South America Cruise Vacations

South America

Join Kaleidoscope Travel & Cruise for this exciting fully escorted 13 day cruise from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina in February 2013

Star Princess

Star PrincessBermuda-registered, she sports a mostly European and Filipino staff and crew, overseen by British and Italian officers. The 2002-built Star Princess is agleam throughout her 951 ft, and while she is big enough to host 2,600 passengers of all ages, her sophisticated design provides breathing room.

The Star Princess stretches over 18 decks, with a glam three-story atrium where a pianist and a string quartet provide music that recalls the elegant seagoing experience of times past. The three-story atrium's Plaza Deck level has been transformed into La Piazza with Vines, a wine bar, tapas and sushi venue, International Cafe with patisserie, Panini sandwiches and salads and live music and a Lobby Bar. The small library and Internet Center are tucked off in one corner. Not surprisingly, the experience gets livelier and louder in certain other venues, most notably the huge, Greek mythology-themed casino. In the show time mix are three main venues that serve up entertainment ranging from the ship's major musical productions to enjoyable cabaret acts. Party animals kick up their sandals 155 ft above the sea in Skywalkers, a jazzy disco by night and a peaceful observation lounge by day.

Passengers in search of a less frenetic spot for drink-sipping head for the maritime-themed Wheelhouse Bar. The Sun Deck spa provides pampering, while the gym and four pools offer counteraction to the nonstop noshing. The Sports Deck forward now contains The Sanctuary, a quiet adults-only retreat for a fee that has its own pool and whirlpools, private cabanas and attendants who bring snacks and drinks. Passengers can also stay busy by sampling nine holes of minigolf, a golf simulator, basketball, volleyball and shuffleboard. The encircling Promenade Deck is popular for constitutional walkers with steps near the bow to complete the circle. The less sports-inclined can opt for the movie theater and art auctions or call home via the 24-hour Internet cafe.

In Star's culinary collection are three main dining rooms, Amalfi, Capri and Portofino and a 24-hour buffet and bistro. The most fun is the Italian specialty restaurant, Sabatini's, which is a show in itself with a contagiously high-spirited cast, roving accordionist and hefty platters of favorite dishes that just keep coming, so go easy at first. It's well worth the $15 cover charge. Also for an extra-tariff meal, the new Crown Grill serves steaks, chops and seafood, with reservations required. The pool area has a grill, pizza and ice cream, at an additional cost. Movies Under the Stars are now a daily after dark feature, plus musicals concerts and sporting events during the day.

Cabins, decorated in soft colors, have ample stowage and closet space, phones, TVs, safes, refrigerators and hair dryers. Robes and fruit bowls are brought on request. Of the 1,301 cabins, 711 boast balconies and 28 are wheelchair accessible. Minisuites and suites have separate sitting areas.

The Star Princess is an ever-up-to-date destination ship with, quite literally, something for everyone, as well as a major globetrotter.

Ports of Call

Santiago ChileSantiago, Chile

Santiago, like Chile in general, has enjoyed a renaissance of cultural, intellectual and especially commercial activity for more than two consecutive decades. The Andes Mountains overlook Santiago's eastern edge, and their snowy peaks provide good hiking, skiing, rafting and kayaking—and the beach is only a short drive away. Small wonder it is the country's capital and largest city, and one of the continent's largest metropolises.

Santiago Centro (downtown Santiago) is still dotted with Spanish colonial buildings and old churches, as well as many sparkling new modern buildings. Other neighborhoods house international restaurants, upscale boutiques and lively nightlife. Tourist areas are compact, and the resident Santiaguinos are pleasantly helpful. The city has a certain efficiency not found elsewhere in Latin America, and an obvious prosperous feel to it.

Puerto Monte, ChilePuerto Montt, Chile

With a beautiful setting on the Gulf of Reloncavi, 630 mi/1,015 km south of Santiago, Puerto Montt, Chile's fastest-growing city, is the gateway for the "Inside Passage" ferry to Puerto Natales and cruises to the western Patagonian fjords, and the starting point for the Southern Highway. Initially settled by German immigrants who spread throughout the southern lakes district, Puerto Montt dates from 1853, but little remains of its early German heritage, which is better glimpsed at nearby Puerto Varas (which also has better accommodations).

Today, the economy is primarily based on forest products and fishing; its port of Angelmo has exceptional fish and seafood, especially the centolla (king crabs) and locos (abalones). There are several national parks in the vicinity.

Amalia GlacierAmelia Glacier

Following along the Peel Inlet, we find the Amalia Glacier, situated in the central section of the Ice Fields, its long silhouette appears to be hanging between the peaks of the mountains. To see it is an awesome spectacle, its ice towers, and its colors contrasting with the surroundings, create emotions in all spectators. The glacier is one of 48 glaciers that compose the Southern Ice Fields, which are considered to be the third largest reserve of fresh water in the world.

