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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
My wife and I have done only two previous cruises, on HAL to Mexico and Alaska, and they whet my appetite for more, preferably on something a little smaller. After our experience with Australis, my concern now is that no other cruise ... Read More
My wife and I have done only two previous cruises, on HAL to Mexico and Alaska, and they whet my appetite for more, preferably on something a little smaller. After our experience with Australis, my concern now is that no other cruise could possibly measure up. This was the cruise of a lifetime. We were aboard Ventus Australis for four nights, from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas, the last week of March. Ship capacity is said to be 210 passengers, but there were only about 160 aboard our late season cruise. The ship felt very spacious; only at the last night’s captain’s toast (in the largest lounge) did anywhere on the ship feel at all crowded. The passengers averaged middle age, and were largely well-travelled and interesting people. At the first night dinner we were told that the 160 of us represented 19 nationalities, and as each nation was named, its citizens received a warm and welcoming applause from the rest of the crowd. I’m tempted to make a political statement right now, but I’ll refrain. Our group of six made a number of friends, especially a couple from San Francisco, a couple from Santiago, a family from Malaysia and three young solo travelers from Australia, Austria and Belgium who met a few days earlier in Ushuaia and decided to take a cruise together. As a lifetime sailor, disembarking on the small island that is Cape Horn was a thrill. And the weather was appropriately cold, windy and rainy. But on the whole, our weather was quite good. There were two shore excursions a day (except the morning we disembarked when there was one), all by way of Zodiac rafts. We were told exactly how to get on and off the rafts, and the guides were quick to point out when any of us got it wrong. That might seem a bit regimented, but the end result was a very efficient and safe transfer of all concerned from ship to land and back. We never had to step in the water, so hiking boots were sufficient, but waterproof ones were nice due to rain, wet grasses and some mud. Our stateroom felt spacious as staterooms go, in part due to the floor to ceiling window through which we could watch some of the world’s most spectacular scenery pass by. Almost all the staterooms are identical, except that those on Deck 2 had more normal size windows. For my money, the larger window was worth the money. But when we signed up there was nothing available on Deck 3, and we paid a second premium to be on Deck 4, which would not have been worth the extra fare had something been available on Deck 3. The only passenger space on Deck 1 was the dining room, and the only indoor space on Deck 5 was the lounge forward, largest of the three lounges, and the small gift shop. There was ample outdoor space to take in the spectacular scenery--most of Deck 5, the roof of the Deck 5 lounge, narrow walkways ahead of the lounges on Decks 3 and 5, and aft on all decks. The Deck 5 lounge (forward; excursion meeting place for English speakers) had a bar in the afternoons and evenings, the Deck 4 lounge (aft; excursion meeting place for Spanish speakers) had early morning coffee and snacks, and while the Deck 3 lounge (forward) had no food or beverage service, it was a wonderfully quiet space to read a book, play a game, or watch the passing scenery. With the exception mentioned above, none ever felt crowded. All food and beverages (including alcohol) were included; the only way to spend money on the ship was in the gift shop. Be aware, there is no elevator, which appeared challenging for a handful of passengers. Unfortunately the ship is just not friendly for the mobility impaired. The food was very good and plentiful, as was the wine (very easy to drink more than you might have intended). Meals were all at a set time and an assigned table. Our group of six had our own table, but solo couples were randomly assigned table mates. Everyone I talked to enjoyed the new friends they shared their meals with. Dinners usually included a choice of only two entrees, but we were never disappointed with what we chose. Back to the shore excursions-- all involved some short walks or short hikes, usually with several choices. With the exception of Cape Horn and Magdalena Island (penguins), on our route they all involved spectacular views of glaciers, some very much up close and personal. The most difficult hikes (which were optional) were steep and probably would be properly categorized as “strenuous” but for the short length (nor more than 3.5 miles round trip). The solitude ashore was amazing; in fact the only humans we saw not on our ship were when we passed the sister ship going the other way in the Beagle Channel middle of the third day. The excursion guides were fantastic -- friendly, very good English speakers, and well educated about the history, geography, flora and fauna. The rest of the crew was also very friendly, welcoming, and helpful, and mostly English speaking among those whose job entailed interaction with passengers. And those whose English was a little weak were quick to find someone who spoke it well (if your Spanish was as pitiful as mine is). In addition to excursions ashore, we were offered tours of the bridge (day 2) and the engine room (day 3). After the bridge tour, the Captain told us we were welcome to come back any time; just knock on the door and we would be told if it wasn’t a good time for visitors. The engine room was remarkable for how clean it was; I would have felt comfortable eating a meal off the floor! And if that is how they kept the engine room, you can imagine how immaculate the rest of the ship was. This was a fantastic adventure for those who like good company, good food, the outdoors and active travel. These wanting water slides, zip lines and casinos to keep them entertained would probably do better looking elsewhere. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
My wife and I typically don't leave reviews on review sites (particularly negative reviews) but we felt obligated to share with anyone considering Australis Cruises so you can best plan your trip. WARNING! :) If you are under 35 ... Read More
