+27 (0)82 4000 470 rob@robcaskie.com

Last evening, we enjoyed a meal in the main dining room with the ever-charming Moira MacCarthy from Ireland. We met Moira on Crystal Serenity during the 2014 Mauritius cruise, and have kept in contact since. Moira’s late husband was a solicitor, and guests on board have enquired whether he used to go from door to door!
Since we are going to Igazu Falls hereafter, we watched The Mission on DVD after dinner. We never saw the entire movie – when the Portuguese began slaughtering the local Indians in the name of the Church, and little babies were laid down in the mud to be killed, I turned it off immediately. Irons, de Niro and Neeson were much younger then.

This time last year, I was on the tail end of 6-weeks on board Le Lyrial with French company Ponant, in Antarctica. A wildly different experience to this. With Ponant we often made 3 landings a day, and by the end of the cruise we knew most of the 200 guests on board. On Crystal, there are still guests we are certain we have never seen before, and this is inevitable on big ships. Being on shore for 10-12 hours every day in Antarctica requires very different clothing and preparation to the luxurious, warm confines of Crystal.
Puerto Madryn is a fascinating place, much frequented these days by wealthy visitors from Buenos Aires. Established initially in 1865, by Welsh settlers wanting space to pursue their own culture, language and way of life. Coming from coal mining backgrounds was very poor preparation for the hardships Port Madryn held in store. For shelter the settlers were obliged to dig shelters/caves into the rocky ledges along the beach. To sweeten the blow, the Argentine government gave 250 acres to each settler couple. In their own intrepid fashion, irrigation arrangements were made out of the Chugut River, and by sheer force of will, they survived and eventually prospered. Many succeeded with sheep farming, and Welsh is still spoken in these communities today. Tough people indeed.

When we got off the ship to go ashore, a dog alerted me to sea lions below the pier. I took some guests, including Robert and Veronique Schrire, to see these calm, beautiful creatures, although most guests have spent considerable sums and distance to go on tours to view sea lions. Town was very quiet, clearly a holiday of sorts today. Many folk on the beaches, however, enjoying the warmth. We never tire of seeing people walking their dogs, and the dogs gambolling into the water. One woman with 4 dogs was throwing her slip slops alternately into the waves, to be recovered by one or more of her pooches.
Trying to recognise the ship staff ashore, in civilian clothes, is rather challenging. One pretty woman, from Chile, said “now I look like a proper human being!” The Crystal uniforms are stunning, all of them, but I guess young folk like the identity created by their own choice of clothing?

As before, Karen finds the guests laundry a great source of entertainment. Some guests are decidedly unpleasant regarding the use of machines, how long they may have waited (apparently) to use a machine, and clothes being left in a machine or dryer when the cycle is over. Karen calmly told some difficult dames earlier “that the machines weren’t going anywhere, and the laundry never closes. I am out of here”. Most of the guests are delightful beyond description, so the prickly ones become memorable for all the wrong reasons.
We are keen to disembark with clean clothes to enjoy BA, Igazu, then Sao Paulo en route home. Packing for the frigid climes of Antarctica and the humid, hot climes of northern Argentina presents challenges of its own. I packed two pairs of shorts for the really cold days in Antarctica….
Some guests have purchased maps and asked me to show them our route in Antarctica. Most would be horrified to know that cruise ships like these move about 6 inches (15cm) for each gallon (3,78 lt) of fuel consumed. I mention this as many would love to see South Georgia included in this itinerary, but the costs involved in getting there and back need serious consideration, especially when the ship is not full, as we are at present.
When Crystal Serenity sails later today, Karen and I plan to be on the rear deck, with a drink in hand, looking for whales, but most of all thanking our lucky stars for this exceptional experience.