26 Feb 2010
|We had to have our bags out by 10:00 PM last night. That meant that we had to carry our PJs and grooming needs in our carry-on bags. I was able to make room by taking out my jacket and wearing or carrying it. Our wake-up call was at 4:30 AM – much too early. Breakfast was at 5:00 AM. It was very generous and there was a lot to choose from. We were on the coach and headed to the airport by 6:00.
Our checked bags had been there since 3:00, so we didn’t have to deal with them. We were handed our boarding passes by our host and went right to security. Since we were headed to a domestic flight, we passed through with minimum interruption. Then we sat for over an hour until our plane was called. We walked down a flight of stairs and boarded a shuttle to get to the plane. Evelyn and I had the two seats next to a window and the aisle seat remained open for the longest time. Just before they closed the doors an Argentinean walked down the aisle and claimed the seat. However, not too long after take-off he moved to another seat near the front and we had breathing room again. They served us another breakfast whch we did not need but ate anyway.
We arrived at Ushuaia on time at 11:00 AM. We let the swarm go ahead and still had a long wait once we reached the baggage carrousel. Once we got our bags we were directed outside to where our tour bus picked us up. We were immediately driven to a restaurant high in the foothills overlooking the city. It was a crisp clear day and we could see well out to sea. It was easy to spot the Corinthian II because it was the only large ship in the harbor. The restaurant was first class – coincidently the same one I had eaten at in 2000. We had great food with a great view. We even had a little time to walk around and take photos.
We re-boarded the coach for a short city tour – short because it is a small place. We soon parked and walked into the touristy shopping district. Evelyn and I looked into several souvenir shops, but didn’t buy anything. One of our fellow guests pointed to a chocolate shop and said it had the finest chocolate that he had ever tasted. We went in and tasted a sample. That convinced me to buy a quarter pound of dark chocolate. I will try to remember to report to you my impressions.
At 3:00 we reconvened and headed to the ship [about 1000 yards away]. We were welcomed onboard and directed to our cabins. Everything looked very luxurious. The public spaces are paneled in mahogany. There is lots of tile and marble around. Our cabin is very spacious. The two single beds take up less than one third of the floor space. There is a separate living area with a couch, arm chair and coffee table. There is a basket of fresh fruit on the table. The bathroom has lots of room to operate in and the shower is big enough that I will not brush the walls on all sides at once. I am impressed.
At 4:30 we had “Afternoon Tea” in the Club – a lounge on deck 4 aft. At 5:00 we had our “Embarkation Briefing” just below on deck 3 aft in the Lounge. This was just a time to be introduced to the expedition staff.
At 5:30 we had a mandatory Safety Drill. We all got on warm clothes and took our ship’s lifejackets and proceeded to our muster station. Once everyone for our lifeboat was there, we proceeded to our lifeboat loading station. We lined up there for a few minutes until we were told we were finished. Due to the small number of passengers, the drill went more smoothly and quickly than any I had previously participated in.
We were due to sail for the Falkland Islands at 6:00 PM. However, the wind was so strong that the Harbor Master had closed the harbor and wouldn’t let us leave. A half an hour or so later the Captain did receive permission to sail. We zoomed away with the tail wind pushing us along. Once outside the harbor we were in a bit of swell. It was enough to rock the boat. Thankfully I had taken a Bonine tablet and felt fine.
Dinner was served at 7:30. Everyone fits into the dining room on deck 2 aft with room to spare. We were seated at a table for 5 with another couple and one of the singles. The tables are set with linen table cloths and enough glassware and silverware for a small army. We had a choice of appetizers, soups, salads, and main courses. Every dish is presented as a work of art. There was a lavish dessert buffet to tempt us at the end of the meal. Liquid choices included red or white wine, beer, soft drinks, and water with or without gas. It truly is quite a step above our normal travel experience.
It was after 9:00 PM when dinner was through. We had had a long day and were ready to turn in. Others gathered in the Club for after-dinner drinks and conversation. As we were getting prepared for bed I noticed that the program listed an in-cabin film, “Ice Age.” I thought that it sounded like a movie that had been chosen to give us information about the lands we would be visiting. I turned it on only to discover that it was an animated film on the order of “Jungle Book.” However, I was hooked and stayed up to watch the whole thing.