Travel: Celebrity Infinity – Cruising South America

South America cruise

We sailed around South America onboard the Infinity with Celebrity Cruises in December. I know it’s now February but hey, better late than never to write about it!

December 22, 2017 – New York to Buenos Aires

Our red-eye flight from JFK to Buenos Aires, via American Airlines, went without much drama. Due to the cost and unpredictable New York winter weather, we booked our flights via Celebrity Cruises using their Choice Air option, which included a transfer from the airport to the cruise terminal.

December 23, 2017 – Buenos Aires, Argentina

We landed into Buenos Aires airport (EZE) mid-morning and transferred to the cruise terminal after about a 45 minutes wait.

Once we boarded the ship, freshened up, ate some lunch – we headed out to discover what Buenos Aires had to offer. The first thing I noticed was the lovely weather. It was in the mid 20s and a nice change in temperature from the below 0s (Celsius) we’d been experiencing in NYC.

We walked around the city using an outdated online Frommer’s itinerary before having an Argentinian steak for dinner at Al Carbon’s.

Buenos Aires - Torre Monumental (British Clock Tower) day and night_result
Torre Monumental – Standing prominently across from Plaza San Martín, this 76m-high clock tower was a donation from the city’s British community in 1916 and built with materials shipped over from England.
Buenos Aires Al Carbon meal_result
Al Carbón STEAK HOUSE   Address: Reconquista 875, C1003ABQ CABA, Argentina

Buenos Aires city images_result

Buenos Aires streets_result
Streets of Buenos Aires

December 24, 2017 – Buenos Aires, Argentina

We had another day to discover Buenos Aires before we set sail in the afternoon. Today Gambit and I headed to the San Telmo market. To get there, we hopped into a cab that I thought we were going to die in. I took a photo of the driver’s permit just in case! He was driving super fast in a car with barely any suspension left, wearing no seatbelt while busily counting his cash. If you happen to know the guy below, tell him thank you for not killing us.

Buenos Aires cab driver_result

The San Telmo market was huge. It sprawled across many blocks and featured hundreds of vendors. The bright colours of the fruit and vegetables were a treat to see considering most of the vegetables I see in NYC seem to have a dullness to it.

Buenos Aires - San Telmo markets_result

Buenos Aires - San Telmo markets food_result
The Feria de San Telmo is one of the most notable events in Buenos Aires. Nestled in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, the San Telmo Fair is bustling with unique artisans and antiques every Sunday afternoon.
Buenos Aires Teatro Colon_result
Teatro Colón is the main opera house in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is ranked the third best opera house in the world by National Geographic, and is acoustically considered to be amongst the five best concert venues in the world.
Buenos Aires - Plaza De Mayo_result
Plaza de Mayo is city square and main foundational site of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was formed in 1884 after the demolition of the Recova building. The city centre of Buenos Aires, Plaza de Mayo has been the scene of the most momentous events in Argentine history, as well as the largest popular demonstrations in the country.

Back on the ship, it was time to finally set sail and head on the rest of our South American adventure.

If you had not noticed, the date was Christmas Eve, so the ship was decked with Christmas decorations. The below pic is of one of the better displays. The other ones around the ship looked like the Christmas aisle from Walmart vomited everywhere (oh, and as the days went by, signs popped up telling kids not to eat the gingerbread display).

Celebrity Infinity Christmas decorations_result

There was a Christmas Eve menu which was not really so different to what gets served on a typical cruise. And since I am writing this two months later, I can’t remember what I ordered but I think it would have been the Beef Short Ribs.

Celebrity Infinity Christmas Eve menu_result

December 25, 2017 – Montevideo, Uruguay

The day was Christmas and our ship docked into Montevideo. Before we disembarked, we saw (Celebrity Cruise) Santa arrive by boat and walk through the ship. There were a lot of kids on this cruise, so this was quite exciting for them. I was just not “feeling” Christmassy – partly because we weren’t around family, partly because it was 25-30 degrees and I have grown to cold, white Christmases now.

Celebrity Cruise Santa_result
Celebrity Cruise Santa!

We heard from another couple at breakfast about a free walking tour at 11am, however I wasn’t feeling up for anything at that time (probably from over eating at breakfast) so I convinced Gambit to take the 2pm tour. Luckily, this was a good decision because our tour guide said the 11am had approx. 30-40 people on the tour which was a bit of a challenge.

