Day 39, 2023 Grand South America and Antarctica
Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023; At Sea, Atlantic Ocean
Never pick a cruise just because of a single port, and you won’t be disappointed when the unexpected happens. Ports do get canceled, usually due to weather but also political unrest.
I can’t say that missing the Falkland Islands on Sunday was unexpected. Capt. Smit warned us Saturday that the weather conditions weren’t looking good. My unofficial survey of well-traveled passengers indicates that the Falklands are missed about two-out-of-three cruises. That means, having missed this port twice now, I am due next time.
Penguins are the big attraction on the Falklands, and the best place to see them is Volunteer Point, a two-and-a-half-hour drive over mostly gravel roads and finally cross rough terrain in 4×4 vehicles. But when you arrive, you are greeted by the largest colony of King Penguins in the world. Apparently, they are unafraid of people so tourists can almost walk amongst them, as well as the Gentoo and Magellan penguins also nesting there.
The penguins, Volunteer Point and the Falklands will go back on my list. At least one passenger immediately booked the once-weekly flight to the Falklands from Rio de Janeiro next week. Another couple booked a South America cruise for early 2024. A repeat for me doesn’t look likely for the next two years – I’ll follow my rule of not picking a cruise for just a single port.
On the off-chance we would go ashore, I was up early on Sunday, dressed warmly and packed for the full-day excursion. It became obvious that we weren’t stopping when I tracked our progress on my phone and noted we sailed right past the harbor.
I bet the ship’s officers liked it much better when every passenger didn’t have access to such technology. After we left Antarctica, we each received a map of our track – which didn’t reflect our back-and-forth cruising night after night in the same channel. My tracker app showed every lap.
As we left the Falklands for another day at sea, the captain deviated from our planned course to Montevideo, Uruguay, to miss the worst of the swells and winds. By the time we arrive tomorrow, we will have been at sea for 10 straight days. There has been plenty to do, and after the announcement early Sunday that we would miss the Falklands, we had a new daily program full of activities.
The most popular activity seemed to be ordering free drinks at bars around the ship from 1 to 2 p.m., a “consolation” gift for missing the Falklands. I couldn’t decide between a sea breeze and a chocolate martini, so treated myself to one of each. Which ruined any intention to paint in the afternoon.
Last night was our second formal night of three – a feature only on grand cruises — and the Masquerade Ball followed dinner. Masks ranged from hand made in a crafts class aboard to fancier versions brought from home. The thin metal “half-mask” I ordered from Amazon fell in the middle. It traveled flat and bent to the shape of my face, so it’s a keeper.
I partied from the bar in the Crow’s Nest, enjoying the Ocean Band’s music. It reminded me of days gone by, when this venue was lively every night to the music of the Station Band. Things do change, and often for the better. But I hope the suits at Holland America hear about the exceptional evening and consider bringing back more of them.
Back in the cabin, I discovered a gift of what looked like a very small bag with wheels – until I unzipped it and discovered a rolling duffle bag. It also is a keeper!
The crew was busy overnight and this morning a menagerie of animals greeted us at the Lido Pool.
As I left for dinner tonight, I caught what I hope will be the first of many sunsets off my balcony. For the sail south in the Pacific Ocean, I caught the sunrises. Now we are in the Atlantic Ocean and heading north, so my balcony faces west.
The temperatures are quickly rising, from the 20s a few days ago in Antarctica to a forecast 72 tomorrow in Montevideo. I’ve already packed my coat, jacket, wool hat and gloves away. I suppose they’ll next come out in February when we are in Japan.