20181103 – Cruise South America – The Edge Of Civilisation


Saturday

Our floating gin palace for the next 16 days.

Lazy morning, get packed, drink a lot of coffee and finally check out at midday. Unbelievable the queue for checkout, they’ve obviously not heard of fast checkout. Call up an Uber to take us to the cruise terminal, it’s there in two minutes and cost just a fraction of the official taxi.

Our Neptune suite.

Boarding our Holland & America ship the Zaandam is reasonably efficient. The usual number of queues but we get priority boarding and despite the lack of a glass of champagne to greet us at least our suite is ready. Our Neptune suite is amazing, very spacious along with a spacious balcony, fresh fruit, loads of other trimmings and best of all a ice cold bottle of champagne. We also get a Tassimo coffee machine, complete with FREE coffee pods. Hopefully this will be better behaved than the last one and won’t need swimming lessons from me.

More of our suite.

We settle in and explore. Have a workout in the gym then back to shower and wear our exclusive Holland & America robes. We’re on fixed dining and have swapped to a table for 8 rather than 6. Big mistake as we end up with an Austrian couple who apparently don’t speak English. I try some German but they’re really too wrapped up in one another so I give up and as a last resort talk to Wendy.

Our balcony.

Escape from the scintillating conversation with the Europeans and go up to our exclusive Neptune lounge for FREE drinks at a reception for Neptune suite guest. This Neptune suite seems good extra value for money. Great way to fritter away the kids inheritance.

Back to our room in a drunken stupor to try and watch Rake on Netflix, but we both fall asleep before the end of episode 1. Drunken end to a good day. The adventure begins.

Sunday

Our Neptune lounge complete with dedicated concierge.

Up at the crack of sparrows. Watches have gone an hour forward so we’re totally confused about the real time. Apple strikes again.

Early breakfast with the usual awesome choice.

Do a bit of work, to earn some pennies to pay for this extravagant life style.

Then go to the the port lecture, followed by yet more food for lunch and then a ships tour lecture. By now it’s getting rather choppy. I cut short my visit to the gym as I can feel a meeting with Huey and Ruth coming on.

More of our Neptune lounge.

Take a sea sickness tablet, which by the time I’ve had some food seems to fix the problem. Not sure whether it was the tablet or the food.

Fixed dinning at the same table but by now they’ve imported two stuck up English couples, who are travelling together so are mainly talking amongst them selves and are just hardwork. Half an hour late the Austrians turn up. Amazing how much English they’ve learnt in a day, they’re all of a sudden reasonably fluent. I don’t know what language school they went to but I could do with going to it for my French and German.

Escape as soon as we can. pop into the Neptune lounge and ask our concierge to move us onto flexible dining. Then we try and watch the rest of Rake. Give up and nod off.

Monday

Lazing on deck.

Up early for breakfast. Know the drill by now, fill my cafeteria with coffee; pop into the Neptune lounge to pick up some Blueberries from their continental breakfast arrangement; upstairs for some Becher Muesila combined with my blueberries.

Then it’s a power walk 4 time round the deck, just over a mile. Go to the lecture on Buenos Aires. Then coffee and some more work in the Neptune lounge while Wendy goes to cookery demonstration and then before you know it’s time for more food with lunch.

Pickleball.

After have half an hour around the pool taking in some sunshine – soon bored. Then it’s time for either pickleball or a lecture on climate change. Would like to do both but they clash – pickle ball wins, but in this gruelling heat and sun I come off wetter than a water hogs backside.

Get ready for another exciting dinner. Relax in the Neptune lounge with afternoon tea and watch rants and raves on the mid term elections on Fox news.

This time we’ve moved to flexible dining.

Then after dinner we retire to try and watch another Rake without nodding off.

Another alcohol free day.

Tuesday

Punta del Este’s only claim to fame.

At last we get off this floating gin palace. We’re tendered into Punta del Este. Really not much here so we’ve just decided to have a stroll around. It’s reckoned to be the Monaco or Monte Carlo of South America. Just hotels, apartments and nice beaches. Highlight seems to be a giant concrete hand coming out of the beach. You’d have thought they could have at least put some nail varnish on the nails to brighten it up.

