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Overview:

A Christmas to Remember: November/December 2008 San Diego California to Rio De Janiero Brazil via the Chilean Fjords and Antarctica. The itinerary was a wonderful mix of Mexico, Panama, South America and Antarctica all in one magnificent 42-day journey.

Ship:

MS Amsterdam, Holland America Line.

Décor:

The ship is like a gracious old lady – very elegantly dressed with wonderful paintings,fresh flowers everywhere and a feel of the ships of yesteryear although thoroughly modern.

Service:

The Filipino crew (some Indonesians) are very warm friendly people who remember your name and your preferences whether it be in the cafe, main dining room, the bar or your cabin.

Destination:

California, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Equador, Peru, Chile, the Chilean Fjords, Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Highlights included the diverse landscapes of Mexico’s beaches to the mountains in Equador; the lively but ancient city of Lima in Peru to the mountains, deserts, beaches and fjords in Chile; the awe-inspiring mountains surrounding Ushuaia – the gateway to Antarctica; the Great Southern Land – a destination that has to be seen to be believed and enjoyed. The rugged landscape of The Falkland Islands, The ”Paris of the South” in Buenos Aires, Argentina, bustling Montevideo in Uruguay and the magic of Rio De Janiero with its vibrant nightlife, majestic beaches and the beautiful Sugarloaf and Corcovado mountains.

Entertainment:

The classical music trio, the broadway-style shows, a variety of comedians, jugglers, singers, pianists etc. were very pleasant and we didn’t see a repeat of any of the shows in the whole time we were on board. There were also special performances on board by entertainers from certain ports of call, for example, a gaucho show, samba and tango performances and a carnivale-like show with magnificent costumes and music.

Food & Drink:

The La Fontaine dining room had a wonderful selection of menus and very well trained waiters and waitresses. The Pinnacle Grill was an excellent choice in alternative dining. The Explorations Cafe was a lovely place to sit and relax, to read or enjoy good coffee & pastries. The Lido Buffet also served an excellent variety of freshly cooked meals at nighttime and the breakfast and lunch buffets were of a good standard.

Cabins:

We had an oceanview cabin on Promenade deck midships and although we had good views of the passing scenery we were amazed at how many people actually tried to peer in the windows as they were walking past. Also when there were whales, penguins or icebergs on that side of the ship our view was blocked by the people filling the deck to see whatever it was.

Extras eg. spas, gym, pool:

There were two swimming pools – both very good and well used in the warmer climes and the magrodome over the main pool was a great idea in inclement weather. There was a lovely bar area around that pool with good seating. There were tables and chairs so you could eat by the pool under cover if it was raining.

The Verdict:

A truly wonderful cruise on a very good cruise line. What better way to see a large portion of South America and Antarctica and have a magical white Christmas all in one hit.

  • Favourite Ship: The old Marco Polo – when it was operated by Orient Lines, and the old Cunard Sagafjord.
  • Favourite Destination/s: Antarctica and South America.
  • Number of cruises taken: More than 20 cruises ranging from CTC lines, Orient Lines, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, P&O Cruises, Blue Lagoon Cruises & we are about to take our first MSC cruise – many of them we have sailed with more than once.

Words: Jan Swann