Isabel - Hi! we just left the Norwegian Crown in Puerto Montt. It was a FABULOUS trip! So many things - first of all, I think that they can´t use a larger vessel for the trip because of the tight passages they made through the islands of the Chilean archipeligo. Second - I had thought that the trip was going to take us into the Beagle Channel. Well it did, but not before he went down AROUND THE HORN, turned around and went back again!!
Another cruise ship that had been with us from the Falklands gave up and turned around. There were dishes flying everywhere and doors slamming, but it was the thrill of a life time!! I guess they don´t tell you that they might do it because it is so dependent on the weather.
About excursions: a friend did book a private with WhalesPatagonia to Punto Tombo and the Welsh Village (from Puerto Madryn) and it was great for about 1/3 the price. We did the ships excursion to the peat bogs and penguin rookery in the Falklands. I don´t see how you would do that independently. It was also tons of fun. We also did the Beagle Channel and the Tierra del Fuego park with the ship and didn´t much enjoy it, except for the Isla del Pajaro. And it Chacabuco we just got off the ship and picked up a tour with a hawker right on the pier to take us to Poyhaique. And it turned out to be better than perfect, again for about 1/3 the cost of the ships tour.
They let us disembark in Puerto Montt (the boat really goes to Angelmo, which is better. This is THE place to shop for lapis, llama, and alpaca products.) And now we are going by land for the next three weeks up to Santiago. We will be in Valparaiso for New Years Eve.
About the dancing: it turned out to be fine. We weren´t much impressed with the òrchestra`in the theater for dancing, but Piero and Loa, up at the Top of the Crown did a great job playing music that one could actually dance to. I would have liked it more if they had had them in the theater so that we would have had the music AND the larger floor to dance on.
So, that is how we did. Don´t miss this trip. Just make sure that you do in the end of December through February. By March the penquins have taken off. BTW, we talked to people who did the Antartic fly-over and they said it was also fantastic. It seemed like a lot of money to us with no refunds if the weather doesn´t permit it, so we passed.
Take care, thanks for the reply, even if it was late!