My wife and I typically don't leave reviews on review sites (particularly negative reviews) but we felt obligated to share with anyone considering Australis Cruises so you can best plan your trip. WARNING! :) If you are under 35 this is not the cruise for you and the way to spend your time in Patagonia/Tierra del Fuego! Other resorts (like Remota or Explora) would be a MUCH better option. 1) Age: The average age of the cruise was 50-60+ and you only spend an hour or two off the boat per day! So for younger people seeking adventure you will go stir crazy. We don't have anything against older people (there stories are the best!) and we made some great relationships. The company tried (somewhat) to give easy, medium, and difficult hike options for the short excursions each day but even the "most difficult" hike would be 1-2 miles max and incredibly slow. A lot of the hikes were through normal looking terrain you could easily see not on a cruise. You can also see plenty of glaciers by land in Patagonia. 2) Food: Disclaimer. We live in New York City and are snobby foodie types. The food was buffet style and you can get MUCH better food and service for the same price or lower at other resorts. We were not too impressed with the dining experience (although our waiter was very nice). 3) Guides/General Service/Customer Service: For the price of the cruise, we felt customer service fell far short of our other experiences in Patagonia. Starting with the check in process - the check in lady was very rude, short and it felt like we were checking in to get on a $25 Greyhound bus. Not a cruise. We then waited in a very cheesy souvenir shop for over an hour to wait to get on the boat. In terms of service on the boat it was pretty good - nice bartender and servers. The guises however were so-so. We had much nicer, knowledgeable, personable and less condescending guides in other areas of Patagonia. They also did a very odd auction at the end of the cruise where all the proceeds went to the guides and staff. In America this is big Faux Pas or bad etiquette. Typically auctions are for charity and better entertainment should be provided than for asking for more money the last night of the cruise. Just our two cents though! I would note the presentations on the cruise to kill down time were interesting. In summary, do Mendoza, other areas of Patagonia at nicer resorts instead of this cruise. If you really want to do Cape Horn and Teirra Del Fuego just take a quick flight to Ushuaia (dine at Kaupe a great restaurant) and take a day trip out to Cape Horn or the soprrounding areas. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I recently returned from a wonderful cruise on the Stella Australis. This was my first cruise and I must confess I absolutely loved it. It was an adventure of a lifetime being in Patagonia and relatively so close to Antarctica ! We ... Read More
I recently returned from a wonderful cruise on the Stella Australis. This was my first cruise and I must confess I absolutely loved it. It was an adventure of a lifetime being in Patagonia and relatively so close to Antarctica ! We embarked at Ushuaia (Argentina), which was a quaint little town (stopped one night prior to my departure). Very scenic and plenty of stores to stock up ahead of your cruise. Then we set off heading towards Punta Arenas, Chile, as our ultimate destination. The ship was immaculate, clean, thoroughly hygienic. I occupied a cabin on the 2nd floor and there are a total of 4 floors for cabins. It's a small cruise ship (~166 passengers) and this actually proved great since by the end of the week you pretty much knew the majority of folks on a first name basis. Average age was around 60+ and predominantly comprised of retired couples from North America i.e. University Alumni tours, along with a sprinkling of European countries such as Italy, France, Germany. I was a solo traveler, there were not too many of us, but we were certainly made to feel welcome and constantly invited to join other tours for drinks etc. Each day/night for breakfast, lunch & dinner you are seated with the same people for the entire duration. Initially, I was a tad worried about this, but I absolutely loved my table companions and we have since exchanged emails to keep in touch. Everyone was exceptionally friendly and outgoing. The cruise is structured as follows: Each day you visit a new location and conduct excursions using the Zodiac boats, for example visiting Glaciers, Cape Horn and the highlight for me Magdalena island to see the famous Magellan penguins . - they were superb! Somedays comprised of 2 excursions per day. A typical excursion was a landing via Zodiac on the beach or coastline, then split into 3 groups based on your level of fitness and interest in the local fauna and Geology. For example, I love to run long distance and hike so each day i took the most challenging hikes. They were very demanding and certainly at times quite treacherous on the slippery rocks and grass but we were always safe on account of the excellent trained staff who accompanied you on all excursions. The staff were exceptionally knowledgeable on the local wildlife and Geology and always made the trips a great deal of fun! There were also hikes that didn't require much exercise and elderly people with walking sticks and who required assistance typically took these hikes. It was wonderful to complete one of the excursions and to be greeted on the beach by one of the staff handing out whisky and hot chocolate = delicious and warm. In terms of day to day activities on the boat, it mainly comprised of relaxing and watching the world go by with a drink or two. There is a fifth floor deck bar (all inclusive alcohol and soft drinks) which was superb! Each morning on the fourth floor Sky Lounge, tea, coffee and snacks were provided around 6am for the early risers - I really appreciated this nice touch. Each evening lectures of the following day excursions were provided and this really helped give you an appreciation of where you are visiting. The food on the cruise was excellent. Varied menu, typically 3 courses (all inclusive) and so many deserts to choose from it was ridiculous :) The waiters were very friendly and often chatted at the tables during meal times. In terms of the excisions, the staff ran this process like a machine and height of efficiency. They assisted all those who needed help getting in and out of the Zodiac. One cannot stress enough, the need for waterproof clothing, gloves, woolly hat and solid hiking boots. You will definitely get muddy if you opt for the more strenuous hikes so be prepared to have a change of clothes each day. The cabins were cleaned thoroughly each day, and new towels provided as one might expect in a hotel. Water was drinkable on the ship. It was very relaxing to watch the world go by in my cabin each morning and realize we were in a new location. All in all i cannot fault this cruise I thoroughly recommend it ! Huge shout out to "Vicky" and Emmanuel - very helpful, knowledgeable and humorous guides. Oh don't forget your camera iPhone will suffice for majority of excursions but i found an SLR with Zoom lens to be extremely beneficial for Magdalena island and close up of penguins One point to note, this is NOT a cruise for young children, they will literally be bored to tears, plus the excursions and getting on and off Zodiacs could be a tad risky for them. There is no WiFi or Cell service or TV/Games for them. It's definitely not one of the Disney type cruises that they might expect. I have 3 children and they would have been very bored on this - I feel it's fair to mention, it much more applicable to Adults who wish to experience an adventure of a lifetime, learn about Patagonia, history and Geology and get away from all the pressures of work and social media nonsense etc. Enjoy! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This trip certainly changed my anti-cruising mentality. I accept that it is a small ship in a unique location but really can't fault the trip. The boat itself is very comfortable with spacious lounges and very comfortable large ... Read More
