Easter Island, Chile Wednesday, Feb 20 2019 

After our Valentine’s dinner which included a special dessert, we attended the Jon Armstrong magic show. He is seriously funny with baffling tricks. On Friday, day 44, I not only played chess, but started teaching chess to beginners and those who want to brush up on their skills. About a dozen passengers showed an interest. It will be interesting to see how many return. Our trivia team scored 11 points, but several other teams had 12 points. The number of participants in this afternoon’s gathering of bloggers or would be bloggers increased from earlier meetings. Wildlife expert Robin Petch shared what we can expect to see of “Whales, Dolphins & Seabirds – Valparaiso to Sydney” Resident historian Michael Fuller spoke about “Islands in History.” I have some questions about what he said about Darwin’s wife and the publication of the Origins of Species. William Thayer did an excellent job presenting “Ferdinand Magellan.” We enjoyed “Asian Panorama” at the Chef’s Table where we were served chilled king crab, lobster and chicken shu-mai, lemongrass and red chili, Peking duck, and an Asian trilogy for dessert of spring roll, crème brulee, and cheesecake. Each course was paired with a premium wine. The variety of dining options are keeping me very happy. The evening entertainment featured Doug Cameron playing his electric violin. He is a virtuosic performer with an amazing personal story. Another wonderful evening of music.

Another sea day, Saturday, day 45, as we cross the Pacific Ocean with smooth sailing. Two chess players joined the three of US who are regulars for some interesting games. An informative morning lecture by William Thayer outlined the chief accomplishments of “Sir Francis Drake,” the first Englishman to sail around the world. He played a key role in defeating the Spanish Armada, too. Our trivia team tied for first with 13 points out of 15. Wildlife expert Robin Petch tantalized us with examples of the brain power of the “Iconic Species – The Bottlenose Dolphins.” Gwenyth Todd introduced us to her experience in “Me Too – Surviving the Pentagon as a Young Woman.” We will need to hear more of her story before passing judgement. Standup comedian Noodles Levenstein geared his jokes for his audience of mainly American seniors.

Seven passengers participated in chess on Sunday morning, day 46. I played a couple of games and taught one guest some opening theory. We attended the port talk on Easter Island which we hope to visit in two days. We learned that our cruise director has visited the island twice during five stops. With this cruise, we are hoping she will be 3 of 6. About 20 teams are playing team trivia on sea days. Today our trivia team tied for second with 13 points while the winning team garnered 14. David Burgess explained what transpired on board the HMS Bounty in his lecture on “What Caused William Bligh’s Crew to Turn on Him in 1789?” This was followed by world cruise passenger Lou Thieblemont presenting “Aviation – How Big Planes Fly.” He used simple experiments with a hair dryer to support his technical presentation. We enjoyed another gourmet meal at Manfredi’s, the Italian speciality restaurant. The evening entertainment featured Heather and Jonathan, trained opera singers who also sing Broadway musicals, jazz standards, and current popular tunes. Heather changed dresses four times in their 45-minute set.

Four of played chess on Monday morning, day 47, with two others observing. We won the team trivia today with 13 points (which would have been 14 if one of my answers had not been rejected by team mates). To summarize, we have won trivia 3 times and finished second 5 times. Wildlife expert Robin Petch gave an impassioned presentation on “Marine Conservation – Why Does It Matter & What Can We Do.” We learned that Viking is exemplary in the programs they have established to minimize our impact on the environment. Master Magician Jon Armstrong is amazing! He performed trick after trick with a deck of cards, and told us that he had many, many more card tricks. He left me totally in awe.

