Buenos Aires to Cape Horn on Celebrity Infinity

Celebrity INfinity

This is the tale of Buenos Aires to Cape Horn the long way. We left Buenos Aires bound for the Falkland Islands, but that was cancelled because of the weather. So we sailed on bound for Elephant Island - of Ernest Shackleton fame, but that was cancelled because of the weather, so we head north back across the Drake Passage to Cape Horn, which we reached after 6 days at sea.

Route sailed Celebrity Infinity Feb 2010

Sunday 31 Jan 2010 - Day 1 –We arrived at the port just after noon, and were greeted by long queues of harrassed people. The "priority boarding" for suite passengers did not exist.. Eventually it started to rain, as we shuffled first through a large cattle shed that Celebrity were using as a check in facility, then again in another queue to get onto the ship, after we had been bussed from the cattle shed to the ship.

Cattle Sheds Queuing in the rain
This view is from the ship and shows the Cattle Sheds where we registered After registering we were bussed to the ship, a long queue in the rain.

Life boat drill

Having endured the chaos of the registration queues, we then had the chaos of life boat drill. At the signal for the drill, we went to our appointed lounge, where there were not enough seats, and too many people. Hence hot. Half an hour passed with no reason given for holding us, eventually they said a guest had been ill in another lounge. They were very lucky that they did not have more people being ill from having been held in these conditions, and one wonders what they would have done if it had been a real emergency, rather than a drill.!

Tugs take us out of Buenos Aires harbour

After the drill we left port. A small harbour entrance meant that we required the assistance of tugs. It took 2 hours to get out of the tight harbour

Feb 1 - Day 2 – Cruising. It was foggy all day with low visibility of about ¼ mile. Temperature pleasantly warm. Formal dinner night.

Cabin on Infinity - Sky Suite

There were a few maintenance problems with our suite. Someone had replaced a pane of glass with semi-opaque plastic, which was a big problem, as we could not enjoy the view. And the were a number of niggling maintenance problems in the cabin, like hinges coming off. We reported the balcony glass and were assured that it would be fixed "next time the ship is in dry dock" (the glass could in fact easily be replaced from the balcony)

Maintenence problems broken cupboard
Shoddy fixed balcony glass
broken hinge

Feb 2 - Day 3 By the time we awoke, the fog had lifted. Sea conditions were good at around force 4. The air temperature, not unnaturally had fallen a few degrees from yesterday.

Wine seminar Infinity Leacure on Infinity on Falklands
A good wine tasting for a "nominal" $10 A bad lecture on the Falklands


At sea on the Infinity

So it was quite unexpected when the Entertainment Manager, (odd too that it was not the Captain) announced that adverse forecasted weather in Port Stanley (50-60 mph winds with 20 ft seas) meant that the ship was not going to attempt to land passengers in the Falklands. The ship was to bypass the Falklands and would continue south to Elephant Island.

When the announcement was made we were sailing through calm seas, with no white caps on the waves and very little wind. The announcement was badly handled, and rumours soon circulated round the ship and a lot of grumbling swept the ship.

Swimming on Infinity Hot tub Infinity
Warm with quiet seas gave time to swim or take the hot tub

A further announcement told us that we would have an extra day in Antarctica due to the cancellation of the Falklands, and that as well as visiting Elephant Island , we would have the time to see Deception Island , as well as Paradise Bay and Gerlache Strait. This would mean 3 days of Antarctica. However... this was not to be...

Food on Infinity Chris on Infinity
Meanwhile we ate
..and walk the length of the ship

Made new friends and did some more eating

Art on Infinity Formal night on Infinity
Food on Infinity free booze on Infinity


Free booze on Celebrity Infinity Ice carving on cruise ship
One could always eat and drink more, most people did  

Day 4. We continue sailing south. Weather at noon it was 9C and visibility about 5 miles with an overcast ceiling of 1000 ft. 8 ft swells with a few whitecaps. But as we reached the latitude of Cape Horn the seas started to become more ominous

Bad weath Bad weather
Weather in Drake Passage was rough and wet and windy Eventually they closed the decks to passengers

Day 5 – By now we were in the Southern Ocean heading to Elephant Island. After a rough night we awoke. The sea was covered with white caps and the balcony was covered with blowing snow. Visibility was less than half a mile and we were in the midst of a full gale. The noon report from the Captain gives wind speed of 50 kts with 15 ft seas. Heavy snow blowing. Soon the ding-dong of the loudspeakers on the ship have the Entertainment Manager once again telling us bad news in his jocular "bingo voice", The Elephant Island visit was cancelled due to weather, and that we would carry on to Antarctica. We were in the middle of a deep low weather system, which had apparently formed suddenly and unusually (no back up information was given, so we had no idea how true this was.). We were about 30 miles from the island but visibility is just several hundred feet. At that point the ship deliberately removed the GPS channel from the TV channels in cabins (The Hotel Director said afterwards that it was deliberate) The ship turns from a due south heading to a SW heading, but passengers are not informed for several hours. At 5pm we are south of Elephant Island when they announce, well the Entertainment Manager announces in his Bingo voice, that the ship will turn north and go to Cape Horn and Ushuaia, then return to Antarctica as long as the weather improves. We are told that weather in the Gerlache Strait has low visibility, icebergs and strong winds. It turns out later that the Captain, let alone the Entertainment Manager, has no say in where the ship goes, and that all decisions are made in Head Office, Miami. Hence decision making takes several hours of negotiations between ship and Miami.

INfinity passenger mutiny INfinity passenger mutiny
INfinity passenger mutiny INfinity passenger mutiny

By now the chickens were coming home to roost. The Entertainment Manager's low key messages over the ship's PA system had not gone down well with a large group of Spanish Speaking guests (250 to 300) who wanted a better explanation. They were mainly Argentinians, who had no other way of getting to the Falklands. After an impromptu gathering in the foyer, a meeting with the Captain and Hotel Director was arranged in the Constellation Lounge. One of the deputy Hotel managers did a good job of translation, while both sides proceeded to lose their tempers. Basically most non US citizens had come on the cruise to see the Falklands and Antarctica, while most US people seemed quite happy to "cruise". One saw the different nationality characteristics come out in this meeting, including, unforgivably, the Staff Captain losing his temper publicly because the ship was booed. Anyway this meeting lasted over 2 hours, without any real conclusion. We learnt later that 8 guests were expelled from the ship at Ushuaia for "mutiny". Certainly they left at Ushuaia, whether they got their money back, I have no idea. The ship was not keen for other nationalities to know what was happening with the "Spanish Mutiny". It was extraordinarily badly handled by Celebrity.

Day 6 - In the Southern Ocean still but now heading north towards Cape Horn. We awoke to large swells and cloudy skies, but the wind had dropped, and the sea was not as threatening.. We reach Cape Horn Island, around 1pm, take the Chilean Pilot on board and cruise in very calm waters round Cape Horn Island. We round Cape Horn at 4pm, off load the pilot, and head for Ushuaia. Weather was fine, with little or no wine. Certainly we did not see Cape Horn showing its fierce side.

Our trip round Cape Horn Island