This trip certainly changed my anti-cruising mentality. I accept that it is a small ship in a unique location but really can't fault the trip. The boat itself is very comfortable with spacious lounges and very comfortable large cabins. The beds were very comfortable and the 'portholes' were in fact large viewing windows enabling you to enjoy just sitting in the cabin and watching Patagonia go by. The ensuite shower rooms were fine with no problems in the supply of hot water. The food on board was exceptional with a wide range of dishes each day reflecting Patagonian cuisine and with vegetarian options for both lunch and dinner. The all inclusive bar provided a wide range of wines, cocktails and spirits together with savoury snacks. The Sky lounge provided the welcome early morning coffee, tea, juices and a selection of biscuits and was open throughout the day. Sight seeing trips to Cape Horn (we are lucky) and the glaciers were all done by Zodiac. The expedition team oversaw all this in a highly professional and safe manner even when the inevitable Patagonian winds suddenly blew up. This was all done with smiles. knowledge and advice and I can't praise them enough. As a tip, I'd recommend taking your own travel mug along making it easier to take drinks back to the cabin as they only provide small china cups. This is a very professional outfit, with a fun loving and experienced crew who provide exemplary service. You never know, I might even go on another cruise (albeit a small ship) after experiencing this. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Journey to the end/beginning of the world. Beautiful, luxurious ship with well-fitted cabins, including comfortable beds. We expected something more rustic, but this was indeed a luxury cruise vessel. Extremely attractive, inviting bar and ... Read More
Journey to the end/beginning of the world. Beautiful, luxurious ship with well-fitted cabins, including comfortable beds. We expected something more rustic, but this was indeed a luxury cruise vessel. Extremely attractive, inviting bar and lounge areas. Coolers with filtered water on every deck, which could be used to fill stylish water flasks, given to each passenger (great souvenir). Very friendly crew. Meals were varied and excellent. Service was very attentive. Diversified, interesting lectures (e.g. local history and indigenous peoples) and films. Excursions are a highlight and were wonderful. Well-planned and organized. Leaders (like Cristobal) were well-trained and knowledgeable. Crews were extremely efficient and professional and as a result, we always felt safe. Note that feasibility of excursions is always subject to weather conditions, so you may be disappointed on any given day when excursions are cancelled due to poor weather conditions. We were lucky to have had excellent weather for most of our excursions. Unique voyage through the Beagle Channel and Glacier Alley is unforgettable. As was our visit to Cape Horn, the Lighthouse and the Memorial. Highly recommended. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I was recently on a Patagonian cruise on the Stella Australis. It was exceptional in all respects. The ship was very nice, very clean and comfortable. There is no TV or WiFi, which was great and contributed to relaxation. This was an all ... Read More
I was recently on a Patagonian cruise on the Stella Australis. It was exceptional in all respects. The ship was very nice, very clean and comfortable. There is no TV or WiFi, which was great and contributed to relaxation. This was an all vegan cruise and the chef did a wonderful job and the food was very good. The dining room staff was the best I have ever encountered! The cabin stewards were also excellent. Everyone’s pleasantness and service standard was great! The true reason for the trip was the scenery, which was stunning! The expedition crew was exceptional! There was a presentation every evening and expectations for the next day were given. Shore excursions were in zodiac boats and very well organized. The crew was very knowledgeable about the area. The excursions were 1-2/ day and varied in exertion levels, but all involved some level of exertion. There is no “regular” entertainment, but the scenery was the entertainment. After an excursion, it was nice to relax, and not do anything else but look out at the beauty. I would highly recommend this cruise ship, mostly for the crew and the destination. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We spend 4 nights on the Stella Australis, taking in all the excursions we could (usually two per day). We enjoyed the trips, the Zodiac process to get to land and guide, everything. On most excursions there are 2 to 3 levels of ... Read More
We spend 4 nights on the Stella Australis, taking in all the excursions we could (usually two per day). We enjoyed the trips, the Zodiac process to get to land and guide, everything. On most excursions there are 2 to 3 levels of activity, from easy to very hard. Most people should be able to get from the boat into the Zodiac and from the Zodiac, on and off the beach. We met many interesting people during the hikes and this made the trip even better. The food is good on the ship, but do not expect 5-star dining and a huge selection of entres. The purpose of the boat is to get you to the excursions, not luxury dining The all-enclusive nature of the cruise (excursions, alcohol, food) makes everything very easy. All aspects of the cruise went well and were very organized, from the embarkation to the disembarkation. Their process for running the Zodiacs is like a machine, very fact, efficient and safe This was the highlight of a 2.5 week trip to Chile Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We chose to do this cruise to broaden our view of Chile. After spending 10 days in Santiago and Valparaíso exploring the wine valleys , we traveled south to board the Stella in Puerto Arenas .We were looking forward to seeing the ... Read More
