December 5, 2019 Half Moon Island, Antarctica

Half Moon Island Map

Kent Modeling the Stormy Weather Bag

Half Moon Island

Penguin on Half Moon Island

Shipwreck Remnants

Polar Plunge Participants

Half Moon Island Sunset

They say that most travelers feel speechless when they arrive at Antarctica. The vast white wilderness, the crisp air and the staggering isolation of the region. The continent houses no permanent human inhabitants, but is home to millions of adorable and curious penguins as well as an astonishing array of other unique species of birds and animals. Antarctica today is dedicated to scientific research.

The continent of Antarctica has tantalized explorers for centuries. In 1773, Captain James Cook, the famous British seafarer, came within about 75 miles of its shores before having to turn back because of ice. A Russian expedition in 1820 got close enough to actually see land. Between 1838 and 1842, an American expedition led by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes explored 1,800 miles of Antarctica’s coastline, surveyed 280 islands and brought back thousands of specimens.

In 1907, the Nimrod Expedition led by Ernest Shackleton aimed to reach the South Pole. Their route took them along a 140-mile glacier to an elevation of 10,000 feet. During the trek several members of the expedition were injured and four Manchurian ponies that pulled their gear-laden sleds died. The men persisted, pulling the sleds themselves as they walked into the howling winds. After a month and a half, they were exhausted and food was low. Less than 100 miles from the South Pole, Shackleton decided to turn back rather than risk their lives. After returning to England, he was greeted with cheering crowds and was later knighted for his achievement, trekking farther south than any explorer before him. In 1914, Shackleton returned to attempt a crossing of Antarctica with a crew of 27 aboard the aptly named Endurance. The expedition was even more harrowing after the ship was crushed by pack ice. They were not rescued for almost two years, although once again, Shackleton did not lose a single crew member. Theirs is one of history’s greatest stories of survival.

This morning we attended a lecture on penguins where we learned about the different varieties of penguins we might see while in Antarctica. They say that penguins are actually birds although they are unable to fly. They are great swimmers and have great feet for climbing hills on land. They often climb to the highest peaks on land because this is where the snow melts quickest allowing them an earlier start on their nests. They build their nests out of small rocks or pebbles which they collect. The male and females are identical in color and both have a brood patch where they have a bare spot and a concentration of blood vessels to incubate their eggs and keep the chicks warm. In captivity same sex penguins have been known to raise mating penguin’s second eggs.

The rough seas this morning woke us about 3:30am and were quite rough until midmorning before the sun came out. We had our first sighting of two icebergs in the distance. Winds were so strong that it was difficult for people to open the exterior doors of the ship to go outside on the deck. The weather was a mix this day with some beautiful sunshine and blue skies mixed with gray cloudy skies and snow.

Our first landing was on a very small island called Half Moon Island. The island is about 420 acres in size and is home to many Chinstrap penguins, fur seals and many species of birds. Our tender boat number is 2 and we were in the first group to go ashore on this day. We donned our long underwear, warm clothes, life jackets, gloves, sun glasses, two pair of socks, rubber boots and the windbreaker jackets provided by the ship before heading downstairs to the tender pit where we sanitized our boots before boarding the tender boat for shore.

Once on shore the exploration team had set up red flags and plastic cones to mark the trails of where we were allowed to walk. If there were two flags crossed in the sign of an X it meant that we were not allowed to cross. We found many small Chinstrap penguins nesting on the hillside or perched in the snow. Not too many of them seemed to be doing much traveling to and from the water to their nests.

Some folks decided they would do the polar plunge today including a group of high school students from Vancouver who were on the ship with their teachers. They shed their clothes and ran right into the frigid cold water for a few seconds. After getting out and drying off, they were talking about doing it all again the next day. Upon returning to the ship, we were required to stand in a boot-washing machine to have our boots cleaned and then into a solution to sanitize them.

At 6:30pm we attended a talk on the following day’s activities with photos, maps, geology information, history and an explanation of what to expect and what animals we might see.