I have to admit that the free walking tour was one of the best I have been on. Our tour guide was a lovely 18 year old native who informed us of the different landmarks around the city, living life in Montevideo, politics and history. From memory, what I took away from the tour was that Uruguay is a very progressive country that had legalized gay marriages (yea, back in 2013, so tsk tsk Australia), use and growth of marijuana, and abortions.

Montevideo tour 3_resultMontevideo tour 2_resultMontevideo tour 4_resultMontevideo tour_result

Many of the shops were closed while we were in town and our guide explained that it wasn’t because it was Christmas but because it was the “day of the family”.

After our tour we headed back onto the ship since most of the shops were closed.

Dinner was quite exciting because it was Christmas dinner!

Celebrity Cruise Christmas dinner menu and food_result

December 26, 2017 – Punta Del Este, Uruguay

We booked THE ART CULTURE OF PUNTA DEL ESTE tour off Celebrity. I compared the tour to one I found on Viator.com and it seemed reasonable.

Tour description:

A sightseeing tour for the art aficionado you can’t afford to miss. Visit Punta Del Este, an area home to a treasure trove of hidden art and architecture, including the open-air collection of sculptures at Square of the Americas. You’ll see several works of art up close at the Ralli Museum, including pieces by Salvador Dali. You’ll also visit the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation, which features the famed artists workshop, exhibition halls and collections.

To be honest, Gambit and I had no idea what to expect of Punta Del Este or the tour.

We were pleasantly surprised the coach was comfortable, clean, had air con, and the places we were taken were interesting – the only fault we had was that that our tour guide was very nice but was a poor guide as she didn’t explain anything. She played this weird game where she picked two numbers in her head and got every person on the coach had to guess what numbers she was thinking and the people that did (Gambit being one of them) received a prize. To be honest, this would be the type of game I’d play with kids and my ‘favourite’ would win. Gambit’s prize was the lady’s recipe for her Chimichurri (see below pic)

Punte Del Este tour 2_result

Our first stop was to La Mano (The Hand), a sculpture by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal located at Parada 1 at Brava Beach. The sculpture was completed during the summer of 1982 and Mario decided to make his sculpture on the beach as he was inspired to make a sculpture of a hand “drowning” as a warning to swimmers, as the waters at La Barra up the beach had rougher waves which were better for surfing, while the other way, waters at Solanas were much more suited for swimming practices and windsurfing activities.

Punte Del Este tour 1_result

Our second stop was to the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation which displays his art in different buildings and outside, in the nature.

Gallery tour 1_resultGallery tour 2_result

Our last stop was to the Museo Ralli, a smaller gallery displaying paintings and sculptures. By this time on the tour, I was hot and tired. Also, because I have no idea about art, I glimpsed over all the artwork then found a spot outside to play with a dog I found.

Museo Ralli_result

December 27, 2017 – Sea Day

This was a sea day. The only exciting thing we did was join the Celebrity Cruise Heartbeat of the Operation Galley Tour, mainly because it was free.

Heartbeat tour

It was quite interesting. Here are a few things that I learnt:

  • The bread basket is arranged in a specific order with a certain number of different breads
  • On an average day at sea, 16,000 dishes are served for guests and crew
  • On an average 7 day cruise; 16,300 pounds of beef, 9,675 eggs, 61,450 liters of milk are consumed

What I thought was interesting is that only 425 gallons of ice-cream are consumed.

December 28, 2017 – Sea Day

This was another at sea day. I can’t remember exactly what we did on this exact day but the typical sea day during this cruise consisted of:

  • 6am – gym (me only)
  • 8/9am – breakfast
  • 10-12pm – lounging around in the room
  • 12/1pm – lunch
  • 2/3pm – coffee and cake at the café
  • 6/7pm – dinner in the main dining room
  • 8/9pm – check out what’s in the buffet
  • 10-11pm – sleep

December 29, 2017 – Puerto Madryn, Argentina

We booked the PENINSULA VALDES NATURE & WILDLIFE tour through Celebrity.