We chose to do this cruise to broaden our view of Chile. After spending 10 days in Santiago and Valparaíso exploring the wine valleys , we traveled south to board the Stella in Puerto Arenas .We were looking forward to seeing the glaciers. As recreational sailors we were anxious to see Cape Horn. This cruise was everything we hoped it to be and more. Fortunately, the weather conditions allowed us to do all the excursions including visiting Cape Horn. Our cabin was comfortable with nice amenities. We even had a complimentary bottle of champagne from the Captain for our anniversary. Andreas, our cabin attendant, was very helpful. If you are looking for interesting well-coordinated outdoor activities, this cruise will deliver! The expedition guides are friendly and extremely knowledgeable - we had Pato. We were very impressed with the attention to safety from the guides and crew managing the Zodiacs. Safety was always first while assuring you have a good experience. As others have mentioned, be prepared for all types of weather. Waterproof clothing is recommended for good reason. We enjoyed meeting other guests during the cocktail hour prior to presentations and dinner. We would evaluate the food as average but abundant and table service inconsistent. Overall, our trip was an excellent, memorable experience and we highly recommend traveling on the Australis Cruise Line. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
If you want the best cruise for exciting excursions, great service, excellent food - this cruise is perfect. The cruise lived up to documentaries we have seen about the ship. The ship is tidy and clean - outer windows are rinsed with ... Read More
If you want the best cruise for exciting excursions, great service, excellent food - this cruise is perfect. The cruise lived up to documentaries we have seen about the ship. The ship is tidy and clean - outer windows are rinsed with fresh water in port. Part of the total experience is the international make-up of passengers - really diverse and interesting. Everything is super organized from mealtimes, planning shore excursions, disembarking the ship to zodiacs for excursions. The dining is great. The food is varied and plentiful at each meal. The entertainment is either a pertinent movie or documentary of the history of the area, or information regarding the current state of what is on each excursion often accompanied by pictures. There is a tour of the bridge. Passengers are divided into groups according to a language they understand or other previously designated group to which they belonged. Excursion guides are extremely knowledgeable about plants, history, geography, geology, water life - many speak 3-6 languages. Suggestions are available for an off-shore port excursion such as Ushuaia. Passengers are handled with great care yet moved with a degree of expediency that is inherent with any excursion. Overall the crew are very skilled at the separate tasks performed and personable giving attention to all individuals in each group. Instructions are crystal clear. Information is superlative regarding conditions for levels of excursions where applicable - so individuals can make well informed and responsible choices. Nothing is promised that the cruise can't deliver - if weather is a factor preventing an excursion from starting, all is explained well. Safety is the first consideration as it should be. We are really impressed with the 'first class' performance of the Stella Australis. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
As stated on their website, no amenities. If your expedition happens to get cancelled for the day you have nothing (TV, internet) to fill your time which can prove to be very boring. The expeditions and expedition guides were good. ... Read More
As stated on their website, no amenities. If your expedition happens to get cancelled for the day you have nothing (TV, internet) to fill your time which can prove to be very boring. The expeditions and expedition guides were good. The vast majority of the staff was helpful and nice however, the food is sub-par. For the price I would expect something of a little higher caliber in regards to the food. Room was small and we had a AAA room. It was nice to be able to wear relaxed clothing and that you did not have to dress up for dinner as you do for other cruises. We started our trip in Ushuaia and went roundtrip. I would say the portion from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia was the much better portion of the trip as opposed to the portion from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas. Although the scenery was great, overall I wouldn't say it was worth the high price tag. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
The Patagonian Fjords and Cape Horn had been on the bucket list for a long time. Seeing the National Geographic TV programme about the trip pointed us in the right direction and we were not disappointed. We had some concerns that doing ... Read More
The Patagonian Fjords and Cape Horn had been on the bucket list for a long time. Seeing the National Geographic TV programme about the trip pointed us in the right direction and we were not disappointed. We had some concerns that doing this straight after an amazing trip to Antarctica (see our review of Akademik Ioffe) would result in unfair comparisons and disappointments, but this did not happen. It did give some useful comparisons. Australis is purpose built for these trips with very shallow draft that allows her into places like Pia Glacier. It does mean that she rolls more than other ships her size but this is only an issue in fairly short stretches of open water, which are normally minimised with appropriate route selection. The ship has lots of comfortable lounge spaces for watching the amazing scenery pass by, but could improve how slide shows and movies are displayed as you need to be early for a decent screen view! The gym has been removed due to lack of use……. The cabin had plenty of space with the largest bathrooms we have had on a cruise ship, but effective storage space was sadly lacking. With only one small cupboard for hanging clothes you need to decide if this is wet or dry when gear gets wet. Food was good and choice was generally very good with buffet for breakfast and lunch. One disappointment was set places for dining so you had the same company at every meal – we would have preferred flexibility. Whilst wine was included with the meals, there was only ever one red and one white. The only beer on board was 4 different lagers, which is disappointing with the excellent pale ales and other options available in the area. The expeditions are well organised, although the group/language splits became rather confusing with some parties switching to which ever group was at the front of the queue each trip. The guides were very knowledgeable, but we found concentrating on commentary from non-native English speakers rather tiring at times. A very wet first day was handled