December 4, 2019 Cruising the Drake Passage

About 1:30am we awoke to the ship rocking from side to side. The continual motion of the ship and the rattling of things in the cabin would wake us regularly until morning. The Drake Passage waterway connects the Pacific and the Southern Oceans. The enormous fast-moving ocean waters are squeezed between this narrow passage of about 400 miles creating sometimes peaceful and sometimes treacherous waters. Named after the 16th-century British explorer, Sir Francis Drake, this passage is a stretch steeped in history and legend, and a true travel milestone on the way to Antarctica. The staff say that our passage was fairly mild and that it is often much rougher.

For breakfast each day there is an enormous buffet breakfast with cereal, eggs, pancakes, fruits, breads, pastries, sausages, salads, seafood and so much more.

This was a day of preparation for our landings in Antarctica. Each cabin was assigned a group number and a name from an animal that lives in the arctic. Most of our group was group 2 and our group name was the Chinstrap Penguins.

We met with one of the expedition leaders in the theater for a 75-minute lecture on the do’s and don’ts of traveling in Antarctica. The expedition companies that take guests to Antarctica have formed an association where they have set up rules for all companies to abide by when traveling in Antarctica. Nothing is to be taken from the region and nothing is to be left in the region. No food is allowed on shore and there is no peeing in the snow.

We learned about the tenders or rubber rafts that would take us ashore, how to get in and out of them. They explained about how to dress in layers to stay warm, but not to be over layered where you are uncomfortable to walk. We learned that we are to avoid the penguin’s highways up and down the hillsides and that we were to stay at least fifteen feet away from all wildlife.

From noon until 4:30pm there were vacuuming stations set up in the lobby areas on several floors where we were instructed to vacuum all of our outer clothing we would be wearing ashore. Camera bags, hats, gloves, coats, pants, etc. would need to be vacuumed to assure that we would not introduce any seeds or pollutants into this unique and pristine environment.

Dinner on this evening was a sit-down dinner served at an assigned table for two. The menu included an appetizer of goat cheese on walnut toast with honey, onion soup, a choice of chateaubriand or halibut, a strawberry sorbet and an apple tart for dessert.

After dinner, we attended a briefing by the expedition team where we learned about where we would be landing the following day. They prepared us for the local weather conditions, what we might see and more. We are expected to arrive at our first stop about 1:00pm on a very small island where we should see our first penguins.

We attended a fashion show by the onboard shopping shop keeper who showed a large variety of items available for sale. About 14 crew members including the captain modeled t-shirts, polo shirts, jackets, sweaters and even bold black and white striped vintage style swimwear for those wanting to do the polar plunge.

December 3, 2019 Buenos Aires, Argentina to Ushuaia, Argentina

Midnatsol Ship

Ushuaia

Ushuaia Shops

Ushuaia

This was an early morning as we had a 5:15am wake up call to begin our day. A continental breakfast was served for us from 6:00am to 6:45am before heading to the airport for our flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. Our flight left Buenos Aires about 9:30am arriving in Ushuaia about 1:00pm.

We were taken on a brief tour of the town of Ushuaia with a population of about 80,000 inhabitants. The temperature was only about 60 degrees and windy. Patches of snow were still visible in the surrounding hillsides and mountains. Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city. The city is surrounded by the Martial Mountains and situated on the Tierra Del Fuego archipelago. This bustling port town is an adventure hub for hiking, skiing and sailing.

After a couple of photo stops at the Ushuaia sign and the old airport for a view of the city, we had free time to explore the city center on foot. The city center is comprised of two main streets that stretch about ten blocks running parallel to the waterfront. There are many eating and drinking establishments, as well as a few souvenir shops, clothing shops, drug stores and shops selling outdoor gear. Some of our travel companions chose to eat crab at Freddy’s. We decided to stroll and Kent looked for and found a little penguin figurine for his travel collection.

At 4:00pm we boarded our bus for the short ride to the pier to meet up with our new home, the Hurtigruten ship called the MS Midnatsol. This ship was specially designed for cruising Arctic and Antarctic waters. Named for the Midnight Sun, the ship includes bright interiors and colorful décor, including Norwegian modern art. The ship has a two-story panorama lounge over the bow for viewing, multiple bars, a café, an a la carte restaurant as well as a traditional seating restaurant. There is a library, gift shop, sauna, fitness room, two heated outdoor Jacuzzi’s and an amphitheater for lectures. The public areas of the ship are very nicely decorated although our cabin is quite small. One of our beds folds up to become a sofa by day. There is a small desk and chair and a small bath with a shower.

