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patrickmoran

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

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On 1/24/2019 at 11:46 AM, Crewbie said:

p😄

 

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. 

Thanks for the info.  Especially about viewing areas.  We just were not sure we would see much from our port side balcony.

We too leave on the Star 1/31.  Going to pack more clothes now.  Thanks!  

 

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Port side will be better suited for eastbound journeys - we had an obstructed view picture window starboard for our eastbound and my opinion was that it, while nice, was not a good indicator at all of what was happening in terms of the scenery. The majority of the interesting features will naturally be on whichever side is facing the coastline, though I also felt that way when we were going through the fjords/glacier alley.

 

I'm not sure if this is ironclad, but in our Cape Horn someone mentioned that all ships go around counterclockwise, which also agrees with port side regardless of east/westbound. Being forward on the deck is amusing because if you turn around and look down the length of the ship you get an idea of how high the seas really are :D. (Stick closer to the middle if that doesn't sound like a good time.)

 

Regarding excursions, I'm going to second patrick's recommendation of El Pedral in Puerto Madryn - we had a great experience on our trip as well! The pre-communication and meeting arrangements are a lot less thorough than something like Denis Purtov, but past that we were thoroughly pleased - some great scenic views, good quality penguin time, an excellent lunch, and *not* having to travel 2+ hours each way. (Book directly with them. We were able to just receive an email confirmation, meet at the pier, and pay in full at the lunch.) I don't have a frame of comparison for Punta Tombo or Peninsula Valdes, but I don't think anyone in our group would say that the time wasn't well spent.

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Regarding El Pedral, the ship tours showed up for the penguins as we were leaving the trail. It seemed that there fewer penguins along the trail than when we went through. The group then showed up at the estancia as were finishing lunch. I think they got everything we did though later. We were back on the ship, showered and napping by the time they got aboard!

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Do you remember which nights were formal nights?

I assume they are on sea days but just checking to see when we should plan 

specialty dining.

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Surprisingly we only had 2. I was expecting 3. The 1st was the 1st sea day. The 2nd was the night before Puerto Montt. We did have 3 "formal dinner" menus in the MDR. Lobster was served on 2 different nights.

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patrickmoran or crewbie---not sure where it was mentioned, but do you know if there was any port where one can get Argentina pesos? We sail San Antonio to Buenos Aires.

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Hi, dog - Sorry to say that I don't know in terms of where to get Argentinian pesos! We got through with USD/cc and very few independent expenses and so weren't on the lookout for finding the currency.

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10 hours ago, dog said:

patrickmoran or crewbie---not sure where it was mentioned, but do you know if there was any port where one can get Argentina pesos? We sail San Antonio to Buenos Aires.

I assume that Ushuaia will be your 1st port in Argentina. It is a good size city and the banks should have ATMs. ATMs do have a high fee (5-10%) of the withdrawal. If you are not spending much time in Buenos Aires on your own, A pesos probably aren't necessary. The merchants along the route will probably take US though maybe at an unfavorable rate. For example, in the Bogota airport if you used US$s instead of charging in Colombian pesos, you lost 25%.

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On 1/25/2019 at 7:18 PM, patrickmoran said:

Surprisingly we only had 2. I was expecting 3. The 1st was the 1st sea day. The 2nd was the night before Puerto Montt. We did have 3 "formal dinner" menus in the MDR. Lobster was served on 2 different nights.

 

For this cruise/ship only----was the jacket/tie for men enforced on formal nights in the MDR?  We are packing now and won't take the suit jacket.

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re Argentine pesos

Does anyone know if you can get these at the BA airport, or is there a good rate in BA somewhere? We're on the 28th Feb leaving BA and can't get the pesos from our Au bank

Thanks

Rod and Barry

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wookie and dog - We had a total of five formal nights during the 30-day from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires. Three were on the LA - SA segment: first sea day, a sea day midway (first sea day of three after Puntarenas, CR), and then a sea day close to the end of the repositioning (first sea day of two after San Martin, Peru).

 

For the eastbound journey from San Antonio to Buenos Aires, our sea days were the first sea day (one between San Antonio and Puerto Montt) and the last sea day (the sea day between Puerto Madryn and Montevideo).

 

My "formal" attire throughout the entire journey was a pair of nice slacks (and belt); dark shoes; a nice collared shirt; and my daywear black, hooded zip jacket. I did not have a tie, suit jacket, or dress shoes. I don't know if I was given a generational 'pass,' but no one ever took issue with my ensemble on formal nights, for what it's worth. XD

 

rodbarry - Alas, no experience on that to relate!

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Thanks for your very helpful comments. I know Patrick didn't get to Stanley but think Crewbie did. Just wondered what tendering was like there - long waits? Are there British pubs in the town?

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madmacs - Regarding wait time, the honest and short answer is "I don't know." 😂

 

Yes, our sailing was fortunately able to make it to Stanley and tender. We took the early tender request from the independent providers very seriously (I know both Estancia and Patrick Watts emphasize it so), so I lined up over an hour in advance (at 6:45). For about 15 minutes it was just me and another couple that formed the start of the line before more groups filled in at 7:00. Many of these were from our Cruise Critic Roll Call, so being aware of what the general Roll Call plans are might be helpful; the port lecturer had also made a public recommendation for anyone without plans in his lecture to catch an early tender with reason being if there was any remaining space for excursions at shore that those would be quickly booked up. The patter played it safe by saying around a 40-minute tender ride one way, but we found it to be much shorter in good weather (about 15-20 minutes one way). Passage back to the ship might have been barely a little longer, but felt short in comparison to the wait time to board the tender back. 

 

A bit more at length on tendering: I had a long, self-inflicted wait in the morning, yes, but I to this point do not regret it. In general, our groups queued early, got out early/on time, and had very full and enjoyable tender days. On the other hand, I'd hate to be advising or even alarming on waiting longer than one has to! I know the underpinning question is if there was a long wait, but, in addition to only being able to relate what I experienced, I can't help but feel the related factors are important: We were the first sailing of the season, enough passengers were very eager, and the sailing's 30-day population had gone through the Lima experience XD. We were very cautious. We are also not elite status. Now that it's later in the season, these variables, in addition to the weather, might combine differently. I'm sorry that there aren't more responses to give you a clearer and more specific answer!

 

I can't quite speak to what was in the town proper as we collectively didn't have the time and moreover the energy to take a thorough look around after Volunteer Point (excellent, excellent excursion). I had a mild jaunt around looking for WiFi (as far as I could tell we had no phone service and there was no free WiFi - it only comes with a purchase at the respective establishment) and did pass by some gift shops, the church, and some food establishments. The town is very British in atmosphere; I unfortunately 1) can't name a definite pub offhand and 2) also don't know if it would be open - one of the food-type places that I passed by had an afternoon break in its hours, for example. However, the setting, while mildly steep, is very walkable - the commercial/public areas are along down from the pier and/or just a block or so up before blurring into residential. (I just googled, and the 2-3 bar establishments it lists are *very* close to where the tender comes; one is open from late morning through night; the other has an afternoon break from 1-4 as I saw.) Hope this helps!

 

One day I will be able to provide compact and simple answers XD.

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(Ack, oops: "For the eastbound journey from San Antonio to Buenos Aires, our formal nights were the first sea day (one between San Antonio and Puerto Montt) and the last sea day (the sea day between Puerto Madryn and Montevideo").

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