Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Chocolate Journeys

click on images to enlarge
Princess Cruises 
& Norman Love

Do you Love Chocolate? If so, you need to sail on Princess Cruises while Chocolate JourneysSM desserts are still being featured.

Creations by Norman Love

When we sailed on Regal Princess for our conference in November 2014, Princess Cruises introduced Chocolate JourneysSM for their 50th Anniversary.

On our most recent Princess Cruise, Crown Princess 14 Day South America - Cape Horn, we were happy to see these chocolate masterpieces are still being served on formal nights in the main dining room.

About Norman Love 

Norman Love has been recognized by InStyle Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and O, the Oprah Magazine for his exquisite, silky, rich confections. He has has designed some of the most decadent, hand-crafted treats in partnership with Princess for their exclusive Chocolate JourneysSM program, available onboard fleetwide.

You’ll find Norman Love’s artful chocolate creations on select main dining room desserts menus. Discover even more unique creations in Sabatini's Italian Restaurant, Crown Grill, Sterling Steakhouse, and at the Chef's Table experience.

View Princess Cruises chocolate desserts photo gallery

diary-of-south-america-voyage
Additional photos can be found on our South America Shutterfly page

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Note:  we will be adding to these albums as we continue our journey.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Punta Arenas City Tour

click images to enlarge
Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas lies atop rolling hills, looking out over the Strait of Magellan.  In the days before the Panama Canal, this was a major port as ships navigated the waters of Cape Horn.  The city is also the gateway to Chilean Patagonia, a maze of fjords, rivers, steppes, and mountains to the north.  To the south lies the great frozen mass of Antarctica. 


City Drive & Museum

Day 6 is the only day during the cruise that we booked two excursions.  Normally we do tours independently, but we chose to book with Princess Cruises for safety and ease.  Especially for the penguin tours, we didn't want to run the risk of not being able to find a tour that would fit our schedule.  Booking with the cruise line gives you comfort, especially if tours are running late.

Our afternoon tour turned out to be the prime example of when things could go wrong.   The morning tour to Magdelena Island Penguin Reserve was scheduled to end at the pier by 1:45 PM and our City Tour was scheduled to start at 2:45 PM.  The return ferry ride from the island took about 2.5 hours (thirty minutes more at least) and then we had to wait for everyone to get onto the buses before heading back to the pier. Just as we entered the gate to the pier, we saw a bus leaving, and you guessed it, that was our City Tour.

We took a quick look around the terminal to see if there were other passengers or anyone from the cruise line to assist us.  Instead, we found a gentleman with a clipboard, who appeared to be in charge of the tours.  We explained our situation and he called over another gentleman.  Between the two of them, they contacted the tour company, got a hold of the bus driver to find out their current location, and one of the men drove us in his pickup truck to join the tour already in progress.

Muchas Gracias!!  They turned a disaster in a success.
click images to enlarge


Patagonia Institute

This open air museum was the point we joined the tour.  It was the first stop, so we didn't miss much.  There are several buildings filled with artifacts from pioneering days.  Outside the buildings are wagons, tractors, and other pieces of machinery common in those days. We had 30 minutes to explore on our own after our guide explained what to look for in each building.  It was raining lightly when we arrived.


Salesian Museum Marggiorino Borgatello

Our second stop was at this indoor museum which is a testimony to the life of the indigenous inhabitants and the ecosystem in the far south.

Among its many exhibits are weapons used by the extinct Fuegian Indians and a full-size replica of the Cave of Hands. There are four levels to the museum. Our guide explained the exhibits on the second level and we then had free time to explore the rest of the exhibits before returning to the bus.


City Cemetery

Our next stop was at the walled City Cemetery.  The City Cemetery was opened by the Governor Señoret in 1894 and is fronted by a giant stone portico donated by Sara Braun in 1919. Inside this necropolis lies a veritable miniature city, with avenues that connect the magnificent tombs of the region's founding families, immigrant colonies, and civic workers, and a rather solemn tomb where lie the remains of the last Selk'nam Indians of Tierra del Fuego. 

It's a melancholic place, with lovely sculpted European cypress trees adding a gentle tone.  Here our guide showed us some of the most important and magnificent mausoleums along the avenues lined with huge cypress trees.  


La Cruz Hill

On the way back to pier, we made a brief photo stop at the tallest point of the city, Mirador Cerro de la Cruz, for breathtaking views of Punta Arenas and the Strait of Magellan.

There were a couple of street vendors there as well, so we did some "power shopping" during our brief stop.



Plaza Munoz Gamero

Punta Arenas' central plaza was our final stop before returning to the ship.  Here we had 15 minutes to explore the monuments and shops that lined the plaza.  The Hernando de Magellanes Monument can be seen here.

