Medium Rare, but everyone is free to choose.  The last course will be dessert, and each will have an appropriate wine.

IMG_2277.JPG.f3703c7c17dd1facf020fe78fe7afe97.JPG

We started with the appetizer platter.  As you can see, it included lots of different and very good bread.  I tried not to each too much of it, because I knew what was coming.  All was good, and the empanadas were excellent.

 

Next was the misto salad which, at the end of the day, was just a salad.  Good but nothing special.

 

 

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After that, each group of 4 was given one of the now grilled cheese rinds.  That was excellent.  (There were 15 people so I'm not sure how it worked at the other end of the table.

 

 

The platter of sausages came next.  In the middle were things, as I suspected, I didn't want to eat.  I had Glen try the darker one and he confirmed I didn't want to.  Luis had suggested we try the lighter one with lemon - Glen described it as a lemon delivery mechanism.  I tried it, and while it did taste much like lemon, I didn't like it.  The sausages were good, although I decided to try blood sausage, I really didn't like it (but googling it, I learned that in the UK it's blood pudding - good now I know not to eat that.  I also liked the pork meat.  Turns out that the mystery items were heart and sweetbreads - no surprise that I didn't like them, and now I know why they didn't tell us what they were.

 

IMG_2279.JPG.16cdcad1ec33ae4237716bf626c8a622.JPG

After that, we had the star of the evening - the approximately 12 oz New York strip, marinated simply in salt.  It was accompanied by a couple of slices of roast potatoes and a vegetable puree.  It was as good as it looked.  It was accompanied by a perfectly paired Cabernet.

 

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The final course was a slice of dulce de leche cheesecake with candied orange.  A perfect end to a delicious meal.

After settling the bill, we headed out to our driver waiting for us.  A quick ride back to the hotel and to bed for much needed sleep.

Tomorrow - city tour and tango show.  Added bonus, working around construction on a walk.


 

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