South America 2017

Crown Princess
Valparaiso to Buenos Aires

The passenger terminal was packed when they arrived with the queue extending from the service counter to the doorway. Alexa did not want to stand in the queue, so we found a bench seat and sat down. As Alexa said, "The queue will eventually thin out." As it turned out, they did not have to wait that long, because one of the attendants saw that Alexa was using a walking stick and asked if she was boarding. When Alexa said "Yes", they were taken to the disabled check-in counter. The cruise company had been previously notified of a mobility issue, so it was a quick check-in, through customs & immigration and onto the "Crown Princess".
Mark and Alexa chose the cheapest cabins (inside, lower deck) as they thought that they would really only use the room for sleeping and showering - and they were correct. This was, of course, pre-COVID, so there was no thought that they could end up being confined to their cabin for long periods.

Once they had unpacked the essentials, it was time to look around the ship before it departed. Alexa had been on a cruise ship the "Fairstar" many years ago, but this was the first cruise ship that Mark had ever been on. The only other ocean going ships he had been on before were working boats, the "Nella Dan" and the "Cape Moreton".

While the ship was glitzy, clean and shiny, there were some patches of carpet that showed that the ship was being heavily used - unlike the devastation that was to be visited upon the cruise industry when the COVID pandemic hit.

Mark likes a good cappuccino and he nearly purchased a coffee card with the expectation that this would ensure that he got a good coffee. He was soon to find he was lucky that he didn't buy such a card. In his opinion, "cruise ships" and "good coffee" are not things that can be linked in the same sentence unless the sentence includes "not", as is "Cruise ships do not have good coffee".

Another thing that annoys Mark is that concept of a gratuity for good service that can be pre-paid - as if the service staff won't do their job properly unless you first bribe them. In his view it is simply a way of making the cruise fare seem cheaper, by underpaying the staff and then adding an extra fee to cover that under payment. Since the gratuity is hardly optional, full wages should be part of the fare and if you get exceptional service, then you leave a tip.

While there are plenty of bars and lounge areas, "sea days" were not especially exciting. Neither Mark nor Alexa found the open ocean view from the deck especially fascinating. They find cruising along the coast or on inland waterways much more interesting than just seeing the endless ocean meeting the endless sky. The cruise did, however, provide a means to an end - seeing parts of Patagonia, rounding Cape Horn and visiting the Falkland Islands.