well and the trips still well worth it. We appreciated the offering of 2 or 3 options for the land trips, depending on the amount and difficulty of walking you wanted to do. The Cape Horn landing was amazing and normally involves wet feet, but they handle it extremely well. You have an 80% chance of getting ashore there apparently. We watched the penguins from the zodiacs, which was a bit disappointing after the onshore experiences in Antarctica. Mauricio the expedition leader has an unequaled passion for Patagonia, its flora and fauna and his job. He knowledge lifts the whole experience to another level, so get to know him. Highlights were Cape Horn, sitting and listening to/watching Pia Glacier and the cruise down "Glacier Alley". Despite having been to Antarctica, the glacier experiences here were very different and just as impressive. In fairness we had better penguin encounters in Antarctica We would suggest the Punta Arenas to Ushuaia trip over the shorter return trip. Despite a few shortcomings we would not hesitate to recommend the trip unless you are more interested in what happens on the boat against what is outside. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
The Ventus (means Southern Wind) is brand new, just coming online in early January, 2018, and holds 210 guests. I think we had about 140 on this sailing at the end of January with 60 crew members. We chose the 4 night itinerary from ... Read More
The Ventus (means Southern Wind) is brand new, just coming online in early January, 2018, and holds 210 guests. I think we had about 140 on this sailing at the end of January with 60 crew members. We chose the 4 night itinerary from Punta Arenas, Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina. You could also do the 3 night reverse itinerary or combine them. If you want to visit this spectacular landscape of glaciers, mountains and churning sea, this is really your only option. 6pm was the magic hour to finally board the ship. The boarding area had a number of craft booths so you could grab that last souvenir from Chile. You had to wait for a bus to drive you out to the ship, which took about 4 buses to load. Upon boarding, we were shown immediately to our lovely cabin. After ensuring our luggage was there, we all went to the 5th floor deck Darwin Lounge for a safety briefing. You didn’t need to wear your life jackets. English speakers were in this lounge and Spanish speakers met on the 4th floor lounge. Welcome Pisco Sours, or whatever you wanted, were handed out. By the time we got there, all the tables were taken and we saw that there were appetizer plates on each. When asked about how to get one from the bartender, he was shrugged off and said they were only on the tables. We only wanted something to nibble on, chips or nuts, and saw they next night that they did have these. The ship departed at 8pm and dinner was at 8:15 in the 1st Deck Dining Room where again, they assigned you to a table based on language. We were sat at a table for 6 and met our table mates, an interesting couple from Australia. The other two never showed up. I really didn’t like this arrangement because we sat with the same couple for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 4 nights. While we enjoyed talking with them, we do like meeting a variety of people and this wasn’t conducive to that. The food and wine for every meal was good. The dress code was decidedly casual…the first night especially, most people wore what they’d had on all day. There are two daily shore excursions which are again divided into two groups based on Challenging or Moderate Difficulty and again by language. We always picked the easiest option. After a good buffet breakfast, we don our lifejackets and carefully board the rolling Zodiacs. Perched on the seat, clinging to a rope for dear life with one hand and husband's leg with the other, wearing waterproof hiking boots, pants, jacket, gloves and hat, we set off. You have to either tuck your camera behind your life vest, or better yet, stuff it in a ziplock bag because you do occasionally get sprayed with ocean. Morning's are often cloudy, drizzly and cool, and we’re let off with a dry landing. With our guide, we set off on a coastal walk along the edge of a stream, a peat bog and a beaver’s habitat to a waterfall and moss cover rock face tucked deep inside a sub-polar forest. Our guide discusses flora and fauna, (how the introduced beavers and mink hurt the ecosystem) and it is lovely even with the monochromatic vista of sea, sky and mountains. Back for lunch at 1pm and the second excursion, to Tucker’s Islets to see the Magellanic penguins, is divided into 3 times from 3:15 to 5:30. The first group was lucky because the sun actually came out. When we went, it had turned blustery and rainy which made viewing them not that pleasant and quick. Our zodiac had run aground off the penguin’s beach, but was pulled out by a fellow zodiac’s rope. There also were a lot of king cormorants to observe. The gift shop on the ship sells a large, detailed map of the area filled with other information for $20...highly recommend reading this early on the cruise. A documentary film was shown after dinner for entertainment. It was rough sleeping in the middle of the night as we sailed around the western end of Tierra del Fuego into the open Pacific ocean before entering the Ballenero (Whaleboat) Channel. Next day found us cruising up the NW arm of the Beagle Channel until early afternoon. We had a lecture on Tierra del Fuego and the Bridge was open to tour. After lunch, entered Pia Fjord and boarded Zodiacs for the Pia Glacier to hike to a panoramic view. Again, we opted for the moderate hike, but as I struggled to scramble up the slippery, wet volcanic rock, aided in part by occasional ropes to hold onto, I realized I didn’t have the balance for this trek. Besides my husband, a crew member was very solicitous in helping me back down. I didn’t mind much as it wasn’t very pretty under the gloomy skies. Today the wind was blowing so hard you couldn’t go out on deck. I had wished this ship had some jacuzzi’s on the top deck, but I can see from a safety standpoint that wouldn’t work. At one point the rain pelted the ship so hard you couldn’t see out of the windows. Luckily, the weather improved as we cruised through Glacier Alley, where a number of impressive glaciers named after European countries flowed down from the Darwin Mountain Range on the northern shore. Staff served appetizers or drinks representative of each country as we passed by. Day 3 took us to Cape Horn, part of the archipelago that makes up Cape Horn National Park, Cabo de Hornos is a sheer 1394 ft. high rocky promontory overlooking the turbulent Drake Passage. The 7am departure to Cape Horn had everyone dressed and ready to go. We’d been warned during the presentation yesterday that if the winds or swells were too high