Tour description:

Travel across the Patagonian countryside, arriving at the stunning Peninsula Valdes, an UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized as one of the world’s most pristine nature reserves. Explore the Visitor Center where you’ll learn about the flora and fauna that inhabit this remarkable region. Then, journey to Caleta Valdes, a sheltered bay home to many unique marine creatures, including a thriving population of sea mammals and Patagonian shore and sea birds. Look out for the penguins that call this sheltered bay home. Then, travel to Puerto Piramides where you’ll observe a sea lion colony. Learn about sea lion behavior and watch these animals hunt for fish and play. This unique tour has been approved by educator, scientist, and NPR star, Milos Radakovich. Milos has studied at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and S.R.I. Biosonar Lab. He is an expert on marine mammals and intertidal biology and has received recognition from the NOAA and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Milos has worked as an on-board naturalist for the Lindblad-National Geographic Expeditions and has served as on-board naturalist for Celebrity and Royal Caribbean’s journeys to locations around the world. Enjoy a thrilling and educational eco-adventure into the Patagonian wilderness on this scientist-approved experience.

The tour guide was amazing as she was very informative and provided a lot of “show and tell” items, from the story of the Little Prince (apparently a famous book) to samples of the furry skin seals shed during the year.

Peninsula Valdes Tourism map_resultThe Little Prince_result

Since I am already a hopeless photographer and only use an iphone, these are the best of the best of the photos I took – ha ha – enjoy the blur.

Seals_result
Seals
Seal 2_result
Difficult to see but seals sunbathe in the water
Penguin 4_result
Panoramic view
Penguin 3_result
Shoreline lined with penguins
Penguin 2_result
Penguins
Lama_result
Lama

Caleta Valdes_result

December 30 & 31, 2017 – Sea Day

There was nothing eventful to report for December 30th, however, the last day of 2017 was pretty special.

Firstly, the day started off with the King of Breakfasts – donuts donuts donuts! It was donut day in the buffet which got me pretty excited.

Last breakfast of 2017 - donuts_result

We sailed around Cape Horn, the almost the most southern part of the world.

Cape Horn view 2_resultCape Horn view_result

We were due for bad weather – high winds and lots of rain, however, the weather was better than expected so the Captain granted passengers access to the hull, a typically restricted area of the ship (I think it’s called the hull – fact check someone). The access point is located behind the theatre on the ship.

On the hull, the view of Cape Horn was amazing. However, it was difficult to stay out too long as it was super windy.

Celebrity Infinity Hull_result

NYE dinner in the main dining room was OK.

Celebrity Infinity Dec 31 2017 meal_result

Celebrity held a pretty good NYE party around the middle of the ship which we arrived to 5 minutes before midnight because I was busy watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – but left before **spoiler** Harry killed Voldemort – so understandably, I was not really in the NYE celebratory mood.

Celebrity Infinity NYE party_result

I do remember thinking I could not believe how fast 2017 went by!

January 1, 2018 – Ushuaia, Argentina

New year, new city! We docked into Ushuaia early in the morning.

Ushuaia water front view_result

We were booked on another tour through Celebrity: BEAGLE CHANNEL CATAMARAN TO SEA WOLVES ISLAND

Tour description:

Cruise the waterways of the Beagle Channel aboard a sleek catamaran, discovering the stunning landscapes and natural wonders of Bird Island and Sea Wolves Island. A magnificent backdrop of jagged mountain peaks sets the mood as you careen past Isla de los Pajaros (Bird Island), home to an array of exotic birds. Continue cruising around Isla de los Lobos (Sea Wolves Island), a beautiful rocky outcrop and habitat to several marine species.

Ushuaia back monument_resultUshuaia front monument_resultUshuaia town_result

The tour was really good. The catamaran sailed close up to the island so we got some great views of the seals and penguins!

Bird Island and Sea Wolves Island tour 1_resultBird Island and Sea Wolves Island tour 4_resultBird Island and Sea Wolves Island tour 3_resultBird Island and Sea Wolves Island tour 2_result

Bird Island and Sea Wolves Island tour 5_resultBird Island and Sea Wolves Island tour 7_resultBird Island and Sea Wolves Island tour 8_resultBird Island and Sea Wolves Island tour 9_result

Later that night while having dinner, we were seated by a window so we could see the glaciers – something I never thought I would see in South America!

Chile Glacier 4_resultChile Glacier 3_resultChile Glacier 2_resultChile Glacier 1_result

January 2, 2018 – Punta Arenas, Chile

I wish I could say more about the stop in Punta Areanas besides it being quite boring. The tours on offer were either expensive or not to our interest. I would say that the below covers a lot of what Punta Arenas has to offer:

The plaza/ garden area where there is a guy with a foot on a cannon (Monumento a Hernando de Magallanes) which is currently rated #7 of things to do in the city on Tripadvisor.