Ana o Keke off Poike Peninsula

Ana o Keke off Poike Peninsula

We arrived with a view of Easter Island on Tuesday morning, day 48. Unfortunately, despite the Captain’s best efforts, the sea was too rough and the pier too poor for us to attempt using the tender system, especially if you also consider the physical capabilities of many passengers. What we ended up doing was circumnavigating the world’s most remote island. We have learned that Jakob Roggeveen, a Dutch merchant explorer, happened upon this remote island on Easter Sunday, 1722. Hence the name we know it by. The native people known as Rapa Nui called it “Te Pito o Te Henua” or the “Navel of the World.” We were told that the native people annually held a selection competition to determine their leader for the next year. From a tall cliff one would descend and swim to a nearby island where one would grab a bird’s egg and swim back and climb the cliff with the whole egg. A very difficult feat. We were able to see a few of the 1,024 stone sculptures from sea, but the heads, known as moai, are facing inland. It’s a mystery as to how these stones were moved. We are disappointed that we didn’t get on this island, but we are glad that we are safely sailing to our next port of call on Tahiti. Because of the circumnavigation, we did not participate in the revised schedule which held team trivia at noon. In the afternoon I watched a couple of chess games and ended up playing one person a couple of games. I attended Robin Petch’s lecture n “Friendly Wild Dolphins.” He has personally had some fascinating encounters and he shared other well documented instances of playful dolphins. I learned much from William Thayers presentation on “Guglielmo Macroni.” What an interesting self-taught inventor who has positively impacted our current communications. We concluded the day by attending another performance of comedy and magic with Jon Armstrong. His “Close Up Magician of the Year” was rightly conferred. He is amazing!

Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile Thursday, Feb 14 2019 

As has become my custom, I started the sea day (Wednesday, day 42) with chess. A third game was adjourned because my opponent had an appointment to visit the ship’s laundry facilities. Later in the morning we attended a lecture by the newly boarded resident historian Michael Fuller on “Oceans in Context – History & Inspiration.” Our trivia team finished with 6 points while the winning team had 8. In the afternoon another new lecturer, David Burgess shared “For Many, To Be a Castaway Saved Them, But Some Chose the Life.” Because we are self-exploring, we had a short port talk for Robinson Crusoe Island. The final lecture of the day was by another new lecturer, Geoff Peters, on “Castaways & Their Fated Ships.”

Cumberland Bay

Cumberland Bay

So, on Thursday, day 43, we arrived in Cumberland Bay off Robinson Crusoe Island, some 400 miles of west of Valparaiso. This remote archipelago is part of the Juan Fernandez Islands. We have learned that Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was inspired by the adventures of Alexander Selkirk, a Scotsman who was marooned for four years and two months (1704-1709) before being rescued. We tendered to the small town of San Juan Bautista where we walked to the cemetery before I attempted the Mirador de Selkirk. Upon my return, we enjoyed a pirate-themed experience with a fish snack and pisco sours at a local restaurant. What a special treat to visit this island!

Valparaiso, Chile Tuesday, Feb 12 2019 

Vina del Mar Floral Clock

Vina del Mar Floral Clock

On Monday, day 40, we arrived in Valparaiso, Chile, the last of six ports on this cruise that we visited last year. Although our morning guide was disorganized, we enjoyed a panoramic tour of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. Valparaiso, a city of 42 hills, offers a variety of hillside dwellings and great views. We visited the upper area of Los Cerros where we overlooked the city and bay below. We passed one of the twelve operating funiculars that whisk locals up and down the steep hillsides economically. Our next stop was at the Plaza Sotomayor where the former city hall is now a naval headquarters building. In the center of the square, the Monument of the Heroes of Iquique sculpture celebrates naval heroes such as Arturo Prat from the 1879 battle with Peru. The square is surrounded by interesting buildings including one where a modern skyscraper rises from an earlier, classic base. Unlike last year, we stopped at Vina del Mar’s best-known landmark, a floral clock. We also were able to visit the Fonck Museum with a real moia statue outside and its impressive exhibits of Easter Island inside. This was excellent preparation for our upcoming stop at this isolated island. We saw a reproduction showing rongorongo writing whose meaning and origin remain a mystery. Among their other exhibits are three shrunken heads from the Jivaro in Ecuador.

