Cruising Cape Horn and the Magellan Strait – Uruguay, Argentina, Chile

Cruising Cape Horn and the Magellan Strait

During Christmas and New Years, our home away from home we spent on the 45,000-ton Royal Princess, the only ship with all outside stateroom.

I loved the mixture of days at sea and the ports of call. However, the cool weather prevented us from sun bathing. But we were entertained with spectacular beauty on the ocean not to mention plenty of activities to do on the ship.

The first stop, Montevideo, the capital and only major city of Uruguay. The architecture and narrow cobbled streets of Montevideo create a strong European sensation. A walkable city, I started at Plaza Zabala and made my way to Plaza Matriz where Catedral Matriz, the city’s oldest and first public buildings was built in 1804. Across the way is El Cabildo (Town hall) which served as a jailhouse in the 19th century and is now a museum.

What luck finding my Canadian flag flying. I had no idea our Canadian embassy located in Plaza Independencia. At the other end of the square stands Palacio Salvo, the 26-storey building once the tallest in South America, now only the tallest in Montevideo.

Port Stanley

A view of Port Stanley, from the 1914 Battle Memorial

Our ship anchored at sea. Tenders took us in the cute town of Port Stanley, Falklands Islands. I headed to the new tourist center at the end of the pier to gather any information. Most of the attractions are on Ross Rd. Walking down the road, I fought the wind blowing in my face. Whale Arch, next to Christ Church Cathedral, is built with four jawbones of two whales and designed in 1933 to commemorate 100 years of British rule. Walking further I found the 1982 War Memorial. Plenty of small shops along the way on Ross Rd. and among other streets as well. Back at the tourist center, I had a complementary orange drink.

The 1914 Battle Memorial, commemorating the Battle of Falkland, marked the end of my Ross Road tour. I had a spectacular view of the town and ocean.


Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world

The crème de la crème of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, capital of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. I couldn’t take my eyes off the awesome scenery from my stateroom. With blue sky, the sun shone on the snow-capped mountains. Our scenic tour included a stop at the babbling brook, rugged mountain scenery, valleys, and stopped for a coffee and sandwiches at Hosteria Petrel, a gorgeous lodge situated on quiet Logo Escondido.

We sailed at two o’clock in the afternoon from Ushuaia. I didn’t let the light rain stop me from watching this town disappear from my site and hope one day to visit again.

In Puerto Arenas, Chile, the vendors surrounded the statue of Ferdinand Magellan, at Plaza Munoz Gamero. Sara Braun’s Palace overlooks the plaza. In 1895, the French architect constructed the palace using materials shipped from Europe.

Even on a cool, misty day, the Seno Eyre Fjord has a mystical beauty with glaciers, waterfalls and the icebergs. The captain reduced the speed to prevent the ship from hitting an iceberg.

The colourful market of Puerto Montt, Chile

The colourful market of Puerto Montt, Chile

Tenders took us in to Puerto Montt. After walking past the crowd wanting to sell tours, we turned left and browsed at the vendors selling a wide selection of woolen goods and woodcarvings. Walking back the other way, in about 10 or 15 min., lead to the center of town. Being of German settlement, many buildings are European in style. The market was a highlight of my visit to this town because of the tempting, colourful fresh fruits vegetables and the hustle and bustle of the locals.

All good things must come to an end. Sadly our cruise did. As the bus rolled away, I didn’t take my eyes off the ship until it was out of sight, wishing I could start over.

Since our flight did not leave until late at night, we took an optional tour of Santiago, a two-hour drive from Valparaiso, where our ship docked. A rotten saying but true of this beautiful capital of Chile, be careful of pickpockets since “they can steal your socks without removing your shoes”.

After a half hour tour of the Museum of Pre-Columbia Art, built 1807, with 1500 objects of figurines, ceramics, textiles and paintings, we walked around Plaza de Armas, the symbol of Chile. Beautiful historical buildings surround this square. The Catedral began in1747 but the towers were not added until 1899. Correro Central (Central Post Office) had its first stamp sold in 1857 though it was printed in England. And next to the post office, Palaciode de la Real Audencia, once a supreme court under Spanish rule, now the National History Museum containing 70,000 items from the colonial period.

The bus whizzed by Santiago toward the airport. I wanted to stay longer. One day I will visit this sophisticated city at the foot of the snow-capped mountains and also explore Chile more in depth.