We enjoyed the city tour very much.  It might have been possible to do this on our own, but when dealing with a tender port, it is reassuring to have the tour provider responsible for getting us back in time for the final tender boat.
diary-of-south-america-voyage


Related Albums:

Patagonia Institute
Salesian Museum
City Cemetery
La Cruz Hill
Plaza Munoz Gamero



Note:  we will be adding to these albums as we continue our journey.

Click on the image to the right for more Blog posts about this trip.
Additional photos can be found on our South America Shutterfly page

View Our Other Shutterfly Share Pages

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Penguins of Punta Arenas

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Mission Accomplished

All my life I've had a fascination with penguins.  Growing up in Chicago, I had the opportunity to see them at the Shedd Acquarium.  When we went on our Galapagos Xpedition Cruise, there were some penguins on the rocks that we could view from our zodiac.

I've seen a few penguins in captivity on other cruises as well.  The thought of being amongst thousands of penguins is what drove our decision to book this South America cruise.

When we think of penguins, we often picture ice and snow. But only a few species of penguins live in Antarctica and withstand that continent’s coldest temperatures. Most penguins in the world—ten out of seventeen species—live in temperate areas and never see ice or snow.



Penguins First Look

Day 6 we arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile early in the morning.  The captain had been concerned the day before that we might not be able to get into port due to forecasted high winds.  The safe wind speed for port operations is 35 knots and the forecast was for 50 knots. Fortunately, the weather was better than expected and we arrived on schedule.

After breakfast we went to Wheelhouse Bar to get a tender ticket for our tour.  When we arrived at the bar, they had already begun staging the groups in the theater, so we got our sticker and proceeded to the designated section for our tour.  It wasn't long and our row was called and a guide escorted us to deck 4 and a waiting tender boat.

It was about a 15-20 bus ride to the dock where we'd catch the ferry boat which would take us to Magdalena Island.  The ferry ride took about two hours.  As we boarded the ferry, we were given lunch bags.  They consisted of a sandwich, cookies, juice box, bottle of water, cup of fruit, and a cereal bar.   Most passengers opted to save it for the return trip.

Magdalena Island

The island is located in the Strait of Magellan.  The rockery on the island is one of Chile's largest and most important Magellanic penguin breeding sites.   Currently there were 65,000 pairs along with growing baby penguins who were shedding their fuzzy skin.

We disembarked the ferry's ramp directly on the shore.  After a short walk, we were greeted by the first penguins who were going about their daily routines without paying much attention to us.  The pathway, marked by ropes on either side, cuts through the colony of burrows many of which contained breeding penguins.

About Magellanic Penguins 

These are the largest species of warm-water penguins. They have a white chin-strap marking, a pink line at their lower jaw, and a black bill. They are a noisy bunch, especially the "babies" who greeted us with squawks and shrieks.

Magellanic Penguins were named after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who was the first to sail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean in the mid-1500s through what is now called the Strait of Magellan. A temperate species, Magellanic Penguins are usually about two to two-and-a-half feet tall and weigh between six and fifteen pounds when fully grown. Their closest relatives are the other temperate penguin species: the Galápagos, Humboldt, and African Penguins.

Our Visit

We meandered along the trail stopping to observe and photograph these cute penguins in their natural habitat.  It was quite windy, so we opted to only go about half-way along the trail which was flanked by the sea on one side and the burrows on the other.  One could visit the lighthouse to view an exhibit.  We decided we'd rather enjoy the penguins that look at an exhibit.

Our intention was to observe the penguins enjoying themselves for as long as possible.  In fact, we were the last ones to return to the ferry.  The guide told us we had to leave, otherwise we could have stayed there all day.

Do you like Penguins?

We highly recommend adding a Southern South America cruise to your bucket list.  The season is short (January - March) so you'll probably need to plan it for next year at the earliest.

I don't like to do much promotion in our blog, but Princess Cruises has an Anniversary Sale through the end of February which includes itineraries in South America.  You might consider booking now to take advantage of the extra onboard spending money.




diary-of-south-america-voyage


Related Albums:

Punta Arenas Penguins


Note:  we will be adding to these albums as we continue our journey.

Click on the image to the right for more Blog posts about this trip.
Additional photos can be found on our South America Shutterfly page

View Our Other Shutterfly Share Pages

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Cruising Amalia Glacier

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Amalia Glacier

Despite Day 5 being a sea day, we set an alarm for 7 AM.  We were scheduled to arrive at Amalia Glacier around 8 AM depending on conditions.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn't cooperating - we arrived on time, but it was overcast and raining.  That didn't stop guests from lining the open upper decks to get a glimpse of the glacier and ice flows.  Guests adorned rain gear, warm clothes, umbrellas and captured memories on cameras and other devices.

