A Travellerspoint blog

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)

Chile aboard Crystal Serenity

Puerto Montt

sunny 68 °F

We had our first formal night tonight and we chose to eat in the main dining room. We both had a superb Chateaubriand and then headed off to the show, where Broadway star James Fox performed the Music of Billy Joel, supported by the orchestra and dancers.

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We arrived this morning at about 1000 at the beautiful port of Puerto Montt. Founded as late as 1853 during the German colonization of southern Chile, Puerto Montt soon outgrew older neighboring cities due to its strategic position at the southern end of the Chilean Central Valley being a gateway city into Chiloé Archipelago, Llanquihue and Nahuel Huapi lakes and Western Patagonia. Our first sight in the Andes Mountains was the beautiful, Fujiesque volcano Osorno. Osorno volcano is a symmetrical, glacier-covered stratovolcano in southern Chile, rising above Todos los Santos and Llanquihué lakes. Osorno is one of the most active volcanoes of Chile.

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We boarded our buses and headed to the lake country. Our first stop was Puerto Varas. Also known as "La ciudad de las rosas" or “the city of roses”, is a city and commune located in the southern Chilean province of Llanquihue, in the Los Lagos Region. The city is famous for its German traditions, its natural environment, and its popularity as a tourist destination. It enjoys a scenic location close to mountains, lakes, forests and national parks. It is located 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the city of Puerto Montt on the shore of Llanquihue Lake, the second largest lake in Chile. The conical Osorno Volcano and the snowcapped peaks of Mt. Calbuco and Mt. Tronador are clearly visible from the lakefront. Puerto Varas is the southernmost of a string of towns on the western shore of Llanquihue Lake.

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We then reboarded our buses and headed off to another lakeside city, Frutillar. Frutillar is a city and commune in the Los Lagos Region. The bay of Frutillar is placed on the banks of Lake Llanquihue, the largest lake entirely within Chile. Frutillar is known as the "City of Music". Our highlight here was a visit to The German Museum. The German Colony that arrived to the city in 1856 built their houses, water mill, warehouse and gardens to live there; the descendents of these settlers decided to leave these buildings for a museum that shows the way they lived. It is composed of a garden, the machine warehouse, the water mill to grind the seeds, and the main house that is located uphill with a great view to the Lake.

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It was then back on the buses for the 30 minute drive back to the ship. Another wonderful adventure!

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Posted by rpickett 12:25 Archived in Chile Tagged puerto montt Comments (0)

Chile aboard Crystal Serenity

Underway from Valparaiso

semi-overcast 65 °F

After about a 2 hour drive from Santiago to Valparaiso, through countryside that reminded me of Southern California, we boarded the ship. Our bags were already in the cabin, and, after the mandatory life boat drill we headed to Prego, the Italian specialty restaurant, for our first dinner. It was excellent, and the clam linguini with locally procured clams was superb.

We got underway about 2300 as we had to wait for a cruisetour group that was coming in from and excursion to Machu Picchu. We were expecting some swells during the night, but they were nothing exceptional.

Today is a sea day, and we got to experience some of the great lecturers that is a hallmark of Crystal Cruises, especially on the World Cruise, of which this is a segment.

Our first speaker was General Michael Hayden USAF (Ret), former Director of the CIA from 2006 - 2009. His talk on Cyber Security in today's world was exceptional.

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After lunch, our afternoon speaker was former Rep Martin Frost, D-TX, who spoke on "US Electoral College - Antique or Keeper". He did an excellent job, and it was a pleasant and welcome event to have a mature intelligent discussion on a topic of great debate, regardless of which side of the aisle you sit on. There were some very interesting questions from the audience, especially from those not from the USA.

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We are in the regular dining room tonight at 7:00pm for the first formal night. Should be fun!

Posted by rpickett 10:00 Archived in Chile Tagged from valparaiso underway Comments (0)

Chile aboard Crystal Serenity

Santiago

sunny 85 °F

After the typical overnight flight from Atlanta to Santiago, we were met by very helpful Crystal Cruises folks and transported to the Grand Hyatt Santiago, a wonderful 5 star hotel in the middle of the city. Our room was ready! After lunch at the hotel, we boarded a bus for the optional City Tour of Santiago that Crystal had available for us.
We drove through the various districts of the city, and stopped at the Churchill Downs of Santiago, The Government Palace, The Cathedral of Santiago, and headed up to a gorgeous park on the top of a hill to get a panoramic view of the city.

After dinner at the top Japanese restaurant in the city (in the hotel) it was off to bed to recover from the always restful sleep on an airplane. Bags out at 8:00am and off for the one hour drive to Valparaiso at 11:30am

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Posted by rpickett 05:24 Archived in Chile Tagged santiago Comments (0)

Holland America's Koningsdam

Wrap-up

sunny 80 °F

Koningsdam may be my new favorite ship. I think I have figured out the dining situation. Holland America sailors aren't really open seating type folks, hence the dedication to most of the dining room tables to fixed seating. To compensate, Holland has made the offerings in the Lido as good and in some cases better than the dining room. Eating there may become even a better option than the dining room for some folks who want a little less formal, but not wanting to give up the quality - it's surf and turf in the Lido tonight! We all thought the food on this ship was far superior to Celebrity Infinity, which we just came off of. It's easily as good as Azamara and Regent Seven Seas.

We were finally able to get into the dining room today for the Mariners Club (past cruiser recognition) lunch. The main floor of the main dining room was full!!!

The ship is laid out wonderfully and it's easy to get around. There are lots of food options and specialty restaurants with superb menus (make your reservations before you depart!). The staff is as friendly as you can get and bend over backwards to satisfy your needs The entertainment is top notch, not quite as good as the true Broadway Productions on Royal Caribbean, but top notch. The Blues band was superb as was the dueling pianos. The world stage is exciting and they do the shows three times per night because of the demand. Bottom line - this ship "far exceeded my expectations".....and I don't say that lightly.

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Posted by rpickett 12:56 Archived in Bahamas Tagged the sailing caribbean Comments (0)

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