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Antarctica & South American Adventure
January 11 – February 3, 2010

Susan L. Anderson

January 11, 2010

Out scheduled car picked us up at 9:30 a.m. and took us to Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, AZ, for our Delta flight to Atlanta, GA.  There we had a meal at TGI Friday’s and then boarded our night Delta flight for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 January 12, 2010  (Day 1 of pre-cruise tour)

Arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at 9:30 a.m.  We went through immigration, then waited over 60 minutes for our two checked bags to appear on the luggage carousel was x-raying all bags even through was done earlier.,  Pay back to the USA for cracking down on airport security.   I did not sleep any on the flight and Howard had very little sleep. 

Waiting for us, and others, in the airport were Zeca and Marsha our Princess guides for our pre-cruise tour.  We boarded an air conditioned bus for the 40 minutes ride through slums, the long Reboucas Tunnel and downtown Rio de Janeiro to the Sheraton Hotel & Towers, where there was a special check in for our group, of 62 people.  We had room #2219 which was lovely.  There was a balcony overlooking the tennis courts, swimming pools, Leblon Beach and a clear view of the famous Copacabana Beach, famous Christ The Redeemer status on Corcovado Hill, and Atlantic Ocean.  I  was delighted to find the BBC and CNN available in English.  After check in we walked along the beach and the hotel grounds.  About noon we returned to our room as it was VERY humid and approx. 89 degrees.  Howard had about a 60 minute nap but I did not sleep.   Had e-mail from Shelly who had a “minor” single vehicle accident in parking lot at work with her Dodge Ram truck.   Later we met the tour guides to receive schedule of the next six days.  We had dinner via room service.

January 13, 2010 (Day 2 of pre-cruise tour)

Howard’s alarm went off at 5 a.m. and the hotel wakeup call came at 5:30 a.m.  We went for our buffet breakfast at 6 a.m., sitting at a table overlooking the beach and ocean.  We viewed a beautiful sunrise … the sun rose out of the water behind a large ship plus there were many birds flying, some were large Frigate Birds.

Walking around outside just before we were to leave, I (Susan) missed seeing a small drop of about 1 ½ inches in stone sidewalk (as I looked at the ocean and beach), I fell and landed hard on my right ankle and foot …. thank goodness not the left ankle that I sprained in 2007 and is still swelling.  The ankle immediately started swelling, formed a hard knot and became purple, black and blue as time went on.

Two large air conditioned coaches arrive and our group of 62, and two guides (Zeca on our bus and Marsha on the other bus) boarded and left at 8 a.m. not returning until 4 p.m. as this was a full day tour of this city/metro area of 10 million people.  We saw many locations (lagoons, fields, etc.) that will be used for 2014 Olympics.  We rode a cog railway 20 minutes up Corcovado Mountain through a forest, seeing Jacr or Jaur Fruit hanging from the trees and some interesting flowering bushes.  The day was approx. 90 degree with humidity to match.  At the end of the rail ride up the mountain we had choice of how to get to the base of the Christ the Redeemer statue.  I rode an elevator and then an escalator up.  Howard chose to walk.  We returned to a cobble stone sidewalk and our bus via the same cog railway.  We then went to visit a very modern church, the Saint Sebastian Cathedral and bell tower (a large bell on each level).  It was Saint Sebastian Day so locals were moving a status of Saint Sebastian into the church.  The church is unique in shape and all of the stained glass windows.

Our next stop was a Brazilian barbecue at Estrela Do Sul (finest grill) restaurant.  A buffet and then many kinds of beef and pork brought to the tables that were available if we wanted to try them.  Next was a trip to Sugar Loaf Mountain.  We rode cable cars up the first part.  Due to my ankle being so huge and black and blue I chose to sit on a bench under trees, enjoying people watching and viewing the Atlantic Ocean.   Most of the rest of the group did a long walk and then a second cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain.  We saw two Marmot monkeys as we were leaving the area.  We returned to our hotel at 4 p.m.  I spent the evening with my ankle raised and using Icy/Hot on it.

January 14, 2010 (Day 3 of pre-cruise tour)

We had luggage in the hall before 6 a.m. and then went for our 6 a.m. buffet breakfast in the dining room.  Again we had a table overlooking the beach and ocean, a nice sunrise but not really great as yesterdays.  Next was check out and then the two buses left the hotel at 7:30 a.m. for the Rio de Janeiro domestic airport for flight RIO/IGU flight JJ 3957 that left a 10:20 a.m.  Zeca had us, another couple and a man board first since we were slower walking. We had a two hour flight arriving in Iguassu, Brazil at 12:30 p.m.

It was too early to check in to the hotel so after a short bus ride were in the Iguassu National Park of Brazil.  We picked up our local guides, ours was Wilson.  There we all did the walking tour of the spectacular Iguazu Waterfalls (Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay all spell the falls differently!).  I wore compression stocking for the flight over and the walk.  There were three to five steps down, then a short smooth walk, then more steps and so on, down, down, down.  I went at a much slower pace due to the knot/swelling of right ankle.  Due to pain I did not walk out on the long walk-way to get nearer the falls and also get very wet, but Howard did.  There are approx. 275 waterfalls over less than 2 miles wide …. higher than Niagara Falls, and twice a wide.  It was a very bright sunny day.  In Rio it was to be 45C (113F).

Next we went to the very beautiful Hotel Das Cataratas, Iguassu National Park, Parana, Brazil.  Luggage was in our room #3211, but this was actually on the second floor in the Forrest Wing of the pink and white hotel facing Iguazu Falls.  There was free WiFi and there was good TV including the BBC and CNN.  These falls are 900 miles from Rio de Janerio, Brazil and 1,000 from Buenos Aires, Argentina.  We saw many Coatimundi in this area.  This area is a sub-tropical rain forest.

Our group met at 7 p.m. for a lovely buffet dinner in another building by the swimming pool and we listened to beautiful classical music during dinner.  This is the only hotel within the national park, which also has a very good system of free busses for shuttles as no private vehicles are allowed.  My ankle more bruised, more swollen, more “black and blue”, thus it looks worse; the flying, walking down steps wasn’t good for it even though I also used a cane.

January 15, 2010 (Day 4 of pre-cruise tour)

We enjoyed a breakfast at 6:30 a.m.  At 7:30 a.m. we boarded our buses for the trip to the Argentinean side of Iguazu Falls.  First a stop at Brazilian border where passports had to be stamped that we were leaving Brazil, and turn in our immigration form; that stop only took 20+ minutes.  We then drove a few more miles to the Argentinean border; there it took 45+ minutes for the guides to get the passports stamped and permission to proceed.  There is an increase in cocaine that is trying to enter the countries from Paraguay … some on the bodies of women, plus the drug hidden within produce in trucks.  (After our return home read this tri-country area is also where many terrorist attacks are planned.)

We drove a short distance to the Iguazu National Park of Argentina; admission included in our tour was $85 pesos.   Zeca obtained a golf cart to transport myself, George and another man to the Central Railroad station.  We rode a narrow gauge, open car; railroad a short distance to another station.  After discussion George and I decided to stay at this station and people watch.  The rest of the group road another narrow gauge, open car, railroad a short distance to a long hiking trail to view “Devils Throat” and the Iguassu Falls from this country.  The time passed rather quickly; I could have made the walk – but not in the allotted time.  After our group returned we again boarded the trail and returned to the Central station and a large buffet lunch at the Jungle Restaurant.

We reboarded our buses for the trip back to the beautiful Hotel das Cataratas, Iguassu Falls, Brazil.  There were still waits at the Argentina border and the Brazil border.  There were several options for the evening.  We (Howard and I) rode the modern, double decker, bus to the Iguazu Falls visitors center and walk ways.  We took elevator down to lower part of the falls.  I purchased a soft cover picture book of the falls, and a DVD.  The hotel had shops for fine gem stone jewelry but nothing as ticky tacky as post-cards or “inexpensive tourist items”.  I did purchase a tee shirt in one of the hotel shops.  We chose to relax, read, watch CNN and rest during the evening.

