Guy Buller and Katie Betts took a memorable 20-day South American honeymoon cruise, travelling from Valpariso in Chile, around Cape Horn, and ending in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
This was an adventure that far surpassed their expectations and Guy says, “Sailing around the Antarctic peninsula was amazing. Words can’t describe the impact that this ice-bound continent has on people. We are still trying to figure out how to get back down there.
“This could literally be a once-in-a-lifetime trip because there are rumours that cruise ships, in the next few years, may no longer be allowed to go to Antarctica.
“We loved Santiago, the capital city of Chile. What a lovely, clean city with very friendly people. I would recommend having at least conversational Spanish to make the visit even more enjoyable, but we got by with gestures and a translation book.”
Timing is everything
Cruises are available from seven to 50 days in length. But pick the season carefully. The South American cruise season lasts from November to March. If you are flying in from Canada, Guy recommends arriving at your port city one or two days before sailing. This gives you time to orient yourself. Most cruise lines offer pre-cruise hotel packages at special rates. You may want to take advantage of extra packages. For instance, as you travel round the southern tip of South America, you may be able to sign up for a flight excursion over Antarctica.
Take your camera
Travellers on a cruise see penguin colonies, rain forests, waterfalls, startling-coloured birds like macaws, snow-capped mountains and fjords. In the glamorous cities, such as Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires, you can learn of lost cities, ancient civilizations and experience time-honoured local customs.
Stopping in CHILE
On most cruises there will be several stops in Chile. The country is long and narrow (4,300 km long and only 200 km wide), is one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations, and said to lead all Latin American countries in human development, competitiveness, quality of life, political stability, economic freedom and low corruption.
Cruising around Cape Horn, seeing penguins, dolphins, seals, deserts, fjords and bergs is magnificent. And then there is the solitude of the thousand mile archipelago north of Cape Horn.
Stopping in ARGENTINA
Argentina, almost the size of India, celebrated its bicentennial last year, rejoicing in 200 years of independence from Spain. It has had a more turbulent political past than Chile (especially in the 1970s) but is renowned for its great beauty and cosmopolitan cities. It especially welcomes visitors who can traverse the Patagonian steppe, climb some of the highest peaks on the continent, walk among thousands of penguins, view stunning waterfalls and soak in Patagonia’s glacier carved landscapes and painted Andean deserts. City slickers will soak up Buenos Aires for its designer fashions, soccer, fine dining and dancing to the tango at all-night night clubs.
A cruise is an ideal way to taste the culture of two of South America’s largest nations, but do your homework about comparative costs, the reputation of the various liners, what activities are available on the ship and the length of each stop so there is time to soak up the local ambience.