Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
patrickmoran

Star Princess South American Cruise (1/3-17/19) Review

Recommended Posts

My wife and I recently were on the Star for its Around the Horn cruise.  We had a very good cruise. Weather kept us from seeing the Falkland Islands and caused problems in Puerto Arenas, otherwise it would have been a great cruise. 

We had Cabin E710, an obstructed oceanview.  Excellent location, near rear elevators, 1 deck up from Promenade deck, low enough that the rough seas we encountered over a couple of days did not bother our sleep, adequate room, and quiet. We had signed up for late Traditional Dining time when P changed dining times.  It was advertised as 7:15 pm but turned out to be 7:45 pm, too late for us.  After the 1st night, we switched to AnyTime.  That worked well.  We often could get a table for 2 without a wait between 5:30 and 6:30 pm. Sometimes we were sent upstairs to the TD dining room as many people did not show for their assigned time. It may have been the passenger demographics (many passengers from SA and Europe who eat late; about half of passengers were from the US) but the dining rooms were routinely less than half full when we ate (regardless whether TD or AT). The menu was the old one.  Food was good. We had breakfast in the Horizon Court. I always got an omelette. Usually had lunch in the HC or got a cheeseburger.  (We had 1 lunch in the MDR to get the pistachio ice cream.) There seemed to be fewer waiters and the white shirts (managers?) were doing the same work. They were pretty good about clearing the dirty dishes but weren't big on table wiping.  The buffet would routinely be busy but seats were always available. We ate at Sabatini's one night. We enjoyed it but way too much food. Very good service.

I did not attend any of the port lectures or production shows. I did catch one of the magician's shows in the theater and one of the comedian's shows in the Vista Lounge. I enjoyed both. A tango group was brought in when we had the overnight in Buenos Aires. That was very good. We also had a gaucho show later in the cruise and I enjoyed it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for sharing your experience. We will be doing the 28 day South American cruise starting Feb.28th.

It was nice to hear how your cruise went and got me more excited,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks for sharing! On the scenic cruising days did you find any particular spot on the ship that was better for viewing?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, wookie78 said:

thanks for sharing! On the scenic cruising days did you find any particular spot on the ship that was better for viewing?

 

I was out on the upper decks, 15, 16, and 17.  There is a big open area in the front on deck 15. It was pretty crowded. I like to move around so I spent most of the time in the middle and rear parts of the ship.  The basketball court offered good views.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The cruise is challenging for packing.  It is a 3 season cruise. Summer in Buenos Aries and Santiago, winter off the Cape and glacier, and spring in the other ports.  Fortunately, most airlines flying to South America allow 2 checked suitcases per person for free. 

We booked our flights through Princess, very good price. We flew Latam leaving New Years Eve and arrived early Jan 1st.  The plane was half empty and decorated for the holiday. We took a taxi to the hotel that we booked, Bristol Hotel.  We arrived around 9 am and could get into our room right away! The hotel is in central BA by the Obelisk. Most everything was closed on the 1st. We took the subway to the Cathedral and central plaza. We walked to the HOHO bus starting point and got on fairly quickly. We only did the central loop then got off to get lunch.  After lunch, we went back to the hotel to shower (it was MUGGY and we're from FL) and nap.  We had dinner at a nearby steak house. We had a great dinner for the equivalent of $50.  Back to the hotel to crash.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing.

What time was Muster Drill?

Where did they hand out tender tickets?

What time did early dinner start on the first day?

Did you need pesos?

I appreciate you coming back to share. dog🐧

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, dog said:

Thanks for sharing.

What time was Muster Drill?

Where did they hand out tender tickets?

What time did early dinner start on the first day?

Did you need pesos?

I appreciate you coming back to share. dog🐧

 

Muster was at 3:15 or 3:30 pm on the 2nd day in BA.

Tender tix were given out in the Capri Dining Room.

Early dinner was 5pm and 5:30 pm for TD and 5:15 pm for AT

I did use pesos. You may not need them but come in handy for small merchants.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the 2nd, we took the subway to the central plaza. We walked around and went to the Casa Rosa museum. It's free and interesting. It was very hot and muggy. Anne went back to the hotel. I took the subway to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. It was free (usually 100 pesos or ~$2.50).  It has a good Impressionists collection and an exhibit from London's Tate Museum of Turner paintings - very good. I took the subway back to the hotel. We ate dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant. I bought 4 bottles of Malbec wine at a nearby grocery store . Prices were really cheap and I enjoyed the wines during the cruise. 