January 16, 2010 (Day 5 of pre-cruise tour)

Another lovely buffet breakfast by the swimming pool and beautiful grounds.  We walked around the grounds and just across the road where there are walk ways to view the Iguazu Falls.  Since the public cannot drive within the park and no one comes to the hotel unless staying there or working there it is very quiet, peaceful and beautiful.  Our baggage was to be outside our room by 10 a.m. and check-out at 11 a.m.  At 11:30 a.m. we left for the Puerto Iguazu Airport in Argentina.  Again trips through the borders of Brazil and Argentina.  We had tickets on Argentine Airlines flight AR 2727 that was to depart at 3:50 p.m.  After another two hour flight we landed in Buenos Aires, Argentina and our buses to the Panamericano Hotel.  Things were a bit rushes.  We didn’t get to the hotel until about 6 p.m., then our luggage needed to be delivered, plus a number of us had problems with the room safe.  The local guide said NOT to wear wrist watches, jewelry, not to take passports or wallets to the tango show.  Believe her warnings were extreme, as basic big city common sense is usually enough to be safe.

Our buses delayed leaving hotel until 8:30 p.m., then took us to the “oldest and most famous” tango show in Buenos Aires; Carlos Gardel 3200 – Barrio Del Abasto – Buenos Aires, Argentina.  We were seated at two long tables and had various menu choices (we had steak) with much food with rapid service.  The show was so much better than expected.  A splendid band/combo of nine people (and a very superb violinist), great singers and fabulous dancer.  We were shown the history of the tango, with dances and period costume’s spaced over one per decade.  It was well worth seeing and quite enjoyable.  Buenos Aires claims to be where the tango originated.  We returned to the hotel well after midnight and set our luggage out for it to be moved to the ship – when it arrives in the morning.

January 17, 2010 (Day 6 of pre-cruise tour)

We had a buffet breakfast at 6:15 a.m. then checked out of the hotel and waited to board our bus after saying good bye to our Brazilian guide Zeca, who was excellent. 

Our buses left the Panamericano Hotel at 9 a.m. for a 3 ½ hour tour of Buenos Aires.  We heard a good overview of the history and culture of this very large city.  The first stop was at a square by the pink military building.  The second stop was in a very poor area, but for “shopping” and a bathroom stop.  The last stop was at the tomb of Eva Peron.  We then went to the pier and unloaded about 12:30 p.m. 

Cruise - Day 1 -- Boarding & departure, January 17, 2010

Fortunately I has downloaded and printed our boarding passes so were in a shorter, but still slow, line at the ship terminal.  After check in and immigration we had to board a bus to be driven to the gangways to enter the ship … this was also slow, some people were still having passport problems.  There are 2,600 passengers on the Star Princess.  We got aboard ship and went to our mini-suite D616 (on Dolphin, deck 9), which is lovely.  We have small refrigerator, walk in closet, double shelving for folded clothing, divan, chair, desk, two TV’s (one for viewing from the sofa and one for viewing from the bed), bathroom with both shower and bath tub, more storage space than a stateroom that has standard/balcony only; this is larger balcony with table and four chairs, two have adjustable backs, and two thermostats for controlling the A/C or heat as needed.

We departed Buenos Aires, Argentina at a bit after 5 p.m.  From the Navigator:  After leaving Buenos Aires, we followed easterly courses through the channels of the River Plate.  We expect to disembark our River pilot at around 0400, after which southerly courses will be set towards the Antarctic Peninsula. 

We went to our dining room for dinner at 6 p.m.  We had requested a table for eight.  One couple did not come to dinner, so there were six of us.   I was not pleased, as the other four were ladies from various places and one gal had known two of the other three for most of their lives.  They spent over 10 minutes selecting a wine and then decided who it would be charged to.  One lady from WI and one from WY did talk with us some, and they were nice, but I said to Howard that we would see about a table change.  A number of us went to the Princess Theater for the welcome show but were asked to leave so they could do a quick rehearsal.  We decided we were too tired to wait around, did walk around some and went to be.  We had CNN all evening.

Cruise - Day 2 – At Sea, Monday, January 18, 2010

Very tried, so I “slept in” until almost 8 a.m.  Calm, smooth sea, clear sky.  I had shower, washed hair and it was 8:45 a.m., didn’t do anything else as our sit-down breakfast service ends at 9 a.m.  We went to the Amalfi Dining Room.  Had breakfast with a couple from Arlington, TX and a couple from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

We went to the Princess Theater for a panel discussion (really introductory) by the cruise director J.J. and four specialists who will be lecturing on this cruise.  This one was titled “Introduction to Antarctica’s Special Interest Lectures and Naturalists”.  We remained in the Princes Theater for the next program: Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Chris Gunn, “Wildlife of the Southern Ocean”.

We walked around some, and skipped lunch as neither of us was hungry.  Before the first lecture we had our drink cups filled.  You purchase soft drinks for the cruise at the start, a sticker is put on your cruise card and you are given a cup…. then you get refills without showing your cruise cared, or show card and get your soft drink..  Howard decided to go to deck 14 for ice cream.  I went “shopping”.  I purchased a book by two of the naturalists on boards, a magnet, and two fleece jackets with Antarctica and penguins on the back …. not needed but had known for a year I would purchase them (we brought warm Polartec with us).  Received 10% off since it was my first purchase.

Later when Howard returned, to the Princess Theater, he had Marilyn Burke and Rick Buss with him and we all sat together and chatted before the next lecture.  We then listened to another Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Dr. Tony Walker, “Four Years in the Antarctic, Park I: Signy Island”.  Marilyn said she would check on things and get our dinner table changed.  After the lecture I made reduced deposits for future cruises.

We met Marilyn and Rick and another couple in the Explorers Lounge for Lazy Day Trivia, our team didn’t win … some really tricky questions, but fun.  We met Marilyn and Rick at 6 p.m. where she spoke with the head maitre-de and obtained a table change for us.  We are now at a table for six by a window.  One couple not there, but the other couple there immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1983; he is a college professor, teaches chemistry/cooking oils, very interesting, she a dentist that has retired.  After dinner went to the Princess Theater for the comedy showtime starring: Don Ware, which was very good.  He wrote for the Bill Cosby Show and has done many things.

Cruise - Day 3 – At Sea, Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sunrise 5:30 a.m., Sunset 8:27 p.m.  Throughout the night, Star Princess continued on a southerly course towards Antarctic Peninsula.  Had breakfast with a couple from Hamburg, Germany.  After that we shopped so Howard could select a book on the Antarctic Peninsula and get some candy.  We then went to the Princess Theater for Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Dr. Bernard Stonehouse.  “Where are We Going and What Will We See?”, which we enjoyed very much.  I had purchased his very good book earlier.  We remained for the next Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Dr. Tony Walker.  “Four Years in the Antarctic: Bird Island”. 

Marilyn Burke and Rick Buss sat with us for this second lecture, after which we went to the Portofino Dining Room for lunch and visiting.  After this we went our separate ways.  I returned to the computer to catch up on this journal and Howard scouted out places on upper decks to view icebergs …. when we want to watch up on a deck and not on our balcony.  Another sunny days, but as we sail south it is getting colder and colder, still ok though.  Time to stop typing and start getting dressed for our first formal evening and photographs. 

Later:  We dressed and had our photograph taken …. believe at four or five locations out of the eight available on three decks.  First stop was for our photograph in front of a special backdrop …. photo of an ice berg.  After dinner we attended Cinematastic a lavish singing and dancing production show in the Princess Theater.

Cruise - Day 4 – At Sea, Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sunrise 5:05 a.m., Sunset 9:02 p.m.  Partly cloudy in early a.m., I am typing here at 7 a.m., looking through our wall of glass at the calm flat ocean.  Throughout last night we continued to navigate through the South Atlantic Ocean.  Early this morning we passed 100 miles east of the Falkland Islands, then continued on a southerly course for the exciting transit further down the southern hemisphere towards Antarctica.  A double map of our route cruising through Antarctic waters was provided with our daily Princess Patter (news and information of what is happening each day).  No signal for CNN or BBC this a.m., which is ok, we are too far south.  We went to the dining room and ate breakfast with a lady from Las Vegas and Canada and a couple from the Dallas, TX area.