Try to sample some Mate. Supposedly the most popular drink of South America. So popular you can’t try it anywhere.

Hmm….

After 6 mile stroll we get back on board for lunch.

Flexible dining then we go mad and go to the Tango show – good god we’ll be watching Saturday night dance shows next. I always thought Tango was supposed to be sensual and exciting. I manage to nod off through it so it probably gives you some idea of the quality of the show. Second half of the show was a tad more exciting as some supposed Gauchos pranced around the stage swinging two, what I can best describe as illuminated YoYos, around and around.

Wednesday

Eva Perons resting place.

Buenos Aires today and despite our original intentions of not doing any ships tours we’ve signed up for a tour of the city, followed by lunch and yet another Tango show.

Buenos Aires seems a tad more sophisticated and pleasant than Rio but given the dire warnings on crime in Buenos Aires you really do wonder what we’re doing in these so called civilised countries.

Buenos Aires – dodgy area.

Tour’s quite interesting and as well as few photo stops you get a good overview of the City and we see our intended hotel. 

Lunch is pretty good with sherry to start with, a tad bizarre, followed by free mediocre Malbec. The Tango show is a bit more stimulating than last night, but distinctly lacking in bare flesh or sexy attire.

Tango show.

Really a pity they didn’t pass on ??? and spend two days in Buenos Aires.

Flexible dining tonight, but not before a trip to the Crows Nest for happy hour with a glass of wine and a second for $2. Take these back to the room ready for dinner. Have to use every trick in the book to beat them at their own game.

Thursday

Monte Video.

Montevideo today and an “Easy Montevideo” tour. Really not exactly a lot to see and do here but it is good way to get an overview of the city. Just another overcrowded South American city. All crammed together like sardines in high rise tower blocks. All these places so far really make us appreciate Belthorn – now there’s a rare thing. It’ll probably be at least 3 weeks back home before I criticise it.

Monte Video harbour, anchor from the Graaf Spey.

Flexible dining again, rejected because I was wearing shorts. Then followed by a magician on the main stage. Problem is he did a lot of close up magic. Unfortunately none of us had binoculars so could hardly see what he was up to. The rest of his magic was rather mediocre cutting rope, repairing the cuts and escaping from a straight jacket.

Then Happy Hour for a couple of Tasooch Bourbons. Never tried it before but very mellow. After a nice night cape we tootle off to try and watch another Rake in bed without nodding off. Failed again.

Friday

Monte Video harbour. Is this a Uruguayan navy gun boat?

It’s a sea day with not really that much going on.

Catch up on an hours work. Might as well earn some money to help pay for the excesses of this floating gin palace.

Take a power walk around the deck, just over a mile. Attend a lecture and venture to the gym and finally get down to this blog.

Around the pool.

Open a bottle of Malbec. Have a couple of glasses before dinner.

Then before we know it dinner time is upon us.

Despite my resolve not to, I polish off the rest of the Malbec after dinner. No will power.

Saturday

Iceberg ahoy.

Another sea day. Power walk around deck; saunter around the ship and before we know it, it’s lunch time.

Quick trip to the gym.

After lunch the Captains spotted a giant iceberg. Thank god for that otherwise we might well have had a Titanic moment. To get us a good view of this rare sight so far North he takes a detour and passes by within a mile – close enough – so everyone can get a good view. Apparently it’s 250 feet tall and estimated to be about two years old – haven’t a clue how they figure the age out. Awesome sight.

Everyones up on deck and the bow snapping away, including some numpty who sets up his camera on a tripod – beggars belief.

Our Titanic moment. That’s close enough.

Then it’s a lecture on the Battle For The Falklands given by our Argentinian tour guide. Have to say it’s a very balanced presentation.

Up to the Crows Nest for 16:00 Happy hour for two glasses of wine and two spiced rums for my alcoholic in training wife. Take the wines up to the restaurant for dinner. Where there’s a will there’s a way, certainly have to counter screw them as best we can.

Good dinner as usual and reasonably pleasant company although I’m next to a gobby American, she could talk the balls off a pool table. Pass on the show of more singing and dancing so we go back to our cabin for more Rake. Wendy knocks back her rum and cokes whilst I get a Rye Tatoosh for a nigh cap.