On the 3rd, we checked out, left our bags at the hotel, took the subway to the train station and took the train to Tigre, a small town on the delta. The travel cost was about 200 pesos per person and took about an hour.  We took a tourist cruise of the waterway, had lunch at McDonalds and back to the hotel to get our bags. A front had come through and it was a gorgeous day.

We took a taxi to the cruise terminal - 500 pesos, about $13. We got on about 4:30 pm. You take a bus from the terminal to the ship because the port primarily handles cargo. 

On the 4th, I took a Princess city tour. It was another nice day and saw some areas I had not caught previously.

Sailaway was about  5pm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review.  We board the Star in Buenos Aires next week!  I have a suitcase for summer/spring and one for winter.  What were the issues in Punta Arenas, that's a tender port correct?  When you missed the Falkland Islands, did you stay at sea or arrive early at the next port? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review. We are on the Star on Feb 14th. Sorry you missed Stanley. Did you miss Punta Arenas as well? On our cruise they are the only ports where you can easily see penguins. We don't go to Puerto Madryn.

 

We have four tender ports so the tendering is important on our cruise. I would be interested to know how you got on in Puerto Montt. If you were on a Princess tour you obviously got on shore easily, if you were private, how long did you have to wait to get ashore? I would have asked a similar question for Stanley but sadly you missed that port.

 

Looking at the web cam looks like the Beagle Channel was spectacular, any other must see places while on board.

 

Thanks

 

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In Punta Arenas, the ship docked and began tendering. It was very rough. Some time late morning or early afternoon, the ship stopped tendering passengers ashore because the seas continued to build. We had a ship's tour and tendered off about 10am. We boarded our tour boat to go see the penguins on the island. Halfway there, the captain turned around and said there was no way they could safely get us on the island. So back to the harbor and docked and tendered back to the Star. 4 hours wasted! I wish they had called it off and we would have seen some of PA.

 

In Puerto Montt, I had organized a tour. We met at 8am in Vines, went to the Capri dining room to wait, and boarded the tender after a 15 minute wait. Very easy.

We are Elite so the plan was in Stanley to show up early and be one of the first off. Oh well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

patrick - Glad to hear you had a good cruise. Really interesting to read another experience; we were just finishing up from the Los Angeles - Buenos Aires right before you! The art museum sounds great - regretfully we didn't have time to fit that into our schedule and overview of BA. The 2nd was really quite humid, wasn't it? We did also did a (debark) tour of the Tigre on the 3rd and it was certainly a fresher and lovely day. Sorry to hear about Stanley and about the difficulties in Punta Arenas! It sounds like tendering overall was a better and smoother experience for you, though - was a 15-minute wait average? For those with independent tours, do you have an impression if those with non-Elite status needed to get in line very early?

 

Were your scenic cruisings in the morning, still? Curious to know how it is on a westbound journey.

 

Also, did they take the holiday decorations down? 😄

 

wookie78 - Sorry, I really wanted to chime in on this as well! For direct viewing, options include Deck 7 and Deck 15. Deck 7 will provide a lower vantage and some protection from the elements - its slight drawbacks include some obstructed viewing and (from my cruise) trying to find an access point - the exits would sometimes be lined off on one side at strange intervals and points. (When inside and lower - for example, eating breakfast in a dining room, keep in mind that you won't necessarily be seeing the whole scene.) (Oh, also: There's a corner next to the Deck 7 Vista Lounge and accessible bathrooms that seems like there's no deck access - look closely, and the doors between the Lounge and bathrooms are actually exits to a small link between the interior and the Deck 7 covered walk. Made a few sunset views very accessible that way!)