Later: 10 a.m. we have fog …. the sun is trying to break through.  Tonight our passports will be collected so the ship can take care of immigration for the countries we shall be visiting …. Argentina, Chile, Falkland Islands and Uruguay.  Due to the fog our ship is sounding their horn once each minute.  After breakfast we shopped, I purchased a sweat shirt and two lovely glass penguins.  We then returned to our mini-suite to watch the 10:15 a.m. Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Chris Gunn.  “My Buddies the Albatross”, and the 11:15 a.m. Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Dr. Tony Walker.  “Seal Scientist”. 

From one of our guide book: 
Antarctic Peninsula marks the southern end of a long chain of mountains that runs almost continuously from Alaska down the western side of the Americas to Tierra del Fuego, and on through the Scotia Arc to Antarctica.  The underlying force is an east-west collision between Earth’s crustal plates, raising the rims of the continental plates that carry the Americas and West Antarctica.  The result in the far south is an alpine peninsula 800 km (500 miles) long, with a complex of off-lying islands called Palmer Archipelago.

Later: 7:45 p.m.  This afternoon Howard took photographs of some birds from the fantail of the ship.  I took a short nap, this afternoon, and our passports were collected.  We had another good dinner in the sit down dining room, and then we went outside to the sports deck, #16.  The fog has pretty much lifted but is forecast for tomorrow morning.  The weather is cooler but not cold …. yet.  We aren’t to reach Elephant Island until about 4 p.m. tomorrow.  We saw the big stage production show last night and don’t care to go to the Vista Lounge to see a magic show tonight so I plan to stay in the cabin to read and go to bed early while Howard is considering going outside to photograph the sunset.

Cruise - Day 5 – At Sea, Thursday, January 21, 2010

According to the Princess Patter sunrise was at 4:07 a.m. and sunset will be at 9:38 p.m. tonight.  Last night we crossed the Antarctic Convergence.  Located between 56 degrees south and 60 degrees south the Antarctic Convergence is a fluctuating line where the cold waters of the Southern Ocean meet but do not mingle with the relatively warm waters of the subantarctic.  This morning we have clouds, gentle swells (called “slight seas” of  1.5 to 4 feet, a few white caps and a light rain.  At noon the air temperature was 39 degrees.

From the Princess Patter.

Welcome to Antarctica.  Antarctica is the southernmost continent and includes the South Pole.  Geographic sources disagree as to whether it is surrounded by the Southern Ocean or the South Pacific Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean, and Indian Ocean.  It is divided by the Transantarctic Mountains.  On average, it is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest elevation of all the continents.  At 14,425 million km, Antarctica is the third-smallest continent before Europe and Australia; 98% of it is covered in ice.  Because there is little precipitation, except at the coasts, the interior of the continent is technically the largest desert in the world.  There are no permanent human residents and Antarctica has never had an indigenous population.  Only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there, including penguins, fur seals, mosses, lichens, and many types of algae.  The name “Antarctica” comes from the Greek (antarktikos), meaning “opposite to the Arctic”.

 We had breakfast with couples from England and Cleveland, Ohio, and had a delightful time.   After breakfast (always in the sit-down Portofino Dining Room) we walked around a bit, I got my Coke glass filled and stopped to shop a bit on the way back to our mini-suite.  With a wall and sliding door of glass and the large balcony I can see a great deal from our location mid-ship on the port (left) side and be quite comfortable (warm).  Albatross, petrels and other sea birds are following the ship.  Howard and I have been photographing Cape Petrels (spotted wings), and other sea birds.

The Princess Patter today included multiple pages: “Marine Wildlife Watching Guidelines (whales & dolphins, Seals and Seabirds) For Vessel & Zodiac Operations”, and “Guidance for Visitors to The Antarctic” from the International Association Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), plus charts of what the various birds and animals looks like.

We believe we are more comfortable watching and listening to the experts onboard ship (televised and shown live on Channel 29 - and later shown again) in our mini-suite rather than in the Princess Theater.

At 10:15 a.m. we watched the very delightful Dr. Bernard Stonehouse as he presented his Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture, “Ice Is Nice”.  He has experience in this area since just after World War II and is quite entertaining, plus has a wealth of information and great photographs.  He even showed a few photos from the Shackleton expedition of 1914 – 1917 and will have a talk on that as we head north again.  At 11:15 a.m. we watch another Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture, “Antarctic Wildlife Watching” which much good information.

After lunch I stopped to inquire about where the people on board ship are from and received the following information; this will not be published in the Princess Patter.

American’s from the USA …1,250
England …......………………….   341
Argentina …………....………...   267
Canada …………….....………...   208
Australia ………......……….……. 118
Germany ……......……………….    61
Brazil ………….......…………….     49
Japan ………......……………...…    33
Another 273 from various countries for total of 2,600.

We reached Elephant Island, named for Elephant Seals, around 5:30 p.m. in fog and hazeHoward went to the top deck to take photographs and view things.  I went to the starboard side of deck 7, but soon returned to our port side mini-suite on deck 9, also taking some photographs.  We went to dinner and when we came out the fog/haze had partly lifted and there was land/mountains showing on the port side.  We came to our mini-suite and took photographs of ICEBERGS from our balcony.  Howard also got video of swimming jumping penguins!  About 9 p.m. it is still daylight but blue sky has broken through so maybe we’ll have a great day tomorrow.  

After we went to bed we watched the marvelous BBC film, “The Frozen Seas” part of their “Blue Planet” series …. amazing underwater photography of both Antarctic and the Arctic.

Cruise - Day 6 – At Sea, Friday, January 22, 2010

We set the alarm on Howard’s iPhone for 4 a.m., so we could go to the top deck and watch the sunrise, but it was all foggy.  I got up at 4:30 a.m., the fog was lifting and I saw several icebergs (yes, I took pictures).  I have on three sweaters and have a Polartec jacket to put on when outside for more than a few minutes, a fleece jacket to go over the Polartec and of course hat and Polartec gloves. 

4:55 a.m. the bright sun has broken through the clouds.  The sea is “moderate” which if 4 to 7.5 feet.  5:20 a.m. sun under clouds again.  To see animals, bird, and iceberg we must actually watch constantly as things change rapidly.  I came to see icebergs and penguins … so far am seeing both and shall see more!

From today’s Princess Patter:

Throughout the night we crossed the Bransfield Strait, before entering the Antarctic Sound.  During the morning we will continue our Antarctic cruising by visiting Admiralty Bay.  The Bay is located on King George Island and is home to the Polish Arctowski Base along with a helipad that is one of the main arrival points for scientists and explorers starting missions in the Antarctic.  Once we have finished our scenic cruising of the Bay, we anticipate cruising South-East in the afternoon towards the Argentinean Esperanza Station which is located in Hope Bay on the Trinity Peninsula.  The station is permanently occupied, and shares the bay with the Uruguay’s Teniente Ruperto Elichirbehety station.  Following our cruise-by, we will head back out of the Antarctic Sound and back into the Bransfield Strait.

Esperanza Station:  Argentina laid claim to Antarctica in the first decade of the 20th century.  This small rocky landfall in Antarctica Sound is named after the Argentine research station posted there.  The station is also home to colonies of Adelite Penguins.

Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station:  During the morning Star Princess will make her approach to Arctowski Base.  Henryk Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station is a research station in Admiralty Bay on King George Island and has operated continuously since its founding the 1977.  The station is names for Henryk Arctowski, Ph.D. (1871-1958), who was part of the first expedition to overwinter in Antarctica in 1897 – 1899.  The station is managed by the Polish Academy of Sciences and its main research areas include meteorology, climatology, seismology, magnetism, marine biology, oceanography, geology, geomorphology, glaciology, and ecology.  The station is also near colonies of three different types of penguins (Adelies, Chinstraps, and Gentoos) and has been designated a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI) as provided by the Antarctic Treaty.  This medium sized station can accommodate up to 70 people during the summer season and 20 during the winter.  Weather permitting scientists from this base will board Star Princess and give a talk live from the Navigation Bridge; this talk will be broadcast over the public address system and can be heard on Channel 32 of your stateroom television.  (Weather did NOT permit this to happen.)

