After our trip to Torres del Paine, we returned to Punta Arenas for our five-day cruise on the Stella Australis, which would travel from Punta Arenas through Tierra del Fuego to Ushuaia, Argentina.
After checking in for the cruise and dropping our bags at the ship’s office downtown, we headed to the port and boarded the ship.
We had a nice cabin with a big window to enjoy the scenery.
The first event on board was a welcome reception hosted by captain.
The Stella Australis is a nice ship, built in 2010 with 100 cabins and several lounges and sitting areas, all with lots of windows taking full advantage of the amazing views. We were among 186 passengers from 32 countries.
During our trip we toured the boat, visiting the engine room and the bridge.
We saw the boat’s food storage.
The ship had a small gift shop in the reception area.
We had lots of great meals on the boat. I especially enjoyed the seafood, which landlocked Paraguay doesn’t really have.
The scenery we saw from the boat was beautiful.
We had been thinking that since this cruise was in a cold climate and included multiple excursions, hikes, outdoor activities, the average passenger’s age would be lower than that on a typical warm-weather sightseeing cruise. While there were a few families and a few couples about our age, we were definitely outnumbered by older passengers enjoying their retirement. There was also an odd mix of people on the boat. There was a guy who drank beer at 8am while the rest of the passengers got ready to go out on expeditions. There was an old Italian guy with blue hair. There was a professional photographer from Switzerland. We saw a couple who wore jeans (instead of the recommended waterproof gear) on the expeditions and then complained when they were cold and wet. The strangest passengers however were four couples (three from the US and one from Poland) traveling with a tour guide. Given that there are guides on the ship who speak multiple languages, explain everything, and happily assist with anything, it seemed completely unnecessary to travel on the ship with a guide. At first we thought that perhaps the guide, Sylvia, was taking advantage of these people. But after watching them for a few days, it seemed that these travelers were not the smartest and actually really needed Sylvia’s services. She saved them seats at the informative presentations on the ship; she helped one couple find their cabin after they forgot their room number on the third day; she gave constant basic advice about weather, repacking their suitcases, and the day’s schedule; was constantly repeating and explaining simple instructions from the crew; and we even saw her helping one gentleman with pulling on a sweater over his head.
We had a mostly smooth ride on the ship except for one night around 4:30 in the morning when we woke up to the boat rocking, waves crashing around us, and our stuff falling over.
Check back later for more updates on the places we visited during the cruise!