for a safe Zodiac landing, the excursion would be cancelled. And, it was, to the disappointment of many. I had already decided climbing all those steps straight up in the usual windy conditions would not be fun so stayed in bed through the wake up announcement. But, I did scurry out to the deck to get photos of the Isla Hornos Monument, the negative space forming an albatross, to commemorate all the lost seamen. To make up for this, the Captain decided to sail round the Cape, which resulted in a rollicking, wild ride. The rest of the morning was spent viewing a documentary on Shackleton and hearing about the aboriginal people before our excursion to Wulaia Bay. In late afternoon we go ashore at Wulaia Bay, a scenic spot that had been the site of one of the largest Yamana aboriginal settlements. The sun was a welcome sight as we took an easy hike through a Magellanic forest for a panoramic viewpoint of the bay. Afterwards, you could explore a small, ethnographic museum that also housed the Barrel Post Office, where you can pick up a postcard from your country and mail it when you return like the old sailors used to do. You can also drop off a postcard and hope someone will do the same. All in all, this cruise was a unique way to explore the beautiful landscape in comfort and safety. The crew did a great job, the lectures were interesting and the food was good. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We got advertisment with a gym on board. There is none. The itenirary of the ship is without competition and very interesting. Going both direction makes no sense (increased proximity to land on cape horn, we did both direction, ... Read More
We got advertisment with a gym on board. There is none. The itenirary of the ship is without competition and very interesting. Going both direction makes no sense (increased proximity to land on cape horn, we did both direction, landing was possible only once; from Puntas Arenas down to Ushuaia is better - you see the alley of the glaciers by daylight). The vessel is new, every cabin is more or less the same with a big window and proper equipped. There is 1 (!) public toilet on board. No restrooms close to restaurant, no restrooms at the bar. You have to run some floors down or up to your room. Plan your service stops carefully. Ship is all inclusive. Drink selection limited. Coffee ok. No Wifi (!?). Zodiacs need to circle to get all the passengers on land. Crew is very varying. Some Zodiac drivers and guides are super professional and with huge knowledge, others are who knows where from. Same for the waiters, some cannot basic english (and the boat is mostly frequented by Australian, US, Canadian, UK, German). Activities are split in moderate, challenging and very challenging. Very challenging is still not sportive (target group wealthy 60+). I would not book again for this price. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
The Stella Australis cruise was breathtaking. I boarded from Ushuaia, saw Cape Horn, Eagle Glacier and Magdalena Island (which I refer to as Penguin island) before arriving in Punta Arenas. By far my favorite part was seeing the ... Read More
The Stella Australis cruise was breathtaking. I boarded from Ushuaia, saw Cape Horn, Eagle Glacier and Magdalena Island (which I refer to as Penguin island) before arriving in Punta Arenas. By far my favorite part was seeing the hundreds (maybe thousands!) of penguins on Magdalena Island. They don't have fear of people, so we were advised to yield to them as groups of penguins pass along the walking trail. I had never seen a glacier before, so that was another highlight of the trip. The brilliant blue and turquoise color that radiates from the crevices of the glaciers is pretty remarkable. You can't catch it completely on camera. All the sights from the cruise were beautiful, the background information provided for the day trips was comprehensive, and the staff was extremely welcoming. In particular, if you sail with Felipe, Lorena or Carlos, you are lucky! The climate is unpredictable, so pack prepared for sun, rain, wind and cold all in the same day. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
This four night cruise from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Ushuaia, Argentina, on the Stella Australis was a wonderful experience. My husband and I are passionate independent travellers, so we had some trepidation about going on a cruise. ... Read More
This four night cruise from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Ushuaia, Argentina, on the Stella Australis was a wonderful experience. My husband and I are passionate independent travellers, so we had some trepidation about going on a cruise. However, we loved every aspect of this expedition. We had an AAA cabin, and it was immaculately clean, comfortable, spacious and well designed. There were 140 passengers on board. The ship is very well maintained and it has several lounges for various purposes: briefings, relaxing, attending talks, socialising, etc. All meals are served in the Darwin Lounge, with buffet breakfasts and lunches, and a three course evening meal with limited choices (usually three mains with one being vegetarian). The food was surprisingly good, and there were always fresh salads available at the lunch buffet for those who prefer a lighter meal. There is an open bar and the waiters and bartenders were always generous in the provision of drinks and snacks. There is also one lounge where self-serve coffee, tea, juice and biscuits or pastries are available from very early to late every day. As others have mentioned, you're assigned a table for all meals (based on nationality/language) and so you have the same dining companions throughout. This could be a problem if you were incompatible, but our dining companions were lovely and great fun so it worked out well. Each day excursions in zodiacs were offered graded by degree of difficulty. Briefings were always provided in advance and in several languages, as required by the variety of guests. We found the excursions to be generally excellent, and very well organised. The crew are very safety and environmentally conscious, and they go to great lengths to ensure that every participant has a safe and enjoyable experience. We were extremely impressed by the crew/staff in general. Stella Australis has inculcated a commitment to service among its staff that is outstanding. It was obvious that all of the staff were determined to ensure that every passenger had a wonderful experience, and nothing was too much trouble. Some passengers had severe mobility or other restrictions, but they were never left out. In addition to being expert at their various jobs, we found all the staff we came into contact with to be courteous, helpful, warm and friendly. We would happily consider doing another (different) Australis cruise. The experience has broken our "no cruise" pledge, although we would only consider this type of cruise. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We chose this to enhance our experience of South America and because it was an expedition boat. We have only been on small expedition boats carrying 40 passengers one in the Galapagos and the True North in the Kimberley Australia. For this ... Read More
