It won’t be long!

I’ve mentioned before that it took two years to talk dear Hubby’s parents into going on a cruise after our first indulgent experience.  Gifting them with their first Caribbean Cruise for their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1987, was incentive.  They were bitten by the cruise bug and went on at least ten more cruises, two of which were with us.  One cruise took them to Iceland.  Mom just raved about it, and Hubby has wanted to go there ever since. 

We’re finally going there this summer . . . along with a few other ports.  We booked the “Voyage of the Vikings” and look forward to visiting some new places and a few we’ve been to before.

Prepping for a thirty-five-day cruise has its challenges, even for those who are experienced. A notebook with sections labeled: Pre-cruise; Flight Info; Cruise Documents; Insurance; Calendar; Cruise Critic Info (more on that later); Tours; and Post Cruise; sure helps with keeping track. As soon as something is booked, it’s printed and added. This is one of the most popular cruises for Holland America, so we booked in October 2018.  Since the cruise begins in Boston, Massachusetts, we’ll go a week early to visit family members and friends and see some sights we missed last time.  We also started researching an Air BnB to insure we had a good selection.  Initially I found one that looked good, but when I shared the information with our friend, Amber, (who lives there) she said, “NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not in that area!”  She kindly checked out several rentals and recommended a few.  When I settled on one and shared it with her, she assured me it was in a good location and conveniently located to public transportation.  We’ve heard that driving there has its challenges, so Uber will also be handy.

It seemed prudent to take a direct flight, so we made a reservation at the Holiday Inn (near the airport) in Portland, Oregon. They have a convention center with plenty of parking and let us leave our car for an extended period. To avoid complications on the other end, we reserved a hotel, near Boston Logan Airport, for the day the cruise returns, just so we don’t have to rush. Since it’s a three- and half-hour drive home from Portland, we’re staying another night to be able to rest well after our return flight.  Thank goodness for frequent flyer miles and hotel points!

With the preliminary details covered, it was time to start planning the fun part!  Yet again, the Cruise Critic website has been a valuable resource.  We joined their online “Roll Call” (for those sailing on this trip) and were soon connected with a LOT of other cruisers.(Every cruise has a “roll call” and we’ve found it to be a valuable resource for learning about private shore excursions and finding people with similar interests before we sail.) Thankfully someone usually takes on the task of organizing at least one “meet and greet”; a cabin crawl (to view different types of cabins); shore excursions; and other fun activities.  An experienced fellow cruiser created a spreadsheet that includes the itinerary; names (cabin number, dining preference, etc. for those who have signed up); port; excursion; currency; temperature; useful websites; member tips; and other helpful information.                                                  

With several tours already booked, our countdown clock is ticking!  Sixty-two days until we board!  My “kister” (cousin who is more like a sister) and I have a twelve-day trip in June to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.  When I return on July 1st, I’ll have just over two weeks to get ready! Is it too early to start packing?

Notes from a non-recovering Cruise-a-holic

As fairly experienced cruisers, we’ve learned a few tricks over the years that help make cruising more affordable. Having a Holland America credit card, that earns double points on all Holland America charges (ie the cruise itself, shore excursions, onboard expenses, etc.), has been worthwhile for us.  The 0% annual fee is a plus. However, this isn’t a card I’d recommend unless you are a frequent cruiser with Holland America.  We trade the points for onboard amenities, gift cards and merchandise. As a bonus, you can use them for airfare statement credits.  

Carnival Corporation is the majority owner in the four major cruise corporations.  We purchased one hundred shares of Carnival Corporation stock a few years ago.  As the parent company for Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, Holland America Line, AIDA, P&O Cruises (UK), P&O Cruises (Australia), Seabourn, and Cunard, shareholders get benefits when sailing on these lines.

For each fourteen day or longer cruise, we receive $250 credit per stateroom on Holland America.  An additional perk is that the stock has increased in price since we bought, so we’ve also received dividends!  Our investment has paid for itself and reaped benefits.  The best of both worlds.

