2018 Travels 2 - South America Cruises travel blog

Glaciers of South America

Sights of Punta Arenas

Sights of Punta Arenas

Sights of Punta Arenas

180211 - Sights of Punta Arenas 4

Sights of Punta Arenas

Sights of Punta Arenas

Sights of Punta Arenas

Our room animal for the night. Doggie? Bear?


Yesterday we cruised past Cape Horn, again. This time we went far enough around to see a number of glaciers. I did not know South America had Glaciers and we saw more here than we saw when we were in Alaska. Also, when I checked the average temperatures at the places we were visiting before we left Hawaii so Julieann could properly pack what we needed, almost all stops were recording in the 80’s. Somehow I missed the memo that informed us that Cape Horn and Chile didn’t make the cut. Actually, Chile should be spelled CHILLY. The temperature for the last couple of days was in the 50’s. You know I’m catching hell now, don’t you?

Today we stopped at Punta Arenas (historically Sandy Point in English) which is the capital city of Chile's southernmost region, Magallanes and Antartica Chilena. We docked here for over 12 hours, but there wasn’t that much to see or do in the city. We spent the majority of our time trying to connect to the very weak wi-fi. Of course, it was free so that’s why it was so weak. I managed to post one update to Facebook and answer a few emails before being totally frustrated three hours later.

We had to use “Tenders” (small, 100+ passenger boats) to get from the ship to the pier, but the water was calm and it was a short trip so no problems. (Note to self – why are they called Tenders?) The first thing we noticed when we arrived on the pier was the display of flags where the center flag looked a lot like Texas (see photos).

The city was officially renamed as Magallanes in 1927, but in 1938 it was changed back to "Punta Arenas". It is the largest city south of the 46th parallel south. As of 1977 Punta Arenas has been one of only two free ports in Chile. Located on the Brunswick Peninsula north of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas was originally established by the Chilean government in 1848 as a tiny penal colony to assert sovereignty over the Strait. During the remainder of the 1800s, Punta Arenas grew in size and importance due to the increasing maritime traffic and trade traveling to the west coasts of South and North America. This period of growth also resulted from the waves of European immigrants, mainly from Croatia and Russia attracted to the gold rush and sheep farming boom in the 1880s and early 1900s. The largest sheep company, controlling 10,000 square kilometres in Chile and Argentina, was based in Punta Arenas, and its owners lived there.

Since its founding Chile has used Punta Arenas as a base to defend its sovereignty claims in the southernmost part of South America. This led to, among other things, the Strait of Magellan being recognized as Chilean territory in the Boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina. The geopolitical importance of Punta Arenas has remained high in the 20th and 21st centuries because of its logistic importance in accessing the Antarctic Peninsula. Since 2017, the city and its region have their own Time Zone: they use the summer time during the whole year.

Before we left the ship to tour the city we noticed that the crew working in the dining room was doing things they don’t normally do. As we have seen this type of behavior on a ship in the past we had a pretty good idea of what was happening. The crew was blocking off passenger access to eating utensils, plates, cups, glasses etc and any direct access to food so they could no longer serve themselves and must be served by a crew member. I asked the dining room chief what was going on and he confirmed our suspicions. Someone (or a number of someones) was sick; the kind of sick that spreads like wildfire aboard a ship that you’ve probably read about. The ship takes every precaution that it can to stop the spread before it starts, but humans (passengers) being humans are STUPID. They would rather argue with the crew on why they cannot serve themselves than to be healthy. We will definitely be extra cautious around other passengers and use extra hand sanitizer constantly. We still have three weeks left on our trip and don’t really want to spend it in the cabin with our heads in the toilet.

The next two days are more days at sea and we’ll be cruising through the Strait of Magellan and the Chilean Fjords and then the Patagonic Channel the second day. The waves are rocking us a bit so I expect Julieann will spend most of the day in bed. I will “try” to find a quiet spot on the ship to update our journal. Passengers seem to go crazy when they can’t burn off their excess energy on shore and just do all kinds of stuff on board; just to be very noisy people. I do enjoy having a Bloody Mary as I quietly update the journal, but when I look at the price of almost $12.00 for ONE drink my joy is short-lived. I can buy a whole bottle of Vodka for $12.00. I’ve also noticed that Norwegian has raised their rates on just about everything else. The standard tip per day, per passenger was around $12.00, but is now almost $15.00. The automatic tip with drinks was 15% and is now 20%. Oh well, can’t take it with me, eh?

A group of Germans just came into my sanctuary and feel that they need to YELL at the person next to them to be heard so my quiet time has come to an end.

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