South America, North America · 54 Days · 53 Moments · January 2018

South America Tour

18 March 2018

Thursday March 8, 2018. Sea day. Spent the day packing. Visited some of the people to say good bye etc. Canada passenger get together only Dave went as I not feeling up to par. Went to Britannia for dinner to say good bye to our friends from Poland. They are coming to Calgary in June to catch the train so we hope to get together at least for coffee. After dinner finished packing and put our suitcases outside the door.

9 March 2018

Friday March 9,2018. Arrived Fort Lauderdale early morning. We all had to be out of rooms by 8am to wait our disembarking time. We had breakfast in dining room and waited in Queen’s room for our 9:40 time. All went well through customs e cent we went through without our luggage which caused a little stir! Porter found us a taxi and off to pick up the RV. Everything fine at the storage. Off to our campground which we had booked prior. Stopped on way for a few groceries and lunch. At campsite organized suitcases and clothes etc. As well as did a little clean up. Glad to be back on land but need to adjust to making own meals etc.

7 March 2018

Wednesday March 7, 2018. Arrived Costa Mya Mexico. This port had been made in 2001 especially for cruise ships tp access the Mayan ruins in this area. We took a 2 hour bus ride to visit the ruins. Not much to see on the way. Two hour guided tour at the ruins. The area where the ruins where lovely trees and shrubs.

6 March 2018

March 6, 2018. Arrived Belize City. Apparently not much to do in Belize City and not recommended to just walk about. Market area where the tenders dock with all the local stuff including bars and restaurants. We decided to do snorkeling and time at Carnivals private island. The snorkeling boat picked us up right from the ship and we went about 1/2 hour to reef. The reef had been said to be second after the Great Barrier Reef but all reports after snorkeling not so. Dave snorkelled but I didn’t. We then went to the island had lunch and went into the water. Water not that clear and base not that sandy but broken up coral. We spent our time with Dale and Charlene from Canmore. When we got back to ship took the tender into market area and walked around. Weather very warm and humid so I got a little burn likely on the boat even though I tried to stay out of sun.

5 March 2018

Monday March 5, 2018. Sea Day en route to Belize City Belize. Usual day at sea attending a couple of jewellery lectures and Dave attended chairobics and a lecture. Discovered that overnight night ship had gone into precautions to reduce cases of what is believed to be norovirus. No helping yourself to any food or drink, encouraging everyone to report illness and to be diligent about hand washing. Last formal night. After dinner waiters and chefs all did walk about.

4 March 2018

Sunday March 4, 2018. Arrived Montego Bay Jamaica. We had booked tour to Negril Beach about 1 hour bus trip from ship. We stopped at the Boardwalk Village where we had a beach chair and a welcome drink. We rented an umbrella as not a lot of shade on beach. We spent some time in the water which was as Caribbean blue as one might expect but warm and sandy. They had a bar and restaurant that served lobsters which they had fresh in nets just offshore. We had two rum drinks and shared a lobster pizza for lunch. After lunch went for another swim before returning. Jamaica a very poor country and unfortunately they are not looking after their ocean.

3 March 2018

March 3, 2018 Saturday. At sea en route to Montego Bay. Dave attended lecture and I went to lecture on social-media which wasn’t very helpful just a very general overview. Formal night. We have Joseph and Aliena from Poland at our table they got on in San Antonio and getting off in Fort Lauderdale. Very nice couple and we have a good time at dinner. Dan and Nancy the other couple from Florida have shown up very little especially Nancy she does not come and Dan seems to come on formal nights. We don’t go to the main dining room every night either as sometimes nothing we really want to eat. Always go on formal night as menu usually seafood.

2 March 2018

March 2, 2018. Panama City and under bridges of America’s by 0730. Arrived Miraflores Locks about 7:45am and took about one hour to transit, then about 1/2 hour latter second locks the Pedro Miguel which took about another hour and final locks Gatan arrived about 1:30 pm and out of Canal by 3pm. Each lock holds about 67,000gallons of water and they say each time a ship completes a transit some 52 million gallons of fresh water are spilled into the sea.

