Cruising has become a very popular vacation option for many people, particularly as going on a cruise means you unpack just once, your meals and entertainment are all provided and there are generally many activities on board, and on shore, to keep you occupied.
With bigger and better ships being built, and people taking multiple cruises, the number of destination options is increasing. So much so that that places which were once considered to offer difficult sailing conditions are now being conquered by the cruise lines in a bid to entice return business for those who favour particular cruise lines, and even particular ships.
The Strait of Magellan is one of those routes that was once considered to be suitable only for the very experienced sailors, or the foolhardy. Of course, I am talking about when sailing actually did take place on relatively small boats under a full set of sails.
To the contemporary ships of today with sophisticated navigation and communication equipment, and, most importantly, stabilisers to help make the journey through big seas more comfortable, the Strait of Magellan is a route which attracts those who want a bit of adventure without the danger that once went with it.
The Strait is a navigable see route near the bottom of South America, which divides the mainland from the large archipelago of Tierra del Fuego. It is a relatively narrow crossing, so that land is generally visible from both sides of the vessel, making it a vastly more exciting spectacle than sailing far out to sea.
Sailing the Strait is still not without its dangers as it does have some very unpredictable winds and currents because it links both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and it is so far south that is affected by weather which comes straight from Antarctica.
Some people confuse the Strait of Magellan with the notorious Cape Horn, but the Cape is much further to the south still, and is renowned for much worse conditions than you would normally experience when traversing the Strait.
The Strait is within the territory of Chile, and the landforms here are quite spectacular as it is near the Chilean fjords where shore excursions offer a popular diversion.
The strait is approximately 570 kilometres (310 nautical miles) long and about 2 kilometres (just over one nautical mile) wide at its narrowest point. Often the Strait is used by those ships cruising to Antarctica and to Ushuaia on Tierra del Fuego.
Given its location, the weather is often cold, even during summer, but it is still a fascinating place to visit for those who wish to see nature at its best.