Monumento a Hernando de Magallanes_result

A lookout point over the whole city, Mirador Cerro De La Cruz, which is rated #9.

Mirador Cerro De La Cruz_result

A green clock, Reloj Del Estrecho that I don’t know anything about than that it’s rated #26 (can you see what I’m saying yet??)

Reloj Del Estrecho_result

At the end of the day, Gambit and I walked towards the casino area near the water and I took some “arty” shots.

Punta Arenas waterside 2_resultPunta Arenas waterside 1_result

January 3 & 4, 2018 – Sea Days

There was nothing amazing that happened on these sea days.  On January 4th, we did book into one of the specialty restaurants, Qsine. Personally, I thought the food was mediocre but the concept is not bad. And if you are reading this because you are unsure if you want to fork out the cover charge for the Qsine experience, I will walk you all through ours:

Firstly, we were seated and handed an iPad each. On each iPad was an abstract “menu” and we were asked to “favorite” the meals we wanted. But stupidly, they could only take one iPad, so only one person could do the “favoriting”. The names of the meals are on the menu but I can’t remember a description of them – I think that is part of the concept.

If you are a couple, you are told you can select up to a certain amount of dishes to share between the two of you. I’ve cruised enough and eaten at the specialty dining enough to know that that is just a recommendation – one which I am not a fan of because if I am going to pay $50 extra per person, I will want to pick as many that I want to try.

The dessert menu is given as a rubix cube. We ordered everything off the dessert menu because by that stage, I was below disappointed with the main food.

Qsine - lava crab ceviche_result

Left: Seafood Ceviche
Rating:
Me – 2.5/5
Gambit – 3/5

Right: Lava Crab (those red stones are to represent “lava” ha ha)
Rating:
Me – 1/5
Gambit – 3.5/5

Qsine - disco shrimp, escargot fish n chips sushi lollipops_result

Top left: Disco shrimp – creamy shrimp served on top of a fishbowl with a flashing light to show the “disco”
Rating:
Me – 3/5
Gambit – 2.5/5

Top right: Popcorn fish and chips – very simple fried bits of fish and mushed up potato Rating:
Me – 3/5
Gambit – 3/5

Bottom left: Lobster escargot – I didn’t eat these but Gambit said they were very salty. Rating:
Me – x
Gambit – 2/5

Bottom right: Sushi lollipops – mushed up sushi shoved onto sticks. The best thing about this dish was the pickled ginger.
Rating:
Me – 2.5/5
Gambit – 3/5

Qsine - slider party beef taco painters mignon_result

Top: Slider party – basically we had to construct our own burgers
Rating:
Me – 3/5
Gambit – 3/5

Bottom left: Painter’s Mignon – mignon steak served with sides on a painter’s pallet
Rating:
Me – 3.5/5 – Mac n cheese disgusting. Mash good
Gambit – 4/5

Bottom right: Beef Taco with guacamole
Rating:
Me – 3/5 good but ruined by American cheese
Gambit – 3.5/5

Qsine - meatballs_result

Meatballs – three different types of meatballs. One served with masala sauce, one was turkey the stuffing as filling, and one with marinara sauce.
Rating:
Me – 4/5
Gambit – 4/5

Qsine - kabab taj majal_result

Top: Persian kebab – served off a huge sword
Rating:
Me – 3/5
Gambit – 3.5/5

Below: Taj mahal – an assortment of Indian dishes served in metal cones.
Rating:
Me – 3/5
Gambit – 2.5/5

Qsine - dessert menu_result
Dessert Menu
Qsine - cupcakes donuts_result
Left: The Cupcake Affair – cupcakes which you get to ice and decorate yourself. I didn’t even bother with these as the cupcakes looked dry and very unappealing.
Rating:
Me – x
Gambit – 2.5
Right: Beignets, Doughnuts, Fritters – an assortment of what the title says.
Rating:
Me – 4/5
Gambit – 4/5

Qsine - cheesecaketini surprise_result

Top right: Cheesecake Tini – a blended cheesecake with a muesli bar on the side which stuck to the paper napkin.
Rating:
Me – 2/5
Gambit – 3.5/5
Bottom right: Qsine Surprise – which was just a lava cake that gets served in the main dining room throughout the cruise.
Rating:
Me – 4/5
Gambit – 4/5

Qsine - silver bullet chocolate tombstone_result

Bottom left: Chocolate Tombstone – probably the nicest dessert which was just a type of mousse served on a crunchy base.
Rating:
Me – 3/5
Gambit – 4/5
Left: Silver bullet – this was a tasteless icy dessert served in a metal silver bullet.
Rating:
Me – 1/5
Gambit – 2/5

Qsine - final dessert_result

Finale dessert for everyone. Except us. Our waiter forgot about them until I asked for them. This cost him all his service points ha ha! The marshmallows are covered in chocoalte and the egg cups were creme brule.