We chose this to enhance our experience of South America and because it was an expedition boat. We have only been on small expedition boats carrying 40 passengers one in the Galapagos and the True North in the Kimberley Australia. For this reason we were worried that the Stella Australis was too large at 200 passengers. We need not have worried because the whole experience was brilliant. The cabins were a decent size, the food was good, the waiting staff and the guides were excellent and the daily expeditions were most enjoyable.There were also some interesting presentations on board including an amazing film about Shackleton. We saw some very interesting wildlife including whales. The ship was well constructed and it coped well with heavy seas. We were also very lucky to be able to disembark at Cape Horn even though it was a little stormy which was a real bonus. We would certainly recommend the Stella Australis for those wanting an expedition experience in comfortable surroundings Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
This was the last part of a Patagonia adventure. Glaciers, fjords, etc were all breathtaking. Guides were excellent and we enjoyed the expeditions (although the were a little short for us). We would have liked to spend more time seeing ... Read More
This was the last part of a Patagonia adventure. Glaciers, fjords, etc were all breathtaking. Guides were excellent and we enjoyed the expeditions (although the were a little short for us). We would have liked to spend more time seeing penguins and hiking. There was quite a bot of variation in the fitness level of the people onboard. We seemed to be in the mid range for age but more fit and able to do more than we did. The cabins were clean and comfortable, and the staff was friendly and helpful, especially when our ride didn't appear at the end of the cruise. I One negative was the food. For the price we were paying the food should have been better. For some meals the "good" desserts were snatched up by the early eaters and not replenished. The steam-table selections for breakfast were pretty unappealing, although the baed goods were reasonable. In all, we would definitely do it again, as there is no other way to see this magnificent part of the world. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose the Stella Australis as the culmination of a 3.5 week trip to Argentina and Chile. Cruising had never appealed to my husband but he was attracted by the fact we would be trekking in remote places and, of course, visiting Cape ... Read More
We chose the Stella Australis as the culmination of a 3.5 week trip to Argentina and Chile. Cruising had never appealed to my husband but he was attracted by the fact we would be trekking in remote places and, of course, visiting Cape Horn. He also liked the fact that it was a small ship. We departed from Punto Arenas and had a few hours to explore the place and stop for a Pisco Sour which was nice. Both embarkation and disembarkation were extremely slick. The ship is very pleasant. Being smaller than many cruise ships, you have a main dining room and three bars/lounges. The cabins are fine. We were in a standard cabin and had tried to upgrade but it wasn't possible however the beds were comfortable, the view good and the place was scrupulously clean. You are designated a table for dining at check in and you are there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It worked out fine for us as we were with a really interesting American couple but it might not have been so great if you didn't gel with your dining companions! Being focused on trekking and the flora, fauna and geology of the area, the entertainment is really the bar plus a variety of presentations covering glaciology, indigenous people and the story of Ernest Shackleton. These were good but sometimes too long and nearly always started late as the crew fiddled with the technology. The other thing is that there was no quiet area as all of the lounge areas were being used for presentations in different languages so there was no escape apart from to your cabin. The crew and the service was exemplary. Stella Australis should be very proud. When ashore, it was really to trek and there were a variety of treks from easy to challenging. In our early 50's, we were among the younger clientele on board and the challenging treks didn't challenge us! I wouldn't go again but only because I would want to go to another destination but I have to admit that I quite enjoy the cruising concept. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We were on board as part of a National Geographic Patagonia Expedition. My sailor husband was thrilled to go around Cape Horn, up Beagle channel and the Magellan Strait. I loved the hike and visiting the Aguila Glacier plus seeing ... Read More
We were on board as part of a National Geographic Patagonia Expedition. My sailor husband was thrilled to go around Cape Horn, up Beagle channel and the Magellan Strait. I loved the hike and visiting the Aguila Glacier plus seeing thousands of penguins on Magdalena Island. We were very lucky to have mild, sunny days, all be it was windy. Our berth was spacious, had a large window to enjoy the views from and a well-designed and comfortable head. Getting 200 passengers on and off zodiacs went down remarkably well. The crew are well trained, courteous and clearly enjoy what they do - they were a pleasure to be on board with. The food was very good, the and the bartenders excellent. The crew gave excellent service and team leader, Mauricio Alvarez made sure we were well taken care of. A wonderful experience from someone who doesn't like cruise ships! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We thought it would be a great way to see Cape Horn and go around the Straits of Magellan. The cabin was comfortable, the lunches and dinners were really good. Breakfast was just okay. The staff there were very friendly and helpful. ... Read More
We thought it would be a great way to see Cape Horn and go around the Straits of Magellan. The cabin was comfortable, the lunches and dinners were really good. Breakfast was just okay. The staff there were very friendly and helpful. We loved the people helping with all the excursions, especially Felipe cause he was very friendly and he even remembered our names. The excursions were really good, but the some of the documentaries and films before the excursion were sort of boring. Embarkment and Disembarkment were really easy. The ship was very clean, but there was really no entertainment or activities in the evening except for the films. We had fun with the Trivia Sheets. I would definitely recommend this cruise but I wouldn't take it again since I already have done it. I don't know if I would take children because I think they would be bored. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