Though it does take time, we check several sources for information about ports and shore excursions.  One of the best has been Cruise Critic, especially for longer cruises.  For every cruise, their website has a “roll call.”  You can easily join Cruise Critic by registering on their website: https://www.cruisecritic.com.  Besides finding our “Roll Call” for the cruise we’re doing, information is available on destinations, ships, deals, cruise tips, news and reviews.  

Through this we’ve “met” people ahead of the cruise that share common interests!  For longer cruises someone usually takes charge and organizes an onboard  “Meet and Greet.”   And, many other cruisers share information about shore excursions they’ve researched and want to share with others to reduce expenses.  We’ve enjoyed the pleasure of shared experiences organized through these connections.  Besides the delight of the excursion, friendships germinate that  last for years.

For last year’s Grand South America cruise, another couple (Tim and Julie) posted about a penguin excursion.  Not being sure whether it would be too strenuous for my Honey, I inquired about the physical difficulty.   Tim  (from Minnesota, my Honey’s home state) checked with the travel agent and we decided against him trying this one. I did it and had a great time though!

Bishop’s Finger and Old Speckled Hen beers with our tour guide, Jimmy

With a few penguins

Magellanic penguins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did connect  with the travel agent who booked us on an amazing private penguin tour in the Falklands that was very doable for my Honey.   Not only did we arrive at the prime penguin viewing area a half an hour ahead of the ship’s tours, we went to the Globe Tavern afterward for adult beverages.  My Honey had a “Bishop’s Finger” and I enjoyed the “Old Speckled Hen” beer. Our tour guide, Jimmy, who seemed happy with our tip, treated us!

We ended up booking other private tours through Jelena, each  with excellent results, and have referred her to several friends. I very much appreciate that she is well traveled and responds in a timely manner to my inquiries.

Lunch on the balcony at Viñamar de Casablanca

With Sebastian, our guide, and Leonardo, our driver

At Viñamar de Casablanca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Valparaiso, Chile, Jelena arranged a tour to the Casablanca wine region.  Not only did we have a tour guide, we had our own driver!  Besides visiting several wineries, we went to one where we enjoyed a gourmet lunch overlooking the vineyard.  

Here is Jelena’s email:  jelena@skitara.com.  We’re currently booking shore excursions through her for our next cruise.

A few other helpful websites are:

https://www.tripadvisor.com

https://www.whatsinport.com

https://www.cruisingexcursions.com

Costco members can check:
https://www.costcotravel.com/Info/Shore-Excursions

It’s nice to have options . . . and, the fun of researching possibilities! Holland America seems to have realized that cruisers are smarter than the average bear.  They now offer a Best Price Guarantee.  From their website, “To apply for the onboard credit:

  1. Book your tours through Holland America Line.
  2. If you find the same tour elsewhere that is priced comparatively lower, complete the required fields below and submit the form. You must be logged into the booking # that contains the tour purchased through Holland America.
  3. Within two business days, you will be notified by email regarding the status of your request. If your request is accepted, you will receive 110% of the difference in the form of a non-refundable onboard credit to your shipboard account.”

We haven’t used this option yet, but will certainly give it a try!  Note the term, “comparatively lower.”  One of the tours we’re considering is only $5 more on Holland America.  Hmmmm . . . that might not qualify.  At any rate, we’re having fun trying to find things we haven’t done before and are getting excited about the adventure!

Too long of a dry spell!

As passionate cruisers, going long periods of time without enjoying high seas adventures causes us to longingly pour over email and snail mail brochures while dreaming of our next adventure.  

We’ve had a long dry spell on land due to planned and unplanned medical interference’s.  After receiving one new knee in July 2017 and the second one just two months later, my Honey is finally at a point where he feels ready to cruise!

Although knee replacements were planned, our son’s three and half month hospitalization, and my own sixteen day hospitalization this year, was not. I’ve healed and now that our son is doing better and home, we’re finally ready to go.

Though there are many to choose from, we’re opting for another Alaska cruise.  This will be our sixth, and we’ll visit the same ports we’ve been to before. But it’s a cruise!  And, it’s not too far from home just in case our son has a medical problem and we need to return.

