Viking Cruise: The End of Our Journey

Well, as this comes to a close, it has been a great experience. We got a pretty decent “sampler platter” of South America. From the French Guiana to the Amazon to Rio and Montevideo, to Buenos Aires and the Falklands/Malvinas, Tierra del Fuego, around Cape Horn, to Patagonia and then tomorrow to Santiago.  What a journey.

But not home yet. From Santiago, we’ll go to LA to see Derek, Jessie, and Ernie, and from there to Dallas to attend the annual Dallas LP Christmas Party and see the gang there. It’s been great (and will continue to be).

On a check off the goals note, I did pretty good:

Got most of the year end LP stuff done.

Kept in touch with the offices (sorry for the many “Whaddup?” Emails 🙂

Read 2.5 books.

Walked over half a million steps (>250 miles) in the 47 days on the ship.

Worked out in the gym ALMOST every day. I promise Megan and Sam 🙂

Ate PRETTY well. Actually, if the scale here is right, I lost a couple of pounds on the trip which was much needed 🙂

Hallie and I didn’t kill each other. Didn’t even come close. Was VERY enjoyable actually. Good to know we could do that.

And was not bored once. Not for one minute.

A great experience through and through.

One of the nice things about cruises is 1. You’re in a beautiful “hotel” where everything is pretty much taken care of for you, and 2. Every day you wake up in a cool place (3. And you don’t have to pack and unpack when you get there.)

If you haven’t tried one, I’d highly recommend it. Probably best to start with a 7-10 day cruise (quarters are tight and it’s easy to get on one another’s nerves—we witnessed more than a few cases of that on this trip). It’s not for everyone, but I find it very enjoyable.

And our trip was more of an “old folks” cruise. No kids. No casinos. No big parties. That was fine with us. But for those who want loud bashes all night, there are lines other than Viking that cater to those who do. I’m sure there is something for everyone out there.

In any event, I’ll report from Santiago.  Gonna see if I can find an American sports bar there so I can (finally) get to see the Bills play. Been missing the best football they’ve played in years.  Oh, well. Not the end of the world. And I know that because we just spent a few days there actually 🙂


Viking Cruise: Heading North to Santiago, Chile

Well, finally on the way to our last port of call. The capital of Chile, Santiago.  I heard there are big demonstrations going on there. Memories of my youth 😀 (though probably smart if I stay away)

Our stop today, Puerto Montt, seen below, had to be cancelled. The docks are not accessible for big ships so what they do is they drop anchor in the harbor and then use their life boats to tender us ashore. However, when we got there this morning, there were 35 mile and hour winds and waves that made getting on and off the tenders difficult. Plus the anchor would not hold the ship in place.  So the captain called an audible and we left. Like he always says about the weather, “it is what it is.”

Disappointing because there is a beautiful lake and volcanoes here. Teddy Roosevelt said it is the prettiest lake in the world.

Next time, I guess. 😀

Heading North!



Viking Cruise: Punta Arenas, Chile

Arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile last night (I think our captain may have gotten a little lost on the way, judging from the map, eh?) 🙂

Anyway, today we got to kayak the Strait of Magellan. As you probably know, this is the pathway that Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, found that took him from the Atlantic to the Pacific and around the world 500 years ago. (next year is the 500th anniversary)

Very, very cool.

Punta Arenas is in Patagonia, and again, very far south. The city actually has almost the same population as Erie and tourism is a big part of their industry, especially as it has gotten warmer here over the years.

Allow me minor tangent from my travelogue please, if you don’t mind:

I am a big fan of technology. I know I’m not very good at it (I am still awed by the fact that connecting 2 tin cans with string rubbed with candle wax enables you to talk over that line, and have no clue how THAT works :), so I have ZERO clue how technology works, though I have used it all the time (I actually owned the first portable computer ever made—the Kaypro 2, back in the 1980’s before some of you were born!).  I love the brilliance and convenience of it.