Our first stop was to turn in our mandated physician’s report to the onboard doctor for review. It says we are physically fit to take the ship’s excursions. HA! Next, we received a light weight jacket with a hood that is water proof and protects us from the wind during landings or while out on deck. They also provided us with a metal water bottle to be used instead of any plastic water bottles that might find their way into the waters. The ship has multiple locations where you can fill these bottles with your choice of still or bubbly water.

For dinner, a wonderful buffet was served in the very nice sit-down restaurant complete with linen napkins. The buffet had fresh salmon, crab meat, crab legs, shrimp, leg of lamb, cheeses, salads, a pork dish, varieties of rice, many desserts and more. The food was excellent and as usual we ate too much.

We began sailing about 7:15pm, exiting through the Beagle channel into the ocean beyond. At 8:45pm the captain introduced the ships officers and the Adventure Team that will be taking us to Antarctica. There are many types specialists on the adventure team including biologists, nature guides, geologist and more.

December 2, 2019 Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Boca Shop

La Bocca Bar

Empanadas

Floralis Generica

Eva Peron Family Tomb

Spanish explorers landed in the area early in the 16th century and founded Buenos Aires as a colony in 1536. The capital did not last long as native tribes destroyed its buildings and it wasn’t re-established until 1580. Over time, Spanish immigrants arrived to stay in Buenos Aires and other cities. The vast region attracted others, some of whom brought a Spanish ranch culture to farming and cattle-raising as gauchos. The more remote regions of Argentina remained under the control of the indigenous people.

On this day we took a tour of some of the local neighborhoods or barrios. The weather was cooler and the humidity was lower, making for an enjoyable day. We first headed to the historic downtown area of Buenos Aires around the Plaza de Mayo where the government house sits. The government house, called “The Pink House” because of its pink colored stone exterior, is where the president works although he lives outside of the city and commutes daily by helicopter. This central plaza is the site of much unrest and protest against the government.

Next, we headed to the La Boca neighborhood, home to the La Bombonera football (Soccer) stadium and an enclave of Crayola-Colored households. This neighborhood is located along the river and was formed by the union of immigrants who arrived at the port. The homes were originally painted with leftover paint from shipping vessels and are still painted in vibrant colors today. Today the neighborhood is filled with souvenir shops and the streets are filled with artists who set up stands in the streets to sell their art and handicrafts. Tango dancers can be found at many street side restaurants and stages.

We visited the Recoleta neighborhood surrounding the famous cemetery known for the burial of Eva Peron (Duarte) and many previous presidents and local famous people. The cemetery dates back to the early 1800’s and the monuments are very elaborate and beautiful. Over 90 of the vaults have now been declared National Historical Monuments. Upscale restaurants and shops can be found in this neighborhood. French style architecture is most prevalent in this neighborhood. The local Basilica del Pilar, a picturesque 18th century church, is used by all of the wealthiest families to celebrate weddings.

The San Telmo neighborhood is still reminiscent of the colonial city during the early years of Buenos Aires. It was not until later when wealthy families brought European architects and artists to create grander homes with differing styles. Antique shops, flea markets and handicrafts can be found in this neighborhood.

With the beginning of spring time, the city was filled with beautiful purple blooming Jacaranda trees and purple and white agapanthus. Monuments are found throughout the city in parks and parkways along the roads. One of the monuments is an aluminum and steel sculpture by Eduardo Catalano. It is called Floralis Generica and represents a generic flower which opens and closes with the sun light. Parks and tree-lined streets are found everywhere making it a pleasant city to navigate. Traffic is hectic around the city and bicycles and scooters can be found starting to pop up around town.

After our city tour we were taken to a custom leather goods shop that produces its own leather clothing. They take your measurements and make the clothing custom just for you so it fits perfectly.