Land-cruising

Our first visit to Alaska was in 1998 for our number three grandson’s high school graduation. We flew into Anchorage and traveled in a rented motorhome and “land-cruised” for three weeks.  Highlights of that trip were Dusty’s graduation, loading the motorhome on a flat-bed train car to travel from Portage to Whittier, then onto a ferry to travel to Valdez.

 

Waiting to load on the train to Whittier

We fished . . . and I caught the only grayling! This fish is a member of the salmon family and is known as “the lady of the stream.”  Though they are edible, this one was gently returned to the river to live another day. My hubby, who has been fishing since he was five years old, was slightly envious.  He made up for it by catching a one hundred twenty pound halibut out of Homer. We had that one processed and shipped home. And, we enjoyed many delicious meals from the behemoth’s sacrifice.  

We were captivated by the abundant wildlife . . . whales, Steller’s sea lion, Dall sheep, Horned puffins, bald eagles, and the memorable scenic beauty. Everything seems grander in Alaska.

We were hooked.  Besides five previous cruises, we went to Fairbanks to check “seeing the Aurora Borealis” off my bucket list.  That was the subject of another blog entry.

With the cruise booked, flights reserved, hotel reservation made for the night before (with the assurance we can leave our car parked for a couple of weeks) it’s time to plan shore excursions.  

Buenos Aires, Argentina– Day One

Busy shipping port

Catedral de San Isidro

Aboard our vessel

Boating the Rio de la Plata

Roughin’ it on the river

Private rowing club

Dinosaurs too!

Is this the mine train ride at Disneyland?

With the River Boat Skipper

Lamb and Chicken Gaucho Style

Roast pig

Desserts galore

Cute Gaucho!

Our first day here, we had a Tigre Delta and River Cruise, we’d booked through Costco. This is a very large shipping port, so a free shuttle took us to the cruise terminal. There were a few “shops” in the form of booths, a café, tourist information, and restrooms . . . but no wifi.

We met our tour guide, outside door four. We were in a small bus with a couple from the UK, and four people from Peru, so, the tour was in Spanish and English. Our tour guide described the sights and provided interesting information as we made our way through the city.

We stopped at a cathedral for photos, and then continued to the river. Río de la Plata translates to River of Silver. It’s immediately obvious the name is not from the color. The color is consistently muddy and it’s a wonder any marine creatures can breathe in the brackish water. It is the widest river in the world (yup. . . . even the Amazon), with a maximum width of about 220 kilometres (140 mi) and a total surface area of about 35,000 square kilometres (14,000 sq. mi.)

Sebastian Cabot acquired silver trinkets trading with the Guaraní near today’s Asunción, and these objects (together with legends of a “Sierra de la Plata” in the South American interior brought back by earlier explorers) inspired him to rename the river Río de la Plata.

We boarded the river boat, and sailed past Argentinian Navy ships, various other vessels, private rowing clubs, old and new homes, (some of which had seen their better days,) a private school, restaurants, a store of some sort, a museum, and an amusement park . . . all of which are built on islands. Residents receive service via grocery boats, propane delivery boats, garbage pick-up boats, etc. It all seemed like an idyllic way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

We re-boarded the bus, and headed back to the city. It was obvious there was severe poverty in areas. Tenements appeared either half-finished or half demolished . . . it was hard to tell which. Many had no windows, doors or roofs. Laundry hung from lines, sagging from the weight. There was no evidence of electricity or running water.

We could choose to be dropped off at one of three points. One was a shopping center where the ship’s shuttle was delivering and picking up, so that seemed a good choice. Since we weren’t sure when the shuttle would arrive or exactly where, we hailed a cab for a ten dollar e-ticket ride. We seemed to be at peak traffic time.

At one point, our driver made a left turn to get through before the light changed. There really wasn’t space to get all the way into the traffic lane, so cars with the right of way were forced to go around us as they honked to express their displeasure.

Tonight’s “Gaucho Dinner” was a change of pace, complete with costumed servers.

