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Touring the Chilean Countryside with "The German Pirates"
Posted On 12/03/2018 16:59:42
Trip Date 01/20/2018
Destinations | Cruises | South America | Chile | Santiago | Port of San Antonio | Norwegian Sun | How to Get to Cruise Port from Santiago | Private Tour and Transportation to San Antonio Cruise Port
The closest airport to the embarkation port for our South America cruise was Santiago, Chile, but it was still
nearly 70 miles away. After researching various options including transportation only services, we settled on a
combination tour / transfer service with The German Pirates. In addition to the all important transportation from
Santiago to the Port of San Antonio, we had an opportunity to see some of the beautiful Chilean countryside.
If you'll be cruising out of either Valparaiso or San Antonio, Chile and haven't yet figured out how to get
to the port, this post is for you. You'll find an overview of our day which included both a tour and transportation. At a
total cost of $85.00 USD per person (excluding optional gratuities, wine tasting and lunch), all eight of us were pleased
with our decision.
Traveling from Cusco to Santiago
After spending nearly a full day traveling from Cusco, Peru, Scott and I finally arrived in Santiago, Chile.
Our first flight took us back through Lima, Peru where a three hour layover gave us plenty of time for claiming
our bags plus checking in and dropping off our luggage for a connecting flight on a different airline. Although getting
transportation by Uber from the airport was a little more difficult, we finally made our way to our lodging in downtown
Santiago. The two hour time change was playing tricks on us, so we quickly took to the streets in search of dinner and a
little sight seeing - after all, this was our only opportunity to see the city.
While the flights on which Scott and I traveled couldn't have gone smoother, we received a text from Scott's brother that
their travels weren't quite as trouble-free. Due to a short connection, they missed their flight from La Paz, Bolivia to
Santiago and therefore would not be waiting for us as expected. When we finally met up with them, we learned that
there were no additional flights from La Paz to Santiago prior to our cruise ship departure.
In order to have any chance at getting to the ship before it set sail, Julia and Todd were forced to pay $160.00 USD each
for a Bolivian Visa since they did not immediately leave the country as originally planned. With some help from a local,
they convinced a taxi driver to take them on a five hour ride to the border between Bolivia and Chile. Timing was critical
as the only possible way for them to get to Santiago before our all aboard time was to cross before the border closed for
the evening at 8:00 PM. In order to get to Areca, Chile for a mid-morning flight headed to Santiago, they hitchhiked from
the Chilean border. The good news was that they landed in Santiago with enough time to find a taxi to get them to the
cruise terminal just minutes before the muster drill!
Tour of Chilean Countryside and Transport to San Antonio
I pre-arranged and coordinated a tour with Michael Arnold, "the
German Pirate", many months ago. In fact, it was through Michael that we first learned of our embarkation port
changing from Valparaiso, Chile to San Antonio. Our original request was for a tour of Valparaiso, where we had originally
reserved lodging along with a short tour and transfer to the port. That all changed when the starting point for our cruise
All's well that ends well and we ended up with an enjoyable ride through the Chilean countryside with several stops to
visit local wineries. Without Todd and Julia, our half-day transfer / tour from Santiago to the port city of San Antonio,
Chile included three other couples, coincidentally all from Texas, whom we "met" through Cruise Critic. (Pricing for the
transfer and tour was based on the number of passengers, so I recruited others to join through our Cruise Critic Roll
Call.) Eight of us were greeted by Boris Basso Benelli, one of the guides employed by Michael Arnold, at our
two different hotels by 8:30 AM and we began our journey to the countryside starting with a very brief introduction to
Rio Tinto Casablanca
Our first stop was at Rio Tinto Casablanca, a restaurant and wine
supermarket offering wines from all over Chile with emphasis on wines of the Casablanca Valley.
Rio Tinto Casablanca
Mounted atop a raised concrete platform near the highway were replicas of the famous stone head statues (Moai) found
on Easter Island.
Easter Island Replicas at Rio Tinto Casablanca
And, in an enclosure next to the market stood two llamas with whom I insisted on taking a selfie!
A Selfie with the Llamas at Rio Tinto Casablanca
We had the opportunity to meet Don Elias Figueroa, a highly regarded former Chilean football player and current
owner of Vinos Don Elias, a winery in Maipo Valley, Chile.
Marcela and Don Elias Figueroa
"I was 15 years old when I first saw you go by, your eyes shone and I fell in love immediately. From that
day I got up earlier just to see you pass. In that party I finally got up the courage to invite you to dance and you
disarmed me in one second saying even without knowing my name, you knew that we were going to get married ...
