Chile Cruises Guide
Forget bingo, theme nights and fancy dresses, expedition cruises are not really cruises, not in the least. These cruises would be better described as "adventures by boat" where rubber boots are definitely more useful than the night dresses, as these boats make true expeditions. If you are interested in wildlife and also minimizing the environmental impact, you will love these small boats, as they can get closer to smaller ports, enabling the crew to see beautiful and typical off-road scenery.
The daily schedule on a cruise expedition can involve anything from rafting around the icebergs, wet landings on remote beaches or just rounds of trekking. The ship can change course to follow whales or there will be lectures on topics such as navigation or geology. While the explorations on land are relatively demanding and there is little special treatment for those who can not keep up, this type of cruise is far from being for Spartan warriors. The facilities on board are spacious, the food is excellent and the company is generally stimulating, with film crews, photographers and field experts often aboard.<< Back to the top
Time of Year
Expedition cruises are often seasonal, depending on weather conditions, migration of animals, the ice streams or similar situations. Reservations have to be made, if possible, up to 18 months in advance, in some cases, to check what season it leaves, the choice of the expedition, so be sure to book early. You may need to be flexible with dates, as the weather or unforeseen conditions may delay or alter the dates of departure or arrival.
If you want an exclusive double room, you must specify this at the time of booking. However, it means an additional extra charge. If you want to share these expedition vessels, you will not be charged extra. If you can not find someone to share the room with you, do not charge a penny extra.
If you travel only note that the good thing about expedition cruises is that many of the other passengers are freelance photographers, researchers and like-minded people with similar interests, making it easier to make friends. The dining rooms are usually without allocated tables or seats, this allows people to take seats wherever they please, helping them to make friends.
Aboard an expedition ship, the expedition leader has a big hand in programming or scheduling daily activities and also has power to choose the destinations. This is much more flexible than conventional cruises, these changes are made to allow and take advantage of the weather, sea conditions and wildlife. So you have to learn to be flexible and keep an open mind, especially regarding meals, as these are changed every day.
Most expedition boats are concerned with providing some form of communication through a satellite phone or they may have Internet access, although connections may be unreliable. Alternatively, you can make calls to the port. You must provide a list of numbers before going, so those at home can call in an emergency.
Currency and credit cards
Expedition ships will land in foreign places. The ship itself may be able to provide a small amount of local currency, but it is recommended to have cash to change during the trip which will be able to find some sites to exchange currency. If it is a small port it will not likely be a place to change cash for local currency. All services and products purchased on board can usually be paid for by cash, check or credit card.
The expedition ships usually have a bar, lounge, small library full of books about the destination and its natural features and frequently descriptions carried out by the ship's resident experts about what you can expect to see on the next stop. At night you spend time discussing the topics of interest, the captain and crew usually sit down to eat with their guests.<< Back to the top
Training for the cruise
Check your itinerary beforehand to see if your physical abilities match what is required of you during the trip. Cruise expeditions can be physically demanding and sportier people are more likely to adapt. Most ships use Zodiac inflatable boats, which sometimes require a "wet landing", i.e. jumping overboard into the water to reach land. Remote locations often lack a wharf or may have a rocky shore. It is recommended to have a level of agility to safely transfer to and from the ship.
Explorations on land can be difficult and you may have little support if you have difficulty keeping pace. Also on board you can expect to help prepare for a hike or also to keep watch for polar and other types of wildlife. If you are not, at present, exercising regularly, start an exercise regimen. And if you're not a swimmer, you should work on improving your skills.
If you are performing a solo trip or is thinking about joining an expedition where more personal contribution in the ship, will be important to have a coastal navigation course. If you can handle dinghies as a small sailboat or know the behavior of wind that can help you hone your skills and give a better sense of the wind and ocean conditions. If your issue requires a bit of kayaking, abseiling or any activity that you should familiarize qualified, worry in a good way to practice this before you leave.
Equipment for Expedition Cruise
The expeditions will provide a list of essentials to bring when booking the trip. Limit luggage to one bag per person, as the top storage space on board is limited.
The clothes that you take depend largely on the type of expedition that you have chosen. However, regular luxury cruise clothing is not required since most of the nights are informal. Jeans and sweaters are much more comfortable than the clothing required for the gala dinner of traditional cruises.
At sea, the weather can be cold and wet. Take trusted rain garments that cover the body from head to toe and a great deal of warm clothing and a fleece or thermal jacket. Hats and gloves for all types of weather are also recommended. Wear pants and shorts for various activities.
Good shoes for walking on foot are essential and must be appropriate for the activities of your itinerary. They must be closed toe and ideally also water resistant. You should know that you can also use waterproof rubber boots for wet landings on the side of the Zodiac. Make sure you have good socks.
The items packed for the day, for the different land excursions, are of vital importance. Things such as binoculars, cameras or wildlife books can be useful. Most ships provide the necessary power to charge cameras or to download images, but you may bring your own charger. Be sure to check if any of your electrical equipment will be compatible with the type of power or sockets on board.
Always be prepared for a variety of climatic conditions. You should check the weather in the region before traveling there.
Most expedition ships sail pretty close to the ground and do not encounter rough waters. However, you should first check the schedule if you are susceptible to motion sickness, as you may run into more choppy water. They usually tend to take some medications on board and there may even be medical personnel or first aiders. Bring any items you personal physician as they may be equipped with a boat less than expected.<< Back to the top
The larger Cruises of the world offer a range of options to explore southern Chile by boat. Regardless of whether the focus of the visit is for adventure or luxury, you will have the opportunity to relax and enjoy all the surroundings.
The classic cruise route in southern Chile starts from Puerto Montt and heads to Laguna San Rafael and stops at the 70 meter high walls of San Rafael glacier and the lake of the same name. The trip to northern Patagonia takes five or six days during which you can enjoy amazing landscapes crowned by a glass of whiskey served with some thousand year old ice cubes. Some cruise lines also travel to and from Castro, Chiloe.
Fishing and good food enthusiasts can come out of Puerto Montt in a boat sailing through the canals to the south, without a fixed destination. Passengers can disembark using modern helicopters and Zodiac boats to visit the best fishing spots and enjoy a delicious traditional local lunch on the banks of the glaciers.
Four-day cruises depart from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales, and they travel along the southern most fjords and channels in the world. The trip will pass through Puerto Eden and Glacier Pio XI, the largest in South America, as well as crossing the Bernardo O'Higgins National Park.
Another fascinating journey extends from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia, Argentina. There are excellent expedition cruises that avoid parties and focus on adventure. While traveling through southern Patagonia, you can find canals, glaciers, penguins and dolphins. You can also go hiking and, if time permits, you can sail to Cape Horn, which marks the end of the continent, on the Chilean side.
Those wishing to visit the Antarctic can choose cruises that last from 10 to 31 Days following a series of different routes. Most depart from Ushuaia, Argentina. From Punta Arenas, you can take an aerial tour to Rey Jorge Island, which forms part of the Southern Shetland Islands, and continues up to the white continent from there.<< Back to the top