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Welcome to South America, a destination whose culture is as diverse as its geographic regions, provides a truly unique cruise experience. The natural beauty of the mountains, rivers, deserts, jungles, beaches, lakes, glaciers, and fjords provide a backdrop for exploring its rich history and varied cultures and peoples. On a South American cruise you can explore native Indian cultures, view fascinating wildlife in their natural habitat, visit vibrant, bustling, cosmopolitan cities, or quaint frontier towns, hike up a glacier, fish for salmon, or just spend the day on a world-class beach. The South American cruise season begins in October and ends in April. February and March are the most ideal time to visit South America, during summer’s end in the Southern Hemisphere. But, even then, due to its vast length and topography, one can experience a wide range of climatic conditions.

There are basically four types of cruises one can take to South America:

Repositioning Cruises: In October and the first part of November cruise ships leave ports such as San Diego and Miami to begin the South America cruise season. Typically these are 15 – 18 day southbound cruises that provide an opportunity to traverse the Panama Canal, and then visit ports in Ecuador, Peru, and northern Chile before completing their journey in Valparaiso, Chile. Other southbound repositioning cruises cross the equator and travel on the east coast of South America, stopping at numerous ports in Brazil, on their way to their final destination of Buenos Aires, Argentina. In April, the ships reverse course and make the same journey northbound to return to their homeports.

Cruises Round Cape Horn: Eastbound cruises depart from Valparaiso (Santiago), Chile making a southbound journey along the coast of Chile, cruising the Chilean fjords and the Strait of Magellan, before rounding Cape Horn, and traveling northbound along the coast of Argentina. On most cruises your final destination is Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Westbound cruises depart from Buenos Aires or Rio traveling the same route in an opposite direction, ending the cruise in Valparaiso. These cruises are usually 14 -20 days in length and in that time you will have the unique opportunity to experience a multitude of weather conditions. You will start your trip in hot tropical conditions and by the time you have reached Cape Horn it can be downright frigid. Although a truly awesome experience, this is not an itinerary for everyone, as the possibility of wind and rough seas can make this cruise a real adventure.

Antarctica Explorer Cruises: There are actually two kinds of Antarctica explorer cruises. The first, and most popular, is a cruise on a mainstream cruise ship that combines the cruise around Cape Horn with the addition of Drake Bay, Elephant Island, and Palmer Station as part of the itinerary. These more in-depth explorations of Antarctica usually include excursions on zodiacs (small raft-like vessels). The second form of explorer cruise is a 7 day round trip adventure from Ushuaia on much small vessels, like the Clipper Adventurer.

Amazon River Cruises: A select few cruise ships venture down the Amazon as part of their repositioning cruises, usually beginning or ending the journey at Manaus, Brazil. There are also a few regularly scheduled 14 day cruises that sail eastbound from Manaus, along the Amazon, to the Atlantic Ocean, completing the journey in Buenos Aires, or westbound beginning the cruise in Buenos Aires and ending in Manaus. Finally, if you are seeking an unusual adventure, an interesting option is one of the 5-7 day river boat excursions along the Amazon

A South America cruise is an experience like no other. Ever-changing scenery, unique eco-systems, fascinating cultures and breathtaking beauty await those that choose to venture from the ordinary.

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