Cruise Days 23-26 Going to Cape Horn

There were several relaxing days in a row cruising channels, fjords, and the Strait of Magellan.

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The Strait is a navigable sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans below Chile and above Tierra del Fuego. I wondered why ships would even go around the dangerous waters of Cape Horn but learned the Strait is difficult to navigate due to unpredictable wind and dangerous currents.

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This is Cape Froward, the southern most point on the South American continent. I purposely used this picture to tell you how we did laundry for 31 days. By hand!  Unlike many other cruise ships, Norwegian ships have no laundromats because they want you to pay $20 a bag (a small bag at that) to have them wash and fold (ironing not included). We knew this in advance so brought along a collapsible canvas bucket, clothes line and pins, and a shampoo bottle filled with liquid detergent. It is safe to say we saved ourselves at least $200.
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The television in our cabin had a map that displayed our route in varying zoom lengths. It would be so easy to get lost here due to the many waterways and islands.
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Strait of Magellan
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The Beagle Channel

The Beagle Channel, also known as the Avenue of the Glaciers, is a strait in extreme southern South America that separates islands of the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago. The channel is one of three navigable passages in South America between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The channel was named for the “Beagle,” a British ship that Charles Darwin used to explore the area.

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Look closely behind the shoreline mountains in the center and there is a glimpse of a much taller mountain. 
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Glaciers galore along the Beagle Channel
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Beagle Channel
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The passengers on the first half of the cruise to Valparaiso were mostly North and South Americans. The southern half had to be at least 75% German speaking, 20% South American and other countries, and maybe 5% English speaking.
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Ushuaia, Argentina

We cruised the Beagle Chanel in the morning and by noon docked downtown in Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world. It is located on a wide bay on the southern coast of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego with mountains in every direction.

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Ushuaia is the gateway and re-supply point for ships going to the Antartica
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For several years, we talked about driving our former small motorhome to the tip of South America and know a couple who did just that. This rental RV is parked on the waterfront along with two others. Flying down and renting an RV would certainly be a lot easier.
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I judge every country by what is in their bakeries and Argentina gets a B+ based on looks. However I can’t grade on taste because fortunately I still did not have an appetite. I think I am the only person that always loses weight on cruises. Nine cruises to date = five times ill. 
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Ushuaia, Argentina

Our ship pulled out at 8 in the evening for the trip to Cape Horn where we would arrive in the morning.  I tried to find reviews and information on cruise ships going around the Horn and what would happen if it was really rough, as these waters are considered to be the most dangerous in the world.  I did find a video of a Holland America cruise ship on a wild ride in an unexpected storm 2010 but our forecast called for decent weather.

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Cape Horn was fairly calm but our Captain explained if the seas were rough then we could quickly duck behind the cape in a channel. We stayed near the cape for an hour while the Captain turned the ship around so that every side could get views. This was one cruise that I am so glad we had a balcony as most of the decks had plexiglass shields.
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A much smaller cruise ship, the Hurtigruten, was able to get closer to the cape.

It had been chilly for over a week and now we start heading north to warmer weather. Everything is in reverse in the southern hemisphere. It is summer in December and the days are very nicely long.

Cruise Day 21 – Chacabuco, Chile

That night after leaving Puerto Montt I began running a fever and feeling so bad I knew the shore excursion was a no go for me the next morning so I urged Steve to go. Normally, Norwegian requires 48 hours notice in order to refund a cancelled excursion but when Steve went to the desk to give it a try, there was a waiting list of people to take my place and we got our money back.

Puerto Chacabuco itself is a small town lying at the east end of a narrow fjord and is a popular jumping off point into western Patagonia and is also a hub for ferries that connect the port with Puerto Montt and the island of Chiloe. We learned from our research before the cruise that there are no local tours or taxis in port so the only option would be a shore excursion through Norwegian.

Steve left early for the all day tour to Coyhaique and the Simpson Valley. He took our little Lumix camera and brought back some good pictures to show you.

 

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Steve’s tour bus crossed a narrow part of the Andes to visit Coyhaique nearArgentina.  Coyhaique is Chile’s youngest city, founded in 1929 in order to have a presence near the border.

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Coyhaique town plaza

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Steve took this picture from quite a distance away but assumes this is a vineyard planted vertically up the side of the mountain.

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The Simpson River is known for fly fishing with King Salmon weighing 40 pounds.

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Meanwhile, back on the ship, I never left the room and watched the clock all day for when Steve was due. This port is a tender port, meaning everyone has to take lifeboats to and from shore and that held Steve up getting back on time. The ship was just leaving when he got to our cabin and I told him I needed to see the ship’s doctor. I had a high temperature and my abdomen hurt to where I couldn’t stand up straight. The nurse put me in a bed and drew blood which confirmed infection that called for two kinds of intravenous antibiotics and other medications. The IV port was left in and I had to return every 12 hours to receive more antibiotics. We had two sea days ahead of us.

After the two sea days and the morning we docked in Punta Arenas, Chile my temperature was normal and blood work was almost normal so the IV port was removed. But I was still in pain and the doctor wanted me to go to the hospital. I asked if I would be returning to the ship and he said he couldn’t guarantee it. In other words, if the hospital decided to keep me, Steve would have to hurriedly pack our bags and leave the ship and stay in a hotel. I declined and therefore was required to sign legal paperwork not holding Norwegian liable if something worse happened to me and also if they had to suddenly go into an unscheduled port for a hospital, that I would pay for the ship’s additional fuel.