Antarctic Sound is known as “Iceberg Alley”; the sound is usually littered with tabular icebergs that have calved from ice shelves much farther south, and drifted north with the clockwise circulation of the Weddell Sea.

The largest icebergs, or ice islands, break off from the ice shelf …. some are large enough to be watched via satellites.  Smaller icebergs, tabular bergs, flat-topped, square-cut break from the ice cliffs all around Antarctica.  Smaller bergs, irregular in shape, are called bergy bits, growlers and brash ice.  Usually white, icebergs are often intensely blue or green and sometimes in layers.  Air in ice helps determine the ice’s color.  When white we are seeing air bubbles.  The bluest ice is often from the bottom of a glacier because that is where the oldest ice site … the older ice, the greater the pressure, and the fewer bubbles.  Some icebergs are black, the color comes from rock and gravel within the ice, the green icebergs have algae within the ice.

Ice Forms:

-          Icebergs are defined as being at least 16.5 feet above sea level, much of what are called icebergs are in fact the next size down: a bergy bit.

-          Bergy bits stand 3.2 to 8.2 feet above he ways.

-          Ice less than 1 meter in height is a growler (from the sound made by these chunks as they ground along the sides of a wooden ship.

-          Brash ice is smaller.  These little pieces, sometimes no bigger than a hamster, are the ones that crackle the most as they melt in the surrounding sea water.

8:55 a.m., SNOW!  We are in Admiralty Bay and having light snow …. the ship stopped and turned a very slow 360 degrees (circle).  Weather “overcast”, seas still 4.5 to 7 feet and calm.  We had a delightful sit-down breakfast in the Portofino Dining room with a couple from Perth, Australia (he originally from New Zealand).  Later she gave a book to read: a memoir Stalin’s Children by Owen Matthews.

10:50 a.m.  Have just seen several whales go past.  Multiple icebergs, some with penguins on them.  Wind has come up (35.9 knots = 41.285 MPH), still overcast but no fog.  Air temperature is 32 degrees.  Howard has left for an upper deck on the starboard side.  I am staying in our mini-suite with balcony on the port (left) side.  I have television on to the channel that is the information from the bridge and Dr. Stonehouse comments on location and things to see.  Chris Gunn is also there talking about various sea birds.

     Wind -- ship’s bridge later said wind was force 7, or near gale on the Beuford Scale.
     To convert knots (nautical miles per hair) to statue miles per hour multiply by 1.15.

When bird watching it is good to know that if it is buzzing about in the water, is too small for a seal, and shows no inclination to fly, it can only be a penguin.  There are eight species of penguins in Antarctica: Adelie, Chinstrap, Emperor, Gentoo, King, Macaroni, Magellanic and Rockhopper. 

Marilyn Burke and her husband Rick Buss came to our mini-suite to sit and chat for about an hour this afternoon, very nice to see them again.

3 p.m.  WOW, what icebergs!  Great sights, icebergs of various sizes and shapes, wonderful!  Due to the high wind the captain decided not to go into Antarctic Sound (“Iceberg Alley”) but to return to Bransfield Strait and sail along the Antarctic Peninsula.  We are headed to Deception Island.

So far today we have seen whales and more whales, birds and more birds, a few penguins riding on icebergs, plus icebergs and more icebergs.  The sky is still overcast, but the snow didn’t last long and it has been dry since that stopped.

We reached Deception Island, a horseshoe-shaped island about 8 miles in diameter with an extensive internal crater/harbor and one small entrance for smaller ships, but of course not large cruise ships.  This island is a volcanic caldera.  This was an active volcano and erupted in 1967, 1969 and 1970.  This was discovered in 1820 and was the first Antarctic land mass to be accurately surveyed and that was in 1829.  The Star Princess sailed completed around Deception Island before returning to the Bransfield Strait and heading south.

Chinstrap Penguins have a very large colony (thousands of pairs) at Bailey Head on Deception Island.  A volcanic black sand beach circles the island.  Howard and I both took wonderful photographs of the adorable looking Chinstrap Penguins.  These penguins get their name from the obvious line of black feathers that runs, like the strap of a hat, under their white chins.  We were told Chinstraps are a feisty species.  Adults on nests frequently point their heads skyward and trumpet a call that may be territorial.  Once one bird starts this the neighbors copy it and it spread throughout the colony.  Chinstraps feed almost entirely on krill, plus a few fish in inshore waters.  Uniquely among penguins, the stomach lining of Chinstraps is periodically sloughed off and expelled by vomiting.

Cruise - Day 7 – At Sea, Saturday, January 23, 2010

 From the Princess Patter: 

Star Princess continued navigating the Bransfield Strait and then into the Gerlache Strait bringing her to Anvers Island where the Neumayer Glacier is situated.  This glacier is eight miles long and two miles wide flowing along the north flank of the Allardyce Range.  A glacier is a large layer of compacted ice that forms over thousands of years as pressure compacts ice and snow into large deep sheets that actually move slowly downwards as gravity works under the weight of the ice.  Glacier ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on Earth, they cover vast areas of the Polar Regions which we can see in this area, and they are common in the mountain ranges on every continent and are even found on Mars.  Practically the entire Antarctic continent is covered in a layer of ice and so as these glaciers move into the sea large sections of ice break off or calve forming ice burgs.

Beautiful ice mountains with some rock showing through, lots of berge ice flows and sunlight!  Photographed a Gentoo Penguin on an ice flow (later many more).  The penguins are feeding this morning and taking food back to their babies.   Howard got some good video of a penguin walking around on an ice flow (we think a Gentoo Penguin).

Beautiful morning with some blue sky and bright sunshine.  We are turning into Bismarck Strait … it is 7:15 a.m.  We cruised Bismarck Strait then Neumayer Channel / fiord and then back into the Gerlache Strait about noon; about 12:30 we turned around in Flanders Bay before reentering Bismarck Strait on our way back to Admiralty Bay

BRIGHT sunshine, blue sky, sun sparkling on the water, spectacular!!  We’ve both been “busy” photographing Gentoo Penguins, icebergs, and the very beautiful scenery!  This is Antarctic at its very best and we hear it is not this way very often, normally over-cast or haze/fog.

Breakfast with couple from Japan and ladies from Florida.  Lunch with a couple from Frankfurt, Germany and a couple from Greenville, SC.  Yesterday we had lunch with two ladies from Queensland, Australia and one from Orlando, Florida.

Steep glaciers tumble directly into the sea along much of the length of the narrow fiord called the Neumayer Channel.  The imposing bulk of Anvers Island forms the western side of the channel, while Doumer and Wiencke Islands are on the east.  Port Lockroy is a bay within the channel.  This is a very deep fiord, up to 1,000 feet in some locations.  Due to a sharp bend in the fiord it appears to have a dead-end.  This area does have spectacular scenery!  We passed Paradise Harbor before reentering Bismarck Strait.   Gerlache Strait separates the large islands of Brabant and Anvers from the continental mainland.  As straits go, the Gerlache is quite wide.

Captain William Kent spoke a little after noon.  A severe storm has been building off New Zealand, moving towards Antarctic and is becoming more worrisome.  Therefore after we finish this passage and visit 65.0 south we shall make our way across the Drake Passage toward Cape Horn as soon as possible (as soon as can have a Chilean pilot aboard the ship).  He suggests taking sea sickness medicine now, if we wish, in preparation for a very rough trip. We have never been seasick and did not take anything.

The Gentoo Penguins have orange beaks.  They feed on fish and krill close to shore.  This is one of the least aggressive penguins.

Dinner tonight with a Chinese couple from Las Vegas, NV and a couple from Sierra Vista, AZ.  We have all changed tables and will eat together after this.  All three men are former military, Frank in Taiwan military after college, Howard and Tom both in USAF and became officers after they enlisted.

Now at 7:45 p.m. the wind is at 28 knots, sea moderate 4.5 feet to 7 feet.  The sun is still brightly shining.  Was a glorious day!  We were to remain along the Antarctic Peninsula until 4 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, but due to the severe storm heading this way we are leaving and headed for the Drake Passage and Cape Horn.

