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The view overlooking Punta Arenas

Transfer day – flying from Santiago to Punta Arenas started early.  Let’s just say that yesterday when we were checking in with Hurtigruten (the company we are sailing with) for our flight times, the man looked at the list and said breakfast would be at 3:10 am.  We all just stared at him and Carol said “You are kidding… right?”.  To which he replied “No, really.  3:10 is breakfast and we leave for the airport at 3:40”.  So, yes, today started early!

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Alpaca in a field outside of town

It was actually a good flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas.  Where you ask, is Punta Arenas?  If you have ever looked at a map of Chile, you know it is long and skinny.  So if Chile were a pencil with the eraser at the top, Santiago would be about halfway down where you hold the pencil and Punta Arenas would be way down in the lead.  It was about a two and half hour flight.  After arriving and boarding our busses to transfer to the ship, our guide told us we could not go down to our ship immediately as we had to wait for the tsunami to pass by. 

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School children evacuate the school and head up the hill in this Tsunami drill

What?  A Tsunami?  Then he went on to explain that the city needs to do a Tsunami drill once a year, and wouldn’t you know it – today is the day.  So we would be taking a city tour while the drill was completed.  It was pretty interesting to watch as people came out of their business and headed up the hill.  All the school kids left the schools and hiked up the hill also.  So we had fun watching and shopping for an hour or two and then made our way down to our ship.

Now, this is not a Luxury Cruise, but rather an Exploration Voyage.  What I mean by that is if you have sailed on a Caribbean cruise before, you can pretty much forget everything you think you know about cruising – it just doesn’t apply here.  There are no big shows – here nature IS the show.  There is no Casino – here you gamble on the weather and ice.  There are no “dress-up” nights – here dressing up for dinner means putting on a clean pair of blue jeans (or not).  You have to have an open mind about everything.  Yes, you get a schedule each evening that outlines the activities for the next day.  But then there is an announcement in the morning that the schedule has been rearranged because of weather changes and no, we are not going to the place listed in last night’s paper, but to a whole different place instead.  When you sign up for an activity (like we did for the two-man Kayaking), you don’t ask which day it will be, let alone what time.  They will just let you know when conditions are right and try to give you a couple of hours notice.

But this is all part of the adventure, so just sit back and enjoy it.