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Chile aboard Crystal Serenity

Straits of Magellan and Beagle Channel

semi-overcast 48 °F

After a quite day on the ship, we left Punta Arenas and headed to sea.

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We were expecting some rougher weather as we left the Straits of Magellan heading out to the open ocean for our transit to the Beagle Channel, but it was quite comfortable, and we woke up to some beautiful scenery!

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In the morning the ship hosted a wonderful round table discussion on world affairs with the two Generals and two Ambassadors on board as guest lecturers. It was again a pleasure to have a thoughtful, intellectual, respectful discussion of difficult world affairs without the ranting and raving of Facebook and the media. This series of talks was by far the best that I have ever heard at sea.

Instead of the regular buffet lunch, the ship put on a spectacular Viennese buffet in the atrium area. We grazed on the many selections and then were escorted into the main dining room to a table to enjoy.

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After lunch we continued our voyage to Ushuaia through the Beagle Channel. The channel separates the larger main island of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego from various smaller islands including the islands of Picton, Lennox and Nueva; Navarino; Hoste; Londonderry; and Stewart. The channel's eastern area forms part of the border between Chile and Argentina and the western area is entirely within Chile. The Beagle Channel, the Straits of Magellan to the north, and the open-ocean Drake Passage to the south are the three navigable passages around South America between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. However, most commercial shipping uses the open-ocean Drake Passage.

The channel is distinguished by its glaciers, which offered great sightseeing!

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Unfortunately our trip is at end, as we debark and fly home tomorrow. Crystal is amazing - well worth the price due to the service, hospitality and quality of the on board amenities. This will not be my only trip on this great cruise line.

Posted by rpickett 10:41 Archived in Chile Tagged and of magellan channel beagle straits Comments (0)

Chile aboard Crystal Serenity

Punta Arenas

overcast 53 °F

We arrived in Punta Arenas this morning and tied up at a pier, so no tender required! Punta Arenas (or Sandy Point in English) is the capital city of Chile's southernmost region, Magallanes and Antartica Chilena. The city was officially renamed as Magallanes in 1927, but in 1938 it was changed back to "Punta Arenas". It is the largest city south of the 46th parallel south. As of 1977 Punta Arenas has been one of only two free ports in Chile. (Note that Punta Arenas itself is not a "free port", but rather outside of the city, there is a small "zona franca" where certain products can be imported into the country under a reduced-tax regimen.) Located on the Brunswick Peninsula north of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas was originally established by the Chilean government in 1848 as a tiny penal colony to assert sovereignty over the Strait. During the remainder of the 1800s, Punta Arenas grew in size and importance due to the increasing maritime traffic and trade traveling to the west coasts of South and North America. This period of growth also resulted from the waves of European immigrants, mainly from Croatia and Russia attracted to the gold rush and sheep farming boom in the 1880s and early 1900s. The largest sheep company, controlling 10,000 square kilometres in Chile and Argentina, was based in Punta Arenas, and its owners lived there.

We left the ship at 9:00am for an overview tour of the Maritime museum the city, and a typical sheep farm.
The Nautical Museum held full scale replicas of Magellan's ship, Darwin's ship the Beagle, the small boat that Shakelton used in Antartica and the Otway, the ship that claimed Patagonia for Chile.

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It was then off to an overlook of the city, and then downtown to see the city square and the statue of Magellan, and the wonderful Catholic Church that St. John Paul visited when he was here.

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Our last stop was a family owned farm where we had a wonderful Pisco Sour and same Llama empanadas, and watched a sheep get shaved!
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It was then a short ride back to the ship.
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Posted by rpickett 06:38 Archived in Chile Tagged punta arenas Comments (0)

Chile aboard Crystal Serenity

Valentine's Day

overcast 58 °F

As Valentine's Day dawned we continued our sea transit towards the Straits of Magellan. The crew did an excellent job decorating the ship, and, in addition to the excellent enrichment seminars that were conducted, the ship hosted a special Valentine's Day "Chocolate" formal tea.