If you've cruised to Alaska, the experience is very similar.  The ship anchors and does a 360 degree
rotation to allow all passengers the opportunity to see the glacier. We spent about an hour there before continuing our journey toward our next port of call, Punta Arenas. They also had a lifeboat in the water.  We didn't see for sure, but suspect they brought an ice flow back onboard to show guests.  Since it was raining, most of the day, we never went outside to see if they did or not.


Day 5 at Sea

The Horizon Cafe was packed with guests after the glacier viewing.  Nevertheless, I decided this would be a good day to have a made to order omelette.  You tell the chef what you want and he writes up a slip that you give to your waiter once you find a seat.  It was an excellent omelette. 


Scenic Cruising


The Southern Patagonian Ice Field covered the entirety of southern Chile just 10,000 years ago. Today, this region gives way to the awe-inspiring channels and islands that comprise the fjords of southern Chile's Pacific Coast, which extend as far south as Tierra del Fuego and the Strait of Magellan.

While cruising through the sparkling waters of Chile's legendary inlets, you'll be graced by the presence of snow-capped mountain peaks, majestic forests and spectacular blue-tinged glaciers that will take your breath away. The unspoiled scenery is filled with dramatic rock formations and abundant wildlife known for making their homes here, including sea lions, Peale's dolphins and a variety of seabirds that soar amid the splendor.

After breakfast, we headed to the cabin to get a few things (book, laptop, etc.) and headed up to deck 18 aft to SkyWalkers Lounge.  There's plenty of seating with floor to ceiling windows just perfect for viewing the passing scenery without having to contend with the elements which as we mentioned wasn't cooperating. It also was a great place to work on our blog while enjoying the view.

The winds were howling and the seas were covered in white caps as we made our way slowly towards Punta Arenas.  The captain made an announcement that we might not actually be able to get into port tomorrow as the winds were forecast to be 50 knots and the safe operating limit for the port is 35 knots.  This port is the first scheduled destination for seeing penguins, so all we could do was to wait and see what the weather would bring tomorrow.

The scenery we could see reminded us of Norway.  We've cruise thru the fjords there in both summer and winter time.  When we sailed there in winter time, we'd had similar overcast / rainy days.  It is a shame since this would be gorgeous with clear skies.



diary-of-south-america-voyage


Related Albums:

Amalia Glacier


Note:  we will be adding to these albums as we continue our journey.

Click on the image to the right for more Blog posts about this trip.
Additional photos can be found on our South America Shutterfly page

View Our Other Shutterfly Share Pages

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3 Must See Sites in Puerto Montt

Frutillar & German Settlers Museum
click images to enlarge


After a relaxing day at sea, we arrived in Puerto Montt.  This area is rich in German history which was the highlight of the tour we selected.  We boarded a bus for a tour through downtown Puerto Montt and points beyond.

Puerto Montt is your gateway to Chile's magnificent Lake District. Here, snow-capped volcanoes gaze down on alpine valleys nestled among low hills. Glaciers carved out this
terrain, leaving the jewel-like lakes in their wake. The Lake District was a magnet for
German immigrants, and their legacy can be seen today in the manicured rose
gardens of Puerto Varas, in Chile's "German Villages" like Frutillar and in Puerto Montt's
gabled homes with elaborate balconies.

Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas rests on the shores of shimmering Lake Llanquihue.  It is known as the "City of Roses" for its beautiful rose-encircled plaza.  We had some time to walk around the town before heading for our next stop.  Here we had magnificent view of Volcán Osorno.

Osorno Volcano is a 2,652-metre (8,701 ft) tall conical volcano which has become a symbol of the local landscape, and is noted for its similar appearance to Mount Fuji.

There are other tours which take you closer to the volcano.  Weather can be quite unpredictable near the volcano, and there is no guarantee that you'll see the peak.  You'll notice in these images that clouds obscured part of the volcano, but the peak was visible.  This reminded us of when we saw Mount McKinley in Alaska.

Frutillar

This small hamlet embraces its Germanic heritage.  After we arrived, we were given admission tickets for a tour of the German Colonial Museum, which resembles a small Swiss chalet.  
Here we walked among the gardens of roses and other flowers in bloom.  We strolled through the garden, mill, grain house, blacksmith shop and house.

We then went to a cafe across the street and had some cake before boarding the bus for the return to the ship. We drove past the lake one more time before heading to the ship.  We were on one of the final tender boats back to the ship.

Our recommendation for Puerto Montt is that you take an excursion, either organized by the ship or on your own, that includes a visit to one of the main lakes and if possible include a view of the volcano on that tour, regardless of how close you get to it.

diary-of-south-america-voyage


Related Albums:

Puerto Montt
Puerto Varas
German Settlers Museum
Frutillar 

Note:  we will be adding to these albums as we continue our journey.