 

 

Almost to Buenos Aires

In the first foundation of Buenos Aires, Spanish sailors arrived in the Rio de la Plata by the blessings of the “Santa Maria de los Buenos Aires,” the “Holy Virgin Mary of the Good Winds” who was said to have given them the good winds to reach the coast of what is today the modern city of Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires dates from 1536, when Spanish explorer Pedro de Mendoza camped on a bluff above the Rio de la Plata, possibly at the site of the present day Parque Lazama. The city was abandoned in 1542, after attacks by the indigenous people.

A second (and permanent) settlement was established in June 1580 by Juan de Garay, who sailed down the Paraná River from Asunción, which is now the capital of Paraguay. Argentinians defeated the British who later invaded, and two attempts by the French failed to force the city into submission. Foreign powers eventually desisted from their demands. Ironically, current day Buenos Aires has a reputation as being the “Paris of the South.”

Immigrants from all over the world have made this a truly, large multicultural city with a population of around seventeen million. Nationalities include: German, Scottish, Norwegian, Polish, French, Portuguese, Swedish, Greek, Czech, Croatian, Dutch, Russian, Montenegrinian, English, Hungarian and Bulgarian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Chinese, and Japanese. As well as, two-hundred-fifty-thousand Jews, most of which are of Northern, Western, Central, and Eastern European Ashkenazi origin, primarily Swedish, Dutch, Polish, German, and Russian Jews, with a significant Sephardic minority, which are mostly made up of Syrian Jews and Lebanese Jews.

Christianity is the predominant religion and seventy percent are Roman Catholic. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the former archbishop was elected as Pope Francis in March 2013. There are Protestant, Orthodox Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormon, and Buddhist minorities. The city is home to the largest mosque in South America.

Like Washington, D.C., the City of Buenos Aires was federalized and is autonomous. It gets a bit confusing because the province is also called Buenos Aires.

Ok . . . enough history!

Buenos Aires

Montevideo, Uruguay

No license needed

Dutch style home built in 1911

Narrowest house between two modern ones

Monument to the gauchos taking their wares to market

Plaza de la Armada

Statue by Plaza de la Armada

Happy Mate Seller

Peddling knife sharpener

Plaza Constitución

Palacio Legislativo

Independence Square

With tour guide, Carmen

Former Carrasco Hotel

Uruguay, which is about the size of England and Wales combined, is one of the smallest countries in South America, with a population of just over three million. Most of the people are of Spanish and Italian descent and the country is considered the most “European” on the continent. Montevideo, the capital, was founded in 1726, and has one and a half million residents. Located on the peninsula, the Ciudad Vieja (Old City,) has narrow streets, large plazas, and elegant colonial architecture. It was surrounded by a protective wall until 1829.The Ciudad Nueva (New City,) is where the more prosperous residents live.

Larry contracted the cold that our friends shared, so he stayed in. I went on the tour with Mike and Carol from Georgia, and Lynn and David from Ohio. We left the port area, and drove along the Rambla (malécon, or, avenue that borders the water,) which changed names several times along the way. One section was Rambla Gandhi, in honor of the Indian of the same name.

Driving along the water, that seemed to go on forever, it was hard to believe it was a river. A lone fisherman stood in muddy, hip deep water with a long pole waiting for a bite. Larry would have loved it . . . no license required! With no threat of sharks, or tsunami’s, the beach is safe for swimming, and presumably mud baths.

Several areas had exercise equipment for public use. And, a lot of people were jogging along the paved paths. As beautiful as the area appeared, it was really hard to believe they were hit by a cyclone just a few days before. We did see broken tree branches, and occasional piles of green debris waiting to be picked up.

We stopped for photo op’s of the opulent former Carrasco Hotel and Casino built in 1921, now a Sofitel Hotel. Other impressive sites included: a Dutch-style home built in 1911 that was recently refurbished; the narrowest house in the city, built between two modern high-rises; and, a monument to the gauchos taking their wares to market.

It was in this area, the “Happy Maté” seller peddled his wares. Yerba maté is an herbal drink common to South America. I’ve heard of yerba maté and even tried it in tea-bag form the U.S., but not in the traditional South American fashion. I’m determined to learn more about the tradition and use. According to the little booklet I purchased, “sharing a maté is synonym of friendship, confidence, even sense of peace. “ Traditionally, it’s drunk from a “maté,” or pumpkin (gourd) or wood container, using a special “straw” that filters the liquid. There’s more to learn and share!