But this REALLY amazes me:

Hallie’s Google phone can take this picture. (Actually you don’t even need the ship as background, JUST the numbers would work) and then Google spreads some magic sprinkle dust on the screen and it recognized those numbers as:

RRS Discovery (2013)

This article is about the 2013 vessel. For Scott’s 1901 ship, see RRS Discovery. For other ships of this name, see RRS Discovery (disambiguation).

RRS Discovery is a Royal Research Ship operated by the Natural Environment Research Council. The ship is the third such vessel to be built and named for the ship used by Robert Falcon Scott in his 1901-1904 expedition to the Antarctic.

Name: RRS Discovery
Owner: NERC Research Ship Unit
Builder: C.N.P. Freire, S.A
Cost: £68 million
Laid down: 16 February 2011
Launched: 6 April 2012
Completed: 3 June 2013
Identification: ·IMO number9588029

·MMSI number235091165

·Callsign: 2FGX5

Status: In service
General characteristics 
Class and type: Lloyd’s +100A1, Ice 1D, LMC, UMS, DP(AM), IWS, EP, Research Vessel
Displacement: 6260 tonnes
Length: 99.7 m
Beam: 18 m
Draught: 5.1 – 6.6 m
Installed power: Wärtsilä 8L20 – 4x 1770 Kw
Propulsion: ·2 × Azimuth Thrusters(5-bladed, fixed pitch)

·One retractable azimuth forward (1,350kW)

·One Tees Gill water-jet thruster (1,700 kW)

Speed: 12 knots
Crew: ·24 marine crew

·28 scientists

Notes: Endurance 50 days

Discovery was built as a replacement for the previous Discovery in the “blue ocean” research role.[1] The ship was ordered in 2010 from the C.N.P. Freire shipyard in Vigo, and was launched in April 2012. Discovery was delivered to the NERC in the summer of 2013 for a period of sea trials prior to her planned initial deployment.[2]

The ship is fitted with flexible laboratory spaces, allowing the laboratories to be tailored to the nature of the different scientific activities intended to take place on each cruise. Discovery is also fitted with an advanced hydroacoustic system in three major parts; a pair of major echosounders plus a hydrophone are installed in a special “blister” installation on the ship’s keel, while she also carries a pair of “drop keels” containing more echosounders, hydrophones and CCTV cameras.[3] Discovery is also capable of operating the National Oceanography Centre‘s ROUV Isis.

How on earth can the phone take a picture of 5 seemingly random letters/numbers and know that it this ship? I REALLY don’t get that.  Amazing! (And one of our biggest customers). Keep wowing ‘em, Google!

Heading north up the coast tonight.


Viking Cruise: Glaciers in the Beagle Channel

Yesterday we went around Cape Horn. That was very cool.

Not much to see. Mostly just out at sea, but here is a picture of the early morning with the sun starting to come up around 4am. You can see the storm and the rain we are trying to stay ahead of.

And as you can see, the storm caught up with us 🙂

Then through the Beagle Channel (named after Darwin’s boat) where we got to see some cool glaciers.

Of course the pics don’t do them justice. These are big mountains.

A room with a Glacier View 🙂

Viking Cruise: Ushuaia, The Southernmost City in the World

We spent the past 2 days here in Ushuaia, Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego (land of fire), the southernmost city in the world.

It reminds me of Alaska or Norway only upside down 🙂 There is lots of water all around. It sits on the Beagle Channel (named after Charles Darwin’s ship) just north of Cape Horn, the Straits of Magellan (1st man to circumnavigate the world), and Drake’s Passage. We are about 600 miles from Antarctica, with nothing between here and there besides the S. Atlantic.

It is a bigger city than I imagined, with nearly the same population as Erie—over 100,000, although 40 years ago only 5,000 people called this place home.

It actually started as a prison colony—a place where you would ship the worst of the worst and put them in a prison where, even if you could escape, there would be nowhere to go.

It is cold here most of the year, but luckily we are in late spring here so it stays light til 10pm and when I wake up (still get up @ 4:30 each day) it is already daylight. Midnight sun sort of thing.

