Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Kid's Club

So, what did Soren think of the cruise? Well, here's a shot that kind of shows it:

santiago cruise 076 copy

He was patiently waiting for the kid's area to open. He loved it soooooo much!

They had a line-up of about 15 bikes like this for him to ride.

to rio 009 copy

I think that was his favorite activity. He'd ride one for a few minutes, park it, and then go on to the next one.

He was absolutely enamoured with Russel, one of the counselor's. She was awesome.

montevideo y buenos aires 028 copy

In addition to the bike area, they had a huge jungle gym, craft tables, and a "stadium seating" for movie watching.

montevideo y buenos aires 029 copy

And they had different Pirate night...

punta arenas chile 002 copy

Not that I know anyone who might even be remotely interested in pirates, no sir.

punta arenas chile 004 copy

Occasionally the counselors would take them on excursions around the ship - for a kid's dinner, a magic show in the theater, or out for something simple...

santiago cruise 069 copy

How can you go wrong with an ice cream excursion?!

santiago cruise 072 copy

And it was pretty fun to blow bubbles on the deck of the ship.

santiago cruise 082 copy

Every day, the end result was the same: one very happy, tired little boy...

santiago cruise 109 copy

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Chilean Fjords

As we headed south down the Chilean coast, the ship went in for a day of "scenic cruising" in the Chilean Fjords.

santiago cruise 115 copy

As you might have guessed from our clothing, while we may have flown into summer the ship had quickly brought us back to more winter-like conditions.

santiago cruise 121 copy

There's not really too much to say about it, except that it is beautiful.

santiago cruise 125 copy

Incredibly beautiful.

santiago cruise 137 copy

Staggeringly beautiful.

santiago cruise 148 copy

See all the chucks of ice that have fallen off the glacier? I actually heard a glacier calve while we were passing. (It sounds kind of like creeeeeak, splash!)

santiago cruise 162 copy

santiago cruise 170 copy

Did I mention that it was beautiful?

santiago cruise 171 copy

The "highlight" of this section was the Amalia Glacier. Um, it was beautiful too.

santiago cruise 172 copy

Peter and I found the best seats in the house to enjoy the view. I'm not sure what it is about the sub-zero temperatures that scared off the rest of the passengers. The water was toasty, and the views couldn't be beat.

santiago cruise 189 copy

A truly fabulous day.

santiago cruise 199 copy

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Life Onboard

Ah, the sweet life. We had such a good time on the ship itself. With such a long time onboard, and such a great distance to cover (I think we covered around 5,000 miles!) we had many days that were simply "at sea," with no shore excursions. I didn't know what to expect from that time. Obviously they'd have a lot of things for us to do - but I wondered if we'd get a bit stir crazy on a two-week cruise.

I needn't have worried.

There was a lot of entertainment...

santiago cruise 052 copy

Soren particularly loved this drummer:

santiago cruise 063 copy

So much so that he asked me "Mom, is that God?" Um, WHAT?

I have to say that I was utterly bewildered by the question, but then I realized where it had come from. A few days earlier Soren asked if we can see God. I told him that when we see things that are beautiful or wonderful that some people say that that is like seeing God, because we are seeing God's work in the world. Yeah, I know, probably a bit esoteric for a 4-year old, but sometimes I just can't gloss over his more profound questions.

For Soren, the takeaway of my detailed explanation is that the drummer aboard the Star Princess is God. Way to go, Amy.

There was also an onboard Naturalist who told us details about the land and the animals we'd be seeing.

santiago cruise 079 copy

There was art to be viewed...

montevideo y buenos aires 014 copy

Michael Goddard was Soren's favorite artist in the gallery. I guess there is something about dancing strawberries and olives that really spoke to him.

falkland islands 005 copy

Of course, the pools were always fun!

montevideo y buenos aires 069 copy

Though we did only use the outdoor pools (there was also an indoor pool) on the more northerly sections of the cruise. Around Cape Horn and the Falklands it was cold!

We played games with our friends. Yahtzee!

to rio 046 copy

Thought deep thoughts...

to rio 023 copy

Ate countless "high sugar treats."

falkland islands 001 copy

Peter's bag did not actually arrive when promised. Our ship left port with Peter having only his 1.5 changes of clothes...and his new Levi's. Princess Cruise line was kind enough to give him a rental tux for formal night though. Doesn't he look handsome?

santiago cruise 099 copy

It was kind of fun to get all dressed up as a family.

santiago cruise 091 copy

The rental tuxedo, however, did NOT come with socks! Peter looked fabulous when he was standing, or hiding his feet under the dinner table. But while seated in the theater...this was the view! Niiiiice! It really makes me smile.