Overall, would I recommend Qsine? No, unless you can get it discounted or free. The food in the main dining room is much better, just not displayed in a fun and cool way.

January 5, 2018 – Puerto Montt, Chile

I started the day off with a double rainbow.

Rainbow Celebrity Infinity 1_resultRainbow Celebrity Infinity 2_result

We went on another tour booked through Celebrity but I can’t remember the name of it. The tour involved us going through a town that had a German influence, a stop over to try and take photos of the volcano which was across from a llama farm, and then to the Petrohué Waterfalls.

Puerto Varas, which translate to “the city of roses” is a small town by the water which follows a lot of German traditions. The town was really quite cool. We didn’t have too much time to explore once we stepped off the bus.

Puerto Varas near the water_resultPuerto Varas city of roses_resultPuerto Varas artwork_result

We stopped along the roadside to try and get some photos of the (active) volcano, but the cloud coverage was too dense. Fortunately, across the road from the stop was a llama farm with loads of llamas.

Volcano Puerto Montt_resultLlama Farm_result

Petrohué Waterfalls is a chute-type waterfall in the upper reach of Petrohué River in Chile, a short distance downstream of the source of this river in Todos los Santos Lake. This waterfall is inside the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. There are a few different walking routes you can take in the National Park. The views are great and on a sunnier day, I could imagine it being spetactular!

Petrohué Waterfalls Celebrity Cruise tour 3_resultPetrohué Waterfalls Celebrity Cruise tour 1_resultPetrohué Waterfalls Celebrity Cruise tour 2_result

January 6, 2018 – Sea Day

Last sea day on the cruise and I had mixed feelings about disembarking. I really enjoy cruising but I did not enjoy this particular Celebrity Cruise so I was happy to leave. Of all the Celebrity Cruises I have been on, this one was the most “sloppiest” in terms of service and really made it not as an amazing experience as other cruises I have been on. Besides one or two shining stars, it felt like the crew were “over it” and were ready to also disembark.  

January 7, 2018 – San Antonio, Chile

We left the ship without any issue. I did find out that Chilean agricultural customs are as tight as Australian ones. You were not allowed to bring in certain plant or animal products and you had to declare what you had.

Santiago port

We went on our last tour through Celebrity that ended at the airport. The tour took us site seeing through the city, a lookout point, to a shopping center before the airport.

There was nothing too exciting to report about Santiago. It was a nice city with lots of old beautiful buildings.

And the look out point from the top of a National Park was also great.

Celebrity Cruise Santiago city tour 9Celebrity Cruise Santiago city tour 8

For me, the highlight was definitely lunch in the shopping center where I ordered KFC. It was the tastiest, cleanest KFC I have ever had! It wasn’t greasy like other KFCs I’ve eaten.

Santiago KFC

When we arrived at the airport we were informed that our flight (well, all flights) to JFK were canceled. Fortunately, we were provided a voucher for lodgings and food by LATAM airlines for the night and we flew out at 8am.

Gambit and I made the most of the extra hours we had in the city by eating cake from an awesome cafe we found near a nearby shopping center. The slices of cake were the size of our faces!

Cest Si Bon Chile LES TROIS LAIT cake
LES TROIS LAIT Exquisite vanilla and chocolate sponge cake, bathed in our classic blend of three milks, with a soft filling of chantilly cream, dulce de leche, raspberries, topped with Italian meringue.
Cest Si Bon Chile MARIE ANTOINETTE cake
MARIE ANTOINETTE Fine chocolate sponge cake, filled with bitter chocolate truffles, milk chocolate mousse and white chocolate. Ideal for the chocolate lover.

Overall, it was great to go somewhere we’ve never been before. South America has a lot to offer – great scenery, people and traditions.

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