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February 29, 2012
Day 12: Inside Passage

At the Skua Glacier in the Amalia Fjord

Happy Leap Year!

We were under the impression that we would have three non-eventful days at sea during our transit north along the Pacific Ocean from Punta Arenas to Valparaiso, Chile. So we were pleasantly surprised when the Captain informed everyone that he had another scenic tour planned for us today. Instead of cruising up the Pacific Coast, we would cruise along an inside passage where there was another glacier.

Princess Patter: After departure from Punta Arenas, Star Princess headed back out into the Magellan Strait. During the early hours of the morning we entered the Pacific Ocean. During the day at sea, Star Princess will be cruising inside the Chilean Fjords until approximately 18:30 when we will exit Trinidad Canal.

The southern coast of Chile presents a large number of fjords and fjordlike channels, from Cape Horn to Reloncavi Estuary. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, glaciers, lakes and islands.

As Star Princess heads further north, a change in the climate will become very apparent.

Once again, the weather started out grey and overcast...

... but it soon changed to this. About two-thirds to the right is the beginning of the inside passage.

Our tour would take us into Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, where we would see the Amalia Fjord and the Skua Glacier. Once again, we settled ourselves into a nice window seat in the Horizon Court lunch buffet on deck 14. We started out on the starboard side, but moved across to the port side when we realized where the view was.

That didn’t last long either, as the weather was bright, sunny and almost 60º outside. We went from deck to deck, bow to stern, snapped lots of photos and chatted with lots of people.

At the end of the inlet.

Some details:
On the left is the Skua Glacier, named after a local bird;
To the right of that are some mountains that we nicknamed "The Five Fingers";
To the right of those are some more snow-covered mountains.

The crew told us that the ship never takes this scenic tour as part of its itinerary. This was an extra gift, given the unusually calm weather. We were amazed when the huge ship was able to park at the end of the tiny inlet and make a full 360º turn. Then we slowly sailed back out.

It was halfway through dinner at about 8:30 pm when the entire ship suddenly started to shake. We had just left the inside passage of the Trinidad Canal to enter the Pacific Ocean. The ship listed several degrees to port as it fought against strong winds from the west. Even the restaurant staff joked about how off-kilter everything was.

By the time we turned in for the night, we were hearing a constant “Boom! Boom!” of waves crashing against the ship. (Our cabin is on the lowest deck, farthest forward on the port side). Every time a wave crashed over our cabin window, the dark room seemed to light up.

We turned on the television, and the information channel told us that we were in “rough seas” (7.5 to 12 foot waves) with “strong gale force winds” (Force 9). We were in for a rough night.

Gail in the hallway outside our cabin


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