Director Creative Cruises and ACE UK Ambassador.
As we boarded our British Airways flight in London for our second trip down to South America to Buenos Aires, I recalled our last voyage aboard the Infinity in the region 3 years ago. Then we travelled north to Rio for Carnival, so we were very excited to have ahead of us a voyage in the footsteps of explorers past, south to the Falklands and Antarctic region.
After an overnight flight with a crew change in Sau Paulo we arrived in BA and headed for our chosen hotel the 5 Star Hilton in the port madero area of the city. Fantastic location, very safe and provides an excellent base to explore this vibrant city.
Our cruise was a week away, so having spent 4 days immersed in Argentinean beef and tango and great wines we headed north to Iguazzu to the Sheraton which overlooks the falls for 3 nights .If you are planning a trip to this region the falls are a must, where you get really up close and personal with the most stunning falls on the planet. Our hotel overlooked the falls and as you sit on your balcony the roar of the power of nature in front of you never ceases to amaze.
After 3 days it was back to Buenos Aires for a night on a quick flight from iguazzu into the domestic airport.
Sunday 14th Feb arrived and there from our Hilton bedroom window stood the magnificent Celebrity Infinity. We had fond memories of the vessel from our previous trip aboard so we hurried our cases together and headed for the port area. Amazing when you consider the problems South America can present all cruise line but from leaving our hotel to walking up the gang way and accepting our welcome Champagne was just 50 minutes.
The Infinity was the second in the MILLENIUM SERIES of vessels launched in 2001. She is still looking good today with obvious care having been taken to keep her up to date. There have been some great changes to the onboard product at Celebrity with total revamp of menus under the new guidance of their corporate Chef Jacques van Staden .The re launch of the Captains club with wonderful benefits for the repeat guests including a club lounge where Elite and suite passengers can relax with fellow passengers over complementary drinks during cocktail hour.
We sailed and started our adventure towards the Falklands. Now, South America cruising is not for the faint hearted, nor for anyone without strong sea legs. You can and we did have all four seasons, sometimes in 1 hour let alone 1 day, with bright sunshine giving way to strong winds and rain, calm then rough sea swells, then bright again with sea horse waves surrounding the ship. Very exciting and a real sense of real cruising.
Amongst all the excitement comes an outstanding set of officers and crew who provide the most outstanding service and levels of entertainment, which represents the typical standard across the fleet. The best development is the introduction of a new production company from the UK called Qdos, who have taken the theatre shows to a new level with fantastic singers and dancers and bright new Broadway style shows.
We arrived in the Falklands just as it was being reported that Argentina were once again falling out with the uk again, so it was strange to come all this way to be in the thick of a dispute, very well covered on CNN live as we walked of the tenders ashore.
The main reason for this cruise was of course the visit to Antarctica. As we moved closer to the region, the temperature started to drop and we started to sea ice bergs slowly float by the ship. Fantastic skill of the Captain and his team to navigate such an area, with at times surrounded by bergs with seals and penguins sitting bemused as this shinny vessel slipped by as they basked in the Antarctic summer sun at minus 10 degrees.
We arrived in Elephant Island to a snow blizzard followed by bright sunshine, just amazing to witness the forces of nature on display around the ship. We moved onto Paradise bay next with even more stunning scenery to watch with the glaciers falling into the sea before us.
Wrapped up warm on deck with a hot chocolate it dawned on me that only 0.1% of the worlds population visit the region each year and we were lower than Sydney on the map and as far South as any ship can travel, all from a floating 5 star ship. A strange sense to experience in a land so full of history and extreme weather patterns.
After 2 days in the region we turned north and started our course towards cape Horn and then various ports back on our journey to Buenos Aires.
South America and Antarctica is possibly the most exciting voyage we have ever done, and to be aboard a celebrity vessel to experience the region is about as good as it gets. The Infinity offers voyages in the region each year from December till March with two sailings only per year to the Antarctic region.
For sheer adventure and a real different type of cruise to offer clients, it’s a must, but don’t miss the capital of Buenos Aires or the falls of Iguazzu, as it’s the finishing touch to a perfect cruise experience.