We took a raft and a long hike through Tierra del Fuego National Park, which was absolutely beautiful.  Different than forests we have. For one thing, the trees are not as big (short growing season and very cold, dark winters).  Not many bugs or insects of any kind (again, too short a season). No ants. So all the trees that fall (strong winds knock them down) they don’t decompose and can lay there for 50 years or more. So, that is a bit strange looking.

But the park is beautiful

This is where we rafted.

And this was our rafting group. This is actually the end of the “highway” that goes all the way down North and South America from Alaska, which is 17,500 km away.

The hike was about 6 miles long and was much more than a simple “walk in the park”.

When we got back to the city, Hallie and I went to an Ice Bar, where she was attacked by the bouncer. (Big, ugly guy)

He didn’t scare me at all though.

And the owner then made me an honorary bouncer and put my pic on his Facebook page.

(Actually that’s just a good hair day for me 😀)

Tomorrow we go out to see sea lions and penguins in the Beagle Channel before heading onward around the Southern Tip of the world to the fjords of Chile and the Pacific Ocean.

Viking Cruise: The Falkland Islands

What an absolutely pleasant surprise the Falklands were. VERY remote (as you can see from the map).

Very unpopulated (only 3,500 residents)

Yet an absolutely beautiful place with amazing scenery and tons of wildlife.

Their main industries are fishing, sheep farming and tourism.  There are only 3 flights there a week from anywhere in the world (once a week from London, England and once a week from Santiago, Chile).  Plus there are very few (and very small motels) so the only real way to visit is by ship.  But they had almost 60,000 visitors last year come that way. It is a growing industry.

One of the things people get to see is the large penguin population. These are wild birds but they roost here and are pretty friendly (even though they sit on their eggs for weeks). They let you get really close and seem curious more than afraid. THIS CLOSE!

One of the main fish here is the Patagonian Toothfish.  (From the pic you can see why it’s called that)

The funny thing is, this is one of the best (and most famous) marketing successes ever. What they did was—someone figured out that if they changed the name from Patagonia Tooth fish to something more yummy-sounding, more people might be willing to eat it.

So…Voila!  Allow me to introduce you to the Chilean Sea Bass.  Sounds MUCH better (though it tastes—and is—the same exact fish). (Sorry to tell you 😀).

We also got to see some sea lions.  It’s funny because on these cruises, they spoil you so much. Don’t have to cook or clean or shop—they make it easy.  I thought “this is the life”.  But after watching these guys do this for like 4 hours today, THIS is the life! 😀

On to Ushaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.  Big storm coming tonight. Hang onto your hat!

Viking Cruise: Sailing the South Atlantic

We’re at sea for a couple of days, heading towards the Falkland Islands. We are about 42 degrees south of the equator (which is about the same exact distance that Erie, Pa is north of the equator!).  So in the same sort of temperate zone, only opposite—it’s coming into summer here. I think the next part of this trip will be kind of like going to Alaska in the summer. We will be going around Cape Horn, which is the southernmost land on the planet (other than Antarctica, which I really don’t think is land, but is more frozen water—I’m not sure).

Anyway, we’re a long way from home.

From the larger perspective, you can see from this world map how far south we are as we head towards the Falklands and around the tip of South America.

We’ve seen a bunch of albatrosses so far. Pretty amazing animals. Some of them have wingspans of up to 11 feet. They can live for 80 years. And they spend most of their lives at sea, flying thousands of miles. They have been following the ship for a couple of days now. Very graceful flyers. Riding the wind, so to speak.

Weather down here can be rough. In fact, they have already canceled a stop in Argentina at Puerto de Madryn because of a big storm. So instead we are heading due south straight to Ft. Stanley in the Falkland Islands (The Malvinas to the Argentine’s).

Most of you probably won’t remember, but in 1982 Britain and Argentina fought an actual war over this land called The Falklands War.  England won.

However, just a few years later, at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City at the 1986 World Cup, Argentina got their revenge, when led by legend Diego Maradona and his infamous “Hand of God” goal, Argentina beat the Brits at “their own game”.

Check it out (for those of you who know Argentina futbol as Lionel Messi 🙂

(And for you soccer fans, the other goal Maradona scored that game was one of the greatest runs/goals of all time. Check it out: