We arrived back in Buenos Aires at 4:30 this morning and during the docking process we had a tug in attendance pushing the ship on our side (starboard). By the looks of it the ship is not that manoeuvrable with its azipod problem. It’s not a difficult port to get into so the azipod problem is going to remain a potential issue for follow on cruises until they get it repaired.
We followed our usual ritual on the last morning of breakfast in the main dining room which meant a couple of eggs for me.
We were off the ship by 9:00 and shuttled to the cruise terminal where we collected our cases but not without a scare first. One of the luggage tags had come off one of our cases and we had a little panic until it was located it in a separate area.
The taxi pickup area isn’t the best laid out for vehicles and busrs which meant we had to wait 15 minutes longer than agreed to meet our driver. The journey to the Eziza Airport was around 35 minutes and we arrived at 10:40. No queues at the check-in so we were able to drop our bags off straight away.
Poor Pip on the other hand has to wait until 11:00pm for her Emirates flight and won’t be able to drop her bags until around 6-7:00 pm tonight. We were told to clear security by 12:30 so had about 1½ hours to keep Pip company.
After saying our goodbyes to Pip we headed off through security and had what seemed the briefest of waits airside before our flight started boarding. The 13 hour flight through the night also seemed to pass really quickly and we were collecting our luggage before we knew it. It was another fantastic trip despite missing the Falkland Islands and because of that we have already investigated a return trip for 2020.
Our meal in Qsine lived up to expectations and we all came away feeling we had just about managed to find a good balance from being full and not totally stuffed. For those not familiar with this restaurant, it’s a sort of international tapas with the menu on an iPad.
This morning we arrived at Montevideo around 5:30 and once the ship had been cleared it was obvious that the extra two hours was actually for the cruise lines benefit and not ours as there was a flurry of activity on the dock side. After 8 straight sea days things were beginning to run out so fresh supplies were going to be needed while not forgetting the things that need to come off as well!
So what did we do today?
After a quick couple of coffees in Tuscan Grille we made our way off the ship to explore the old port town which is within easy walking distance from the port.
We picked up a map which provided us with a circular route with all the places of interest so off we set. Thankfully it was a little cooler today than yesterday and it was a good temperature for walking around. We passed most if not all the places noted on the map before looking in on the old port market prior to stopping for a beer.
That in itself is an experience and although we didn’t have anything to eat the smell of the BBQ’s and meat cooking was very tempting.
The only downside today is we had the dreaded packing at the back of our minds all the time we were ashore.
When we got back to the port gates all the city tour operators had disappeared or else I would have given them a little trade. With a bit of forethought we should have done that part first, I wasn’t able to promote enough enthusiasm with the ladies when we first got off so we missed out on seeing the major city sights.
Once back on board we had a quick lunch and grabbed a few hours up in the sun before having to do the inevitable.
What we saw of Montevideo today was enough to get me off the ship if I ever pass this way again. Before I sign off today I can’t go without sharing these two establishments with you.
Yesterday evening we got word that a Spanish Lawyer had called a meeting with fellow passengers to discuss the itinerary changes and limping ship issues. I got there just as everyone was leaving but unfortunately I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English to find out what was discussed. I would say that there was still a good 200 people there so it would appear that there is a general dissatisfaction with the way Celebrity are dealing with the situation.
Later in the evening we managed to find out via Cruise Critic that there is an Argentinian lawyer who is posting a class action suit against Celebrity on behalf of anyone who signs up, without fee. The poster goes on to say the suit will claim that Celebrity were negligent in setting sail with the propeller issues, causing us to miss the Falklands and to be at sea for an extended period of time. The request is for all signed passengers to receive a full refund.
All this sounds a bit over the top to me so we will wait for further development.
This morning we were treated to beautiful clear skies and brilliant sunshine. Boy what different scenes we have witnessed through our balcony windows.
At 10:00am I went to see MickeyLive’s final show in the theatre which was a photo review of the cruise using a selection from Snapshot Rally photos submitted by the passengers. 5 of my photos made the cut onto the big screen which was really pleasing. He said that people had submitted over 500 images so I will look forward to seeing the complete set when I am able to view the disc.
The rest of the afternoon we have just bumbled around with a bit of walking here and there followed by a snooze on the prom deck which today was bright and sunny and 3 days ago its where we were watching penguins and whales from.
Tonight we are dining in Qsine after changing the booking 3 times prior to tonight. I will need some discipline and an empty stomach prior to going as we have always tended to eat well there in the past.
Tomorrow we get to walk on dry land again at our second port in Montevideo, Uruguay. We have nothing booked and may just wander around and possibly a quick city tour for a couple of hours if we find anything that takes our fancy dockside.
With each passing hour the seas have become calmer and the winds have subsided. First thing this morning there was still quite a nip in the air but the skies were clear and we had sunshine.