The Amalia Glacier has a width of 1 kilometer and a height of 40 meters. Its mass of ice is supplied for the major part, by the intense snowstorms that occur almost throughout the entire year. The length of time necessary for the creation of a glacier depends mainly on the temperature and the rate of snowfall. Here in Chile, where snowfall is heavy, and summertime temperatures are high enough to produce plenty of melt water, glacial ice may come into being in a relatively short time, perhaps 10 years. In parts of Antarctica, where there is a little snowfall, and the ice remains well below freezing temperature throughout the year, the process may require hundreds of years.

Punta ArenasPunta Arenas

Chilean Patagonia's most important city, Punta Arenas was an important supply station for ships prior to the completion of the Panama Canal and the home to mansions of the wool barons who transformed the economy of southernmost Chile and Argentina. The main sights are the Plaza Munoz Gamero, with its monument to Hernando de Magallanes (Magellan), the regional museum (formerly the Braun-Menendez mansion), and the cemetery—graves and monuments to the first settlers and pioneer families from throughout Europe, including Yugoslavs, Britons, Italians and Spaniards.

With the region's only commercial airport, Punta Arenas, 1,915 mi/3,085 km south of Santiago, is the gateway to Tierra del Fuego, large offshore penguin colonies, Torres del Paine National Park and other more remote destinations. Fort Bulnes, 35 mi/55 km south along the Strait of Magellan, is a reconstruction of Chile's initial 19th-century settlement; nearby is the site of Puerto de Hambre, whose 16th-century Spanish settlers starved to death during a bad winter.

Cape Horn CruisingCape Horn Cruising

At the southernmost point of the South American continent, the mighty Andes resolve into a few rocky islands in the sea. The island of Cape Horn's shingle beaches and steep cliffs support a variety of birds, including kelp geese, steamer ducks, and black-bowed albatross. For sailors, Cape Horn is awe-inspiring - the confluence of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, where nature's power is often unleashed.

Depending on weather conditions, you'll view the natural sea walls and cliffs jutting almost 1,400 feet from the sea. It's not uncommon for giant slabs of ice to break off and crash in spectacular fashion. You'll also find an abundance of sea birds, penguins and seals. And don't be surprised if you spot a killer whale or two trailing alongside the ship.

Ushuana ArgentinaUshuaia, Argentina

Most consider Ushuaia to be the southernmost city in the world. The port itself, at Avenida Maipu 510, is wholly given over to commercial shipping. Passengers disembarking there generally head straight for the city proper, as there are no tourist facilities at the port terminal itself.

The city grew around a prison, whose prisoners helped to build the town and the foundation for the Tren del Fin del Mundo (End of the World Train), the southernmost railway in the world. The railway connects visitors to Tierra del Fuego National Park.

Other attractions in Ushuaia include wildlife (penguins, birds and orcas) and nearby ski areas. The ski areas often keep the lifts running in summer for hikes to a nearby glacier.

The city experiences misty and foggy conditions for much of the year, so rain protection is a necessity for visitors. Be aware that the city also experiences strong winds. Warm clothing is necessary even in summer months, when average high temperatures don't rise much above 47 F/14 C.

Falkland IslandFalkland Islands

The Falkland Islands swarm with subantarctic wildlife, ranging from tiny tussac birds to penguins and gigantic marine mammals. The beaches, headlands and rolling moorlands of the Falkland Islands (or Las Islas Malvinas, as they are known in Argentina, which lays claim to them) are reminiscent of northern Scotland.

The islands are increasingly prosperous thanks to a thriving squid fishery and are far removed from the 1982 conflict between Britain and Argentina that dramatically—albeit temporarily—ended their quiet isolation. Also, with improved communications, a steady stream of cruise-ship passengers and independent travelers are making their way to a scenic archipelago whose population of kelpers (as natives of the Falkland Islands are known) is ready to greet them. Tourism is now the islands' principal source of revenue.

Puerto MadrynPuerto Madryn

Puerto Madryn amazes the tourist right at the very first sight. Situated snugly in a well-protected bay of the Golfo Nuevo, Puerto Madryn is the Chubut Province's natural access point for the plains of Patagonia. This vast area covers one-third of the country but is occupied by less than four percent of the population. Patagonia characteristically encompasses three different regions: a vast and windy, treeless plateau; the Atlantic coast; and the southern part with its national parks, awesome mountain ranges, glaciers and fjords.

In the north of Patagonia, in Chubut Province, is Argentina's Welsh community, which began when a group of adventurous Welsh immigrants settled in the area around Puerto Madryn in 1886. The town took its name from Love Parry, Baron of Madryn. Although today the town appears unmistakably Argentine, Welsh customs, names and even some of the language have survived. On the town's outskirts stands the statue of a Welsh woman depicting the simple life of these early settlers.

Puerto Madryn has experienced rapid development thanks to Argentina's first aluminum plant established here. Lately it has also become a popular tourist center because of its excellent diving and watersports, recognized by visitors from all over Argentina and other parts of South America. Still, its major draw is the proximity to such important wildlife reserves as Punta Tombo and the Peninsula Valdés. Scores of visitors endure long drives to visit these amazing nature reserves for Magellanic penguins, elephant seals, sea lions and whales.


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