1 March 2018

Thursday March 1,2018 Sea day en route to Panama Canal. Still under the weather so no chairobics went to a couple of lectures instead. One was on the Panama Canal expansion. We are not going through the new canal as this ship will fit into the two old lanes. Will get to see as lies right beside the old canal.

28 February 2018

Feb. 28, 2018. Maiden call port of Manta, Ecuador. Manta has little tourist infrastructure but colourful fishing villages,beaches,and unusual tropical dry forest surround the city. Nearby town of Montecristi birthplace of Panama hat. We chose to go to shopping center for I needed haircut and we had pedicure as well. Haircut 15 dollars way cheaper then on ship. We then took bus to Market area and returned to ship. Tuna fish a major export and we watched them unload tuna from the fishing boats from our deck.

27 February 2018

Feb. 27,2018.sea day en route to Manta. Ecuador. Usual ship day except Dave still feeling off and I suffering from stomach problems which has been with me off and on for two or more weeks. Went to port presentation on Belize apparently a very poor city with not a lot to do right in the city. We are going on snorkel adventure and to island owned by Carnival which apparently owns Cunard. We met two ladies from Chicago Rosa and Maria and we shared with them two fruits we bought at the market yesterday a mango and Guanoabana. The guanoabana very delicious fruit and apparently a fruit very good for us with a lot of antioxidants. They are even making pills out of it in Philippines.

26 February 2018

Feb. 26,2018 maiden port Callao, Peru. Met Renato at old arches ie taxi pick. Highlights 1. Miraflores district a lovely seaside area with many condos, apartments and green park along the sea for exercise. Can rent for 30 to 50 dollars a night. Park home to the Nazca lines. Larcomar a modern shopping center built in a cliff overlooking the ocean. Pre Inca site Huaca Pucllana under excavation. Parque del Armor with statue of two lovers and apparently on Feb. 14 each year marriages are performed. 2. Barranco District. Lunch at Rustica large Peruvian buffet. 3. Plaza de Armas, UNESCO World Heritage Site. Paladin de Gobierno, Cathedral de Lima, colonial balconies being restored. Downtown area not popular due to high crime rate no hotels here and many policio. 4. San Yesentro richest in Lima and where the president has his home unable to see due to security reasons. 5.Mercado visit fresh food and fish daily. We bought mango and Queen of fruit. Nil rain in Lima but abundant with fruit/veg.

25 February 2018

Feb. 25,2018 Sea day en route to Callao Peru. Queen Victoria continues north up the coast of South America. Commodore Rynd does the interdenominational church services onboard each Sunday. Weather is very warm and calm seas. Seeing a lot of sunburns around the ship. Callao is the port for the city of Lima but the cities have merged and total population around 10 million. The airport for Lima also in Callao but when landing they say welcome to Lima. We have booked private taxi tour with Renato whose contact we received from Maxine. Hoping all goes well as have several warnings about our safety and valuables while visiting Lima. Dave is suffering from a cold much like many on the ship have been experiencing. We had surf and turf for dinner along with escargot and sea food bisque. We tend to eat in the Lido buffet area even for dinner except on formal night when they seem to prepare something special.

24 February 2018

Feb. 24,2018. Maiden voyage to Arica City, Chile. Arica is the most northern port and city in Chile. The Atacama desert is next to the city and the Andes Mountains a short distance away. Rainfall a rarity in this area. However olive trees and citrus fruits are one of their biggest exports. We did the city tour which included The Museo Arquelogico San Miguel de Azapa. Highlights are ancient Chinchorro mummies discovered in 1983 By mistake. Chinchorro were ancient people who lived in this area at least 5000 years ago. Visited the geoglyphs dating back about 1000AD. Visit the cathedral Iglesia San Marcos created in workshop of French engineer Gustavo Eiffel and shipped to Chile to be assembled. Cathedral located in main square and open market of handicrafts in square.

23 February 2018

Feb.23,2018 sea day enroute to Arica,Chile. Queen Victoria sailing north up the coast of Chile. The land area on starboard side home to the Atacama desert. This desert is 600 miles long and covers an area of 41,000 square miles making it the driest non polar desert in the world. Usual day onboard except Dave lay on the deck and got sunburned so rays very intense.