Just after tea time we entered the Straits of Magellan, where we will sail until we moor in the morning at Punta Arenas

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Posted by rpickett 12:12 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Chile aboard Crystal Serenity

Cruising south towards the Stra

overcast 58 °F

Several hours after we left port we entered the open Southern Pacific, where we spent the night being somewhat tossed and turned with 20 foot seas. We slept, but not that well. Late in the morning we entered the inland waters and the seas calmed, the air cleared and we were greeted with some wonderful scenery.

The morning was filled by two wonderful enrichment lectures. The first was given by South African Ambassador to South America, Tony Leon. His lecture "New Hope for the New World? The New South America", provided some interesting insight in the the future of South American countries.

The second lecture was "Trump Takes Washington, Shaken not Stirred" was an excellent, thoughtful discussion of the situation President Trump inherited upon assuming office. The presenter was former US Ambassador to Morocco, Marc Ginsberg. Although a democrat, he served under three administrations and presented facts and realities of the current world situation, vice ideology.

The day ending with yet another wonderful sunset.

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Posted by rpickett 06:58 Archived in Chile Tagged the of magellan cruising towards straits Comments (0)

Chile aboard Crystal Serenity

Castro and Puerto Chacabuco

sunny 68 °F

On Saturday we arrived at a Chiloe island close to Puerto Montt and the town of Castro. Castro is Chile's third oldest city in continued existence. Rodrigo de Quiroga as the temporary governor of Chile in 1567 launched a campaign led by his son in-law Captain Martín Ruiz de Gamboa to conquer Chiloé Island, establishing the city of Castro there, and pacifying its inhabitants, the Cuncos. From its founding on 12 February 1576 until 1767 Castro was the administrative centre of Chiloé Island. In 1594 Castro had 8,000 inhabitants most of whom were farmers. Castro was destroyed by an earthquake in 1837 and had only 1,243 inhabitants in 1907. After the inauguration of the railway line to Ancud in 1912 the town developed better. Many buildings, e.g. railway station, town hall and many of the wooden palafitos houses, were destroyed or damaged by the earthquake and the tsunami of 1960. In 1960, Castro had 7.000 inhabitants. Only in 1982 did Castro regain its role as capital in Chiloé Archipelago.

As it was a bit dreary and drizzly out, and our shore excursion had been cancelled, we decided to stay on board and just have a leisurely day. We got underway to a beautiful sunset.

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We awoke this morning entering a beautiful fjord heading to Puerto Chacabuco. Puerto Chacabuco is a Chilean town in Aisén commune. Administratively it belongs to Aysén Province in Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo Region and is located at the head of Aisén Fjord. It is the main port of the region, a port of call for ships sailing to the Laguna San Rafael National Park and the terminus of a Navimag ferry service from Puerto Montt. Before the great burnings of the Patagonian forests and the eruption of Mount Hudson volcano in 1991 Puerto Aisén was the main port in the Aisén Fjord, but the ashes and earth erosion decreased the navegability of Aisén River and the port had to be moved further to the coast where Puerto Chacabuco now stands. Puerto Chacabuco is named after the Battle of Chacabuco in 1817 during the Chilean Independence War.

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Our shore excursion today was to the private park of Aiken Del Sur where we took a nice nature walk and had refreshments at the clubhouse of the park, where we watched some local Patagonian dancing and ate some tapas. This privately-owned 300-hectare nature preserve, located along the shore of Lago Riesco, is home to a beautiful natural environment of wild-rushing streams, waterfalls and cold evergreen rainforest. Several plant species in this far-off corner of the world have only recently been discovered! After this walk it was back to the ship and a leisurely afternoon.

We will spend the next two days cruising the Chilean Fjords!

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Posted by rpickett 11:07 Archived in Chile Tagged and puerto castro chacabuco Comments (0)

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