After a snack of empanadas at a local shop we headed out on foot to explore a few pedestrian streets. The streets were not nearly as clean and well maintained as I recalled from 14 years ago when we were last here. People filled the streets on a week day afternoon making it difficult to have a casual stroll. You were constantly trying to avoid running into someone or triping over a pot hole in the sidewalk. With the devaluation of the local currency, we found people everywhere wanting to exchange currency for us. Nothing particularly unusual or unique about what they were selling. Not much sign of Christmas decorations yet as they usually put the décor up in early December and leave until January 6th.

We rested for a while at our hotel before heading out to dinner with Paula, our group leader. She took about 16 of us out for dinner to a local Italian restaurant she likes. We enjoyed some delicious small sized calamari in a cream sauce with onions. We then both had a fresh pasta dish with pesto or Arrabbiata sauces.

December 1, 2019 Iguazu Falls, Brazil to Buenos Aires, Argentina

Hotel Emperador Lobby

Hotel Emperador Room

Hotel Emperador Room

View from Buenos Aires Room

View from our Hotel Room

The folks in our hotel and around the falls where we visited were friendly but not very many of them speak English. Only a few folks in the hotel have spoken English so even simple things like asking for a wake-up call were difficult. When you call the front desk, they say things like “Speak Spanish?” Many of the locals speak Portuguese, some Spanish and even a local dialect, but English is not yet common here. We often take for granted that we can go anywhere in the world today and find English speakers, but it isn’t so.

We had a quiet morning at the hotel wandering the gardens, having breakfast and preparing to leave the hotel. We departed the hotel for the airport at 11:20am. While we arrived at the Iguazu, Brazil airport, we were departing from the Iguazu, Argentina, airport. This meant that we once again needed to present our passports to depart Brazil, cross the Iguazu River and present our passports to enter Argentina. We did this because there are no direct flights from the Brazilian airport to Buenos Aires. We would have had to fly to Rio or to San Paulo, transfer planes and then fly to Buenos Aires. The airport was under construction and appeared to be in the process of being modernized. When checking in we found that six of us did not have our baggage paid for as part of our ticket (booked by Vantage) and so we were required to pay about $22 each to check our bags. A slow process but we finally got it accomplished, although their printer was not printing properly so they had to email a receipt to us for reimbursement. Our flight departed Iguazu, Argentina about 2:30pm arriving in Buenos Aires about 4:30pm.

Our hotel in Buenos Aires is the Hotel Emperador located in the fashionable Recoleta area, not far from the airport. Our hotel room was on the 15th floor with a nice view overlooking the river, the train station and the slums/shanty towns. The room was spacious and beautifully appointed with antique looking inlaid wood furniture, traditional draperies and a spacious bath.

At 6:00pm we met up with our adventure leader, Paula, and the other 35 travelers who would join us for the trip to Antarctica. After an orientation meeting, we enjoyed a delicious dinner in the hotel’s lobby restaurant. For a starter course they served two good sized empanadas, one with corn and the other with beef. They were served with an olive and herb salsa. The main dish was a tasty beef and mushroom in cream sauce served over a bed of lettuce. This was followed by a bowl of fresh cut fruit in orange juice and a strong cup of coffee.

November 30, 2019 Iguazu Falls, Brazil

View from the Iguazu National Park in Brazil

Iguazu Falls from the Brazil Side

Iguazu Falls from the Pier

Electric Tram

Funicular Down to the Rivers Edge

Iguazu Falls Boat Ride

Sugar Cane Juicer

Paraguay’s Spanish pioneer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca found the waterfalls in 1542, naming them Holy Mary Waterfalls. Since the 19th Century, people began to visit the falls. In 1934, Argentina, and in 1939, Brazil, created national parks. In 1984 the area was declared a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site. The number of falls very depending on the season of the year, reaching 270 in number during the wet months and a minimum of 150 falls during the dry months.

This morning we departed our hotel at 9:00am bound for the Brazilian Iguazu National Park. It was a Saturday and the buses were lined up as were the visitors in long lines waiting to purchase tickets into the park. We were required to disembark our bus, collect tickets from our group leader and have them scanned before re-boarding our bus to enter the park. Most people enter the park via double decker buses that they wait in lines to board.