This cruise was an amazing experience getting up close to glaciers, fjords, Cape Horn, and deserted islands. The views were spectacular from cabin, deck or lounge and mooring off and going ashore by zodiac made the experience quite and ... Read More
This cruise was an amazing experience getting up close to glaciers, fjords, Cape Horn, and deserted islands. The views were spectacular from cabin, deck or lounge and mooring off and going ashore by zodiac made the experience quite and adventure to enjoy the sights on shore by foot. The ship was comfortable, staff helpful and friendly, meals good and pre-excursion presentations interesting making the trips ashore more meaningful. Access throughout the ship was a challenge for those less able as stairs were the only way from cabin to dining room and steep outside steps the only access to the zodiacs. We would have appreciated a better embarking procedure where you didn't have to queue at a local travel agency with your bags and to be processed then have all day to walk and wander until you could board. The expedition cruise was very pricey but as it's a one off it was worth it for such a unique experience and we will be recommending it to others who are able and could afford it. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
This Cruise was part of a longer tour of Patagonia. The ship is great. Three lounges in addition to the dining room, and an open bar all the time. Very pleasant and comfortable. The stars of this cruise are the expedition staff. We went ... Read More
This Cruise was part of a longer tour of Patagonia. The ship is great. Three lounges in addition to the dining room, and an open bar all the time. Very pleasant and comfortable. The stars of this cruise are the expedition staff. We went ashore on zodiacs five times. They prepared us well with lectures beforehand, were extremely safety conscious in transferring mostly older clients, and were extremely knowledgeable about the natural history and environment. But this cruise would have been wonderful even if one stayed aboard. Breakfast and lunch were buffets with themes, and we could always find something we liked. There were two dinner choices plus a vegetarian choice. This wasn't always great. Service was attentive and quick. There is so much to see we were glad to get away from the table. There are no formal nights, no shows (there are relevant lectures). It's sightseeing, history, and science in a place most will never visit Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
To see Cape Horn, Tierra Del Fuego, the glaciers and wildlife. The cruise staff were very attentive and friendly and the Expedition staff were extremely knowledgeable. The expedition group were also full of fun which made the trip very ... Read More
To see Cape Horn, Tierra Del Fuego, the glaciers and wildlife. The cruise staff were very attentive and friendly and the Expedition staff were extremely knowledgeable. The expedition group were also full of fun which made the trip very enjoyable. They had extensive knowledge of local history, local flora and fauna and were able to answer all the questions thrown at them. The only negative was the lounge for the presentations - it was difficult to get a seat and to see the screen in some places in the room. The guided excursions were very good and again very knowledgeable guides. The ship's sailing was extremely smooth. I would heartily recommend this trip and it is suitable for couples, older families, seniors. The food was varied and very well cooked - in particular the Pastry Chefs excelled. The ship was very clean and well kept. Again a very good trip and one our best vacations. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
The main reason for selecting this cruise was for the destinations including a visit to Cape Horn. We had previously seen some of these areas but wanted the small ship experience to see more of the spectacular scenery. We were not ... Read More
The main reason for selecting this cruise was for the destinations including a visit to Cape Horn. We had previously seen some of these areas but wanted the small ship experience to see more of the spectacular scenery. We were not disappointed. It was brilliant. Our stops were all excellent and very different in every way. Pia Glacier was a highlight especially the zodiac ride through the ice flows. That was a fine experience. Ushuaia was the only city visited and has plenty to offer. it is one of the most stunning places we have ever ventured to. All of the guides and the zodiac operators were excellent. Our only disappointment was the food. The selection at breakfast was very ordinary and most anything that was hot was left on the buffet and quickly got cold. The lunches were much the same and not enjoyable. The dinners were very poor. We had to order our main at lunchtime, with the entrée and dessert just what you got - no choice. The mains were bland and when they arrived at the table they were lukewarm. There were no cloches to keep in the heat and with so many served at one time in this format, it was always going to be unappetising. The staff everywhere on the ship were excellent and always happy to accommodate any request. We would recommend the trip to anybody who would love to visit these destinations. It is worth the few things that were poor to see such magnificence and pristine areas. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
It was the ship that came with our Smithsonian tour. All the staff were friendly and eager to please. The food was fabulous and they worked hard for those with special diets. Each time when left the ship, everything was very well organized ... Read More
It was the ship that came with our Smithsonian tour. All the staff were friendly and eager to please. The food was fabulous and they worked hard for those with special diets. Each time when left the ship, everything was very well organized and departure and return were smooth and easy. The ship holds 220 people so it had an intimate feel. We had great fun with the staff and they demonstrated to us all the time how they wanted to help in any way possible. When there was wildlife to see the Captain changed the direction of the ship so we could see it as long as possible. We very much enjoyed our journey with the Stella Australus. Some crew served as tour guides and they were all highly educated to the areas history, culture, wildlife and habitat. They did a very good job. We highly recommend this ship. Read Less
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