22 February 2018

Feb.22,2018. Coquimbo Chile. Third Millennium Cross, 83cm,40mwide concrete Cross atop El Vigia Hill directs us to harbour. This is the tallest monument in South America erected in 2001. We chose La Serena and Elqui Valley tour. Stopped for visit to Lighthouse erected by a past president but totally non-functioning. One hour drive to Elqui Valley region center for Pisco production and star gazing possibilities best on earth! Stopped at Pisco Distillery and learned about production from muskat grapes grown in the region. Pisco is distilled while wine is fermented. Small village for lunch which again empanadas,Pisco Sour, wine and roast beef meal. Papaya for dessert which is cooked prior to eating. Stopped at local market in La Serena to see local handicrafts once again.
Feb.20,2018. Sea Day enroute to San Antonio Chile. Initial itinerary had us going to Valparaiso Chile but are getting off at San Antonio instead. We are not sure why the change but some people say they had been notified we had not. At any rate tours were similar except further to go by bus therefore we have changed our tour and will not see Santiago or Valparaiso but will see Vina Del Mar(sister city to Valparaiso),Casablanca wine region and have lunch and show at a ranch. SAN Antonio enjoys a Mediterranean climate and spreads across the snow capped Andes. The city has been devastated by two earthquakes one in 1985 and Feb 2010 but has continued to grow despite these.

21 February 2018

Feb. 21,2018. San Antonio Chile. Tour called live the Chilean Experience. Left the port area and headed to Vina Del Mar. tour guide told us we were lucky to have warm sunny day as typically they have 200 plus days of rain. Passed through Casablanca wine region and lovely terracing of vineyards. Vina del Mar one of South America’s leading beach resorts. Stopped Museo Fonck archaeological and natural history museum. Outside a large stone figure (moai )only one not on Easter Islands. Visited Casablanca winery for tour and tasting on our way to ranch for “rodeo” demonstration and lunch. Of course empanadas, Pisco sours and wine as well as meal with roast beef and all the trimmings.

19 February 2018

Feb.19,2018. Arrived Puerto Montt 8am. Dropped anchor. Using ships tenders for the first time on journey. We took Puerto Varas and Ranch visit, our guide was Orlando. Stopped for 30 minutes at Puerto Varas, went to supermarket for Pisco Sour and wine. Lovely town by a huge lake with two volcanos in distance.Town was full of rose bushes. Next stop the Ranch which was 1plus hrs away. Greeted at the Family owned ranch by five huasos on their lovely Chilean horses. Gathered in the stage area sitting on bales and were treated to entertainment and a Pisco Sour with a espanade. Left this area and went to ranch house area where they showed us a few of their rodeo tricks. Horses and riders talented. All this followed up with traditional Chile lunch including the vino. During dinner more entertainment, dancing, singing and lots of music. Audience participation mandatory. Very lovely day where we were made to feel at home and they were very proud to show us their culture. Ride home quiet!

16 February 2018

Feb.16, 17, and 18, 2018. Three days at sea en route to Puerto Montt, Chile. Left via the Magellan Strait, Chilean Fjords, and out into the Pacific paralleling the Chilean Coast prior to entering the Nelson Straight arriving at Amalia Glacier about 4 pm. Beautiful glacier to see on bright fairly warm afternoon. The ship did a complete 180 so pictures could be taken by all. Icebergs in the water some resembling a whale or submarine. Set reciprocal tracks into the Pitt Channel to see the Pio XI glacier very early on the 17. Weather did not cooperate and very cool, dull and misty. Supposed to stay three hours left within 1 hour to resume our route to Puerto Montt. Third day at sea. Waters have been rough at times and weather cloudy and cool. No sunbathing for sure. Took in 3 lectures by Gloria Barnett about the ocean above and below.

15 February 2018

Feb15 2018. Arrived Punta Arenas. We chose the Magdalena Island Penguin tour by RIB tour. Boat capacity about 40 but goes very quickly across the water. Other option was by ferry which took 2x as long. The island was very desolate with penguin burrows no ground cover, a lot of seagulls and the penguins were less in number then when we saw the megelans a few days ago. Also they did not look as well and guide said they are reducing in numbers but no one sure why. The weather was cool, cloudy and with some rain. We then reboarded the RIP and went over to Marta Island to see the sea lions. We all put on life jackets and went out on small upper deck to view. Beautiful little island with many sea lions and some very big males. Both islands declared national monument in 1982 and have been monitored since1998. Saw a dolphin on return trip to land. Returned to ship by bus. King Crab a specialty here as well as lamb and salmon.