 

Deck 15 is very nice; I do agree with patrick that its forward portion (when open - it can be gated off due to weather conditions and is also inaccessible at evenings, sometimes inconveniently at sunset) can get crowded, and there are instruments and doodads that can obstruct a view. Nonetheless, 15 Forward and the adjacent area overlooking the pool (above the Pizza/Hamburger areas and next to Movies Under the Stars) were my go-to areas for viewing - they allowed port-starboard viewing/mobility, some ability to scout upcoming sights, access to an island of higher deck viewing, and in the mornings even had some modest hot beverage availability. 14/15 Aft at the end of the ship (and the Horizon Court buffet :D) can provide for some great views as well - the ship design from Deck 15 to 12 creates a small amphitheater setting with the Deck 17 Skywalkers Lounge (a nice indoor viewing vantage) acting as an overhead frame. I personally didn't frequent it as much because I don't find the wake appealing - and it's also frequently where the ship exhaust is "visible." It's very nice as an in-port location, though.

 

(Side note: Stay warm, and don't forget about the wind - windbreaking items, hoods or hats with straps, layers, etc., will help - also look for corners and standing next to the clear dividers can cut down on the chill.)

 

sburlington / dog / anthony / madmacs - Good luck with your respective sailings! I know that many of y'all have been doing a lot of research and preparation; I hope that it all helps to make for some wonderful cruisetime. 

Edited by Crewbie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scenic cruising was later in the day. Sailing around the horn was lunchtime. Very cold and windy. I got a prime spot behind a wind break near the railing midship on Deck 15. Amelia Glacier was 5:30 to 7 pm.  That worked out well as the Patriots were whopping the Colts(?) so didn't miss anything. After leaving AG, ran down to MDR, got a table for 2 and ate dinner in 30 minutes! Got the start of the Eagles' game.

 

I wanted to comment that all of the football games (NCAA & NFL) were available. Most were on MUTS (not very useful because of cold and wind), a couple were shown in the Vista Lounge (great spot) and all were on Channel 41 & 42 in the cabins.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had booked independent tours in the ports besides BA and transfer to Santiago.  We were going to need >$800 USD and 300 British pounds. Pounds had to be gotten before the cruise as there are no ATMs in the Falklands. (Still have them for our TA to London) I also got Chilean pesos from my bank. I could not get Argentine pesos from my bank, as others have reported. I did not want to carry that much cash around BA since we would be leaving bags at the hotel twice. There are 2 ATMs on the Star; one in the casino and one in the International Cafe (niche looks like you go behind the counter). I couldn't get the one in the casino to accept my card; no problem down in the IC.  The fee is high as was the fee to get Argentine pesos in BA but I bank at TD Bank and all fees were reimbursed per their policy. I also went to the blackjack table and got $500 against my shipboard account. Very easy and no fees.  Played a little and cashed out. I had all of the cash I needed.

 

A comment about the casino: very dead whenever I went in.  I don't play BJ unless others at the table. Losses can come fast if the cards are against you and it's not as fun. Very few slots players also whenever I checked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are looking at a cruise next March.  Is the weather just as bad then? I am hoping to see penguins!!!!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The story going around onboard was that 4/4 cruise ships miss the Falklands due to the seas. I don't know what the basis for this.

2 weeks prior to our cruise, my brother and his wife had great stops in Punta Arenas and the Falklands. But they missed Ushuaia because of winds and its a docked port. Tender ports in that part of the world can be missed. We saw penguins when in Puerto Madryn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review and great info. Were tender tickets handed out the morning of or the day before tender ports? Was there a long line for non-elites?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tender tix were handed out the morning. For the 1 port where I needed a tix, there was no line and the wait for a tender was ~15 minutes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A group of us are with Puerto Montt Excursiones (Denis Purtov). Just wondered if you went with him and how it went. Was it worth going up the volcano?

 

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, patrickmoran said:

In Punta Arenas, the ship docked and began tendering. It was very rough. Some time late morning or early afternoon, the ship stopped tendering passengers ashore because the seas continued to build. We had a ship's tour and tendered off about 10am. We boarded our tour boat to go see the penguins on the island. Halfway there, the captain turned around and said there was no way they could safely get us on the island. So back to the harbor and docked and tendered back to the Star. 4 hours wasted! I wish they had called it off and we would have seen some of PA.

 

 

With interest, I read about your experience.  We cruise with NCL and Princess.  We were on the NCL SUN that left Burnos Aires, a day after you.  