Once inside the park, we took a magnificent trail, mostly paved with concrete and with sturdy wooden or metal rails. The trail led us along the rim of the Iguazu River to many panoramic views of the falls. We then began to descend towards the river’s edge and finally to the place where the Devil’s Throat waterfall cascades to the river below. The paths were narrow in many places and filled with thousands of visitors all going the same direction but stopping to take photos and selfies. Once we reached the Devil’s Throat there was a long pier that leads out into the river to capture the best photos and really see the falls up-close. Because of the large volume of water flowing in the river, the splashes and spray got us quite wet.

Once we finished exploring the falls, we headed back up the steep banks of the river via two elevators. There was a small line for the elevators but it moved fairly quickly considering the large number of visitors in the park.

A short distance away from the elevators along the upper edge of the falls is a complex with restaurants, where we stopped for lunch on our own. We once again had the empanada’s with beef and chicken and cheese. Slightly larger in size than those we had the previous day, but sufficient for lunch.

After lunch we took the bus to yet another location along the river’s ridge where we changed into our bathing suits for a true adventure. We first boarded an electric tram-style vehicle that held about 40 guests and the tram took us on a scenic tour through the jungle filled with dense trees and vegetation. From the tram we transferred to a jeep-like transport vehicle that held about 10 passengers. The jeeps were used to transport us down steeper roads towards the river’s edge, closer to Paraguay. From the transport vehicles we boarded a funicular taking us down to a platform on the river’s edge. We put on life jackets before boarding rubber like boats with seats in it for a 45-minute boat ride back to the falls. There were two choices when it came to the boat ride. The first choice was a dry boat where the guests would stay dry while the other option was a wet boat where you were guaranteed to get drenched with water. Not wanting to miss the excitement, we chose the wet boat. The boat took us up to the grand waterfalls where we could take photos of the falls from the base of them. Once we had our photos the boat was driven under the falls with our cameras safely stowed in clear plastic waterproof sleeves. The water was not too cold but we did get drenched under the falls. The water was so much that you had no choice but to close your eyes until you came out from under the fall. After the ride under the falls, we had to retrace our steps back to the platform dock at the waters edge. Then up the funicular to the transport vehicles, then onto the electric tram and finally back to our bus.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a local roadside stand where they make fruit juice drinks using sugar cane. A motorized machine squeezes the juice from the stocks of sugar cane and then the juice was blended with pineapple and lime juice. It was very refreshing.

Back at our hotel we explored the walking paths behind our hotel before getting cleaned up for dinner. The paths meander through the lush vegetation of the jungle and pass by the chef’s vegetable garden. We passed the chef grilling 8 sides of beef on an open fire pit and stopped to see the hotel’s animal collection. They have many desert-style tortoises, many peacocks, some deer, many colorful Macau type parrots and other birds.

By early evening there was rain and an electrical storm in the area. After cleaning up we enjoyed a group dinner with our fellow guests (18) at the hotel’s buffet style restaurant where we had dined a couple of nights prior when we arrived. The beef the chef had prepared outdoors this afternoon was delicious as were the desserts.

November 29, 2019 Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls Raised Walkway

Iguazu Falls Devil’s Throat

Iguazu Falls

Until early in the 16th-century, the vast region which is now Brazil was inhabited by people living in tribal communities. Portuguese sailors arrived in 1500 and claimed the new land as a colony. One of the dark hallmarks of the ensuing era was the importation of thousands of African slaves to serve as labor for the development of the new territory.

During this period, Brazil’s natural resources were being traded as far away as Ireland. According to tradition, the country’s name comes from one of those resources, the red pau-brasil wood (brasil meaning ember-like in appearance). Some say the name goes back further to a mythic Irish land of “Hy-Brazil,” home to red minerals used for dye desired by the Phoenicians. Either way, it is clear that Brazil’s riches were highly sought after by traders and mariners.

