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Old February 16th, 2004, 01:16 PM
Dick Fuller
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Default Re: South America Cruise

Just completed a trip on the Crown from Buenos Aires to Santiago. Overall, the trip was fantastic, based on scenery, weather, and ports of call.. Scenery was much more than I expected, particularly going thru the fjords and glaciers. Had great weather on the trip, with only a short shower in the Falklands. Ship was good, basic transportation. Had cabin on level 5. Size of cabin and storage were excellent. Single beds were small, and mattresses need replacing. Liked open seating, free-style dining in main room, Seven Seas. Fodd quality and variety was excellent, and service was very good. Best at tables for 4 at rear sides of room. Tables for 8 in center were noisy, and service less good, but still fine. Didn't use Yacht Club buffet much after initial experiences. Very crowded, and seating was inadequate. Tried all specialty restaurants. Chopsticks (asian) had static menu, and not very authentic. Best thing about Italian one was view. Pasta was so-so, could get that in main room as well. Le Bistro was extra cost, but worth it for special occasions. Food was excellent, service was correct but impersonal. Wine list was good, and fairly priced. It was a hassle to bring wine on ship, but should have purchased more in ports of call and paid corkage. Both Chilean and Argentinian wines were very good.
In Buenos Aires, did Senor Tango show, which was one of trip highlights. Others did tango show offered thru Grand Circle, and liked that one as well, but higher cost. Shore excursions thru NCL were expensive, so did our own in most ports. In Puerto Madryn we went to the EcoCenter, again a trip highlight, and toured city on our own. Everything in Port Stanley, Falklands, is within easy walking distance, so no tour there. In Ushuaia did the Beagle Channel catamaran, which was worthwhile, then toured city on our own. Those who took longer tours were very disappointed. Long rides with very little to see. Did ship's penguin tour in Punta Arenas, which was good. Others, who spoke the language, did the same on their own. Went for lunch to Sotito's, close to ship's dock and enjoyed king crab for lunch, along with great pisco sours. Did our own tours, arranged at the dock, in both Chacabuco and Puerto Montt, with great success. In Chacabuco 8 of us got a van for $30 each which took us to Coihaique and other places same as ship's tour, but much more enjoyable. Same in Puerto Montt, with 6 in a van for $30 each, to Frutillar, Puerto Varas, city tour, and ended at very nice seafood restaurant for lunch on our own, then back to ship. Tour from Valparaiso thru Vina del Mar, with stop for lunch at ranch/winery, to Santiago was included with Grand Circle, and very worthwhile. Did Pre-Columbian museum on our own rather than Grand Circle tour. Others said time was very limited at museum on tour. Had great seafood lunch in Bellavista at Azul Profundo (Deep Blue) near Pablo Neruda's house.

Departure tax is $26 per person at airport, but ours was included as part of tour cost.
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