The Southern Ocean (formerly known as the Antarctic Ocean) encircles Antarctica and connects the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.  The ocean’s northern boundary is defined by the Antarctic Convergence (Polar Front), located at 50 – 60 degrees South.  At the Convergence, the northerly flowing surface waters of the Antarctic sink below the warmer subantarctic surface waters and there is a rapid drop in surface temperature of 3 – 4 degrees C (5.5 – 7 degrees F).  This large temperature change not only means the region is often shrouded in mist and fog, but also provides an effective barrier for many marine organisms, with the southerly Antarctic waters being too cold for most.

Cruise - Day 8 – At Sea, Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Drake Passage is a lively body of water, and a rite of passage for Antarctic tourists.  Named after Sir Francis Drake, it extends 400 miles from Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America, to the northernmost tip of Antarctica and is infamous for having some of the roughest seas in the world.  The Drake Passage connects the south western part of the Atlantic Ocean to the south eastern part of the Pacific Ocean.  Many sailing ships fell victim to the treacherous conditions, which can include 33 ft. swells, blasting winds and icy water.  All visiting Antarctica from South America must sail across.  The passage is at the narrowest portion of the easterly flowing Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the only place where it is squeezed between land masses.  Somewhere in the middle of the crossing, ships traverse the Polar Front or Antarctic Convergence.  Although sometimes rough and sometimes calmer, the Drake Passage is paradise for sea birds. 

From the Princess Patter: 

Throughout the night we proceeded on a direct course across the Drake Passage towards the Tierra del Fuego region of South America.  We will continue this track through the day as we head for Cape Horn.

It was January 13 when I fell on my right ankle/foot in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.   The discoloration is mostly gone (but not completely); I still have swelling and a large hard “knot” on my right ankle.  Sometime during the past year the “medial columns” collapsed in both of my ankles/feet so it is uncomfortable to walk and causes much more discomfort than my Neuropathy, which is saying a great deal.  This condition is called “Pronation”.  We did molds of my feet and ordered expensive special sandals; when went to the foot doctor a few days before we left home for this trip and cruise the sandals had arrived, but the straps did not have the Velcro fasteners places so I could close them and they had to be sent back to the manufacture.

At 9 a.m. the television stated we were traveling at 17.4 knots, had Force 5 winds, the seas were moderate with swells 4 – 7.5 feet, the air temperature was 34.9 degrees, and the humidity was 80% with broken clouds in an overcast sky.  So far the seas for our cruise have been calm, although feel a bit of slight rocking this morning (for the first time), hope this holds for all of the Drake Passage.

We enjoyed breakfast with a couple from the hill country of Texas.  Then we returned to our very comfortable mini-suite.  It is more comfortable to watch the lecture here than to sit in the theaters where Howard has knee pain.

At 10:15 a.m. we watched Scholarship@Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Chris Gunn, “Frozen Ocean”.  At 11:15 a.m. we watched Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Dr. Tony Walker, “Natural History of Pack Ice Seals”. 

From the Princess Patter: 

Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth.  It is a frozen desert with little precipitation; the South Pole itself receives less than 4 inches per year, on average.  Temperatures reach a minimum of between -112 degrees F and -130 degrees F in the interior in winter and reach a maximum of between 41 degrees F and 59 degrees F near the coast in summer.  Sunburn is often a health issues as the snow surface reflects almost all of the ultraviolet light falling on it.  Eastern Antarctica is colder than its western counter part because of its higher elevation.  Weather fronts rarely penetrate far into the continent, leaving the center cold and dry.  Despite the lack of precipitation over the central portion of the continent, ice there lasts for extended time periods.  Heavy snowfalls are not uncommon on the coastal portion of the continent, where snowfalls of up to 48 inches in 48 hours have been recorded.  Antarctica is colder than the Arctic for two reasons.  First, much of the continent is more than 3 km above sea level, and temperature decreases with elevation.  Second, the Arctic Ocean covers the north polar zone: the ocean’s relative warmth is transferred through the icepack and prevents temperatures in the Arctic regions from reaching the extremes typical of the land surface of Antarctica. 

Tonight we attended the Princess Captain’s Circle cocktail party in the Vista Lounge at 5 p.m., “special invitation” from Captain William Kent.  We had our photograph taken with the Captain, a first for us.   Then we went to our 6 p.m. sit-down dinner, tonight was the second of three formal nights.  One couple not there tonight (they had told us they would not attend this second of three formals nights).  But, interesting three former military officers …. U.S.A., Taiwan and Poland.  After dinner we stood in line and had our photograph taken with the iceberg backdrop.  We had thought we would attend the show in the Vista Lounge or the production show in the Princess Theater but decided to come back to our very comfortable mini-suite.

Cruise - Day 9 – At Sea, Monday, January 25, 2010

From the Princess Patter:  From the Navigator:  We continued this track through the night as we head for Cape Horn.  Once we have completed our scenic cruise around the Cape, we will start our passage north towards the Beagle Canal and the route to Ushuaia.  Ushuaia is the southerly town in Argentina

At 4:30 a.m. the seas were “rough” 7.5 to 12 feet, wind 38.6 knots (Force 8 “gale”), humidity 70%, air temperature 47.3 F, sky cloudy, and sunrise at 5:10 a.m.    Our ship, the Star Princess is stable and very comfortable, hardly feel the seas.  Cape Horn in the distance and I see a lighthouse and its beam.

I watched the pilot board our ship around 5:30 a.m.  The ship was steady in spite of the wind and seas with white caps. Then I went up to the open decks on 14 and 15 for a brief look and feel we have as good a view, or better, with less wind on our balcony.  I can surely see why Cape Horn is called the sailors’ graveyard.  Our ship made a large circle as it slowly made its way around Cape Horn before heading for Ushuaia, Argentina, that is pronounced    oo shoo-AYE-ah.

From the Princess Patter:

Cape Horn (Dutch: Kaap Hoorn; Spanish: Cabo de Hornos; named for the city of Hoorn in the Netherlands) is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile.  Cabo de Hornos is an administrative territory called a comuna in Chile and is also the name of the municipality which is responsible for governing the territory.  It is widely considered to be the southern tip of South America.  Cape Horn is the most southerly of the great capes, and marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage; for many years it was a major milestone on the clipper route, by which sailing ships carried trade around the world.  However, the waters around the cape are particularly hazardous, due to strong winds, large waves, and icebergs; these dangers have made it notorious as a sailors’ graveyard.

We had breakfast with two couples from Ohio, one we had eaten with before.  After breakfast we toured the Princess Art Gallery, it is much larger and varied than expected, but we didn’t see anything that we want to bid on. 

For lunch we met Marilyn Burke & hubby Rick Buss, plus a mother and daughter from South Africa were also at our table.  Dinner with the couple that immigrated to Canada in 1983 from Poland.   

At 10:15 we watched Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Dr. Bernard Stonehouse, “The Shackleton Story”.  We have a large book, with some of the photographs that survived …. it is a most remarkable true story.  At 11:15 we watched Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Brian of the shore excursion office.  “Ushuaia and Punta Arenas”. 

My right foot, that I fell on Jan. 13, is better but was bothering me a lot today so took it easy this afternoon.  We have two very active days of touring, tomorrow and the next day, so decided to stay inside tonight.  CNN is back on the air, plus much else, including Sun. evening both NFL play-off football games. 

The cruise through the islands and along the Beagle Canal viewing beautiful mountains with snow on the upper elevations was enjoyable and of course we took additional photographs.  We docked at the pier in Ushuaia, Argentina about 7 p.m.  This town reminds us of Valdez, Alaska, which is quite favorable. 

Cruise - Day 10 – Ushuaia, Argentina, Tuesday, January 26, 2010 

From the Princess Patter: From the Navigator:

Throughout the afternoon yesterday we continued along the Beagle Canal under pilotage, working our way towards the entrances to Ushuaia.  We boarded the Argentinian pilot at 1700 and proceeded alongside the birth….at 7 p.m.  Throughout the night Star Princess remained alongside in Ushuaia. 