Brazil was ruled from afar until 1808 when the advance of Napolean’s army made the Portuguese royal family flee to Rio de Janiero, where they established a government for 13 years. But when most of the royals returned to Portugal in 1822, the king’s son remained and declared Brazil an independent nation-with himself as emperor. This version of liberty survived for 60 years, a time that included the end of slavery, but a popular coup deposed the emperor and created a federal republic in 1889.

A long series of easily forgettable presidents, backed by strong coffee and rubber economies, brought about some industrial and urban development during what’s known as the Old Republic. In 1930, after his running mate was assassinated, presidential candidate Getulio Vargas seized power via a military coup rather than an election. In 1945 his dictatorship ended in another coup. He returned to the political scene with a populist platform and was elected president in 1951. Half way through his term, he was linked to the attempted assassination of a political rival and with the military calling for his resignation, he shot himself.

The next elected president, Juscelino Kubitschek, a visionary decided to replace the capital of Rio de Janeiro with a grand, new, modern one that would be built in the middle of nowhere. When Brasilia was inaugurated in 1960, there wasn’t a penny left in the coffers, but key sectors of the economy such as the auto industry were functioning at full steam.

On this day we departed our hotel at 9:30am bound for the Argentinean side of the falls. The border from Brazil to Argentina is just a few miles from our hotel but crossing the border is not always so easy. Passports from all guests were collected by our local guide and presented to border security on the Brazilian side of the Iguazu River. Once the passports were stamped we crossed the river and then had to stop on the Argentinean side to have our passports checked again. We would repeat this again on the way home in the afternoon.

Once in Argentina we entered the National Park where we left our bus for a day of exploring the park and the falls. We headed out on foot through the sub-tropical jungle paths towards several very large waterfalls called the “Two Sisters” followed by a smaller waterfall called “Chico”. From there we continued walking on mostly elevated metal walkways with railings and grate style floors made to allow the water to run through the pathways. The grate also allowed a non-slip surface when wet and prevented people from disturbing the natural environment. The main falls are nearly two miles in length. More than 60,000 cubic feet of water per second flows over the falls in the wet season.

After exploring the mile or so long upper trail, we stopped for some free time to have lunch before proceeding. We had several small empanadas filled with ham and cheese and beef for lunch. In the area where we had lunch there were many animals that resembled raccoons with long stiped tails and long pointed noses, called “Coaties,” that were aggressively wanting to share. To keep guests safe from the animals they had a caged in dining area with picnic tables where you could eat without fear of the small animals and their stealing tendencies.

After lunch we boarded a small train with about ten open air cars to transport us further north where we would see the “Devil’s Throat,” the largest of the falls. From the train station we had to walk on another elevated pathway, mostly over water and many small islands of land, about a mile to the top of the waterfall. Once at the fall there is a large observation deck where you can see the top of the Devil’s Throat waterfall that drops some 3,500 feet to the ground below. The spray that is created by the force of the water merging at this place makes it impossible to see the bottom of the fall. If you spend much time on the observation deck you are completely soaked but it is hot and humid so the cool spray feels nice.

After a mile walk back to the train station, we boarded the train again to begin a short ride back to take the lower trail for a walk to the bottom of the falls to gain another perspective. The walk is a bit of a steep hill going down to the falls and equally as steep coming back up the hill. Once at the bottom of the trail we walk on elevated paths to see the base of the Two Sisters’ waterfalls, the Chico waterfall and finally an enormous waterfall called Bosetti. The power of the water and the noise that it makes as the water falls is unbelievable.

While in the national park, we saw several varieties of animals: a Cayman (a small crocodile) sunning himself, many large catfish, beautiful butterflies of all colors (ranging from small-dime sized wings to more traditional sizes), monkeys, birds and Coaties.

After we completed the lower trail we boarded our bus for the trip back to our hotel. To get there our tour guide had to present our passports at both countries’ border checks. The evening was free so we had dinner in the hotel at an Italian restaurant. The food was beautifully presented on plates with micro greens and fresh flower petals for garnishing. We had a caprice salad, an antipasto plate, a steak saltimbocca and a bowl of pasta carbonara with two bottles of water. About $37.50 including the tax and tip.