Casas del Bosque Grapes

Casas del Bosque Grapes

In the afternoon we boarded a tour bus that took us to Casablanca Valley, home to thriving vineyards about 30 kilometers from Valparaiso. We visited the thoroughly modern Casa del Bosque winery for an excellent introduction to their wine-making process. The Cuneo family, immigrants from Rapallo in the north of Italy, founded this winery of 235 hectares in 1993. As we learned from one of their signs: “The warmth of the Sun, furious winds, mystical mist, starry nights and a soothing sea breeze create unique conditions for our cool climate viticulture.” Of course, the soil, red clay composites of volcanic origin on top of decomposed granite, is essential, too. The vineyard has white roses at the end of rows which we learned alert them if there are insect problems. The number of vats and their size was truly impressive for this winery which produces 1.2 million bottles annually. Of course, we also enjoyed partaking a sampling of three of their wines: a sauvignon blanc, a pinot noir, and a syrah. Casa del Bosque has achieved their goal of producing excellent wines of the highest quality. Our return trip drove us through Vina del Mar with its modern high-rise apartments and 1930s casino and resort hotel. Another great day!

Tuesday, day 41 for us, is the end of the cruise’s second segment for many passengers and the arrival day for others joining us for the third segment. Our steward is responsible for 17 staterooms, only four will have new occupants. He indicated that some other stewards will have empty cabins during this segment. After breakfast in the Restaurant, we washed two loads of clothes without facing too much competition from other passengers. In the afternoon, we visited the Nordic spa where we crossed the steam room and the snow room followed by relaxing in the sauna. Very relaxing! The evening performance featured Chilean musicians and dancers in colorful costumes. Every day is special.

Puerto Montt, Chile Sunday, Feb 10 2019 

Thursday evening’s entertainment was the return of Jason Lyle Black. He performed a medley of 1700s classical pieces followed by a medley of Broadway musicals. He again demonstrated his uncanny ability to play the piano from a backwards and upside-down position. Tonight, he also used his head to depress a foot pedal. On Friday, day 37, I played a couple of chess games before attending the storytelling of Sherry Hutt on “Puerto Montt – Land of Giants, Gauchos & Gold.” Our scenic cruising was hampered for a time by a thick level of fog. Nevertheless, the nature watchers spotted blue whales and even I saw their spouts. Interestingly, a Washington Post article documented the record-breaking high temperatures being recorded in Argentina, Chile, and Australia. Several of our guides have mentioned how global climate change is impacting their area with less snow and higher temperatures. Our trivia team correctly answered 8 questions while a winning team had 10. At lunch we learned that on last year’s cruise a crew member (only 32) and a passenger (while in the sauna) died. One passenger on this year’s cruise has died and another with medical issues evacuated the ship yesterday. We are a relatively small group of travelers on a long trip. There are lots of readers aboard, including me. In the afternoon we attended Gavin W. Roser’s lecture entitled “Sustaining Life at Sea – A Look at Your Ship.” Unfortunately, he spent way too much time talking about the ship’s engines and less time about the galley. A port talk prepared us for our destination tomorrow, Puerto Montt. James Freedman provided information about “How to Commit Fraud” which was really recommendations for avoiding fraud. After dinner, we attended the evening entertainment featuring the assistant cruise director, Brian Rodriguez, who featured Broadway tunes and opera arias. An incredible performance! Brian will be leaving in Valpariso.

Lake Llanquihue & Osorno & Calbuco Volcanos

Lake Llanquihue & Osorno & Calbuco Volcanos

We docked in Puerto Montt on day 38. A morning excursion took us twelve miles away to the City of Roses, Puerto Varas. Roses line the downtown streets and decorate the Jose Luis Martinez Plaza. Puerto Varas is situated on Lake Llanquihue with views of the Osorne and Calbuco Volcanos in the distance. Like last year we walked to the Iglesia Sagrado Corazon de Jesus church which was completed in 1918. This year we learned that it was inspired by the Church of Marienkirche in the German Black Forest. This region of Chile was largely settled by Germans. New   year was Ozakar Langko Toro’s “Metalmorphosis” sculptures.