I decided to have breakfast in the dining room this morning as I have been hankering after a couple of fried eggs, whenever I have visited the egg station in the Oceanview, there has always been a long queue so the dining room became the next best option. Mission accomplished!!
At 10:30 this morning we collected our passports, we received a letter last night notifying us that the immigration process had now been completed. There was me thinking the 25 minutes spent queuing at the cruise terminal then the taking photos and finger prints had dealt with all that, perhaps it’s just the Argentine way of doing things. I had secretly hoped we might find an Antarctica stamp but the passport is exactly the same as the one we handed over in Buenos Aires.
On this return leg the sun is on our side of the ship in the morning so we made use of the balcony until it had passed over the top. We have a slightly deeper balcony in this cabin and it was one of the reasons we selected it.
Out of the wind it was lovely and warm and a very welcome change to the previous couple of days. We then made out way up to the pool deck where I did some walking before finding a couple of beds out of the wind where we spent the afternoon just relaxing in the sun.
On my travels round the ship I came across some sunbeds which had been tied down, someone aspiring to Celebrity’s Modern Luxury motto was using the straps to dry their laundry!!!
We also have many Japanese passengers onboard, their photography antic’s have also been keeping me amused. For instance today I witnessed a man photographing his lady sat on a sun bed while she posed pretending to take a selfie. The mind boggles. Yesterday it was another couple with him again taking photos of her, he was wrapped up in a wolly hat and coat while she was running around posing in her bikini. I can tell you it wasn’t swimsuit weather and it didn’t stop her going in the pool either.
Just to complete the this afternoons proceedings we then get some bloke playing the bagpipes. Has it all got something to do with last night’s full moon?
It’s the 3rd and final Chic night this evening and our dining room staff were all trying to promote the the event so let’s see if they can deliver.
Just wrapping up, there has not been much to report back with today and only a couple of photos to accompany the text. Let’s see what tomorrow brings……
For us it’s unlucky postcard number 13 because shortly after 8:30pm the captain made an announcement over the public address that due to adverse weather conditions we would no longer be stopping at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands.
Pip enjoyed being out on the balcony with her Go Pro making a time lapse video of the stormy seas.
It’s very disappointing not to be going especially because it was the one stop that we had booked an excursion where we could have walked with the penguins. We should have been going to Volunteer Point where we would have seen King, Gentoo and Magellanic penguins all on the same beach. So instead we have another sea day and no replacement port which I have to say is rather difficult to understand as we were due to be in port 12 hours and now we arrive at Montevideo 2 hours earlier. Where did the other 10 hours go? What difference will arriving at 6:00 make to our plans? There has been no mention of recompense for missing a port but I would like to think that there will be. The money is already in my account for the missed port of Puerto Madryn which I wouldn’t have known about unless I’d checked our account on line.
So we are on a 14 night cruise and to date after 10 nights have only visited just the single port.
Last night the weather conditions were none too clever, the wind was really blowing and the seas very wobbly indeed. The ship which was listing and rocking was practically deserted, we sat down in one of the bars until gone 11:00 before deciding to try and get some sleep.
This morning the seas had calmed but we were still feeling the ship move, the atmosphere onboard felt a little subdued and we overheard some fellow passengers in the Elite breakfast voicing their displeasure about the missing hours so it would appear we are not alone in our thoughts.
We have done very little today apart from breakfast, 12 laps of the open decks followed by some lunch. We had clear skies in the afternoon so we wrapped up and found some beds out on the pool deck.
Hopefully the winds will eventually ease over the next few days and we might get to lie out in the sun properly.
We had a little bit of rocking and rolling since leaving Elephant Island but nothing to serious. If I was honest then I would say that I was expecting seas to be more like this for much of the cruise so I guess we have been rather fortunate. On the positive I was awakened to bright sunshine this morning which made a pleasant change from the cloudy skies we have had over the last few days. It didn’t last long and the clouds soon returned to provide us with what was quite a dreary sea day.
In the morning we attended a talk from MickeyLive about the Falklands which was to his usual high standard, he has been doing these Southern itinerary’s for the last 8 years and is well versed with all the areas we have been visiting. In my opinion he is what all destination speakers should be trying to emulate. I understand that he works directly for Celebrity so why not have other speakers of this calibre?
At the beginning of the cruise we ordered a map and a chart as a special package with the proceeds going to the World Wildlife Fund. The chart is of the itinerary and will be marked up by hand with our actual course and we are due to collect that on the last sea day. The map which we picked up today is a detailed one of Antarctica which we also thought was a nice keepsake.
Mickey has also been collecting 4 photos from all willing passengers to put onto a free disc, one per cabin and I submitted mine yesterday so will look forward to picking it up on the last sea day. I’ve not seen this done before and I think it’s a great idea.
The upper decks remained closed so I decided to do a few laps inside the ship to appease the conscience and get a little exercise.