When we checked in at the hotel they provided us with pink colored wrist bands that have a chip in them. You wear the bands wherever you go and can shower or go in the pool with them. Any time you purchase anything at the hotel they simply scan your wristband with a cellphone they carry and it bill your room account for your purchase. For example, at dinner they scanned our wrist band to charge our room for the dinner.

November 27-28, 2019 San Diego to Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Bourbon Resort Hotel

View from our Room

We departed San Diego bound for Houston, Texas, at 1:45pm, arriving in Houston about 7:00pm local time. At 9:30pm we departed Houston for Sao Paulo, Brazil arriving about 10:30am local time. This was a ten-plus-hour flight. Once we arrived in San Paulo it took us nearly two hours to clear customs, claim our luggage and stand in line to re-check our luggage for our final leg of the trip. We departed Sao Paulo about 3:45pm bound for our final destination Iguazu Falls, Brazil, arriving about 5:30pm. The Iguassu airport is very small with one runway and we were the only plane at the airport. It appeared that they were in the process of expanding the airport and adding a second floor with jet ways to allow covered access to the planes. Currently all planes were accessed by walking on the tarmac to your plane and climbing a portable staircase.

Our hotel for three nights was the Bourbon Cataratas Resort situated amid the lush greenery near Iguassu Falls. The hotel is quite large with a ten-story tower of rooms and acres of gardens, pools and single-story buildings. After arriving at our hotel, we joined our group for a welcome dinner in the hotel’s buffet restaurant poolside. The food was beautifully presented and included a salad buffet, main entrees of beef, pasta, chicken, and a dessert buffet. Everything was tasty.

After multiple calls to the front desk to get new batteries installed in our room safe, we were able to retire for the night about 10:00pm. At 1:40am our phone rang with a recorded message in Portuguese but we had no idea what that was all about.

November 22, 2019 Galveston, Texas

Mark with Mickey

Mark with Minnie

Mark with Goofy

Mark with Pluto

Mark with Donald

Mark with Daisy

We departed the ship on a shuttle bus from Galveston, Texas about 9:30am bound for the George Bush International Airport in Houston. The ride in light to heavy showers took about 90-minutes. Ms. P. and her mother Claire headed to Ft. Meyers where she lives and Kent and I headed to San Diego. Everyone made it home safely and agreed that we all had an enjoyable time on our first Disney ship.

November 21, 2019 Sea Day

Mark in front of the Wonder

The Rear of the Disney Wonder with Donald

Heidi Blickenstaff

This was our last day onboard the Disney Wonder and it was a sea day as we made our way to Galveston, Texas. Our first event of the day was the movie Aladdin in 3D from 2019. We had not seen it before and since we had the opportunity we thought we should take advantage of it.

After the movie we enjoyed lunch at Triton’s Restaurant with our new friends April, Jeremy and Jonathan.

In the afternoon we began our packing as we watched the original movie Frozen on the cabin TV. This was in anticipation of the screening of Frozen II which was scheduled to be released the following day. The ship was given permission to show the movie at 11:00pm prior to the official release on land at midnight.

The evening’s entertainment was a production show by the Wonder cast of singers and dancers called Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic. The show started with a mother tucking her daughter into bed and the following dreams that the daughter has with many of the Disney Characters. Each scene was a snippet from a Disney movie like Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Aladdin and more. The audience was packed and everyone cheered when their favorite character appeared.

At dinner in Tianna’s Place they had a New Orleans style Mardi Gras party with music, dancing and colored beads. For dessert they served beignets to everyone which are famous in New Orleans and are similar to donuts. They were served with an espresso sauce.

After dinner there was a final meet and greet called “Til We Meet Again” with some of the Disney characters in the lobby atrium. Since most of the folks were waiting in line for the screening of the movie Frozen II, very few folks were in the lobby for the meet and greet. Mark took advantage of the opportunity and had his photo taken with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto.

The Frozen II movie was screened in 3D in one theater and a regular screening in the main Walt Disney Theater. Both theaters were nearly filled to capacity with adults and children of all ages wanting to see the movie. The movie was beautifully done but the songs did not seem as catchy as in the first movie. We’ll have to see how it does at the box office and what songs might become famous from this movie.