Sailing South America

Seabourn will sail four 21- to 24-day voyages between Valparaiso (here) and Buenos Aires.

Seabourn will sail four 21- to 24-day voyages between Valparaiso and Buenos Aires.

South America delivers a kaleidoscope of natural beauty—from Iguazu Falls to the Andes, from the Amazon rainforest to Patagonia’s hills, steppes, deserts and grasslands. Yet, the continent also fields a highly cosmopolitan side in vibrant Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and Buenos Aires. Diversity also rules here as cruisers might savor fine wines in Chile, explore the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, spend a day on a ranch with traditional gauchos (cowboys) or visit Devil’s Island in French Guiana.

For those with the time and money to explore in style, the major oceangoing luxury cruise lines are returning with new offerings for 2015, 2016 and early 2017. For example, late this year and during early 2015, Seabourn Cruise Line’s Seabourn Quest sails four 21- to 24-day voyages between Valparaiso, near Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires.

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Each voyage includes days exploring the Chilean coast and fjords; Beagle Channel; Glacier Alley; Torres del Paine National Park; the Falkland/Malvinas Islands; Montevideo, Uruguay; and six days of cruising and landings on the Antarctic continent. A 24-day holiday version departs December 20, 2014 and will include two days in South Georgia, renowned for rookeries of king penguins and other seabirds, as well as breeding elephant and fur seals.

This winter, Regent Seven Seas Cruises has four voyages that sail from or to South America, all on Seven Seas Mariner. On March 2, the ship departs from Callao, near Lima, to Buenos Aires on a 20-night voyage, or guests can stay-on through Rio de Janeiro for a voyage that totals 31 nights. For those seeking a shorter voyage, the ship sails 11 nights from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, departing March 22, 2015. A 29-night repositioning cruise sails from Buenos Aires to Barcelona on March 22.

Regent includes free shore trips with its sailings, such as a half-day Old Town - Walking Tour through Montevideo. The line also offers Regent Choice Excursions for an added fee. For example, guests might book the full-day “Traditional Estancia La Rabida and Montevideo” tour, priced at $109 per person, that allows guests to experience the lifestyle of a Uruguayan gaucho.

At the Estancia or ranch, guests will be greeted by the owners and staff, observe traditional music and dances, go horseback riding if desired, tour the countryside, go bird-watching, or learn about the daily chores of gaucho life, including sheep-shearing or milking.

Silversea Cruises is set to operate several South American voyages in the coming winter.

Silversea Cruises is set to operate several South American voyages in the coming winter.

This coming winter, Silversea Cruises operates several South American voyages on Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper. On January 7, 2015, Silver Shadow departs Fort Lauderdale, FL, for Valparaiso, Chile, and then again on January 25, it sails a voyage from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires.

Looking ahead to 2016, the line’s 115-day World Cruise on Silver Whisper departs Fort Lauderdale for Venice, Italy. The itinerary encompasses 51 ports of call in 31 countries. Among South American port calls are Manta, Ecuador; Salaverry, Peru; and two days at Callao, Peru (for Lima). On the Salaverry port call, Silversea guests might book the “Huaca Dragon & Chan Chan Ruins” excursion. As the ancient capital of the Chimu Empire, Chan Chan is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was built around 1100 A.D.

The largest clay city in pre-Hispanic America, Chan Chan’s plazas, houses, streets, workshops and pyramidal temples of this historic urban center are still clearly defined. The 36-foot-high walls are decorated with reliefs of geometric figures, and zoomorphic and mythological creatures. Guests also view the pyramidal Temple of the Dragon.

Crystal Cruises recently released its 2016 and early 2017 itineraries. Two January/February 2016 voyages cruise Antarctica and South America, including a new route round-trip from Buenos Aires.

In addition, a new Brazil-focused holiday route also departs December 19, 2015, from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Rio de Janeiro. Operated by Crystal Symphony, the voyage spends three nights in Rio, including New Year’s Eve with the city’s renowned fireworks display. On New Year’s Day guests can relax in pretty Buzios, a Brazilian beach destination.

The grand-daddy of all Crystal’s South American voyages is a new 94-day “Ultimate South America” World Cruise that departs January 10, 2017 roundtrip from Miami. Operated by Crystal Serenity, this voyage will have six segments, and the full voyage will encompass Antarctica; the Amazon; Colon, Panama; Valparaiso, Chile; Buenos Aires; Rio de Janeiro and Barbados. Among Crystal’s maiden calls in 2017 will be Iquique, Chile and Trujillo, Peru. The luxury line also will call at a port it rarely visits—Antofagasta, Chile.

Upper Premium Voyages

Also offering South American voyages this winter is Azamara Club Cruises. Azamara Journey operates an 18-night “Copacabana-Biscayne Bay” Voyage departing February 19, 2015 from Rio de Janeiro to Miami. Port calls include Salvador De Bahia, Recife and Belem, Brazil, as well as Devil’s Island, French Guiana, and several Caribbean ports.

Marco Zero Square in Recife, one of Azamara Journey’s port calls.

Marco Zero Square in Recife, one of Azamara Journey’s port calls.

Azamara’s “Nights and Cool Places” program provides one-of-a-kind destination experiences. In Rio de Janeiro, guests might book “Live Music at the Rio Scenarium.” Housed in an 18th-century warehouse, this is one of the city’s leading live music venues.

Oceania Cruises will position three of its ships in South America during winter 2014-2015. Among the multiple offerings, Insignia’s 24-day “Voyage of Discovery” cruise sails roundtrip from Miami on December 17. Within the Amazon River, guests may spot pink dolphins, monkeys and harpy eagles. This voyage has calls at Santarem, Boca Da Valeria, Manaus, Parintins and Alter Do Chao, all in Brazil, as well as Devil’s Island, French Guiana.

Among its many shore options, this line offers “Oceania Exclusive” excursions, designed for just 10 to 16 guests. In Manaus, the city tour includes a scenic drive past the yellow-colored Alfandega (a 1902-era Customs House built by the British), 19th-century mansions and Teatro Amazonas, the city’s newly renovated grand opera house.

Guests also tour the Indian Museum. Cost is $259, less if a package of shore trips is purchased.

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