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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.

Fabulous Australis cruise

Ventus Australis Cruise Review by tomculb

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
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.
tomculb’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
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