In the afternoon, once all our passengers are onboard and our departure checks are complete, we will move off the berth out into the bay and disembark our Argentinian pilot and begin our passage through the fjords to Punta Arena, Chile

Ushuaia, Argentina (Ushuaia is pronounced   oo shoo-AYE-ah) sells itself as the “southernmost city” in the world, and until recently that was true.  Now, Puerto Williams (28 miles) south-east on the Chilean side of the Beagle Channel now holds the distinction: it is 8.6 miles closer to the South Pole.    Ushuaia still says it is “the city at the bottom of the world”.  This city of approximately 80,000 is the end of the Panamerican Highway; it is literally at the end of the road.  The land along the Beagle Canal was originally inhabited by Yahgan Indians, a nomadic people who ranged by canoe throughout the islands at the bottom of South America.  In 1869 a mission was built by England’s South American Missionary Society.  In 1884 an Argentine settlement was established in this windy, wet, and cold location.  This is Tierra del Fuego, Argentina’s southernmost province.  Today Ushuaia is a modern city.   The name Ushuaia is a Yahgan Indian word meaning “a bay penetrating westward”.  The Star Princess docked here about 7 p.m. last night.

After breakfast we walked along the dock to a few shops.  I found postcards and bookmarks in one shop, and then we returned to the ship.

Our tour met in the Princess Theater and then walked the pier to our boat and embarked on our 2 ½ hour wildlife tour in Beagle Channel.  We saw various islands (rocks in the channel) covered with cormorants (birds) and sea lions.  Beautiful snow covered mountains and glaciers.  Ushuaia is in a lovely setting.  This is the “jumping off place” for visits to Antarctica.   

We then walked to the shopping / tourist area of this city.  I was looking for paintings, art galleries, did not find any although inquired various places.  I did purchase a few “souvenirs”.    We walked back to the ship which left port at 4 p.m.

This evening in the Princess Theater and also on TV was Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Dr. Bernard Stonehouse lecture on “Charles Darwin, Tierra Del Fuego and The Descent of Man”.  The two hours passed too quickly as Dr. Stonehouse brought out information we hadn’t read anywhere else.  He has humor and is a delightful lecturer.

One of the local guides in Ushuaia said, on our DVD of the trip, that the Beagle Channel is 111 miles long, that is starts 111 miles north of Cape Horn, and is 55.5 miles from the Pacific Ocean and 55.5 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

The cruise up Beagle Channel, this evening/night, along the fjords is beautiful.  We saw gorgeous mountains, glaciers, fresh snow on the mountain tops, and many waterfalls, a beautiful cruise.  Sorry most of it will be after dark’ we are to arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile at 7 a.m. tomorrow.

Cruise - Day 11 – Punta Arenas, Chile, Wednesday, January 27, 2010 

From the Princess Patter:

Punta Arenas lies atop rolling hills, looking out over the Strait of Magellan.  Punta Arenas is the capital of the Region del Magallanes y Antartida Chilean and is the industrial and commercial centre of Chilean Patagonia. 

From the Princess Patter – From the Navigator:

Throughout the night we continues north through the Chilean fjords.  After exiting the Canal Cockburn, we passed through the Canal Magdalena before entering the Magallanes StraitThis strait separates the Tierra del Fuego from Chile’s Patagonian mainland.  Once in position we will drop the answer and set up our pontoons for tender operations.

Punta Arenas (Sandy Point), Chile, is considered the largest southernmost city on the South American mainland, deeply imbused with history and located in one of the wildest, most remote regions of the earth, on the edge of what one chronicler called the “uttermost Realm.”   The current population is approximately 125,000.  The city enjoyed a heyday from 1850 to 1914, when it was the principal coaling and supply station for ships rounding the Horn, as well as a major world supplier of wool.  It was also, by virtue of its strategic location, one of the busiest ports in the world.  This golden age ended abruptly in 1914 when the Panama Canal opened and ships no longer needed to round Cape Horn.

The city is the capital of Magallanes Province, names for Ferdinand Magellan, whose ship was literally blown through the strait that also bears his name by a series of gales in 1520.  He was the first European to see these windswept shores.,,

Topographically, Magallanes Province is unlike any other part of South America – the point at which the mighty Andes curve gently eastward and slowly sink beneath the sea.  There are scattered islands, deep fiords, snow and glacier capped mountains, continental ice caps, beech forests and grassy lowlands.

The largest colony of Magellanic Penguins in the world is at Punta Tombo, near Puerto Madryn on Argentina’s Atlantic coast. 

Our Magdalena Island Penguin Reserve tour was to meet in the Princess Theater at 6:45 a.m., most of us were there by 6:15 a.m.  Then due to very strong head winds our ship did not arrive on time, but most of us were patient as we waited and watch video from this cruise so far.  We were in the second tender … the first held photographers and other crew members.  First we went through Chile customs which was no problem as we all had our paperwork completed before we left the ship. 

We boarded buses and then drove through Punta Arenas with a lovely guide telling us history and pointing out monuments.  We drove to the ferry terminal and boarded a car /passenger ferry with very comfortable seating, plus were given water, juice and a sack lunch / snack.  We had a two hour trip in the Strait of Magellan, about 21.7 miles North-East of Punta Arenas to the “Monumento Natural Los Pinguinos: Region of de Magallanes y Antartica Chilena”.  We has bright blue sky with a few high clouds, the water was pretty with approx 1.5 to 2 foot swells but covered with white caps due to the wind.  Our guide said in Punta Arenas they have three months of winter and nine months of bad weather.  At 7 p.m. it was an unusual 63 F here and the locals were thrilled: warm weather, and blue sky. 

We arrived at the Magdalena Island Penguin Reserve, in the middle of the Strait of Magellan, and got off the ferry.  WOW!  Penguins and more Penguins!  It is estimated there are 69,000 pairs (that mate for life) plus the new chicks each year.  Some literature claim 125,000 pairs of penguins nest here.  The Magellanic Penguins build their nests in burros, that they dig themselves, on this island.  There are also common seagulls, cormorants, dolphin gulls and Chilean skuas.   

The Magellanic Penguins arrive in September, lays two eggs in October (40 day incubation), the eggs hatch in November and the chicks become independent in January – February, later shedding of the adults and the adults depart in April to the coastal waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, feeding in high seas, and migrating until they return to the colony in September.  This is brief information about this adorable penguin.  There were ropes along each side of the path for visitors, but the penguins crossed back and forth and some appeared quite curious about the people there.  There is a small “hut” used for some “classes” and nothing else on either island of the reserve except for a red and white lighthouse.  The penguins look “cute” especially we fluffy new chicks, but we were told if we touched we would probably receive a hard bite from their sharp beak. 

After about 1 ½ hours of constant taking photographs of the thousands of Magellanic Penguins it was time to reboarded our ferry for the two hour ride back to Punta Arenas, Chile.  We had another short tour of the city and the bus stopped in the main square for people to get off.  We rode back to the terminal and I “shopped” a bit, purchasing a knit  cap, a wood magnet, a tiny penguin figure, and three postcards.  Then we got in line for the short wait for a tender to return to our ship.  The water was almost flat and very calm late this afternoon.  We arrived back at our ship about 4 p.m.  A great shore excursion that we enjoyed very much! 

Another nice dinner with the couple from Canada.  We then decided to return to our mini-suite, download the photos and videos that we took today and take it easy. 

Cruise - Day 12 – At Sea, Thursday, January 28, 2010 

Sparkling sea with swells of about four feet with some white caps, bright sunshine, blue sky with high thin white clouds.  Another beautiful day at sea!  Sunrise was at 5:56 a.m. and sunset will be at 9:06 p.m. 

From the Princess Patter – From the Navigator:

After departure from Punta Arenas we preceded through the Magallanes Strait, once disembarked our Chilean pilots in the late evening at Posesion Bay, we set various easterly courses throughout the night towards Falkland Islands.  This remote archipelago is situated over 250 nautical miles off the coast of Argentina.  The term nautical mile is the measurement used in the nautical and aviation industries.  Statute mile is used to measure distance on land.  The measurement of the statute mile was first developed by the Romans and was the distance of “mille passus” one thousand passes. 