Sitting in Front of the Sea

Sitting in Front of the Sea

Back in Puerto Montt we boarded the shuttle to the Plaza de Armas. Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral Church, built of wood in 1856 to withstand earthquakes, was the most interesting site for us. We walked the promenade back to the Viking Sun. We passed is a large statue of an embracing couple entitled “Sitting in front of the Sea.” After lunch I ventured out to visit the art & craft shops, the central and fish markets. Sea lions were frolicking in the waters beyond the fish market. Back onboard, we heard part of Sherry Hutt’s presentation on “Valparaiso & Santiago – Fugue of Cultures in Chile” before joining other world cruisers for a photo op on the bow of deck 3. After that outing, we heard Phillip Hurst lecture on “Gold – What Is It & Why Is It So Valuable?” The evening entertainment brought together Salvatore Hasard and Elyse Branch that featured each of their varied musical stylings.

On Sunday, day 39, I played chess against my two regular opponents. One of my subscriptions notified me via email that my password and email were changed. I’ve been hacked! I couldn’t establish a chat line with the company but will need to make a telephone call when we get to port tomorrow. Our trivia team scored 11 points. Although we were well behind the winners 14 points out of 15, we did tie for second. Later this afternoon we plan to attend Robin Petch’s slide show of “Wildlife Highlights – Miami to Valparaiso.” We are looking forward to the port talk for our next stop, Valparaiso. We plan to attend Sherry Hutt’s last presentation, “Learning to Fly – A Political & Economic Story of Modern Chile.” before she departs. We have a reservation for the Italian specialty restaurant, Manfredi’s, this evening.

Puerto Chacabuco, Chile Thursday, Feb 7 2019 

On Wednesday, day 35, a sea day, I started my morning with chess against the other two aficionados. A morning lecture by William Simpson outlined the “Early History of China” through the Yuan Dynasty. Our trivia team scored 9 points, shy of the winning team’s 12 points. In the afternoon we attended Phillip Hurst’s lecture on “A Hero’s Hero – Sir Ernest Shackleton.” The port talk on Puerto Chacabuco prepared us for tomorrow’s adventure. We enjoyed dinner at the Chef’s Table where we tasted a five-course meal paired with four wines that explored modern Thai cuisine. Elyse Branch headlined the evening entertainment performing some of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits. Every day is special!

Rio Simpson National Reserve

Rio Simpson National Reserve

On Thursday, day 36, we awoke to a view from our veranda of a snow-covered mountain rising above Puerto Chacabuco. This tiny Patagonian enclave is located at the tip of the Aisen Fjord at the foot of soaring Andes peaks. After taking a tender ashore, we boarded a bus for an hour-long ride through beautiful pastoral scenery. We stopped at the Rio Simpson National Reserve information center which houses a small museum. We walked down to the Rio Simpson where we admired the rugged landscape. Our return included a stop in Puerto Aisen (ice end) where we had a view of their suspension bridge which was declared a National Monument of Chile in 2002. Back on ship, Robin Petch shared another “Iconic Species – The Sperm Whale.” This was followed by Phillip Hurst sharing “Smaller Than Central Park – Real & Imagined Microstates.” During dinner we enjoyed scenic cruising through the Chilean fjords. Another great day!

Punta Arenas, Chile Tuesday, Feb 5 2019 

Chilean Glacier & Waterfall

Chilean Glacier & Waterfall

On Saturday, day 31, we cruised around Cape Horn, considered the continent’s southernmost point, with little visibility. According to guest lecturer Dr. Sherry Hutt, we are now qualified to wear a gold ear ring in the left ear. During the passage, I played a couple of chess games against a worthy opponent. Gavin W. Roser lectured on “Trade Routes Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.” Our trivia team registered 8 points while the winners finished with 10. I always learn a lot from Robin Petch’s presentations. This afternoon he talked and showed pictures dealing with “Seabirds – They Are Not All Seagulls.” The port talk on Punta Arenas prepared us for our arrival tomorrow, a day earlier than originally planned. Information about the port was furthered by Sherry Hutt on “Punta Arenas – From Penal Colony to a Traveler’s Haven.” As soon as we departed from the Star Theater, we began to see Chilean fjords. A glacier with a massive waterfall was an exceptional sight. James Freedman stole the limelight during the evening entertainment. He is widely considered one of the world’s greatest pickpockets. While demonstrating his trade, he gave a lot of practical advice to avoid fraudsters and street pickpockets.