While stopped to snap photos of the Plaza de la Armada, a knife sharpener happened by peddling his service . . . literally! Apparently he sounds a special tune and the maids know he is in the neighborhood.   We were definitely in the upper class area now! Many of the homes were occupied by families of the various embassies. Most had walls and gates setting them apart from neighbors. Neatly groomed tropical landscaping, tile roofs, and stucco “Southern California” style homes were the norm. Maybe Southern California copied them! As our driver/tour guide, Carmen, narrated along the way, I felt as though I’d been transported to La Jolla, California . . . an area where many of the upper echelon live in San Diego County.

Our tour continued to Plaza Constitución, which as Carmen explained, has thirty-three palm trees bordering it. When we were in front of the Palacio Legislativo, he went on to share there are ties to the Masonic Order, as evidenced in many areas around town. Interesting, eh?

We returned to the port in time to buy a few postcards, stamps . . . and the usual fridge magnet.

Larry was still feeling puny with his cold, so we ordered room service, and checked out free DVD’s . . . “Man of the House” starring Tommy Lee Jones, and “The Hoax” starring Richard Gere. Both were pretty good!

Tonight’s quote: “Being afraid to take chances means never exploring the possibilities. If you never explore the possibility, you can miss out on your once in a lifetime.”~~Bridgett Middleton

 

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

I’d never heard of Puerto Madryn before this cruise. With most of South America having been settled by the Spanish, it was surprising to learn that the town was founded in 1865, by Welsh immigrants. They arrived on a clipper named Mimosa, and named the settlement in honor of Sir Love Jones-Parry, who estate in Wales was named “Madryn.” One of the beaches is named “Playa Mimosa,” in honor of the ship.

Welsh, Spanish, and Italian immigrants built the Central Chubut Railway and the town grew. Their economy today is based on aluminum processing. Five-thousand people are employed at the local plant. Oil production, fishing and tourism also contribute.

Our ship arrived bright and early at seven a.m. With All Aboard at 2:30, we didn’t have time to spare in port. We disembarked and met our tour guide, Fernando, for another tour arranged through Costco. We’ve really become spoiled having a tour guide/driver all to ourselves!

With three-hundred sixty kilometers to cover we wasted no time heading south to Peninsula Valdes. The area reminded us a great deal of the landscape in Anza Borrego Desert or Baja, California. Barren, and somewhat sandy, sparsely dotted with sage brush and dried grasses. Instead of the occasional wandering cow, the road hazard was wild guanacos (similar to a llama). Like deer, there was rarely just one crossing the road, oblivious to vehicles.

We stopped at the visitor information center for Peninsula Valdes, which housed exhibits of the local flora and fauna and interpretive signs. Next we set off on one hundred twenty kilometers of UNpaved road. The way the roads are laid out, you must be serious about wanting to view wildlife.

Along the route, in addition to a great many guanaco, we saw Merino sheep, a viper sunning in the roadway, a burrowing owl, a rider-less horse, rheas, Martineta’s (a type of partridge,) and armadillos. At various shore stops, we saw Magellanic and Gentoo penguins, baby elephant seals, and sea lions.

There was time for Fernando to tour us through a small fishing village with four-hundred inhabitants. In the summer, entrepreneurs stay busy with water activity tourism. Surprisingly winter is busy with foreign visitors arriving for whale watching season.

The ride back toward town was dotted with our questions and his answers, and, a box lunch. His English was excellent! And, we had time for a tour of the old town, as well as the up and coming area with modern high rises. Tree trunks were carved into interesting shapes.

After Happy Hour with Julianne and Brian in the Crow’s Nest, we enjoyed dinner and headed for the show.

Voce, who performed again with all new songs. Two of the vocalists sang a Judy Garland medley. One sang “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera with Matthew, one of the Prinsendam singers and dancers. Their duet was equally as good as when we heard Michael Crawford perform. The closing number, “Halleujah” received a well-deserved standing ovation.

