Cruise Specialists hosts Steve and Wendy Bodenheimer are taking us along on another amazing journey. We hope this series shows you what you can expect on a Holland America Grand Voyage. First was the kick off, then Costa Rica, the Panama Canal, Chile and now the next stop in their Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage (next voyage January 2018).
We’ve gone through some dramatic changes in landscape and weather in just three short weeks. From the sweltering heat of Central America to the mountainous regions of Peru to the bone dry desert of Northern Chile and now to the spectacular fjords of Southern Chile.
We have a very detailed map of this area, generally referred to as Patagonia, and it is a maze of islands, fjords, peninsulas, canals, glaciers and ports. We’ll sail mostly through the major channels with names you know like Magellan Strait, Darwin Channel, and Beagle Channel – except for a morning detour into a dramatic fjord.
At around 8:00 AM, everyone was out on deck to watch the spectacular scenery and wildlife as we approached the El Brujo glacier. It looked and felt a little like Alaska, with small chunks of ice flowing by.
Punta Arenas was our last port in Chile. Penguins seemed to be the excursion of choice here – who can resist seeing those cute little creatures in their natural environment.
Those who chose to stay in the city strolled the Plaza de Armas, with the famous statue of the Portuguese explorer Magellan or they walked the several miles of waterfront promenade, populated by large colonies of cormorants and interesting sculpture, or they visited the huge Pioneer Cemetery with its elaborate landscaping and ornate mausoleums.
Today was another very dramatic day of scenic cruising through the Beagle Channel and across what has come to be known as Glacier Alley. In just over one hour, we were able to view five very large and very different glaciers with romantic sounding names like España, Romanche, and Alemania.
Some come down to the waterline; others hang in the valleys; some have cascading waterfalls; all show evidence of the great ice sheets that moved through these valleys long ago. It’s a bit of sensory overload – breathtaking views at every turn.
Cape Horn Island has only one family living there who act as caretakers, maintaining the lighthouse and grounds and receiving the small but regular groups of visitors. Today the Prinsendam sent out a landing party in a small rescue boat, who among other things, brought fresh produce for the resident Chilean family.
We also heard that they took all our passports over to have them stamped, giving us all a unique page that very few other travelers share.
Bright and early Sunday morning, we arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. It lies in a spectacular setting surrounded by rugged snow and ice covered peaks.
It’s the departure point for the expedition ships that head south to Antarctica and has a young and athletic population that enjoys all the outdoor activities available here. Even the ship was offering excursions like Canoe Adventure in Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Trekking in Ushuaia, and a 4×4 Road Safari.But the most popular tour is the Train to the End of the World, where you ride a vintage rail car through the national park.
Those traveling independently probably took a walk to the old prison, which is now a very well done museum, depicting life here when it was a penal colony. Or they might have walked the level promenade that runs along the waterfront. The city itself faces the water like a large amphitheater, so any walking away from the water, is by definition up some pretty steep hills.
Our next 5 days are at sea, including 3 days in Antarctica.
Contact Matt Caplinger and take advantage of his 15 years of experience to customize your trip.