We had late, 8:30 a.m., breakfast with a couple from South Africa and couples from CA and FL.  Then we walked around, checking the photo studio and several stores.  In the photo studio I purchased our photo from yesterday in Punta Arenas, Chile, as we got off the tender, not a good photo as my eyes are closed.  Howard says he has the start of a “sore throat”, so we returned to our mini-suite and he took aspirin.  I called room service and ordered lunch to be delivered at noon. 

At 10:15 a.m. we watched Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Dr. Tony Walker, “Seabirds of Antarctica”.  We are both more comfortable in our room than sitting in the Princess Theater.  Dr. Walker presented a lot of additional good information and photographs.  At 11:15 a.m. we watched Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Dr. Bernard Stonehouse, “My Friends the Penguins”.  As in all earlier lectures Dr. Stonehouse was delightful and gave us much good information and photographs – he surely has a dry wit and/or a great sense of humor. 

At noon the wind was Force 7 (gale), and the seas 4.5 to 7 feet, but in this large ship with stabilizers we feel very little of the shifts in the sea.  Our good lunch was delivered by room service at noon.  All morning and afternoon the sea was sparkling with sunlight and beautiful, we couldn’t ask for a nicer day. 

At 1:00 p.m. we enjoyed another Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Bob Parsons “ice master”.  He talked on “Science of the Coast Guard in Antarctica” plus questions and answers.  Bob is retired U.S. Coast Guard and this is his eighth year in this part of the world with Princess.  He is here to advise the Captain and officers. 

As usual dinner in one of the two “sit-down” dining rooms, then we returned to our mini-suite. 

From Princess Patter:  From the Navigator:

During the night we continued on the northeasterly track towards the Falklands.  Shortly before arrival we will alter course off  to the port of Cape Pembroke to set our westerly approach track through William Sound towards the anchor position.  We expect to be in position off Port Stanley and ready to commence tender operations at approximately 0800.  Port Stanley actually consists of two ports – Port William and Stanley Harbour.  Both ports service the town which forms and serves as the capital of the UK governed Falkland Islands.  We are scheduled to depart in the early evening, when we will pick up the anchor and proceed back out of William Sound.  Once clear, we will set a northerly course to take us towards Uruguay.

Cruise – Day 13 – Stanley, Falkland Islands, Friday, January 29, 2010

Stanley is the smallest and most remote capital in the world.  There are approximately 200 islands in an area of 4,700 square miles, slightly smaller than Connecticut.  The population, in July 2004, was only 2,967.  The language is English as they are an overseas territory of the U.K, although also claimed by Argentina.  Stanley, named in 1845 for Lord Stanley, Secretary of State for the Colonies, is the only town on the island and has a population of 1,550.

The islands are grass-covered and ideal for sheep farming.  The only trees on the islands have been planted and nurtured by their owners.  Large scale introduction of trees failed.  There are 150 species of flowering plants that grow in the Falklands, and only two species of brush grown higher than ground level. 

These islands, The Falkland Islands, also have another name, if you are Argentine, the Islas Malvinas.  The islands are at the same latitude south as London, England, is north, and the temperature has never dropped below 12 F.  It rains or snow lightly about 250 days each year.   

From Princess Patter:  From the Navigator:

We are scheduled to depart in the early evening, when we will pick up the anchor and proceed back out of William Sound.  Once clear, we will set a northerly course to take us towards Uruguay

At 6:30 a.m. the wind was Force 4 (moderate breeze), the sea was 1.5 – 4 feet (slight), blue sky and high white clouds, air temperature 51.8 F.  A calm beautiful day in the Falkland Islands.  The Star Princess dropped anchor outside the town of Stanley and soon started tender operations.  The tours met in the Princess Theater. 

We were on the first tour to Bluff Cove Lagoon Penguins  We tendered in to Stanley where we (and 14 others) boarded a small bus for a drive of 15 miles out of Stanley to the staging area.  We changed to four four-wheel drive vehicles (four people in each) and then drove through rough pasture, bogs of peat, crossed a narrow bridge and after about 45 minutes total time we arrived at Bluff Cove. 

Bluff Cove is a photogenic site with a large lagoon and long sand beach on the ocean. 2,000+ Gentoo Penguins live here and a small growing colony of breeding King Penguins.  Two Kings were sitting with their egg on their feet and there were seven other Kings in residence today, plus the Gentoos.  We got to view cattle and sheep on the way to and in from the penguins.  After our leisurely walk along the cove/lagoon and taking many photographs and videos we walked towards the beach and ocean where we visited the Sea Cabbage Café at Bluff Cove Lagoon.  Included in our tour were cups of tea, coffee of mugs of hot chocolate (our choice) and our choices of home baked goodies.  I had a scone with Diddle Dee Berry jelly and clotted cream, plus a brownie and an almond cookie.  I also visited their new, small museum.  We returned to town via the four-wheel vehicles; four travel together in case of trouble and one of our group got stuck on the way back to the staging area. Bluff Cover Lagoon is an excellent way to view these penguins on the private ranch.   

The Falkland Islands conflict of 1982 between Britain and Argentina has left the islands with a large number of unexploded ordinances, including land mines.  Mine fields are well marked with red triangular signs with the warning “Danger Mines”.  These mines are currently being removed … thanks to the Geneva Convention. 

After our return to town I “shopped” and Howard stood and held/carried packages.  We started out in the Visitor Information Centre, and then walked UP hill looking for a shop Studio 52 but it was closed  We visited the Pink Shop and Gallery; then Boathouse Shop and Gallery; The Capstan Gift Shop (the one stop souvenir shop), and The Pod Gift Shop, specializing in locally produced gifts and souvenirs.  I did purchase a copy of Penguin News “The Best Little Newspaper in the World”.  We viewed Christ Church Cathedral, consecrated in 1892.  Adjacent to the cathedral was the Whalebone Arch constructed in 1933 from the jawbones of two blue whales to commemorate the century of continuous British administration in the Falklands.  We also viewed the 1982 Liberation Memorial built as a tribute to the British forces and civilians who lost their lives in the 1982 Falkland Conflict.  I felt like eating fish and chips, but the pubs were packed, no place to sit and heavy smoke, so we got on a tender and returned to the ship.  Then we went to deck 14 for a very good lunch in Horizon Court … our first visit there this trip.  This place for food is open 24-hours each day. 

At the 6:10 p.m. talk by Captain Edward Perrin (we changed in Ushuaia) he said we are heading into rough seas and bad weather.  He advised everyone to move computers, cameras and breakables from desks/counters and place where they will not slide off as we may have some rocking of the ship during the night, but nothing bad.  Gentle rocking is good for sleeping. 

Cruise – Day 14 – At Sea, Saturday, January 30, 2010 

From Princes Patter – From the Navigator

Throughout the night we maintained a northerly course through the South Atlantic.  We will continue his course for the remainder of the day as we follow our direct track towards Uruguay and the port of Montevideo

This morning it is sunny, blue sky and some white clouds, some wind with whitecaps on the water and moderate seas of 4 to 7.5 feet.    Did not have rough seas as forecast. 

After a nice sit-down breakfast with people from England, Argentina and VA we looked for yesterday’s photo in the photo shop …. will look again later as with over 800 to go through they are difficult to locate.  We went to a shop and Howard bought Halls for his throat …. not developing, but he is not better.  He returned to our mini-suite and I went to a huge sale.  I won’t go to another sale; I usually avoid them, as this was a total zoo.  They had lots of jackets and tee shirts from Alaskan cruises and a few from this one last year.  I did purchase one tee shirt for Howard and a silver evening purse for me, a change from my usual black ones. 

At 11:30 we watched another Scholarship @ Sea – Special Interest Lecture with Dr. Bernard Stonehouse.  “Who Owns Antarctica?”  As usual he was a wealth of information.  47 nations have signed the Antarctic Treaty, but there really isn’t an administration. 

Lunch in the sit-down dining room, as usual.  Howard then returned to mini-suite to lie down as he still is not feeling any better.  I went to Vista Lounge to watch and hear the “Exotic Destinations Presentations”.  There was very little presented that I am interested in.  Next I went to photo studio and found our photograph from when we landed in Stanley, Falkland Islands yesterday. 

