In December 2017, we sailed around South America on board Celebrity Cruise’s Infinity ship. The cruise spanned over Christmas and New Years which we thought could be quite fun.
We flew the red-eye from JFK to Buenos Aires on December 22, via American Airlines, without much drama. Due to the flight costs and unpredictable New York winter weather, we booked through Celebrity’s Choice Air (it included a transfer from the airport to the cruise terminal). After we landed into Buenos Aires mid-morning, we popped onto our transfer that took us to the cruise terminal. Once on board, freshened up and with food in our stomachs, we headed out to discover what Buenos Aires had to offer.
The first thing I noticed was the lovely weather. It was in the mid-20s (Celsius) which was a pleasant and welcome change in temperature from the below 0s (Celsius) in NYC.
December 24, 2017 – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Jon and I had another day to discover Buenos Aires before we sailed in the afternoon. We headed to the San Telmo market. To get there, we hopped into a cab that I thought we were going to die in. The cab had barely any suspension left, he was not wearing his seat belt but busily counting his cash, and speeding like crazy.
The San Telmo market was huge. It sprawled across many blocks and featured hundreds of vendors. The bright colours of the fruit and vegetables were a treat to see. For the next few hours, we just roamed the streets of the city, stopping to look at anything that spiked our interests.
We headed back to the ship which had been decorated with all things Christmas. The below pic was one of the better displays.
There was a Christmas Eve menu which was not really so different to what was served on a typical cruise night.
December 25, 2017 – Montevideo, Uruguay
It was Christmas day and our ship docked into Montevideo. Before we disembarked, we saw (Celebrity Cruise) Santa arrive by speed boat. Once on board, he walked each level of the cruise collecting a conga line of children (FYI: there were a lot of kids on this cruise).
Over breakfast, another couple told us about the free city walking tour at 11am. I wasn’t feeling up for it (probably because I over ate at breakfast) so I convinced Jon to take the 2pm tour. This turned out to be an excellent decision because our tour guide said the 11am had approx. 20-30 more people on that tour which became a bit of a challenge to manage.
The tour was one of the best “free” ones I’d taken. Our tour guide was a lovely 18 year old native who informed us of the different landmarks around the city, living life in Montevideo, politics and history. From memory, what I took away from the tour was that Uruguay is a very progressive country that had legalized gay marriages (yea, back in 2013, so tsk tsk Australia), marijuana, and abortions.
Many of the shops were closed while we were in town and our guide explained that it wasn’t because it was Christmas but because it was the “day of the family”. After the tour, Jon and I headed back to the ship.
Dinner was quite exciting because it was Christmas dinner!
December 26, 2017 – Punta Del Este, Uruguay
We booked “The Art Culture of Punta Del Este” tour through Celebrity. I compared the tour to one I found on Viator.com and it seemed reasonable.
A sightseeing tour for the art aficionado you can’t afford to miss. Visit Punta Del Este, an area home to a treasure trove of hidden art and architecture, including the open-air collection of sculptures at Square of the Americas. You’ll see several works of art up close at the Ralli Museum, including pieces by Salvador Dali. You’ll also visit the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation, which features the famed artists workshop, exhibition halls and collections.
Jon and I had no idea what to expect of Punta Del Este, or the tour, so we were pleasantly surprised to board a comfy and clean coach, and taken to places which were interesting. The only negative about the tour was that our guide, as lovely as she was, didn’t provide any info or explain anything. She played this weird game where she picked two numbers in her head and got every person on the coach to guess the numbers. The prize was her recipe for Chimichurri.
Our first stop was to La Mano (The Hand), a sculpture by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal located at Parada 1 at Brava Beach. The sculpture was completed during the summer of 1982 and Mario decided to make his sculpture on the beach as he was inspired to make a sculpture of a hand “drowning” as a warning to swimmers.
Our second stop was at the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation which displayed his art in different buildings and outside, in the nature.
