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Anyone Recently Returned from a South American Cruise?

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Has anyone recently returned from a South American cruise: Buenos Aires to Santiago or vice-versa? How was the trip? Any suggestions? Any tips? We are sailing in a few weeks and wanted to hear the latest information. Thanks for your input.

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Hi, Cobra - The Star Princess began its season with a repositioning from LA on December 4, so there are definitely a number of folks that have made the journey at this point. I would recommend joining in with your specific roll call as it's possible that fellow Cruise Critic members for your cruise have also been tracking these sailings and compiling information (previous Roll Call threads might also be useful). 

 

At this point I've been deferring to just enjoying hearing about subsequent sailings, but some general notes from the 30-day we completed in December: 

 

-If you need to keep in touch with someone on the ship, make sure to know their name and cabin number. Star Princess had a free messenger app as well, but I believe you had to be able to add a contact in by a specific ID if they were not in your same cabin.

 

-Don't overlook scenic cruising on your itinerary; on our eastbound SA-BA journey we went to Amalia Glacier, Glacier Alley, and Cape Horn in the morning. Cape Horn seems to have been pretty good sailing this season. 

 

-USD and credit card will work well as a general payment options, but this advice is dependent on your interests and travel habits. We didn't do much local shopping/eating and traveled through our tour providers - not taxi - so that may have different needs. Do bring USD in good condition - no rips, tears, stains/stamps - and bring your own supply of 5s and 1s for tips and smaller usages.

 

-Dress in layers and prepare for the elements. Weather is quite variable. Temperature wise, your comfort is relative to where you're coming from, but the itinerary encompasses heat and humidity to brisk and showery. Wind is a major factor - hang on to your hat (or have one that has a chinstrap or other way to keep it around). Sunscreen and bug repellent also quite useful.

 

-The itinerary is great, so take advantage of it. If you can join others in your Roll Call in independent bookings, it will save you a lot of money as the Princess prices are quite high. If you are booking independently, WhatsApp is useful as a means of communication. Theoretical WiFi was in place at many of the port sites (though not necessarily reliable); we had no service at all in Stanley and didn't locate any free WiFi. I thought that Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, and Stanley all had modest but walkable settings; Montevideo also has a very directly walkable circuit from the ship.

 

-Be prepared to wait. It seems like subsequent sailings have had an easier time getting off the ship than ours, but for a number of the tender ports on the itinerary, there's a lot of standing in line to get back on the ship. If theater shows onboard are of interest to you, allot some time to getting there in advance. Seats fill, and the theater is very dark when the lights are dimmed.

 

-Bring your own cold medicine with enough supply. The buffet is equipped with hand-washing stations and there are hand sanitizers; however, we were still glad to have had our stock when we experienced the onset of the ship cold.

 

-Devote a little time to planning and understanding how to get to and from embarkation/disembarkation - be wary of taxi diversions, maybe see about bus services between San Antonio and Santiago, mentally preparing yourself for EZE if that's where you're departing from (sorry, we had a chaotic experience there; still haven't forgotten), etc. There's a thread in the South America forum titled San Antonio Chile Bus Station to Cruise Port that might be useful.

 

If there are specific topics you're curious about, please feel free (though I'm just a single data point and with a very basic cruise style). We had a great time, overall; the ship itself I don't know if it left me any lasting impression, but the itinerary really made it well worth the experience. Good luck and happy sailing. I hope this helps!

 

 

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Thank you for your detailed response w/lots of good information. Glad to hear you enjoyed the trip. Except for the long lines and the little bit of a cold. 

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Did they have frequent lectures on the cruise...did you attend, was the information worthwhile?

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In short, lectures, yes; worthwhile, your mileage may vary depending on expectations on content and entertainment. In a knowledge vs. chewing the time scale, I might offer the following:

 

Arguably the most 'direct' lecture settings are the 'guest specialist' lectures - these are probably the most 'true-to-life' experiences with information being shared in a series by one presenter in their area of expertise. These can be enjoyable depending on how engaging the presenter is, though by their specialist nature can vary in how accessible an audience member finds the topic - for example, easier if you have some basic working knowledge, of natural sciences, social science, etc. (Also due to this it means that frequently you don't have to fight for seats in attending one of these talks. :D)

 

Next are the staff lectures/presentations that have very little 'at commercial stake' - an introductory language-learning series, a one-off presentation on learning some basic illusions, a behind-the-scenes presentation/Q&A for the theater, some digital basics for photography. These can be a little harder to discern in the event listings, but generally allot time to talking about a skill in a setting that has very little to be monetized. The drawback will be that if you've had any previous experience in a topic covered (if you've had schooling, are a hobbyist, professional background, etc.) then the session can seem exceedingly rudimentary. However, if it's new to you, it can be both fun and informational.

 

Port lectures come up about next to this group. (Note: The lecturer we had on the Star Princess disembarked with the end of our repositioning, but I have seen some positive comments about the replacements for the season.) At their best, they provided some interesting information - about the specific port, the general practicalities of the country, and gaining a little more insight to the complex history and ramifications of the region. On the flip side, they tend to close with a cross promotion/overview of ship excursions... certainly convenient for some, but also absolutely no substitute for doing your own research (for example, excursions that aren't options for your sailing, as if the presentation had been prepared for another cruise line...).

 

Remaining lectures are overwhelmingly in conjunction with some commercial interest. These can be fun and engagingly presented but have a grain of salt with their holistic/personal benefit. I generally don't attend the spa/fitness or jewelry lectures, so I can't provide an informed opinion there; I am usually underwhelmed by the art sessions for a variety of reasons.

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Can anyone who recently sailed comment on the onboard Internet when getting to the bottom part of South America? We’re sailing on the Coral to South America and Antarctica next January and wanted to get an idea of the recent satellite conditions.

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We did the Star in January. The internet was fine for checking email, Facebook and downloading ebooks from the library. Spead was OK but slower than at home.

 

I posted a review earlier.

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Thank you to everyone who is providing information. Very interesting!

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