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South America Cruise on the Silver Whisper

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Cruising the Chilean Fjords and Laguna San Rafael
San Valentin Glacier and Laguna San Rafael in the fjords of Chile

The San Valentin Glacier in Chile is best seen from a boat in the Laguna San Rafael. The Silver Whisper anchored nearby and guests boarded a small catamaran for the short journey to see the glacier and icebergs.

San Valentin Glacier and Laguna San Rafael (c) Linda Garrison
The next two days were sea days, but the Silver Whisper was mostly sailing in the fjords of southern Chile. The 753 nautical miles from Punta Arenas to Laguna San Rafael really made me appreciate our small ship. We were able to stay in the calm waters of the inside passage and had islands on one side and towering, snow-capped mountains on the other side much of the time. Although the area reminded me somewhat of that other inside passage (in Alaska), this region of Chile has almost no villages, homes, roads, or boat traffic. It's really a wild, untouched region of the earth.

After sailing two days north of Punta Arenas, the Silver Whisper arrived early in the morning of our third day at sea at Estero Elejantes, one of the narrow fjords. All of the guests onboard were about to enjoy a special "Silversea experience", a memorable event included in the price of many Silversea cruises. My last Silversea experience was at Ephesus several years ago, where we all went ashore from the Silver Shadow for an evening concert.

The ship would be anchored all day in the Estero Elejantes while a large catamaran (150 passengers) picked us up directly at the ship for a ride to the Laguna San Rafael to see the Glacier San Valentin. Since this area is uninhabited and desolate, the catamaran had sailed down from Puerto Chacabuco the day before and spent the night anchored in the lagoon. The ship had four tours, and mom and I were on the 2:30 one.

After lunch, we were soon on the catamaran and were delighted to see than many of the Silversea staff (waiters/bartenders) were also on the small boat. Therefore, we had delicious sandwiches and snacks (including caviar), accompanied by free-flowing champagne and/or wine. The catamaran had plenty of good seating since the boat was only about a third full. The weather was nice enough for me to ride outside on the back, out of the wind. Mom sat inside with friends. The catamaran captain expertly navigated the narrow channel connecting the lagoon with the rest of the fjord, and we began to see floating ice bergs of all sizes as soon as we entered the lagoon. It really was like being back in Alaska, especially when we saw the glacier. We stayed at the face of the glacier about an hour, with the captain turning the boat so that everyone sitting down inside on one of the two decks could have a good view. Those of us outside just kept moving from one side to the other, hoping to see the glacier calve. We saw a few small calvings, but nothing spectacular.

Soon the glacier-viewing time was over, and we returned to the Silver Whisper, arriving back at the appointed 5:30 time. The last group was all lined up waiting to board when we exited the catamaran. They also had a different group of wait staff, so I think many of them got the chance to do the boat ride, too.

Mom and I missed bridge and I missed team trivia, but it was worth it. We met some new friends in the Bar and then went to La Terraza, the Italian restaurant, for dinner. Very good again, and with a different menu. I had beef and mom had veal topped with ham.

The show was another of the women singers in the onboard troupe, an alto singer/comedienne. She is quite witty and funny.

In bed by 11:30; it was another great day. The Silver Whisper moved northward to Puerto Chacabuco during the night.

South America Ports of Call on the Silver Whisper

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