Day 13 |
Oct 30, 2009

Coquimbo, Chile

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: S 29º 56.953’, W 071º 20.086’

Weather: Overcast

Air Temperature: 15ºC

Sea Temperature: 15ºC

Pressure: 1018 hPa

Wind: Light breeze blowing at 5 knots from the west

This morning we docked in the natural harbor of Coquimbo, whose name comes from the native Diaguita word for "place of calm waters". This bustling port city is the capital of the Elqui Province and serves as the winter home for the Chilean Navy. You can find elaborate woodwork throughout many of the city’s buildings, which were handcrafted by early British and U.S. settlers.

Shortly after breakfast, we left the ship to go on a coach tour, which would take us around Coquimbo, La Herradura and La Serena. We had almost all of our guests going on tour divided into two coaches and off we went. 

Upon leaving Coquimbo, we drove along the beautiful and straight coastline past the Plaza de Armas or Main Square, where colonial and modern architecture complement one another. A stop at the seaside resort of La Herradura allowed time for our guide to amuse us with a few tales of local pirate lore.  After a short drive along the coast, we encountered the symbol of La Serena, the monumental lighthouse.

We then got dropped off and walked through downtown La Serena to La Recova.  We had enough time for a little bit of exploration on our own at this handicraft market, filled with Combarbalite (an ornamental volcanic rock), Lapis Lazuli, Malachite and other semi-precious stones, pottery and ceramic with Diaguita motifs, papaya products, and alpaca wool articles.

We then walked across to the Archeological Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Diaguita and Molle cultural artefacts, as well as an original Moai from Easter Island.

Known as the city of carnations and bell towers, La Serena offers a spectacular hilltop view of the surrounding vista. We took the coach from the Museum to the University, where we enjoyed a panoramic view of the city and took a few photographs.

We then returned to the Prince Albert II for lunch and had a free afternoon for individual exploration of Coquimbo. Some went out to explore the fish market and the town center, before departing for Valparaíso.

We had everybody back on board rather early and so the Captain decided to sail early, which allowed for a slower and gentler navigation.  We were expecting some big swells, but fortunately the forecast was not accurate and the afternoon went on placidly. 

At 4:45 pm our onboard Spa Manager Rosanna offered a beauty seminar called “Five Steps to a Flawless Skin”. During the afternoon, a Fin whale and abundant birdlife were spotted. 

At 7 pm Captain Peter Stahlberg held The Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party, where he introduced some of the crew that works hard behind the scenes, and gave his farewell to those leaving us in Valparaiso. The Captain’s Farewell Dinner, prepared by our Executive Chef Lionel and his team and served elegantly by Maitre D’ Ali and his Restaurant team, followed the cocktail party.