Tonight’s quote: “Change your thoughts and you change the world.”~~ Norman Vincent Peale

 

Falklands Islands

Located three-hundred miles off the coast of Argentina, the two main islands and seven-hundred-fifty smaller islands, are home to more sheep, penguins, and rare birds, than people. 

The main port is the capital, Stanley, located on the eastern shore of East Falkland Island. Reminiscent of an English fishing village, complete with pubs and shops, it’s a quaint town, of about two thousand residents, where most people know each other, and consequently enjoys a low crime rate.

Without a suitable dock, it was a long, rough tender ride to shore. Once we arrived, I spotted Jimmy, our tour guide, holding the sign with my name. This tour was arranged by Jelena, who had also set up the penguin expedition in Ushuaia.

The only traffic signal

We set off in Jimmy’s Land Cruiser for Volunteer Point, which as the crow flies, is much closer than the route we had to take. The ride was one and a half hours over largely unpaved territory. Jimmy knew the shortcuts and made a game of beating the other 4X4 vehicles carrying other ship tourists. Though we got a few minutes later start than they did, we arrived at our destination a half hour earlier than anyone else thanks to Jimmy’s cunning skills.

Falklands goose

Larry and I wandered among the penguins, snapping photos, as though no one had ever been there. Besides the thousands of penguins, we saw geese that reminded us a bit of the Hawaiian Nene. Our Daily Navigator said the temperature was 49 Fahrenheit. Ha! With the wind-chill it was MUCH colder! We could see our breath and I was really wishing I hadn’t left my gloves in my backpack.

Just a few penguins

Magellenic burrow

When we returned to where Jimmy had parked it was quite a different sight, with fourteen 4X4 vehicles, in addition to ours. Jimmy provided water, hot coffee, sandwiches, chips, and cookies for us. We warmed up with the coffee and headed back to town as it started to sprinkle.

Bake safe

Crossing back across land owned by a sheep rancher, we imagined how quiet life must be in this area. Besides raising sheep, the rancher charges tour guides for access across his land. As we neared the edge of the station, Jimmy explained the “Bake Safe” holds homemade pies made by the rancher’s wife. If you want one, just leave your money in the honor receptacle.

Rivers of Stone

As we neared the paved road, Jimmy shared his memories of the Falkland’s war, from when he was nine years old. He also explained a bit of the geology, as we saw remnants of the ice age called, “rivers of stone,” that did indeed resemble winding rivers flowing down the hillside.

Arrow points to helicopter wreckage

We passed Mt. Harriet, where a huge battle took place. And, nearby was

Christ Church Cathedral and Whale Bone Arch

the rusting wreckage of a downed helicopter.    Once we were back in town, Jimmy pointed out the sites, including the southernmost Anglican church, Christ Church Cathedral, and it’s whalebone arch. We really enjoyed chatting with him all along the way and learning more about the Falklands including, their main harvests are squid and Patagonian toothfish (aka Chilean Seabass.) And of course, they have a lot of mutton, lamb and even “bacon seeds,” aka pigs.

We happily treated Jimmy to a beer (or two) at the Globe Tavern, where Larry imbibed in a Bishops Finger and I had an Old Speckled Hen. We made the next to last tender back and bounced through the waves to the ship.  

Toasting the Bishop’s Finger and Old Speckled Hen

We’ve heard the stories about the number of times the weather has made it impossible to stop here, so we are grateful to have made it. This is one of those places we’d be happy to visit again . . . for a little more time.

At sea

On cruises with more than a few sea days, having the opportunity to participate in a book club is one of my favorite activities. The cruise line chooses books that are in keeping with the geographic areas we’re visiting. So, the first choice for this cruise was, “The Nature of Ice,” by Robyn Mundy. It’s an historic novel that recounts the story of a photographer from Australia, named Freya. Her goal is to retrace and re-create images from the ill-fated 1911-1914, expedition of a photographer, Frank Hurley, and explorer, Douglas Mawson.

