17 Night Antarctica Pursuit Voyage
Having sailed on the Azamara Quest a few times and enjoyed the atmosphere, last time we were on board we couldn’t help but be tempted by a cruise to Antarctica. This was to be on a ship that was still to be launched, the Azamara Pursuit, bringing to three the number of vessels in the Azamara stable.
On 28 August 2018, the naming ceremony was held and after about 4 months of cruising, it was ready for its inaugural Antarctic cruise. Sadly, this is not a cruise of the expedition variety where one hops into zodiacs and steps foot on the turquoise stretches of ice – this would require us to rob a few banks to afford the exorbitant price tag. That said, we were looking forward to seeing penguins standing on icebergs as we float though the Antarctic sound and searching for seals on Elephant Island, the well-known refuge for Ernest Shackleton and his crew following the loss of their ship Endurance.
Day 1 – Boarding and setting sail….
Unfortunately, after thinking she’d avoided the bug that Walter was just shaking off, Glenda came down with it at the end of our stay in Buenos Aires. We also woke up to heavy rain on our final day, which put paid to our intention to visit the local Saddleback Church as it was too far away. So we had a lazy morning, sleeping in, devouring a pastry and coffee purchased the day before and doing the last minute packing.
Checkout time of midday was soon upon us and as this lined up nicely with checking on to the ship, we hopped in a taxi. $12 later (rather than the $50 had we booked a transfer), we were at the port. It was a bit crazy as there were a number of ships in. We were grateful not to be going on MSC as that seemed particularly busy – probably not surprising as they take thousands of guests rather than the hundreds on the little Pursuit.
Within an hour of leaving the hotel, we had gone through security, checked in, dropped bags in our stateroom and were enjoying lunch in the buffet restaurant on board. We spent the afternoon unpacking. It’s amazing how much cupboard space they manage to fit into these small cabins – we managed to fit in over three months’ worth of stuff.
After muster (the ship version of fire drill), we went to the Living Room, a big lounge at the front of the ship with big windows. This was so that we could claim one of the lounges near said windows to enjoy the sailaway – leaving Buenos Aires harbour. With Glenda being a bit under the weather, the evening was pretty low key – dinner and bed.
Day 2 – Montevideo, Uruguay
Another sleep in! After the best night’s sleep so far – jetlag is eventually subsiding – we lay in bed watching our arrival into the port of Montevideo.
We were greeted with lots of heavy rain which didn’t subside until lunchtime.
After a morning spent in the Living Room, we ventured into the Ciudad Vieja, the old part of Montevideo and Centro, the CBD, carrying rain jackets and umbrella. Whilst there were a few drops of rain, the foul weather largely held off during our brief visit.
So we were able to see the Mercado del Puerto – the port markets – which housed a large number off BBQ houses – and get as far as the Plaza Independencia at the other end of the old town.
Whilst our exposure was limited, our impression of Montevideo was quite different to what we’d seen in Buenos Aires. With a more stable economy in Uruguay, the people seemed happier and more friendly and the infrastructure better maintained. The old part of the city was better set up for tourists than anything we’d seen in Buenos Aires.
We chose not to attend the AzAmazing evening – a free shore based event put on by Azamara on each cruise. In the past we had attended the ballet in St Petersburg, Russia and music in the Cathedral of Santa Maria at Palma de Mallorca, Spain. This one was to be a Carnaval performance in Montevideo. With neither of us feeling great, we didn’t feel like spending 3 hours off the ship for 45 minutes of the show. As we also plan to attend Carnaval in Buenos Aires next month, we opted to have a quiet evening on board. Dinner at Discoveries, the main restaurant, was very relaxed.