Click on the image to the right for more Blog posts about this trip.
Additional photos can be found on our South America Shutterfly page

View Our Other Shutterfly Share Pages

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Oh Happy Days

Pleasant Surprise

Prior to the mandatory drill, we had met our cabin steward, Jonathan.  He asked us if we needed anything.  We explained that one of our bags of luggage was missing when we arrived at the airport and that LATAM Airlines was attempting to locate it and deliver it to the ship.  We might not get it until the first port of call at Puerto Montt.

We told him we'd already reported it to Guest Services.  He said he'd be on the lookout for the bag.  He also said he'd bring us our robes and slippers.  A few minutes later he knocked on the door with those items for us.

After dinner we went back to our cabin and once again ran into Jonathan.  He said our bags were inside the cabin.  At first we didn't understand him and we said we didn't know since we hadn't looked yet.  He said "no, they are all inside, I put them there".  We were relieved to hear that because had they not gotten from the airport to the ship via truck, we would have had no change of clothes at all despite the fact that we had packed clothes in our carry-on bags.

We opened the door an they were ALL there indeed - even the one that had been lost. 

Travel Insurance

http://bit.ly/2k9Eqr4
click image to learn more about travel protection benefits

Perhaps this is a good time to remind our readers that we highly suggest travel insurance when you cruise or take any vacation for that matter.  We do so as well of course.  We potentially had one or more claims possible here depending on the outcome.  Had our bag not been there after dinner, we could have gone on a shopping spree onboard to get essential items that we were missing to tide us over until our bag would show up (baggage delay claim).   If the bag never showed up, we'd have a claim for the bag and contents (lost luggage).

Both the cruise line and the airline were also accommodating - the airline would allow us to spend $50 a day and be reimbursed.  We hadn't contacted the travel insurance company yet since we were hoping the bag would show up before we sailed.

When writing this post the seas were pretty choppy - an accident waiting for a place to happen as well.  There are so many unforeseen possibilities when you travel - don't gamble with your vacation - please travel insured.



diary-of-south-america-voyage

Click on the image to the right for more Blog posts about this trip.

Additional photos can be found on our South America Shutterfly page

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Crown Princess Welcome Dinner

Welcome Aboard Dinner
click on images to enlarge


Our early seating dinner was scheduled for 5:45 PM in the Botticelli Dining Room on deck 6 aft. Due to the safety drill, we were running behind schedule.  A waiter escorted us to our assigned table (#39) for two, at the rear of the dining room.  There were a few more tables of two near us, as well as one larger table which was occupied by an extended family group. It was in a nice location, near a window, so we were content.

As usual, the assistant waiter helped seat us, gave us our menus, put the napkins on our laps and took our drink order.  We like ice tea with our meal and regular water.   This would be the last time we'd have to tell them since from then on, they remembered and had it waiting for us shortly after we were seated every night.  This is one of the things we love about traditional dining.


Tonight's Choices

Dining on a Princess cruise ship is equivalent to fine dining at home.  The daily menu consists of Starters, Soups & Salads, Signature Patas, Mains, Featured Beverages, and always available Princess Favorites.  Typically you select an item from Starters or Princess Favorites, a soup and /or salad and a Main entree.   It is possible to select one of the pasta as one of your starter choices as well.   Desserts are presented in a separate menu at the conclusion of the meal.  You can purchase alcoholic beverages and wines from your wait staff if desired.  There also was a nice selection of rolls and bread sticks on the table to complement your meal.

Our Selections included:  Crispy Hand-Rolled Vegetable Spring Rolls (peanut dip), Frozen Rum-Infused Pina Colada Soup (chilled), and Roasted Pork with Apricot Glaze (for me) Slow-Roasted Corn-Fed Prime Rib (husband).  See the menu for complete details and alternate choices.

We picked two different desserts as well:  Milky Chocolate-Hazelnut Souffle and French Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee.

More Pictures:  Welcome Dinner

Additional photos can be found on our South America Shutterfly page

View Our Other Shutterfly Share Pages

Note:  we will be adding to these albums as we continue our journey.

Click on the image to the right for more Blog posts about this trip.




Don’t want to miss a minute of "#foodtravelchat? 

Tweet “remind me” to @FoodTravelChat and we’ll remind you every week.

Thanks to our #foodtravelchat moderators @ant_kneee @ourtastytravels @s_poet82 @ChrisPappinMCC @always5star @BackpackBritts @The_Jenius @myvirtualvaca

 And thanks as always to #Foodtravelchat hosts @FoodTravelist @shreddel @dlaskaris @PoshPorts @FoodTravelChat
@ChrisPappinMCC



Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  
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Where have you explored? 

Gather your travel and food pics and join us Wednesday night for the latest installment of #FoodTravelChat Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  

If you like food and travel be sure to join us for a lively chat each Wednesday evening on #foodtravelchat