Our last stop was to the Museo Ralli, a small gallery displaying paintings and sculptures. By this time, I was hot and tired. Also, because I have no idea about art, I glimpsed over all the artwork then found a spot outside to play with a dog I found.
December 27, 2017 – Sea Day
This was a sea day. The only exciting thing we did was join the Celebrity Cruise “Heartbeat of the Operation Galley Tour”… because it was free.
It was quite interesting. Here are a few things that I learnt:
- The bread basket is arranged in a specific order with a certain number of different breads
- On an average day at sea, 16,000 dishes are served for guests and crew
- On an average 7 day cruise; 16,300 pounds of beef, 9,675 eggs, 61,450 liters of milk are consumed
I found it interesting only 425 gallons of ice-cream gets consumed.
December 28, 2017 – Sea Day
This was another at sea day. I can’t remember exactly what we did on this exact day but the typical sea day during this cruise consisted of (mostly eating):
- 6am – gym (me only)
- 8/9am – breakfast
- 10-12pm – lounging around in the room
- 12/1pm – lunch
- 2/3pm – coffee and cake at the café
- 6/7pm – dinner in the main dining room
- 8/9pm – check out what’s in the buffet
- 10-11pm – sleep
December 29, 2017 – Puerto Madryn, Argentina
We booked the “Peninsula Valdes Nature & Wildlife” tour through Celebrity.
Travel across the Patagonian countryside, arriving at the stunning Peninsula Valdes, an UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized as one of the world’s most pristine nature reserves. Explore the Visitor Center where you’ll learn about the flora and fauna that inhabit this remarkable region. Then, journey to Caleta Valdes, a sheltered bay home to many unique marine creatures, including a thriving population of sea mammals and Patagonian shore and sea birds. Look out for the penguins that call this sheltered bay home. Then, travel to Puerto Piramides where you’ll observe a sea lion colony. Learn about sea lion behavior and watch these animals hunt for fish and play. This unique tour has been approved by educator, scientist, and NPR star, Milos Radakovich. Milos has studied at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and S.R.I. Biosonar Lab. He is an expert on marine mammals and intertidal biology and has received recognition from the NOAA and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Milos has worked as an on-board naturalist for the Lindblad-National Geographic Expeditions and has served as on-board naturalist for Celebrity and Royal Caribbean’s journeys to locations around the world. Enjoy a thrilling and educational eco-adventure into the Patagonian wilderness on this scientist-approved experience.
The tour guide was amazing as she was very informative and provided a lot of “show and tell” items, from the story of the Little Prince (apparently a famous book) to samples of the fur seals shed during the year.
Since I am already a hopeless photographer and only use an iphone, these are the best of the best of the photos I took – ha ha – enjoy the blur.
December 30 & 31, 2017 – Sea Day
There was nothing eventful to report for December 30, however, the last day of 2017 was pretty special. Firstly, the day started off with the King of Breakfasts – donuts donuts donuts!
We sailed around Cape Horn, the almost most southern part of the world.
We were due for bad weather with high winds and a lot of rain, however, the weather was better than expected so the Captain granted passengers access to the hull, a typically restricted area of the ship (I think it’s called the hull – fact check me someone). The access point is located behind the theatre on the ship. On the hull, the view of Cape Horn was amazing. However, it was difficult to stay out for too long because it was extremely windy.
New Years Eve dinner in the main dining room was OK.
Celebrity held a NYE party around the middle of the ship. We arrived five minutes to midnight because I was busy watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – in the room.
January 1, 2018 – Ushuaia, Argentina
A new year, a new city! We docked into Ushuaia early in the morning.
We were booked on another Celebrity tour: “Beagle Channel Catamaran to Sea Wolves Island”.
Cruise the waterways of the Beagle Channel aboard a sleek catamaran, discovering the stunning landscapes and natural wonders of Bird Island and Sea Wolves Island. A magnificent backdrop of jagged mountain peaks sets the mood as you careen past Isla de los Pajaros (Bird Island), home to an array of exotic birds. Continue cruising around Isla de los Lobos (Sea Wolves Island), a beautiful rocky outcrop and habitat to several marine species.