14 February 2018

Feb. 14 0700hrs. Left Beagle Channel calm waters back into Atlantic towards Cape Horn where the two oceans meet. Waters around the Cape notoriously hazardous due to strong winds and currents. Today very rough and cold and wet outside so pictures dark with a lot of rain spots. The ship dropped a small vessel holding about six people to take pictures and to visit the Lighthouse Navel captain and his family living on the Cape. The seas became even rougher and their engine got plugged with seaweed. Another small vessel went out to rescue them and it met the same fate so they had to unload a tender to go get the two vessels and persons aboard. It took until noon to get everyone and the vessels back due to extreme weather. The rumour was that the Captains wife was one of the passengers in the small vessel. Left the Cape was everyone aboard safe we set courses back to Beagle Channel and into Straight of Magellan. Water was rough and weather cool well into the evening.

13 February 2018

Feb.13 arrived Ushuaia Argentina via the Beagle Channel. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, waterways and Tierra del Fuego National Park. Most southern city in South America so know as the end of the world. We chose to go out on catamaran in the Beagle Channel to see the local wildlife. Visited Bird Island where we saw king cormorants, blue eyed also know as imperial cormorants. Southern giant Petrel swimming in water close by as they are predators to baby cormorants. Sailed to Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse and the wreck of the Monte Cervantes. This is the Lighthouse at the end of the world. Saw also South American Tern they have red feet and beak as well as Kelp Geese which are black with yellow feet. Last stop Sea Lion Island where we did see sea lions plus one sea elephant well hidden in his environment. Returned to Ushuaia had coffee and used their wifi. Looked around their shops and walked back to ship.

11 February 2018

Feb. 11 and 12. Sea days enroute to Ushuaia Argentina. Out in the south Atlantic Ocean and opposing the Falkland current flowing northwards along the coast. At times very windy and white caps on the water. Did our normal sea day things and Dave catching up on a lot of reading. Dave’s birthday on the 12th and lovely dinner with escargot, bouliebasse, and surf and turf for main course.

10 February 2018

Feb. 10, 2018. Arrived Puerto Madryn 0800hrs. Our tour was Estancia San Lorenzo Penguin Reserve and Punta Norte. By bus we travelled out of Puerto Madryn city passing by their aluminium manufacturing plant, and while driving saw Guanacos, Choique local wildlife. One hour paved road, one hour gravel road then smalle vans took us out to see the Magellanic Penguins. There were hundreds of penguins, babies, juveniles and adults. Walked around for about 1 hour. Stopped at ranch for lunch. Back on bus to see the sea lions laying on the beach at Punta Norte. Dave also found a hairy Armadillo and took a great video. Puerto Madryn lies on Golfa Nuevo with the aluminium and large fishing fleets making it a major port.

9 February 2018

Feb.2, 2018. Picked up at our hotel and taken to port to board the Queen Victoria. Quite a number of people boarding the ship so took approx. one hour to we finally boarded. Had our lunch found our room and Dave off to do laundry and I unpacking. Early dinner at 6pm. Met two ladies from England Carol and Vivian at our table two other people did not show up.

