Stella Australis Cruise Reviews

Reviews of Stella Australis

Stella Australis is one of two ships in the Chile-based Australis fleet, operating from September to April in the Chilean fjords. This ship, along with its sister ship Ventus Australis, is uniquely designed for the narrow fjords and shallow bays of the region. It offers exclusive itineraries in this area.

Itineraries

Stella Australis provides three-, four-, and seven-night cruises between Punta Arenas, Chile, and Ushuaia, Argentina. The route includes notable locations such as Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, the Strait of Magellan, and the Beagle Channel, with a highlight being the southernmost tip of South America, Cape Horn National Park.

Onboard Experience

Onboard Experience

The ship focuses on the natural landscape and shore excursions rather than onboard entertainment. There’s no Wi-Fi or phone signal for most of the journey, emphasizing the expedition aspect. Despite this, the ship offers comfortable cabins, excellent food, and great service. Public areas are convivial, with lectures and documentaries being a major part of the onboard activities.

Excursions

The excursions mainly consist of gentle walks around flat islands, with options for more challenging outings. No wet landings are required, making it accessible for those using walking sticks. Highlights include glaciers, penguin colonies, and potential sightings of dolphins and orcas.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Stunning scenery
  • Knowledgeable guides
  • Comfortable accommodations
  • Superb food and service

Cons:

  • Lack of entertainment options beyond lectures
  • No hot tub onboard

Passenger Demographics

The majority of passengers are North American couples or tour groups, with the rest from Europe and South America. The average age is around 65. Announcements are made in English and Spanish, and sometimes other languages depending on the passengers onboard. Families are welcome, though facilities for children are limited.

Dress Code

There is no formal dress code, but passengers dress up slightly more for the Captain’s Dinner. A list of recommended clothing, including waterproof gear, is provided upon booking.

Inclusions

The cruise fare includes all shore excursions and onboard drinks. Tips are not included, with a suggested amount of $15 per person per day. The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.

Stella Australis offers a unique opportunity to explore one of the wildest places on earth in comfort.

Stella Australis Dining

The Patagonia Dining Room, located at the aft of Deck 2, is the sole dining room onboard Stella Australis. It features picture windows and multiple tables seating four to eight guests. You are assigned a table at the start of the cruise, typically grouped with passengers who speak the same language to ensure comfortable dining experiences.

Stella Australis Dining

Dietary Considerations

While the menu doesn’t specifically cater to various dietary intolerances, the crew can accommodate these needs if advised beforehand. There are always plenty of non-meat dishes available.

Quality and Variety

The quality and variety of food onboard are superb, greatly influenced by renowned Peruvian chef Emilio Peschiera. His expertise is evident in the pride and care taken in meal preparation, ensuring you will never go hungry.

Meal Details

Breakfast

  • Buffet style
  • Options include scrambled or fried eggs, boiled eggs, bacon or sausage, breads, cereals, yogurts, cold cuts, juices
  • Coffee or tea served at the table
  • No a la carte options
  • Served from 8 to 9 a.m. (8:30 to 10 a.m. on Cape Horn day)

Lunch

  • Buffet style with themed selections
  • Includes salads, soup, hot dishes
  • Examples: Asian-themed with sushi, ceviche, miso soup, beef shogayaki; Chilean-themed with empanadas, king crab chowder, beef stew
  • Red and white wine served at the table
  • Served from 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Choose dinner options during lunch from a menu of meat, fish, and vegetarian choices

Dinner

  • Four courses served at the table: starter, soup, main, dessert
  • Beautifully presented with flair
  • Examples: local octopus carpaccio, beef pot roast, southern hake
  • Wines from Argentina and Chile included, with alternatives available on request
  • Served from 8 to 9 p.m.

Additional Options

  • Self-service coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juice, pastries, and cookies are available in the Sky Bar on Deck 4 from 6 a.m. daily.
  • No room service is provided.

The dining experience on Stella Australis is a highlight, offering a superb blend of quality, variety, and service, ensuring a memorable culinary journey.

Entertainment & Activities on Stella Australis

Shore Excursions

All shore excursions are included in your cruise fare, with one or two offered per day, typically lasting about a half-day. Excursions are classified as regular, demanding, or challenging, and all involve getting in and out of a Zodiac from a rear platform behind the dining room. Activities range from forest walks and glacier viewings to a landing at Cape Horn National Park.

Excursions are grouped by language and tour group, each led by knowledgeable guides passionate about local history, fauna, and flora. Regular excursions involve gentle strolls, while more demanding ones may include hikes on steep and muddy tracks. The standout excursion is the weather-dependent early morning visit to Cape Horn.

Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife Viewing

Passengers are likely to see Magellanic penguins at Tuckers Islets, along with a variety of birdlife such as cormorants, oystercatchers, and eagles. Marine life sightings may include seals, dolphins, minke whales, and occasionally orcas. Announcements are made for notable wildlife sightings.

Daytime and Evening Entertainment

While sailing, the ship screens documentaries on regional wildlife and Antarctica. A daily trivia sheet with questions about the morning’s activities is provided at lunch, with prizes awarded at the end of the cruise. The final night features fun activities including a raffle, an auction, and the announcement of trivia winners.

Enrichment

Stella Australis offers lectures on glaciology, geology, and regional history, focusing on native peoples. Guides provide nightly briefings on the next day’s activities, detailing the challenges and conditions of each excursion.

Bars and Lounges

  • Yamana Lounge (Deck 3): A meeting and observation lounge with no drinks available.
  • Sky Lounge (Deck 4): Offers self-service beverages and pastries from 6 a.m., and serves as a venue for lectures and movies.
  • Darwin Lounge (Deck 5): The ship’s main bar, offering an open bar, snacks, and hosting onboard lectures, documentary screenings, and evening events.

Outside Recreation

While there are no pools or hot tubs, there are open spaces on Deck 5 and smaller viewing areas on Decks 3 and 4.

Services

Reception and guest services are on Deck 2, along with a gift shop selling branded goods and a small library. There is no Wi-Fi or cell coverage once the ship leaves port.

Spa & Fitness

There are no spa or fitness facilities onboard. A former gym on Deck 5 has been converted into a storeroom due to lack of use.

For Kids

There is no minimum age for children on Stella Australis. While regular excursions suit most children, younger ones might not fully appreciate the experience except for the penguin sightings. There are no dedicated kids’ clubs or facilities, but the Yamana Lounge is occasionally converted into a kids’ space.

Overall, Stella Australis offers a range of engaging activities and comfortable amenities, making it an excellent choice for those seeking to explore the wild beauty of the southernmost regions in comfort.

Stella Australis Cabins

Overview

Stella Australis offers 100 ocean-view cabins spread across three decks, divided into four categories. All cabins feature contemporary decor in nautical blues and white, with dark wood furniture. Notably, there are no balconies. Cabins are well-equipped with essential amenities and designed to provide comfort during the expedition.

Cabin Features

  • Bed Options: Double bed or twin beds (can be pushed together on request)
  • Furniture: Chair, bedside table, desk, twin fixed reading lights, hanging wardrobe (with lifejackets), closet with shelves, safe, dressing mirror
  • Storage: Beds are raised for suitcase storage underneath
  • Amenities: Pair of water bottles, filtered water dispensers on each floor, two 220V plug sockets (note: adaptors needed for U.S. and U.K. plugs), no TV
  • Bathroom: Shower with a heavy curtain, toilet, sink with storage, wall-affixed hair dryer, Algotherm products replenished daily
  • Views: Large picture windows covering nearly the entire outside wall

Cabin Sizes and Categories

Standard Cabins

  • Size: 177 square feet
  • Layout: Twin or double bed against one wall, long thin desk facing the bed, bathroom on the right or left upon entry, wardrobes across from the bathroom entrance
  • Decks: Located on decks 2, 3, and 4
  • Note: Deck 2 cabins are just above the waterline, often splashed with waves

Superior Cabins

  • Size: 220 square feet
  • Location: Midship
  • Features: Somewhat larger double beds, additional chair, small drinks table
  • Ideal For: Small families, as there is space for a single bed beside the double

Cabin Categories

Category B

  • Cabin 202: Located at the front of the ship on the starboard side with curved walls
  • Unique Aspects: Slightly smaller, located above the anchor (noise from anchor raising/lowering)

Category A

  • Cabins 200 and 204: Slightly smaller than standard cabins, without curved walls

Category AA

  • Quantity: 93 cabins spread across decks 2, 3, and 4
  • Size: 177 square feet, standard cabin layout

Category AAA

  • Cabins 321, 322, 421, and 422: Superior cabins, 220 square feet
  • Additional Features: Extra chair, small drinks table, suitable for small families with space for an extra bed

Stella Australis Reviews

Conclusion

Stella Australis provides spacious and comfortable cabins, equipped with all necessary amenities to ensure a pleasant expedition. Whether choosing a standard or superior cabin, guests will enjoy large picture windows offering stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. For the best views, opting for cabins on Deck 3 or 4 is recommended. If you’re ready to book your adventure, you can do so here.