Puerto Madryn ready for big ships in December

Most do the Buenos Aires-Valparaíso route, which includes the Malvinas.

Bonnie Tucker / FST
Puerto Madryn is Argentina’s third most important cruise ship port, after Buenos Aires and Ushuaia. The small vessels that have already called there this season, and the big ones that are about to do so, are examples of the types of passenger traffic that pass through the region at this time of year.
With fewer calls scheduled for the 2009-2010 season than last year, but with hopes for more passengers given the size of the ships that will be berthing at its Luis Piedrabuena passenger pier, Madryn is looking forward to the arrival of the Norwegian Sun on December 3. One of the largest vessels that will be calling this summer, she is 258 meters long and has 13 decks for more than 2,000 passengers and 968 crew. She is on her way to Buenos Aires from Valparaíso, having called at Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia and the Malvinas (Falkland for English-speakers) Islands. This is the first of the ten cruises on the Buenos Aires-Valparaíso “bioceanic” route that she will be making this season.

Another giant, the 294-meter Celebrity Infinity, with a maximum 1,950-passenger capacity and 997crew, will call six times at Puerto Madryn on the same route.
In all, Puerto Madryn expects 33 calls to bring more than 60,000 tourists in 2009/2010.

Different approaches to Antarctica
Puerto Madryn’s cruise season began officially during the early days of November, with the arrival of the 50-passenger Russian expedition ships Professor Multanovskiy and Professor Molchanov. Both arrived empty on their seasonal repositioning cruises from the Arctic, took on passengers and headed for Antarctica.
Many of the passengers who booked the early-season cruises aboard these two ships arrived three to four days in advance of sailing in order to have time to tour the Puerto Madryn area. It is a good time of year to come because there are still whales in the Golfo Nuevo.
Until January, the Professor Multanovskiy will be based on King George Island to take passengers who fly in and out from Punta Arenas (Chile) on short cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula and sub-Antarctic islands. Later in the season, she will use Ushuaia (Argentina) as a base for more conventional Antarctic excursions.

Super-luxury cruise ships that will call at Puerto Madryn in December are the Corinthian II, an all-suite mega-yacht for 114 guests and 70 crew that cruises Antarctic waters; and the all-suite Silver Cloud (296 guests, 210 crew) and the Crystal Symphony (1,010 passengers, 545 crew, with staterooms and suites), which do the Buenos Aires-Valparaíso route.

A multi-purpose clipper ship
An even more picturesque visitor at the Puerto Madryn pier in early November was the Stad Amsterdam, a replica of a 19th-century clipper ship that is owned by the Municipality of Amsterdam and Randstad, the temporary staffing service company. According to its website, this three-mast sailing ship has 14 luxury cabins and can be privately booked for “business events, luxury cruises and adventurous sailing trips.”

At present, the Stad Amsterdam is on a round-the world cruise that follows the route of 19th-century English naturalist Charles Darwin, creator of the evolution theory. Darwin took part in the second voyage of the HMS Beagle, which began in Plymouth, England on December 27, 1831 and lasted five years. The Dutch sailing ship left Plymouth on September 1, 2009, nearly 178 years after the Beagle’s departure. Her voyage will last eight months. On board is Sarah Darwin, the great-great granddaughter of the man whose findings in South America inspired his theory of human evolution, which he put into writing in On the Origin of Species, published in England in 1859. She is accompanied by her husband and two children, a film crew, and a group of family members and notables who are working on a picture titled Beagle, on the future of species for the Dutch VPRO and Flemish Canvas public broadcasting companies.
The voyage of the Stad Amsterdam can be followed in English in the capitain’s log at http://www.stadamsterdam.com/, and at VPRO’s http://www.onthefutureofspecies.nl/. The latter is in Dutch, but there are English, Spanish and Portuguese options. On November 28, the group was looking into the maw of the still-active Chaitén volcano in Chile and recalling that when Darwin sailed past the Chilean coast, he saw three volcanoes erupting simultaneously.

But this filming mission did not stop the handsome clipper ship from complying with her multi-purpose role during her four-day call in Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires Oct. 26-29. During her stay in port, she was used for an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of Randstad’s Argentine branch, and was opened to the public.

PHOTO CREDITS: Puerto Madryn’s Luis Piedrabuena dock, Alberto Patrian for the Puerto Madryn Tourist Office. The Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Cruise Line. The Professor Molchanov in Antarctica. The Stad Amsterdam at sea, courtesy of Randstad. The Stad Amsterdam in the Port of Buenos Aires, Jeroen Bartos / www.stadamsterdam.com.