Day at sea – to Strait of Magellan

March 13, 2020 – day at sea from Falkland Islands to Strait of Magellan

2020 South America cruise

I go for breakfast in the main dining room this morning. I am the last to join the table, but the other four people wait for about an hour for service. One couple is from Sydney, Australia, and are veteran cruisers. The other couple are from Burlington/Toronto area.

Captain’s noon report:

  • He will immediately notify us of any changes caused by coronavirus that will impact our cruise
  • Princess Cruises is suspending operations for two months
  • Our position: 52° 40’S 65° 16’ W
  • Arrive at pilot station at 9:30pm
  • Punta Arenas – 5:00am arrival
  • Lots of currents in the Strait of Magellan, so navigation will be challenging
  • Tomorrow’s weather: cloudy, some showers, cool
Heading from Falkland Islands to Magellan Strait
Heading from Falkland Islands to Magellan Strait

Everyone aboard has filled out a health questionnaire for the Chilean government, so hopefully we are clear to enjoy the numerous ports-of-call in that country. From my perspective, we have been on the ship for a week, and everyone appears to be healthy, so I’m inclined to stay on the ship and complete the cruise. I have confidence that Holland America will take care of everyone as best they can, no matter what situation might develop. I refuse to succumb to fear, and I detect the same attitude among most of my fellow passengers, including my travel companion.

As I walk circuits on the Promenade Deck this morning, we are currently sailing through thick fog. The ship’s horn is sounding every couple of minutes, making our voyage feel particularly “nautical”. Later in the afternoon, the skies clear, and we have remarkably calm seas as we approach the Strait of Magellan.

I have a cappuccino and a brownie in the Exploration Lounge just after noon, and find a recliner to sit in. I strike up a conversation with the man sitting beside me about the coronavirus and how it might affect our cruise. Like us, he is sailing all the way to Fort Lauderdale. He is also taking a wait-and-see approach, and trying to remain calm. He lives about 800 miles from Ft. Lauderdale, so he isn’t concerned about getting back home, but the uncertainty of our cruise completing as originally planned is obviously on everyones’ mind.

I go to see the live show this evening in Main Stage: the cello-playing Polish duo Celli and an illusionist who starts the show with a few card tricks. Neither act are too terrific compared with their previous performances. I go outside on deck to see the stars in the clear sky.


2 days at sea – sailing to the Falklands

March 10, 2020 – Day 1 at sea – Montevideo, Uruguay to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

2020 South America cruise

I’m up at 7am, get cleaned up and dressed and go to the Explorations Cafe for a cappuccino and a couple of chocolate croissants. I decide I can’t live without an Internet connection while at sea, so I sign up for a plan that will cover me for the entire voyage. It is pretty expensive, but worth it for me, since I can now shut off my Canadian carrier’s data roaming I was using when ashore. I’m finding the on-board Internet is more reliable and faster than previous voyages, so perhaps Holland America has upgraded their satellite system.

After the main dining room opens at 8am, I join a table for six for breakfast and have another cappuccino along with a frittata. I meet a woman from San Diego who is seated across from me, and is an experienced solo traveller, so we have a lot to talk about.

Ship's position - 2nd day Zaandam sailing from Montevideo to Port Stanley.
Ship’s position – 2nd day Zaandam sailing from Montevideo to Port Stanley.

The Captain announces that we are sailing south to the Falkland Islands in uncharacteristically calm seas and winds due to a high pressure system over us. He expects it to break down a bit over the next day and a half, but he isn’t expecting any weather problems, even by the time we arrive in Stanley.

I attend two presentations today. Kevin Saslavchik, the Cruise and Travel Director talks about what we should expect in Port Stanley, and Guido talks about Buenos Aires, describing and showing us the things you may have missed and the history of some of the places you did see. As it turns out, both Kevin and Guido are both young Argentinians. Kevin is particularly cute, and has a dry sense of humour. Guido also jokes around a bit, especially when describing the foibles of Argentina’s various regimes.

Joe dressed for Gala Night with the Moon rise over the southern Atlantic Ocean
Joe dressed for Gala Night with the Moon rise over the southern Atlantic Ocean

We get dressed up and go for Gala Night dinner in the main dining room. My friend has duck breast and Rack of Lamb, and I just have the lamb, which is excellent. We both have escargot to start, wine with dinner, and I have a Chocolate Soufflé for dessert.

Since the skies are clear we go up to the Sports Deck (9) to observe the gorgeous Full Moon and then climb up to Deck 10 forward to observe the Southern Cross and an upside-down Orion in the northern sky. There are no lights on Deck 10, making it quite dark. I help a fellow passenger find the Southern Cross, which she is thrilled to see for the first time.

March 11, 2020 – Day 2 at sea

I sleep in until 8:45am this morning, but get cappuccino and pastry at the Explorations Cafe before attending a presentation in the Crow’s Nest Lounge by Seth Wayne on his activities as HAL Ambassador. He is a former Seattle weatherman and news broadcaster, and is responsible for Holland America’s online social media presence. He is a long-time cruiser, and gets to go on 2-week segments of cruises on a regular basis. I then go to the Lido to have a lox omelette for brunch before returning to the Explorations Lounge to work on my notebook computer and catch up with online news and email.

Uruguayan Chef Amandine Bondoux on the right
Uruguayan Chef Amandine Bondoux on the right

The Port to Table cooking show, hosted by Uruguayan Chef Amandine Bondoux appeals to me this afternoon. She makes two dishes: Pejerrey in Escabeche (a type of ceviche) salty appetizer and Dulce de Leche Rogel – a layered thin cookie with chocolate leche stuffing and Italian meringue on top. The ceviche is made with sautéed vegetables, water, vinegar, oil, and the tuna is cooked in the hot liquid with the vegetables, but the fish is still slightly raw in the centre. This dish can be kept refrigerated for several weeks due to the acidic vinegar, and the flavour improves over time. She makes everything from scratch.

The entertainment in the Main Stage this evening is Celli, two Polish cellists who perform a wide variety of music, from classical, to a Michael Jackson medley, and loud and powerful semi-rock tunes with a 4-piece band backing them up. I enjoy their performance!