So then I was given 6 different medications to take and two of them were antibiotic pills that made me sicker than I was to begin with. After a couple of days of that I really wished I had gotten off the ship in Punta Arenas. We had travel insurance and our unused cruise fare would have been refunded as well as return airfare along with the medical costs.

Ten more cruise days to go and hopefully some of it can be enjoyed.

Cruise Days 18 and 20 – Puerto Montt, Chile

Cruise Day 18 we docked in Valparaiso. This is where the first cruise we booked ended and the second was to begin. Originally we were supposed to get off the boat and go through the whole standing in line process to get back on board, but Norwegian thankfully decided we could have our cabin attendants move our luggage to the new cabin and all we had to do was go to Guest Services to obtain our new key card. I say thankfully, because I was wrung out sick and just wanted to get back in bed.

Cruise Day 19 was a sea day and I needed it to recuperate as we had tours booked for day 20 and 21.  By the time we docked in Puerto Montt I was feeling much better. Not great, but okay enough to go on a tour.

I had really been looking forward to Puerto Montt for it’s beautiful landscape. It is the gateway to Chile’s lake district – a land of volcanoes, fjords, lush green hills, and with a distinctive German influence.

Our tour included the highlights of Puerto Montt, capital of the Lake District, and the nearby towns of Puerto Varas and Frutillar. The latter two towns are located on Lake Llanquihue, the third largest lake in Chile.

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Puerto Varas is the wealthiest town in Chile, where many of the elite come to vacation or have second homes. I should have taken a picture of the market place we went to for all the colorful knitted products. The knitted and crocheted capes are to die for! I bought one made of Alpaca yarn in Arica and now wished I had bought more.

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Drive by shot from the bus of the main church in Puerto Varas

 

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Fruitillar, a charming village founded in 1856 by German settlers and noted for its Alpine and traditional German style architecture is where my camera got more of a workout.

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Beautiful grounds of the German museum

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German museum

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Lake Theater in Frutillar has eye catching wood siding in various colors

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The setting of this little village on the lake is magnificent. The Osorno Volcano is often compared to Mt. Fuji for it’s perfect symmetry.

Sorry to be whipping through these posts so quickly, but I am so far behind and can only write when in port. The ships’ internet is too slow to do much of anything. It seem like forever, but this cruise is still ongoing and tomorrow is a sea day again.

Cruise Day 15 and 17 – Arica and Coquimbo, Chile

Arica, known as the “City of Eternal Spring” is located at the edge of the Atacama Desert, the driest desert on earth and is in the very northern part of Chile near Peru and Bolivia.

The Atacama border dispute between the three countries in the late 1800’s resulted in Chile acquiring all of Bolivia’s coast and the southern tip of Peru.  The end of the dispute a treaty was drawn whereby Chile kept the territory and coastline it won but gave Bolivia free access to the port in Arica, explaining what seemed to be an oversized port for the size of the town. The port is so large that shuttle busses transported ship passengers to the front gate that is located in the city center.

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This downtown park is directly across the street from the gate to the port. The rock is called El Morro and people walk or drive up to see the views. $5 US taxi each way.  

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Arica has a pedestrian shopping street that is pretty long. The far end has a city wifi zone but so far our T-Mobile has worked very well each place we have been.

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There were festivities in several locations for children with dress up parades and dancing.

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Newspaper and magazine stands are prominent in every downtown in S. America

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We normally look in the churches of every town but this one was under renovation and we couldn’t figure out where to get in. We also didn’t try very hard.

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On the other side of El Morro are beaches for swimming. We walked as far as the first one and when Steve said we had walked about 5 miles already I decided to return to the boat. I have had Plantar Fascitis in one heel since July and a day of walking means pain that night with the intensity depending on how much I walked. Five miles will be and was a killer.

 

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Leaving Arica, the 3G signal was so strong from the antennas on top of El Morro that I was able to text with my daughter for at least an hour as the ship headed south along the coast.

Day 17 – Coquimbo

Coquimbo was another town right off the ship where no transportation was required. Normally, if we decide to take a tour through the ship, we go to the lobby the night before and book it. No planning ahead for us! There were several to choose from that interested us but I was beginning to not feel too good so we just walked off the ship for a quick look around.

Coquimbo is the port city for La Serena, one of Chile’s regional capitals. As such, Coquimbo doesn’t have much going for it other than nice views of the bay.

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Singer on the town square

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La Serena in the background

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This pirate posed for tips and $1 was fine with him. The ship’s photographers take pictures every time we get off the boat and they want $15 for a picture.

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This is the hall we passed through getting on and off the ship. Coquimbo provided free internet here and the dancers. Some employees from the tourist bureau  asked us to complete a survey so they could improve their tourism structure. (Licensed, english speaking tour guides at the port could help them a lot). Norwegian charges mucho $$$$ for tours. $59 is the least expensive in the north and as we go farther south we are looking at more like $125 and up for each of us. 

That evening I got the gut wrenching, twisting, agonizing stomach pain that, to me at least, signaled food poisoning.