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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
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
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
Ventus Australis Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.8
Dining 4.0 4.3
Entertainment 3.0 3.0
Public Rooms 5.0 3.8
Fitness Recreation 1.0 2.7
Family 1.0 2.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.5
Enrichment 4.5 4.5
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 4.3

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