100_0088 copy

Soren really liked wearing a tie...

montevideo y buenos aires 008 copy

And often insisted on wearing it...even to breakfast.

montevideo y buenos aires 015 copy

Soren always looked forward to coming back to our room in the evening to discover what kind of candies Rico, our cabin steward, had left for us. When he left us heart shaped candies, Soren exclaimed "Mom! Rico left us candy hearts! I think he loves us!"

to rio 002 copy

It wasn't all a life of leisure though. There were the challenging moments. You know, like when we had to improvise a way to open our Chilean wine after having forgotten to bring a corkscrew. This is Peter jamming the cork into the bottle with a knife...

santiago cruise 030 copy

Monday, December 28, 2009

Getting to the Ship

After a bit of touring and a good night's rest, we headed out to Valparaiso, Chile to catch our ship. We hired a minivan to take us for the two-hour trip. We were so lucky to have our friends Heather, and her son Ryan join us for this vacation! Ryan sat in the front, next to the driver, and would relay everything the driver was saying. Between all of us, we sort of pieced together a conversation in Spanish.

santiago cruise 005 copy

We dropped our luggage off at the port...

santiago cruise 008 copy

And then went out to explore Valparaiso for a little while.

santiago cruise 017 copy

Peter's bag didn't make it to Santiago with us. They told us that the plane had been too full, and assured us that it would arrive on a partner airline the following day - the day the cruise was scheduled to leave. They promised to deliver it to our ship for us. They also said that Peter could spend $50 on clothes that he might need for his 24 hours without his bag. Classic Peter response, he headed right out to find some new Levi's!

santiago cruise 019 copy

And then it came time to board our enormous ship with the other 2600 passengers.

ushuaia argentina 147 copy

While we booked the absolutely cheapest room on the ship (that would be the "broom closet class") we were miraculously upgraded to a room with *gasp* a window!

santiago cruise 028 copy

(This was particularly useful for any naked sightseeing we might want to do.)

santiago cruise 027 copy

Isn't is clever how they arrange the beds for the 3rd/4th person? This shows Soren as he debated which of the two bunks he wanted.

santiago cruise 021 copy

This bunkbed situation was probably a highlight for Soren. Whenever we were in the cabin he spent most of his time leaping from the bunk down to the bed below.

Before we left, we'd gone to the Dollar Store and Soren chose all the Christmas decorations he wanted so that we could decorate our cabin for the two weeks we'd be aboard the ship.

santiago cruise 036 copy

And then it was off to the "mustard station" (another one of those childhood mispronounciations that this mother found too charming to correct.) Soren was VERY attentive. The word "emergency" always gets his attention. He's usually the only person on our flights paying attention to every word the flight attendant says. He paid close attention here too.

santiago cruise 023 copy

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Back In Town!

We're back! A bit jet-lagged and tired, but we're home. You didn't think we just went on a blog hiatus without actually going somewhere did you?

We were in South America for almost three weeks. And if we weren't the types who try to experience "trip of a lifetime" type vacations as much as possible, I might just describe this as a trip of a lifetime. So instead, I'll just say it was really awesome.

We got back last night, on Christmas. Santa came early to our house and so the stockings were filled for when we got home. But it didn't even matter - we all just pretty much fell into bed when we got back. And then we tackled the stockings this morning. And I didn't capture one single image of that. I did however get more than 1,300 shots of this I can at least say that I have documented what Soren was doing near Christmas, if not on the actual day or not doing the actual Christmas-y things.

I've gone through many of my photos so far, but not yet all of them. So I'll tell you about the trip in a few installments.

First, it was a cruise. Yeah, we have succumbed to cruising. We did still take our sweet MountainSmith backpacks (as well as many other bags!) so we haven't totally fallen into the Louis Vuitton matched luggage crowd yet. But, we are now cruisers. We had more than one person on the cruise point out that we weren't exactly the demographic for this type of cruise. Too young, and with a small child. But Soren reaped the rewards of having a ship filled with grandparents - pretty much every time he turned around someone was handing him candy. Many people on the cruise told us that this particular itinerary, around Cape Horn, was on their bucket list. And since many of the passengers were older than 70...well, I guess they really needed to start working in earnest on that list!

We flew into Santiago, Chile. This year I managed to squeak in just enough miles on United to gain access to the Red Carpet Room lounges when I travel internationally. Um, can I just say, wow. We had a long layover in Toronto (almost 7 hours) on the way down and so hanging out - eating, drinking, getting online and even showering really helped break up the long journey.

You'll see that Soren settled in quite comfortably:

santiago 001 copy

233 copy

But then again, he settles in quite comfortably in most places.

santiago 004 copy

Have toys, will travel.

santiago 005 copy

We only had one day in Santiago before needing to catch our ship. But we did manage to see the sights by taking a double-decker bus tour. I laughed so hard when we boarded and Soren practically ran up the stairs to grab the front seat. He didn't care that there was only one front seat left, and that Peter and I needed to ride 3 rows behind him. He knows which seat he prefers!

santiago 013 copy

...but he did eventually move back by us when it got too sunny in the front.

santiago 020 copy

As with most cities around Latin America, there is a main square with a statue of a guy on a horse that you should take a picture of.

santiago 025 copy

And some big ornate churches that you should investigate.

santiago 027 copy

Peter and I have been to South America a few times and still laugh at the frequency of eating meals accompanied by french fries. Always undercooked and soggy french fries. I have to admit that we kind of sought them out for our first meal there this time. We weren't disappointed. They were exactly as we remembered.

santiago 029 copy

Oh, and flying to summer has the advantage of getting back to ice cream season!

santiago 038 copy