Booking with all your travel included is good on one hand as you get the transfers included from the airport to your hotel and from your hotel to the cruise terminal and back to the airport. Our driver was very friendly but my Portuguese was virtually non existent so we enjoyed the breathtaking journey down to Santos without worrying about the need for small talk. An amazing part of the journey is the incredibly long tunnel you need to go through to scale the mountains behind the port terminal.
It is a feat of modern engineering. Santos itself is quite deserted and a little neglected, a far cry from the bustling town it would have been years ago when this was the main port for exporting sugar from the sugar cane factories. A sombre statue standing en route to the port with a huge sack on his back depicted the realization that many fortunes were made on the backs of slaves. Santos port is chaotic in the extreme. Our driver dropped us near to where we dropped our bags but then there was a bit of a bun fight as we tried to establish which queue to join for our ship. Mr B was getting quite fractious until I managed to get us into the VIP queue which was much shorter thus enabling us to get onto the bus for our boat sooner.
Your bags are loaded up onto the decks so you must chill out in the buffet restaurant whilst you wait for your deck call. Food was ok, plenty of choice but not a great standard. I likened it to food in a motorway service station. We resolved from that point to eat only in the main dining room or the Italian restaurant for which you pay an extra supplement. Promptly our deck was called and we could search for our cases before locating our cabin. We had booked a balcony cabin for the 7 night cruise and when I walked past the inner cabins and peeked in I was so happy that I had booked not only windows but outdoor seating too. Our cabin steward was very genial and welcomed us to the cabin. His name was Ida but was pronounced Ada. Mr B could not stop singing ‘Fucking Ada’ by Ian Dury and the Blockheads throughout our stay and he was almost overheard by our charming steward. Mr B can be so naughty sometimes!
What a great balcony, spacious with two sun loungers and a table and chairs. Soon, we were under way and they immediately implemented the muster as a prep for an emergency. It went surprisingly smoothly to say that 1500 people from different nationalities and languages filed together peacefully and without alarm before dispersing to their cabins, entertainment, pools or more likely the buffet restaurant for more food.
We ordered two Mai Tai’s from the german cocktail waiter and headed back to our cabin. The coastline of Brazil beckoned as we slowly cast off and meandered down the Atlantic steaming towards our stops in Uruguay, Punte del Este and Montevideo and Buenos Aires, Argentina.