On Sunday, day 32, we were treated to a diversion in our itinerary in order to see more glaciers a significant mountain in a Chilean national park. Consequently, there was a lot of activity around the chess tables in the Explorers’ Lounge. The morning program included a presentation on “Pacific Exploration” by resident historian William Simpson. He covered discoveries by Balboa, Magellan, and Tasman as well cultural and scientific contributions by Cook and Humboldt. He also discussed current and future challenges from global warming. Interestingly, we entered the Strait of Magellan on February 3rd, the birth date of Magellan (1480). Our trivia team limped by with only 6 points (with two wrong answer supplied by me) while two teams compiled 11 points. We arrived a day early in Punta Arenas which gave us time to revisit highlights of this city that we visited last March – the Plaza de Armas Benjamin Munoz Gamero Square and the Sara Braun Municipal Cemetery. At dinner we learned a bit more about the seventh passenger on this cruise from Prescott. Apparently, he is traveling solo, and only on this segment. We have yet to meet. While many fellow passengers stretched out on lounge chairs to watch the Super Bowl on a giant screen on the Pool Deck, I joined a select group to listen to Jason Lyle Black perform in the Star Theater. He is a pianist known for his unique arrangement of hits from film and television. To cope with boredom, he perfected playing while lying down upside down. He asked four audience members to suggest a note whereupon he formulated a tune that he played in three different styles: country, jazz, and ragtime. From what I hear, he may have been more entertaining than the football game.

Monument Tripulantes Goleta Aancud

Monument Tripulantes Goleta Ancud

On Monday, day 33, we embarked a coach for a ride to the foothills of the Andes Mountains at the ski resort Club Andino. Our guide confided that this was her best day for temperature and visibility in fifteen years?! Usually, she must apologize for the lack of a view and to prepare hikers for a muddy trek. We enjoyed a beautiful day! We rode the ski life to the mountain top where we could see snow-capped mountains in the distance. We hiked downhill through a dense forest before encountering a spring. We then crisscrossed a creek. When we emerged from the woods, we saw two wild horses. We tasted the calafate berry. On our return to Club Andino we enjoyed hot chocolate and a pastry. After lunch on the ship, I ventured out again to find the interesting sculpture of a ship with people on top and on the sides. I then walked through the city and up stairs to the overlook. Punta Arenas, which means Sandy Point, is a friendly destination with an interesting history. I am so pleased we were able to visit again. Back on the ship, Lou Thieblemont treated us with a virtual Boeing 757 journey from Ushuaia through the Chilean fjords using his state-of-the-art flight simulator. Then we listened to Phillip Hurst explore the differences between Amundsen, Short, and Shackleton. After dinner we joined the Viking Sun vocalists and band for “The Sound of the Sixties.” This was a variation from an earlier show that featured new costumes. We are lucky to enjoy such talented young people.

On Tuesday, day 34, we awoke to some spectacular scenery in the Chilean fjords. We used my chess clock today for several blitz and G/25 games. Phillip Hurst’s morning lecture on “European Sunset & Pacific Dawn – The Return of the Dragon” projected the expected economic rise of China. Our trivia team turned in a respectable 8 points, but less than the winning team’s 10 points. Eight of us in the fiction book discussion group gathered in the afternoon to discuss Carolina de Robertis’ The Invisible Mountain, a book that explores four generations of Uruguayan women. Unfortunately, fog and rain limited photography of the Amelia Glacier. Gavin W. Roser shared his knowledge and experience with old and new ships. Robin Petch shared “Fascinating Facts About Sharks, Seals & Their Ocean World.” For dinner we celebrated the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Pig, with dim sum and fried rice served around the pool. The evening entertainment featured Chilean Salvatore Hasard’s vision of “Life Is Music.” He has a great voice and played guitar, piano, harmonica, saxophone, and drums. Simply amazing!

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