This morning, we sailed into the Amalia fjord to see the glacier, up close and personal. I wrote about that in the main narrative of the journal.
Our afternoon was slow and relaxed – they all are really! We often eat lunch in the Pool Bar, which has a grill but also lots of salads. The space is next to the Pool, (you might have guessed) and the area is quite sunny and bright, even when it is clouded. I like to have a glass of rosé with lunch, and Gerry usually has a beer, so a nap is quite appropriate for those quiet hours before our evenings begin.
For dinner, we ate in The Restaurant, at a table with 6 other people we did not know. That was fun! A great way to eat dinner with lively companions and meet some new people (which really has not been difficult at all on this ship). I didn’t know this was a thing you could do, but the ladies who organized the table tonight told us that they merely told the hostess they wanted a table for 6, and would the hostess please offer the option to other guests to join them as they came in. Definitely try this! Worked out wonderfully.
We also took in a show by a “modern percussionist” – He plays a ”xylosynth,” an electronic xylophone synthesizer – or some such thing. He was good and the show was very dynamic and visual, as well as musical. It isn’t something I would pay money to see, but as a free show it was satisfying!
Thursday, March 2nd
“Punta Arenas By Foot“ was our shore excursion this morning.
Every afternoon before we dock in a new port, there is a “Port Talk.” Today’s, for example, was on Ushuaia, where we will be tomorrow. Usually the Cruise Director gives us a little history and trivia about the place, explains about currency, language and other practicalities, and the Shore Excursions Manager talks about each of the shore excursion so we know what to expect and how to dress. These are very valuable and fortunately, if you do not attend in person, you can watch it live or recorded in your stateroom on the TV.
In the late afternoon, I went to hear a lecture on the “Journeys of Magellan, Drake, Darwin and Others.” These enrichment lectures have been fabulous! There is so much I have forgotten since the days I studied the explorers in school – to say nothing about how the attitude about and our knowledge of the deeds of these explorers has changed. There is still a great deal to admire, but there are also hard lessons to be acknowledged about colonialism and racism and their role in the shaping of the Americas.
For our evening’s entertainment we went to see a variety show produced by the ship’s entertainment team. Lots of songs from movies and musicals. Quite delightful! These evenings in the theater of the ship are like “Date Night.” I cannot remember another time that Gerry and I have gone out to see a variety show in the evening! Here on the boat, we do it every night!
Friday, March 3
Before breakfast this morning, the ship sailed through an area called the “Avenue of the Glaciers.” That was about 5:30-6:45am. Again, I’d love to know who got up to see what there was to see as it was still dark at that time…
After breakfast, I went to hear a lecture on the “Explorers of South America” by the ship’s resident historian. It was both about the explorers and exploration (i.e. right now, in S A.). I liked the lecture because he used the changing maps of the Western Hemisphere to show how different voyages broaden knowledge about the New World. A fascinating timeline appears, looking at those maps, as places change shape and the labeling of rivers and bays becomes much more accurate. It was also interesting to note that in the 15th century, the maps of Africa were already very accurate, whereas the western hemisphere was a funny elongated shape before you fell off the flat earth!
Talking about explorers and their ships also puts flesh onto the names of many places in the area, and gives you a better idea of what was here when they were…and how brave (or foolish) they were to have ventured all this way from home.
The shore excursions to Ushuaia were in the afternoon.
In the evening we sailed through the Beagle Channel. (Yes, the Beagle channel of Darwinian fame!) The weather, being variable, sometimes very cloudy and rainy, at other times clearing, didn’t guarantee you could see anything noteworthy, and the views we had of the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse (the most photographed landmark in Argentina) were quite underwhelming. It is small, and far away.
Tonight, we had another of our “specialty” dinners, this one in the Italian restaurant on board called “Manfredi’s”. It was excellent, but not notably better than the other restaurants on the boat (because they are all that good!). It was also not very busy, surprisingly, based on how people rave about it.
Before the cruise, we were allowed to go online and make reservations at the “alternative” restaurants (what I call the specialty venues) but we were only allowed 2 reservations. We assumed that meant just two times could we eat here, but that was not the case at all. One could reserve a table on any day you wanted to go as long as there was space.
This morning, we had scenic sailing around Cape Horn. It was a gorgeous day, so the views were incredible. The passage is also very historic, so just the thought of following in the wake of Sir Francis Drake was an emotional link to our surroundings. The Horn is quite a dramatic piece of rock. It is particularly picturesque thanks to a manned light house and a beautiful monument to lost sailors, which I described elsewhere.
At 11:00 am, I went to listen to another of the enrichment lectures – this one about the Falkland Islands. Focusing on the islands’ history and location, it gave us great background on the place we will visit at our next port of call. I am currently reading Simon Winchester’s Prison Diary: Argentina. The author and three other journalists were imprisoned in Ushuaia during the Falklands War. It is an interesting view point from which to view the war – British Journalist in an Argentinian prison.
This evening we ate early. We had our first dinner in the World Café, and that was a little disappointing. It was only mitigated by the fact that we did not need to dress for dinner (this is the only venue on the ship where you can wear blue jeans at night…) We had dinner early so that we could go to the evening’s entertainment, a singer (“crooner”) who sang songs by Frank Sinatra, Leonard Cohen, Bobby Darren and Barry Manilow. He was excellent and the show was good and fun.
We spent this morning looking for a place to work and read. The ship was a buzz with activities, and we were shooed out of our room so it could be cleaned. We were unable to find a place where I could work on this blog, and Gerry could listen to his book. (He eventually did find a relatively quiet space.)
I spent the time wandering around the ship and taking the pictures I am showing you here. People were really busy elsewhere – hence all these spaces are empty!
We unfortunately did not attend the “Order of the Drake Ceremony” which inducted us into the society of those who have successfully sailed “ ’Round the Horn”. Sounds like it was fun. We did however, get a certificate for our great achievement of simply being on this boat while our captain sailed us around the Horn!
Tonight’s after dinner show featured the music of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Coming to the show after dinner is becoming quite a routine! Only question is whether we come to the 7:30 show or “stay up late” for the 9:15!
Besides sitting in the sun this afternoon, I watched one of the four tender boats be returned to it’s berth on the ship – down on deck 3. Gerry and I also rounded out our 10K steps for the day by walking the circuit of the rooms on decks 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Tonight’s entertainment was a performance by the entertainment crew, four singers, of the work they have done professionally and the musicals they would like to star in some day. Quite good!
This morning, we attended a lecture on the history of Argentina. I read it yesterday in the guidebook, but it is so confusing, that repetition is bound to increase what I can actually remember – besides Eva Perón.
Every day, at noon, the captain addresses the ship via intercom. I missed the briefing yesterday because we were on shore, but it is a part of the day I look forward to. He gives us our longitude and latitude, wind speeds, temperature of air and water, and even tells us how deep the water is! I find it quite interesting – maybe it is the routine. (Last night he came on the intercom though to tell us we had had to turn back towards the Falklands in order to evacuate a sick passenger.)
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