7 February 2018

Feb.7 second day in Buenos Aires. Decided not to go back into city due to yesterday’s disaster. Very hot and humid and sitting in traffic in packed bus not fun. After breakfast took the bus from the ship to the port and seemed to be not quite as busy. Looked around the port and returned to ship. Spent a quiet afternoon and evening and asleep before sail away at 11pm. People that had gone into city told us a lot of people on street trying to change their money into either pesos or American as Argentina’s money rate varies dramatically. Two groups of 700 had left ship last evening and this evening to attend an evening sponsored by Cunard for quests on voyage from Ft. Lauderdale to Ft. Lauderdale. It was an evening of song and dance in the Argentina culture.
Jan. 31. From hotel to Brazilian side of falls. We started just below the hotel walking down stairs and at each corner saw another picture perfect view of the falls. The Argentina side is like being in the picture, this side you are taking the picture. The walk is about 2hrs. down 250 steps in total. At the end you are top of the horseshoe looking across. Amazing! Dave went out on the walk way as far has he could. I went about 1/2 the way getting some spray. Elevator back up and then to the airport to catch our last flight of this journey to Rio de Jenerio. Met at the airport by new guide Sandra. Took us to our hotel about 2 blocks from CocoCabanna beach. Dinner at hotel.
Feb.8 and 9. Sea days en route to Puerto Madryn , Argentina. Took in a couple of lectures, did our chairobics, one formal night and one informal. Weather variable and quite windy at times.

6 February 2018

Feb. 6 Left Montevideo through same channel and entered the Canal Punta Indio an artificial channel dredged to bottom of River Plate to Bueno Aires. Buenos Aires capital and most populated city of Argentina. We had a private tour booked through shore excursions and it was a disaster. The port extremely busy with import and export goods and cruise ships just got in the way. We had to take a bus to the main port area which could take 1/2 to 1 hour depending on traffic and then had to get other transport to leave this area. Our tour was almost two hours late and when she did arrive very rude we felt. Met another couple from Hartford CT. So at least weren’t alone in our misery. Once on bus other people who had been picked up at hotels some two hours earlier. Three hour tour of the city mostly in the coach got out only main square, the Casa Rosada sits here but we did not know what the bldg. was also Cathedral Metropolitana. Dropped off at Marriott Hotel to wait for bus back to ship.

3 February 2018

Feb. 3 and 4th. Sea Days. Lovely warm cruising from Rio to Montevideo Uruguay. Feb. 5. Entered the Rio de la Plata an estuary formed by the confluence of Uruguay and Parana Rivers. River plate acts as part of the border between Uruguay and Argentina. The long and narrow buoyed channel directs vessels into port. Uruguay second smallest country in South America, half population live in Montevideo. We did the city tour which included stop at main square Plaza de la Independence and outlook over River Plata the widest river in the world.we were the taken to a winery where we had wine sampling’s and lunch with Tango dancers and singer telling a story. Many long sandy beaches make it a summer retreat for a lot of Argentina’s. Uruguay is a socialist country but performs well. Montevideo very clean and soil very rich so they export a lot of fruit and vegetables.

1 February 2018

Feb 1,2018. Began our tour on train to Corcovado to see Christ the Redeemer standing open armed on top of mountain overlooking Rio. Immense figure brought up the mountain in three pieces by train in 1931. The train ride up by electrical train approx. 25 mins. Lovely pictures if you don’t step on people laying on the ground with arms extended. Visited the newest Cathedral very unimpressive on the outside and in. Made of concrete with strips of stained glass. Then visited the steps of Selaron with tiles from all over the world. Visited Copacabana beach area and stopped at HS Stern the gemstone jewels of Brazil. Lunch at Brazilian Steakhouse. Finally visited Sugarloaf. Two short cable car rides to the top. Impressive views again over looking Rio. Returned to hotel and short walk to beach area. Lots of street vendors in beach area.

31 January 2018

30 January 2018

Flew yesterday Cusco to Lima, Lima to San Paulo overnight and arrived Iquassu Falls this morning. Met by guide Gustavo and off to see Argentina side of falls. Cleared Brazil and Argentina customs. Arrived at National Park very hot and humid. Basically three walks to view different parts of the falls, travel by Park train to access the walks. 275 cascading water falls, horseshoe shape expanding over 2 miles of Iguassu River. You get the opportunity to walk above, below and definitely get the spray and hear the roaring sound. Very Impressive. Spent a good four hour 7kms. walking. Dropped off at our hotel on Brazilian side for an well deserved rest!