The chapters alternate between Freya’s polar adventures and excerpts from Hurley’s diary. It’s interspersed with her struggle to make a decision about her stifling marriage. As with all good novels, it touched every emotion. And, gathering with others in book club, provided lively discussions. I inadvertently missed the first discussion, so it was good to attend this one . . . even at the uncivilized hour of nine a.m.

In preparation for anchoring off the Falkland’s tomorrow, Dr. Peter Carey, presented information the natural history of the area and a few travel tips.

The Falklands, though stumbled upon by a few Europeans in the fifteen and sixteen-hundreds, didn’t have its first permanent settlement until 1764. It’s presumed the first sailors were Portuguese, since the island appeared on maps from that country drawn in 1519 and 1586. A Spanish ship was there for a few months in the winter of 1540.

A permanent colony wasn’t established until 1764, by French explorer de Bougainville, who established Port Louis in the north-east of East Falkland. The islands were sometimes called the Malouines. And, in Argentina they are called by the Spanish version of this name . . . Islas Malvinas.

The French colony was unbeknownst to the British, who established a settlement in 1766. Once they discovered each other, the bickering over ownership began and continues to this day.

Britain gained control when it forced the Argentinians out in 1833. That lasted until 1982, when Argentina invaded and occupied the islands for seventy-four days. Only three Falklanders died but casualties were heavy for Argentina, who lost nine-hundred-seven lives.

Britain continues to maintain control and it’s not acceptable to mention the Falklands in polite conversation in Argentina.

Internet is available, but VERY expensive. Six gigabytes are approximately $55 U.S. Seventy gig’s is approximately $637 U.S. Living there would certainly limit my Facebook time!

Don’t expect an ATM. There is only one bank. Most, but not all, shops will take credit cards. And, remember to look both ways when you cross the street. They do drive opposite the U.S.

Flights from the island are based on demand. You can call and schedule a flight, and then tune into the radio station at 6:15 p.m. when the names of those flying and the flight times are announced.

With a tour first thing in the morning we had to turn in early. The ship is to arrive at 7:00 a.m.

The Antarctic Sound

Here’s a good Jeopardy answer for you. Did you know the Antarctic Sound is actually named for Swedish ship, “Antarctic.” The Swedish Expedition, led by Otto Nordenskjőld, was the first to sail through on its voyage in 1901-1903.

Dr. Peter Carey, a member of our Antarctic Expedition Team, is a zoologist who has made more than eighty trips to Antarctica. They weren’t just for fun. His work has included studies of penguin behavior, sea-bird ecology, fish physiology, and the social behavior of seals. He is working to ecologically restore a group of small islands in the Falklands archipelago and is director of SubAntarctic Foundation for Ecosystems Research (www.subantarctic.com) a non-profit conservation organization.

Today he presented a forty-five minute program on the Swedish Antarctic Expedition. Without going into great detail, just know that the Swedish expedition was very lucky to survive. Two parties were separated from the ship. Three of the members of the expedition were the first inhabitants of Hope Bay, when they were forced to spend the winter of 1903 here after their attempt to rescue the main expedition further south was thwarted by bad ice conditions and their ship did not return for them. They constructed a small stone hut and endured a miserable winter eating penguins and seals.

Thankfully, they had left a letter in Ushuaia detailing their plans in case they didn’t return. Sweden and Argentina each sent rescue ships and the explorers lived to tell about their ordeal. And, on a positive note, the Hope Bay party found sixty-one species of fossils, twenty of which were new to science. The fossils they found of Southern Beech trees contributed to the continental drift theory. A monument stands at the remains of their stone hut.

We have been truly blessed with excellent weather in Antarctica. I’ve spoken with quite a few people who are doing this cruise for a second or third time because the ship had to alter course on previous trips and couldn’t make it this far south.

As we finished lunch, white flakes drifted onto the deck! Excited Indonesian and Pilipino crew members, seeing snow for the first time, hurried to the Lido deck, cellphones in hand catching flakes on their tongues while taking selfies.

Tonight’s entertainer was comedienne and magician, Mandy Muden. Her comedy surpassed her “magic.”