The tour was very good. The catamaran sailed close up to the island so we got some great views of the seals and penguins!
Later that night while we had dinner, we were seated by a window which allowed us to see the glaciers – I never expected to see them in South America!
January 2, 2018 – Punta Arenas, Chile
Punta Areanas was quite boring. The tours on offer were either very expensive or not of any interest to us. I would say that the below covers a lot of what Punta Arenas has to offer:
The plaza/ garden area which has a statue of a guy with his foot on a cannon (Monumento a Hernando de Magallanes) is one of the top “things to do/see” in the city according to Tripadvisor.
A lookout point over the whole city, Mirador Cerro De La Cruz, was slightly more impressive.
A green clock, Reloj Del Estrecho, which I know nothing about is also rated highly… (I think you get what I am saying)
At the end of the day, Jon and I walked towards the casino area near the water and I took some “arty” shots.
January 3 & 4, 2018 – Sea Days
Sea days… lazy days… On January 4, we booked into one of the specialty restaurants, Qsine. Personally, I thought the food was mediocre but the concept was not bad.
Firstly, we were seated and handed an iPad each. On each iPad was an abstract “menu” and we were asked to “favourite” the meals we wanted. But stupidly, they could only take one iPad, so only one person could do the “favouriting”. The names of the meals are on the menu but I can’t remember the descriptions – I think was part of the concept.
The dessert menu was a rubix cube. We ordered everything off the dessert menu because by that stage, I was extremely disappointed with the overall food.
Finale dessert for everyone. Except us. Our waiter forgot about them (until I asked he he). The marshmallows were covered in chocolate and the egg cups were creme brule.
Overall, would I recommend Qsine? No, unless you can get it heavily discounted, or free. Or if you can’t eat food without it being displayed in a fun and cool way.
January 5, 2018 – Puerto Montt, Chile
My day kicked off with a siting of a double rainbow from the gym!
We went on another tour booked through Celebrity but I can’t remember the name of it. The tour involved us going through a town that had a German influence, a stop over to try and take photos of the volcano which was across from a llama farm, and then to the Petrohué Waterfalls.
Puerto Varas, which translate to “the city of roses” is a small town by the water which follows a lot of German traditions. The town was really cool. We didn’t have too much time to explore but made the most of it.
We stopped along the roadside to try and get some photos of the (active) volcano, but the cloud coverage was too dense. However, there was a llama farm where we stopped, full of llamas.
Petrohué Waterfalls is a chute-type waterfall in the upper reach of Petrohué River in Chile, a short distance downstream of the source of this river in Todos los Santos Lake. This waterfall is inside the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. There are a few different walking routes you can take in the National Park. The views were great, and if it had been a sunnier day, I could imagine they would be spectacular!
January 6, 2018 – Sea Day, 7, 2018 – San Antonio, Chile
We disembarked without any issue. Chilean Customs were as tight as Australian ones which I was used to.
We went on our last tour through Celebrity that ended at the airport. The tour took us through the city, to a lookout point, and to a shopping center, before dropping us at the airport. There was nothing too exciting to report about Santiago via this tour. It seemed like a nice city with lots of old beautiful buildings.
The view from the top of the National Park was also great.
For me, the highlight was definitely lunch in the shopping center where I ordered KFC. It was the tastiest, cleanest KFC I ever had! It wasn’t greasy like the ones in New York.
When we arrived at the airport we were informed that our flight (well, all flights) to JFK were canceled. Fortunately, we were provided a voucher for lodgings and food by LATAM airlines for the night. We flew out at 8am the next day.
Jon and I made the most of the extra hours by eating cake from an awesome cafe we found at a nearby shopping center. The slices of cake were huge!
Overall, it was a great cruise because it traveled to locations we had never been before.