Because we have an early start in the morning, we are eating in the Oceanview Cafe this evening so we can grab an early night.
Today has been quite a miserable sea day which you will be able to judge from the photos. Let’s hope for some improvement because the word is out that high winds may prevent us from going in and we won’t know for definite until the morning. Fingers and toes are crossed!!!
After our departure from Paradise Bay, we headed north along the Gerlache Strait. Mickey Live was doing a wildlife watch on the starboard prom deck so we decided to go down and join him. Again there were whales a plenty and many icebergs. We had spotted earlier in the day a large iceberg with about 50 or so penguins on and I was hoping to get a photo of a similar scene. Luck was on my side but unfortunately I only managed 2 Chinstrap Penguins on the iceberg.
The fog was still with us this morning as we arrived at Elephant Island but mother nature was on our side and once it had cleared we were able to view the most amazing panorama. The sea was brimming with wildlife too and I eventually managed to get a photo of a penguin porpoising. We stayed just off the coast for about 2 hours while the captain just rotated the ship several times so everyone would get a bird’s-eye view of the island. We had some absolutely incredible views across the shore line.
Shortly after 1:00 we set off towards our next stop which is the Falklands. About an hour out to sea the water was just boiling with penguins and there were loads of whales as well.
We also spotted two huge icebergs in the distance, much bigger than anything we had seen to date.
All of this happening before 2:00 in the afternoon so when we eventually went for lunch at 2:15 I can honestly say I felt a little exhausted. A couple of glasses of wine seemed to assist the recovery.
We have a sea day now to prepare for our next stop.
Our crossing of the Drake Passage went without any incident and the seas remained reasonably calm for us. We crossed over the 60° latitude around the 2:00pm mark which then meant we had reached the Southern Ocean which is the body of water that surrounds Antarctica.
We retired to bed at around 10:30 and it was still daylight outside.
Because of our location there were only a few hours of darkness and despite drawing the curtains we both came round at 5:30am. Our ETA for entering the Schollart Channel was 7:30 so we both tried to doze for another couple of hours because we anticipated today was going to be a long one.
At just after 7:00 we were alerted over the public address that we were about to enter the Schollart Channel.
The next 4 hours were a bit of a blur with so much to take in. We sailed through the channel before finally getting to Paradise Bay. So many photos to choose from as there were opportunities a plenty. The landscape was just incredible, we even had loads of whale sightings to add to the excitement. It truly is a wonderful place to see.
At 1:30 we started our exit from the bay into the Gerlache Strait to begin our return leg of the journey. Paradise Bay is as far south as we would go.
We have seen so much today and it’s difficult to pin down and log each particular thing, it’s been one amazing day. The fog has come down this evening and the ship is sounding is horn every few minutes. I think our biggest peril is hitting an iceberg. Over night we continue north towards Elephant Island so all being well I’ll see you tomorrow.
After leaving Cape Horn yesterday afternoon at 2:15 we started our crossing of the Drake Passage on route to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. Like the seas around the Horn, this body of water also has its own reputation for being a little unpredictable. It can sometimes be referred to as either the Drake Lake or the Drake Quake or Shake for obvious reasons. I read the following elsewhere which I would like to share.
“Its a passage of water with a mind of its own. Its your visa for getting to Antarctica.”
I think we are being very lucky with our southern transit, the wind is chilly but not really cold and although the sea is not flat it’s by no means as bad as some of the footage or photos I’ve seen.
This morning Nicole and I did several full circuits of the upper deck to get a bit of exercise, it poured the whole time we were out there but we did manage 10,000 steps before we came in. We packed for Antarctica so we the have appropriate clothing for all weather so stayed nice and dry. Not everyone had the same idea as us because it was practically deserted.
The rest of the day we just chilled in preparation for the next few days. We have been told we should be able to see Antarctica by 8:00 tomorrow morning.
Understandably after our long day yesterday we were all feeling the effects. Nobody surfaced until gone 9:00 and even then it was down to the Tuscan Grille to get coffees, fruit and pastries. The rest of morning was very laid back while we awaited our arrival to Cape Horn.
Cape Horn is named after the city of Hoorn in the Netherlands. It’s the southern most headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile. Although not exactly the most southerly point, Hornos Island is the place where people always refer to. It is the place where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet and has a reputation for having hazardous waters because of the strong winds and currents. Cape Horn also marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage which we will need to cross to get to Antarctica.
It became very windy on our approach but as advised it dropped off as we passed round the Island. The navigation round the island was just over 22 miles and took a couple of hours to do. We never managed to get a full view of the Horn today as it was continuously covered by cloud.
The Round the Horn experience culminated with a 360° turn in front of the monument and naval base.
We then set off in a southerly direction towards Antarctica.
At 3:00 we went to the theatre to see Mickey Live’s Antarctica preview which was once again a full house. A full sea day tomorrow and an opportunity to charge our batteries prior to the Antarctic show.