Home' CruisePassenger : Cruise Passenger 56 Contents 68 www.cruisepassenger.com.au
CRUISE ADDICTS SHIP TO SHORE
SHIP TO SHORE CAPE HORN
Punta Arenas started life
as a penal colony - the
Chileans believed the
remoteness and harsh weather
was a suitable extra penalty for
those imprisoned there.
Thankfully, time has moved
on and it is now a thriving city
of more than 100,000 ser vicing a
burgeoning tourist trade. It is the
start of many Antarctic cruises.
We are booked aboard the
Via Australis, part of the Australis
fleet of just two vessels that
specialise in journeys through
the southernmost Chilean-
Argentinan Patagonian channels.
The vessels explore the
Strait of Magellan and the
Beagle Channel in three-,
four- and seven-night programs
from September to April,
which mostly end in Ushuaia,
Argentina. The company has
carried 100,000 passengers to
one of the most beautiful and
unspoilt regions of the world in
the last 23 years.
By the time the ship is
preparing to leave, there are
83 passengers from 16 countries
Look on any map or globe
and you will see that this part
of the world is certainly remote.
We do not see another vessel,
let alone another cruise ship.
Just the magnificent snow-
capped (yes, even in summer)
mountains, deep fiords and
The sheltered waters of the
Magellan and Beagle channels
allow smooth sailing as Via
Australis makes its way from one
beautiful destination to the next.
The route does expose itself
to the open waters of the Pacific
Ocean on the second night. But
the worst stories are of water
bottles rolling off tables.
Our first shore visit is to
Ainsworth Bay for a 11⁄2-hour
easy walk, looking and learning
about the flora and fauna.
Tuckers Inlet allows us to
observe cormorant nests and the
local penguins at close quarters.
The Australian movie Kenny
has the immortal line: “There is
a smell here that would outlast
religion.” Now we know what
Our third day is one of the
most stunning yet: back into the
Zodiacs for a one-kilometre run
through ice fields to the foot of
the Pia Glacier.
On each shore excursion,
we are offered a choice of a fast
hike, a medium hike or a casual
stroll. The Pia Glacier proves
Champagne and cheese – you get
The fourth day sees fine
weather for what we had hoped
would be landfall on Cape Horn.
High-school geography is
turfed out of the window today.
We had been led to believe
Cape Horn is simply a point
jutting off Chile where the
wind blows relentlessly and
shipwrecks are almost daily
occurrences. Some of this is
true. It is certainly a treacherous
place for seafarers.
Any chance of our landing
depends on three factors;
strength of wind, height of the
sea swell and, of course, safety of
passengers and crew. We have a
six-hour cruise from Walia Bay
and on to Cape Horn and the
excitement is building. As we
anchor off that desolate outcrop
to be magnificent, with a face
1.2 kilometres long.
It is, however, on the march
and drops several car-sized shards
of ice with the sound of a cannon
shot – an eerie reminder of global
warming. Right on cue, as the
last shard falls, it starts to snow
and our mid-summer excursion
Back on board for what
the captain promises will be a
surprise. And he certainly delivers
a passage down “glacier alley ”,
five magnificent ice mountains
on the port side of the vessel
named after each country whose
explorer had found them.
To add to the sense of
splendour, as we pass each one
the bar staff ser ve a piece of
food and appropriate drink. The
German glacier is toasted with
beer and sausage; the French with
of rock that has claimed more
than 500 ships and created so
much myth and folklore, we can
only marvel at those sailors who
made this trip without GPS.
We truly feel we are at the end
of the world.
It is then that the weather
gods decide we have passed the
test. The wind and waves abate
and the captain announces that
he is satisfied we can board the
Zodiacs and run the 500-metre
open-water gauntlet to the small
bay that holds the 187 steps to
the top of the cliff and on to
the monument that marks the
most southern part of the world
outside of Antarctica.
As we stand on the land that
must have looked so inviting to
the wretched souls as they met
their fate in earlier times, a squall
of rain suddenly sweeps over us
as if to remind us we are granted
only temporary passage.
A visit to the Chilean Navy
officer and his family who
has a 12-month posting as
radio operator and lighthouse
keeper completes our 45 minutes
ashore. A return to the Zodiacs
and a quick run back to the
ship, in an increasing swell and
wind, reminds us what a special
moment we have experienced.
The ship seems humbled in
the lead-up to the farewell dinner.
We talk of what we did hours
earlier and smile, laugh and nod
simultaneously as if we have
escaped some terrible fate.
An auction of the chart the
captain used to navigate to Cape
Horn coupled with viewing
of the collections of passenger
photos and a toast lower the
curtain on what has been a
Since falling in love with cruising 50 years
ago, Jack Moss and his wife have clocked up
more than 2,000 days at sea.
for the majority of our
54-year marriage. We’ve been
on over 150 cruises – 111 of
them were on Princess Cruises –
and spent at least 2,100 days at
sea. You could say we live
When we first said“I do” we
tried holidaying the traditional
way. But we found jumping
from hotel to hotel to be
exhausting, particularly after
the birth of our two sons.
It was in 1965 that we
decided to take our first family
cruise. It was a six-week Sydney
to London sailing aboard P&O’s
Fairstar with our then six- and
18-month-old sons. Back then
P&O only had about three
vessels. From the moment we
boarded, we fell in love.
Cruising was pure holiday
satisfaction. We didn’t have
to pack and unpack our bags
every other day, we didn’t have
to chase flights and we didn’t
have to think about where we
would eat. We didn’t have to do
anything except enjoy ourselves
– and that’s exactly what
In fact, we loved it so much
that we returned home from
London via Cape Town on
Now, at 78, we have both
retired and try to go on a
maximum of six cruises a year.
We’ve been on the Pacific
Sky, Pacific Sun and Fair Princess
at least nine times each. We’ve
sailed on the Pacific Princess
eight times. We’ve been on
12 Royal Caribbean cruises
but we haven’t tried Voyager
of the Seas yet. And we’ve been
on several Norwegian Cruise
Our favourite at the moment
is Celebrity Solstice. She is a
beautiful ship. We love the lawn
on the top deck, it’s perfect for
picnics and to enjoy the sun.
Our first cruise cost $400
per person for six weeks, but of
course the ship was quite basic:
you had your cabins, a
restaurant or two and shows.
Now, you have 18 decks of
entertainment, musicians and
comedians in the theatre rooms
and there are night discos.
Services for the younger
generation have also really
developed. It’s great for parents,
and it’s amazing for my wife
and me because we try to take
our 21-year-old granddaughter
and 15-year-old grandson on
holiday with us once a year.
But at the end of the day,
for us cruising has always been
about the ship life. We get up in
the morning, we have breakfast,
shopping, have a snooze, enjoy
an afternoon movie.
There’s truly nothing like
going on a cruise.
Welcome to the
end of the world
Cape Horn is one of the most treacherous
locations for seafarers. Yet the four-day
journey to reach it is one of the most beautiful,
taking in the astonishing ice fields around
Patagonia, Peter Marer writes.
CRUISE LINE: Australis
VESSEL: Via Australis
MAX PASSENGER CAPACITY: 136
TOTAL CREW: 46
PASSENGER DECKS: 4
ENTERED SERVICE: 2005
FACILITIES: 4 decks, two lounges, games
room, small library, gift shop and a doctor.
BOOKINGS: See australis.com.
Links Archive Cruise Passenger 58 Cruise Passenger 55 Navigation Previous Page Next Page