Amalia Glacier, also known as Skua Glacier, is a tidewater glacier located in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park on the edge of the Sarmiento Channel. The glacier originates in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. From 1945 to 1986, its terminus retreated 4.3 miles, being the most dramatic retreat of the glaciers of the mentioned ice field during that period. It is one of Chile’s most impressive attractions.
Punta Arenas is a city near the tip of Chile’s southernmost Patagonia region. Located on the Strait of Magellan, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, it’s often used as base for excursions to the surrounding wilderness and Antarctica.
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Our Star Princess Cruise ship spent a day cruising by the Amalia Glacier and then anchored in Punta Arenas, Chile.
Amalia Glacier: This Southern Patagonia Glacier is the 2nd largest in the world (Antarctica is the largest) and it’s located along Chile’s southern coast. The glacier is massive and its dramatic views are awesome! Our ship cruised into this area and stayed from 9 to 10:30am and did a 360° turn so all passengers could view the ice caps. The temperature was about 40° F on January 21 (height of summer).
These glaciers are truly spectacular. They don’t “calve” as the glaciers do in Alaska and there are no glacier walking tours or helicopter tours as the ship is only cruising. But it’s awesome!
Punta Arenas: The city is located in the Strait of Magellan, another anchorage port, so the Cruise ship uses ship Tenders to get passengers ashore. Punta Arenas is an old port city discovered by Magellan in 1520 and is now the home of about 130,000 in Southern Patagonia. Our ship arrived on January 23 (again the height of summer) however the Captain announced he was canceling all port excursions due to weather conditions. Temperature was 41° F with expected winds of 20-30 knots and wave swells of 3 feet, conditions often found in the unpredictable Strait of Magellan.
If the tender had transported us into Punta Arenas as scheduled, it appears that it would be a short easy level walk (roll) of about 3/4 of a mile (10-20 minutes) along the beautiful waterfront into town from the pier. Alternatively I was told that taxis are within 100 yards of the docking pier. Sorry we missed this historic old Chilean city.
As a side note, my wife booked the Antarctica excursion, which was to be her 7th continent! But her trip too was cancelled due to weather. They won’t tell you prior to the cruise, but once onboard we were told about 50% of these Antarctic excursions are cancelled due to weather. She and many others were sorely disappointed, especially since the winds and water were actually calm all day. And she had to cart a duffel bag full of special Antarctic gear for a month, all for naught. I did inquire about wheelchair accessibility and the Antarctica excursion is not wheelchair accessible. I’m adventuresome but not close. Don’t even think about it.
But the southern coast and channels of Chile – they are beautiful!