28 January 2018

Breakfast at hotel and boarded bus about 8am up to Macho Picho on our own. Toured the lower half and Temple of Condor. Met a couple from Climax Saskatchewan who had got off at km 104 and hiked the rest of the way to enter at the sun gate entrance. It had been very difficult for them as he apparently not well also very steep and narrow. We met them again in Aguas Calientes and had mango trout lunch very good. Boarded the 1:30 train to Cusco. Onboard fashion show and Inca Spirit dressed up and danced with a few of us. Met at station by our driver who drove us to Cusco after picking up our luggage. Light supper and off to bed as tomorrow pick up 4:40am.

27 January 2018

Up at 5:30 for breakfast and get organized for 7:30 pick-up. We were only allowed small carry on for the train. The rest we left at the hotel. Driver drove us to Ollantaytambo about 45 mins. drive. Met by another Condor rep. who helped us fine the right train etc. We boarded the Vistadome train with large panoramic windows to travel to Aquas Calientes small village at base of Macho Picho approx. 1.5 hrs. Met at station by Condor rep. The guide took us to the buses which take you to Macho Picho approx. 25 mins. via many hairpin turns. We then began to explore the many levels of Macho Picho we used a lot of stone trails. The weather was clear, hot and humid. Spent approx. 2hrs and then returned to hotel by bus. Hotel very comfortable on Urubamba River. Had supper here very delicious.

26 January 2018

Drove approx. 45mins. from our hotel to12,800ft, the highest we likely have been. We visited the Misminay Sacred Valley Andean Community. The Community has approx. 80 families who work together to farm the area. We were hosted by one family with the assistance of two other families. They met us and appeared to be very happy to show us their way of life. First a ceremonial greeting with music and singing then they all introduced themselves name, age, children, married or not. In turn we did the same all through our guide interpreting of course. We then went into the main area of the house and had coco tea and our guide explained some of their ways. Every morning they pray to the mountains and Mother Earth, they eat a big breakfast and the men go to the fields and the women weave. They return for lunch a smaller meal and return to the farm around 2pm. Return home at dark and no supper just coco leaf tea. They rotate each day which household male is in charge.

25 January 2018

Met at hotel by guide and driver. Drove from Urubamba to Chincheros. Visited ancient village weaving school where we had demo of traditional weaving methods using baby alpaca, adult alpaca. Method is passed down by the eldest to the youngest and most women weave 6hrs per day. Drove to Ollantaytambo Fortress. Living Inca town as inhabitants maintain ancient practices. Town as very narrow streets and four main streets have mountain water flowing. Above on the mountains ancient ruins and food storage ruin. Ruins of sun Temple can be walked to up 240steps. We walked around the village and square before we left. Stopped for buffet lunch which was very good. Back to hotel.

24 January 2018

Great sleep and up for buffet breakfast at hotel by 7:30. After breakfast got showered and repacked and walked over to the airport with our bags to check and checked in. Returned to the hotel to check out and pick up carry bags. Cusco airport very busy but found our gate after security of course and waited for our plane. Eventually taken to our plane by bus and left somewhat late. Clear and sunny in Lima. Getting closer to Cusco a lot more cloud and very low lying. Captain came on and said we would be circling the wagons so to speak for about 1/2 hour to see if it cleared. We were fortunate it did and we were able to land. A very challenging landing as basically come down between two sets of mountains and very narrow. Our guide from Condor Travel picked us up and with the driver came to the Sacred Valley area about 1.5 hrs outside Costco. Checked into our hotel an old monastery site very lovely situated at the base of the mountains. It is the wet season in Peru so everything is green.

23 January 2018

Left Calgary on Air Mexico to Mexico City. Flight just over five hours. Got a few hours of shut eye and arrived Mexico City 5:30am. We had taken the extra leg room seats and no one in between so quite comfortable. Went through Mexican customs and then waited for our next flight leaving to Lima about 8:30 our time but really 1030am. Again Air Mexico to Lima Peru. Almost six hour flight had a hot breakfast and snack just before landing. Went through Peru customs found our bags and walked to our hotel across a walk way. The hotel was the Wyndham Airport. Checked in had a hot shower and went to the lounge to try a Piscoe cocktail complimentary. Very nice during much like a whiskey sour, apparently the Peruvian drink. We then went to the restaurant in the hotel for dinner. Lovely dinner with octopus, shrimp, ceviche, and of course some wine. He delay getting back to our room and sleep as had been a long day or I should say night and day.