Cruising South America with Princess
by Daniel Smajovits
From life-changing cultural experiences, postcard worthy landscapes and the waddles of penguins at every turn, nothing excites all the senses than the 14-day journey from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaíso, Chile.
A growing number of cruise lines have begun to serve this route, but as one of the pioneers in South American cruising, Princess Cruises has mastered every aspect of the journey, ensuring that as guests, your only concern is trying to squeeze the last drop out of each day.
From the dynamic city of Buenos Aires, Argentina to your final destination of Valparaíso, Chile, this itinerary runs the gamut of both man-made and natural beauty.
The bustling Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest cities. Dubbed the Paris of South America, you’re instantly captivated by outer and inner beauty of both the unique European architecture and the Porteños, or locals. Although you will most likely remain docked in Buenos Aires for your first night on board, ensure to arrive at least three days early to fully explore this captivating city and experience its rich history and culture.
Once the cruise begins in earnest, a short sail north is Montevideo, Uruguay, where wineries and beaches are within an hour drive from the port, but only a short walk away is a thriving market and winding streets filled with a market as well as charming street art and cafés.
As your ship moves further south, prepare yourself for two days of cuteness-overload as penguins are the must-see excursions in Puerto Madryn, Argentina and Stanley, Falkland Islands. We recommend booking penguin visits at both ports as rough seas and unpredictable weather occasionally force ships to skip the tender-only port of Stanley. To ensure you make the most of your visit to the infamous British outpost in the Atlantic Ocean, reserve your Volunteer Point tour with Jimmy Curtis well in advance. The private penguin refuge caps the number of daily visitors and Jimmy’s tours sell out almost instantly.
Once back on board, batten down the hatches as rough waters await you as the ship gets closer to Cape Horn and the southernmost point of the Americas. Most ships cross through the Beagle Channel and stop in Ushuaia, Argentina, often referred to as the End of the World. Natural beauty awaits as a short trip from the port is Tierra del Fuego National Park. While some travellers might opt for an expensive daytrip to Antarctica, which is only 1,000 miles south, should that not be in the cards, enjoy a myriad of outdoor activities in and around the world’s most southernmost city.
Crossing the border into Chile, Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt are two unique destinations in themselves, respectively known for their wildlife and natural beauty. Shore excursions in Punta Arenas include the Magellan Penguins Natural Reserve, if you haven’t fulfilled your penguin fix yet, as well as horseback riding. Puerto Montt is home to the breathtaking Osorno Volcano and Petrohue Falls.
While Valparaíso marks your disembarkation point, before you make your way to the lively capital of Santiago, ensure to spend a day enjoying the colourful costal city and neighbouring Vina Del Mar. This region is home to some of Chile’s most famous wineries and some of the freshest seafood the country has to offer, all of which can be found around the charming city.
Whether via tour or transfer, almost all guests end up in the Chilean capital of Santiago before their flights home. Despite having spent an incredible two weeks traveling, carve out at least one day to take in the best that Santiago has to offer. From high atop San Cristobal Hill to the barrios of Brasil, Lastarria and Bellavista, the city’s unique atmosphere is captivating and a worthy exclamation point to your South American journey. With the sprawling Andes mountain range to the east, the city’s landscape is only topped by a bevy of fine restaurants, markets and cultural attractions. The Central Market is a must stop for mouth-watering seafood and local delicacies.
With both traditional and anytime dining options, guests have some of the best food available at sea regardless of the time of day. The latest creations added to the menu are dishes crafted by celebrity chef Curtis Stone, featured nightly in the Main Dining Room. Anytime dining options include a pizzeria, grill, café and a wide variety of room service options for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack-time. A number of premium restaurants are also available to guests, as are anytime gelato and seafood outposts for an extra charge. On a 14-day journey, Princess holds two formal evenings where guests are required to wear jackets in the dining room. Business casual attire is preferred, but not required, the rest of the evenings. Like all cruises, Princess also offers an enormous buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For some, the time at sea is the highlight of their cruise and Princess ensures to provide a myriad of entertainment, leisure and active options to meet every need. Multiple pools and decks allow guests to lounge, while a full sports court and gym provides those looking to break a sweat with endless possibilities. Newer ships also feature a continuous running track. While excited children are a happy sight on every cruise, for an extra charge, guests can access the exclusive Sanctuary, an adult-only escape from the rambunctious fun and noise. If you’re looking to truly pamper yourself or simply get away from your cruise-mate, consider one or a full-day of treatments at the Lotus Spa. Selections vary per ship.
Once the sun sets, nightly comedy, variety and musical shows bring your evenings to life, while multiple bars – including Crooners, which features a live pianist – help to cap off the night. If a full day on shore has you looking for a more relaxing way to spend your night, grab two deck chairs, hot chocolate, popcorn and blankets for Movies Under the Stars.
With such a breathtaking journey awaiting you in South America, splurging for a balcony stateroom will take your cruise experience to the next level. Providing guests with everything in a standard stateroom, the added balcony and outdoor furniture will allow you to take in the jagged landscape from the privacy of your cabin. For guests looking for a more affordable option, the interior cabins are well appointed and provide the same amenities, minus the view.
With such a dynamic itinerary, you must be prepared for all weather conditions. For those living in North America, the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, so the ideal time to cruise is from December to March. While it will be summer throughout your cruise and you will feel the heat at the beginning and end, some ports-of-call will feel like mid-autumn with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees (50 F). Most notably the weather in Stanley is typically British: cold and rainy, prepare accordingly.