Tonight was our third and last formal night.  Howard looks so good in a tux.  We got dressed and had our photograph taken in two of the six locations.  We then enjoyed dinner … lobster tail and giant prawns (had this once before also).  Getting the tux, two shirts, cummerbund and shoes delivered to him on the ship and then being able to leave on a ship is a great assistance. 

We went to the Vista Lounge and were in the front row for a wonderful show by world champion pianist Ryan Ahern.  Shall need to look for some of his CDs when we return home. 

From the Princess Patter:

An Overview of Princess Cruises.  From its modest beginnings in 1965 with a single ship cruising to Mexico, Princess has grown to become one of the premiere cruise lines on the world.  Today, its fleet carries more than a million passengers each year to more worldwide destinations than any other major line.  The most recognized cruise line in the world was catapulted to stardom in 1977 when Pacific Princess was cast in a starring role on a new television show called The Love Boat.  Princess has more than 150 itineraries ranging from seven to 107 days.  The line sails to all seven continents and calls at nearly 280 ports around the world. 

Star Princess Fact Sheet:

Built - 2002, Port of Registry – Hamilton, Call sign – ZCDD6, Official Number – 733709, Gross Tonnage – 109009, Net Tonnage - 71763, Length Overall – 951 feet, Breadth – 118 feet, Fuel Capacity – 2649 tons, Fresh Water Capacity – 2731, Normal Passenger Capacity – 2600, Normal Crew Figure – 1150 , Cruising Speed – 22.5 knots.  

Cruise – Day 15 – At Sea, Sunday, January 31, 2010 

This morning we are having very light, gentle rain with an overcast sky.  The sea is only 1 to 4.5 feet and a very gentle light breeze is blowingWe ate breakfast with two couples from England.  After breakfast I started to assemble what I have purchased and started packing my carry-on bag.   

At noon the captain said, due to an ill woman who needs to get to a hospital, he has increased our speed from 14 knots to 22 knots.  We will arrive in Montevideo around midnight tonight instead of 8 a.m. tomorrow.  The air temperature is 62 F with light rain.  Ate lunch with a couple from Ohio and a man from Vancouver, B.C. 

From Princess Patter – From the Navigator:

Throughout the night we continued our northerly heading as we head towards Uruguay.  We will continue to parallel the coastline of Argentina throughout the day as we maintain our direct track towards the Rio de la Plata and the approaches to Montevideo.  Rio de la Plata is an extensive estuary formed by the confluence Rio Parana and Rio Uruguay.  The Southern side of the estuary is Argentine and is low, flat and boarded by a large shallow blank.  The Northern side lies within Uruguay and by comparison is high and rocky with sheer cliffs and sand dunes. 

From Princess Patter

Between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., our passports will be returned to all of us that will disembark in Buenos Aires.  Our stateroom stewards will return them and we are to have our receipt ready. 

Star Princess Facts:

-          Each of the Star Princess’ two six-bladed propeller weight forty tons.

-          The ship is powered by six diesel alternators (generators) which produce enough electricity to drive two propeller-connected, electric motors at the stern which put us through the water at speeds of up to22.5 knots.

-          The entire ship can be operated by any two alternators in an emergency and all are contained within independent watertight compartments.

-          The ship is steered with twin rudders that weight 25 tons each.

-          Star Princess is 43 feet wider than Panamax size or the width required in order to fit through the Panama Canal.  She is roughly four times the length of Grand Central Station: 28 feet taller than Niagara Falls and 49 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.  She cost approximately $450 million to build, almost twice the cost of the Pathfinder exploration mission to Mars.  The original “Love Boat,” Pacific Princess, could fit inside Star Princess’ Horizon Court dining and Lido areas! 

Cruise – Day 16 – Montevideo, Uruguay, Monday, February 1, 2010 

Uruguay is approximately 68,040 square miles, slightly smaller than the state of Washington.  The 2007 estimated population was 3,460,607, Montevideo is the capital.  Uruguay, like much of neighboring Argentina, is a country of grassy prairies interrupted only by scattered patches of scrubby woodland.  The grasslands extend into the northern third of Argentina and together these areas comprise one of the world’s great grasslands – the Pampas.  As in the Ukraine and in our own Grain Belt, the Pampas has the deep, rich soils required for high yields of grasses and cereal grains.  The Pampas is the breadbasket of South America.  Uruguay is the smallest Hispanic nation in South America, about the size of England and Wales. 

At about the same time North American cowboys were creating the myth of the Wild West, these South American cowboys (gauchos) were creating a myth of their own.  The word gaucho is believed to have stemmed from the Indian world for orphan, and the term is accurate, for they were solitary figures, at first ruled by no one. 

We had a full day tour called:  Essence of Uruguay – Town & Country.  Visit a 100-year old estancia for a taste of gaucho life.  Tour the ranch by horse-drawn carriage or vintage automobile before trying or observing sheep shearing and cow milking, plus horseback riding.   Watch a demonstration of gaucho horsemanship and enjoy a traditional gaucho asado (barbeque); for entertainment enjoy traditional dances and folk songs performed by the gaucho hosts.   

After a bus tour of old town, downtown, and other area of Montevideo we drove approximately 45 minutes to a ranch called La Rabida.  From their literature:  “Arrive at Estancia la Rabida, where a traditional Uruguayan family opens its home to selected visitors.  It is an authentic ranch: 3650 acres, 650 milking cows producing daily 12,000 lts. of milk; top technology and productivity, to a point that it has deserved the visit of official delegations and Agricultural Secretaries of several countries.  Furthermore, the perfect blend between rusticy and refinement characteristic of La Rabida, has made it the choice of Uruguayan Governments to entertain and offer to distinguished guests a glimpse of authentic Uruguayan life.” 

“No artificial scenery, just fields that end abruptly in high cliffs that rest in the beach coast of Rio de la Plata.  Traditional asado (barbeque), salads and wines are served.  You can enjoy traditional music and dances, go horse riding (at your own risk), country touring or bird watching or just learn about the daily chores of gaucho life, such as sheep shearing or milking.  However, the most remarkable offer is the warm reception of owners and staff, to a field day in a place of beauty and peace.” 

We returned to the Star Princess and Howard packed; I did mine earlier, we set our bags to check out in the hallway, and then went to dinner. 

Cruise – Day 17 – Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, February 2, 2010        

Star Princess scheduled to arrive at 6:30 a.m.                            

Our group met at 7:15 a.m. and left the ship about 7:45 a.m. for the bus trip to the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Buenos Aires.  Princess provided a large room with tables, chairs, coffee, tea, water, juice and a check room for coats and/or carryon luggage.  We left the hotel for awhile and walked along Florida Street that is foot only traffic and has many stores.  We returned to the hotel and had a very good lunch.   We moved up to a 3 p.m. bus for our trip to the airport (from 5:45 p.m.).  We arrived, picked up the luggage Princess was holding for us, and then learned the Delta counter wasn’t open yet.  Had a wait and then checked in when they opened at 5:30 p.m.  Our plane loaded early and left at 9:30 p.m. for a smooth flight to Atlanta, GA, then on to Phoenix, AZ and home to Tempe on Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We went to view and photograph icebergs and penguins and surely did that!  There are eight kinds of penguins and we saw seven of them Adelie, Chinstrap, Gentoo, King, Macaroni, Magellanic and Rockhopper.  We did not see the Emperor (think the movie “March of the Penguins”. 

This is a cruise for people with a keen interest in nature and who what to keep learning new things.  We were not disappointed and thoroughly enjoyed the pre-cruise tour and the cruise.  We visited: Brazil, Argentina, Antarctica, Chile, Falkland Islands and Uruguay. 

     Delta Air Lines, Flight DL 0100, Leaving 9:30 p.m. from Buenos Aires
Howard seat 23B // Susan seat 23A            Arrive 5.40 a.m. (Feb. 3), Atlanta, Georgia

     Delta Air Lines, Flt DL 1025, Leaving 8:50 a.m. from Atlanta, Georgia
Howard seat 30C // Susan seat 30D            Arrive 11:09 a.m. in Phoenix, Arizona


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