 

The day before we arrived at Falkland was very rough but the next day, it was calm that we were able to tender. There, we were told that you missed Falkland.  However; we had very strong winds at Punta Arenas that we could not disembark except for the crew that were going home.  So close but dangerous.

Edited by paiagirl
make is shorter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, madmacs said:

A group of us are with Puerto Montt Excursiones (Denis Purtov). Just wondered if you went with him and how it went. Was it worth going up the volcano?

 

Thanks

 

Hi - we were on the 20/12 Star cruise & had a private excursion in Puerto Montt. We rode the chairlift up to the top of the volcano & had beautiful views. There are 2 options - part way up takes approx 30 mins return and about an hour if you go to the top. I think it cost us £20 each. Have a great cruise.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, madmacs said:

A group of us are with Puerto Montt Excursiones (Denis Purtov). Just wondered if you went with him and how it went. Was it worth going up the volcano?

 

Thanks

We did use Denis in PM. We opted not to go up the volcano. We had excellent views of the volcano from the park and took many pix. That day there was a strip of clouds halfway up the volcano so we weren't sure what kind of view we would have. 

The tour was good. Very scenic. We opted to stop at deli and pick up empanadas and drinks and eat in the van. It worked but I would have preferred to eat someplace or go to a park.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shore Excursions

Buenos Aires: We had signed up for the Evita tour for the 4th. Unfortunately, when we got onboard it had been cancelled because of lack of interest. Darn! Anyway there were a couple of spots we had not gone to because I was planning to see them on the tour. The port area is not the most convenient place to get to the rest of city without having done any research. So I signed up for another tour: La Boca & Recoleta Cemetery. I enjoyed it and saw the sights that I wanted.

Montevideo: We walked up to Independence Square and went on the Free Walking tour of the historical area. It lasted about 2 hours and you tip the guide what you think it was worth. Because it was Saturday there were alot of street markets and vendors around.

Puerto Madyrn: We booked El Pedral on our own (1/2 the ship's cost). Great tour. Saw lots of penguins, ate lots of lamb, drank lots of wine, and had the best empanadas of the trip. It was about an hour long van ride each way.

Ushuaia: Still don't know how to pronounce this port! Booked Tour Guide Ushuaia for the national park. The tour was good and we were back for a late lunch. The price ($120US pp) might be a bit high depending what you want. Lots of taxi drivers outside the port that, at least one guy said, I think, would take 4 for $120 US total. Of course, no guide, little English, etc.

Punta Arenas: Didn't work out as discussed above.

Puerto Montt: I organized a private tour for 10 people with Denis Purtov of puertomontt-excursiones, Osorno Volcano & Petrohue Falls tour. It went well. As mentioned above, lunch could have worked better.

 

Transfer to Santiago: A roll call member organized a transfer/tour. There were 8 of us. It went well though a long day. We didn't get to our hotel until 7pm. The only hiccup was we were surprised that we had to pay ($ 20 US pp) for winery tour/tasting. It probably was worth it. The guide took us to his family's bakery/deli to buy lunch. Again, empandas on the fly. It saved time and was interesting to try the locals lunch-type.

 

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Las Condes using points. Very comfortable and relaxing before our 3 pm flight home on the 18th. I had booked a car to take us to the airport, 22,000 CHP. Flights home with Latam were fine though we did change planes in Bogota. I'm not sure why Latam gets poor reviews. There service was better (in the cheap seats admittedly) as any US carrier. Actually better since they still give out pillows and blankets. Not much on drink service though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last thoughts:

Which side to book? BA to Santiago, maybe the right (starboard) for the most time for scenic viewing in the Chilean fjords. But port for best view of going around Horn Island (Cape Horn) and Amalia Glacier.

 

Pack for arctic, tropics and temperate: what a pain.  Fortunately, we had little rain when touring.  We are Elite and sent out 6-7 bags of laundry (>$150). 

 

The Capri Dining Room was open a couple of hours every sea day afternoon for bridge players though any game player could use it. We should have organized some sessions of mahjong.

 

Skywalkers was quiet during the day and after 7pm until 10 pm (then go to the piazza). My go to place on sea days to read and get good views. When it was rough, I would use the Vista Lounge. I think the Star is the 1st ship that they routinely opened the curtains there during the day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for sharing. Can't wait!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Q&A with the Coral Expeditions Team
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...