Marcela, how right I was, after more than 50 years have passed, we have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren
and I still love you ... Elias"
Our second stop was at Vina Indomita where we admired the panoramic
view of the Casablanca Valley from the outdoor terrace of the hilltop winery.
Vina Indomita (top) and View of the Casablanca Valley
Boris led us on a short tour of the barrel room before we joined a tasting in the lobby of the winery.
Barrel Room (top) and Wine Tasting at Vina Indomita
Our final stop was at Matetic Vineyards where we enjoyed the
scenic grounds of the winery in El Rosario Valley.
Grounds of Matetic Vineyards
The arched trellis above the walkway which led to the ten room boutique hotel, La Casona, was adorned with
Pathway to La Casona
We crossed a bridge over the peaceful lake as we watched the nearby ducks waddling about.
Grounds of Matetic Vineyards
We wrapped up our final stop by indulging in lunch at Equilibrio Restaurant.
Lunch with Cruise Critic Companions at Equilibrio Restaurant
Check-in for 14 Day Eastbound South America Cruise from Santiago
About 30 minutes later, we arrived at the port city of San Antonio where we headed straight to the cruise
terminal for check-in. As it was already after 2:00 PM, there was no line so the whole check-in process was quick and
easy. We were on the shuttle bus which took us to the boarding platform for the Norwegian Sun in a matter of
The "WE Did It!" Evaluation
The Wordy Explorers were very impressed with the communication between both Michael, the owner as well as Boris, our
guide. Both spoke excellent English and were easy to understand. Responses to all of my emails were very prompt -
even if to just make a promise for a detailed response within a very reasonable time frame. Michael provided
recommendations and options for transfers and/or tours both in Valparaiso (our originally scheduled departure port) and
San Antonio. Michael even personally called me to let me know of the departure port change nearly three weeks in
advance of Norwegian Cruise Lines notifying passengers of the change.
I was a little disappointed when Michael notified me that he would not be the guide for our day as originally promised. He
had also been hired to provide a longer tour for a group of German speaking travelers, and I'm sure if I owned the
business I would have made the same decision. I was provided comments from prior travelers who toured with him and
contact information for our guide Boris, as well as a photo so we knew who we'd be meeting. (Michael also promised that
we would be happy with our guide - in fact, he was so confident that he committed to refund the price of my tour if I was
With the time that we had available coupled with the distance that we needed to travel, The Wordy Explorers were quite
pleased with the price and itinerary for our tour. Rather than taking a less expensive transfer to the port, we had an
opportunity to see (and taste!) a part of South America that we hadn't previously visited. If we do have the opportunity
to return to this area, Michael and The German Pirates would be the first who we would consult with for tour
Cruising South America aboard The Norwegian Sun
Before disembarking in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Saturday, February 3, 2018, the planned itinerary for our two
week cruise, subject of course to weather conditions which tend to be very unpredictable on this itinerary, was as follows:
Monday, January 22, 2018 in Puerto Montt, Chile (8:00 AM - 6:00 PM)
Tuesday, January 23, 2018 in Puerto Chacabuco, Chile (10:00 AM - 5:00 PM)
Friday, January 26, 2018 in Punta Arenas, Chile (6:00 AM - 6:00 PM)
Saturday, January 27, 2018 in Ushuaia, Argentina (12:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
Monday, January 29, 2018 in Stanley, Falkland Islands (9:00 AM - 5:00 PM)
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 in Puerto Madryn, Argentina (7:00 AM - 4:00 PM)
Friday, February 2, 2018 in Montevideo, Uruguay (9:00 AM - 5:30 PM)
Don't miss reading about our first port of call, Puerto Montt. Our post titled A DIY Day Trip from Puerto Montt to Chile's Lake District will provide the details that you need for a very inexpensive day seeing the beautiful scenery on your own schedule.
We were quite disappointed that we did not have an opportunity to spend any time in Valparaiso, and we hope to
make it back to Chile to see more of the country. If you've visited Valparaiso, we'd love for you to share your
recommendations on what to see and / or do in the comments section below.
Total FitBit steps today: 10,117
Created On 11/29/2018 14:07:51
Updated On 02/11/2019 13:05:49
Scheduled On 11/29/2018 16:59:42
Posted On 12/03/2018 16:59:42
Last Editor Stacy
Location Vina Matetic, Cartagena, Valparaiso, Chile