Fjords of Patagonia

Breathtaking . . . And Boring
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Puerto Montt, Chile
The boat was four hours late, which for the Navimag shipping company was slightly ahead of schedule.

I was waiting in port with about 150 backpackers and 150 Chileans to board the Puerto Eden, which looked like an unfortunate cross between an oil tanker and a tugboat, for a four-day ride up the "breathtakingly beautiful and rugged" coast of Patagonia—Chile's answer to a cruise of the Norwegian fjords.

The brochure assured me I would have a genuine "Southern Adventure" and furthermore guaranteed I would "meet new friends" and "enjoy a friendly environment and have lots of fun."

Just getting on the boat was not "lots of fun." It's known to leave as much as a day late, and sometimes several hours early, which routinely leaves several unhappy travelers standing on the dock clutching their tickets like losers at the racetrack. In theory, the cargo ship leaves every Friday from Puerto Natales in the remote reaches of southern Chile.

Unfortunately, you can't make reservations by phone unless you want to book an expensive cabin, so you either show up well in advance or take your chances on standby. I decided to buy my $150 ticket in advance.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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