South America cruises are popular with passengers looking to get off the beaten track, with routes to such remote destinations as Antarctica and the Amazon. South America stretches between the tropics and the sub-Antarctic, giving the region its great diversity of landscapes. The ports of call frequented on cruises combine intense natural beauty, an amalgamation of indigenous and migrant cultures, and cosmopolitan, vibrant cities. Moreover, a cruise ship is the only way to experience the more remote destinations in comfort and style.
The ports of Central America are commonly found on the itineraries of most cruises bound for the Caribbean, North or South America, and the Panama Canal has helped to make it an extremely popular destination in its own right. Countries such as Belize, Guatemala and Cost Rica boast the same calibre of beaches as can be found in the Caribbean, an impressive landscape of volcanic peaks and dense jungle, and ancient Mayan ruins. In addition, beneath the waters around the region are lengthy stretches of unbroken reef that make for some world-class snorkelling and diving.
South America is a cruise region boasting something for everyone. By far the two greatest city ports in the region are Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, both located on the east side of the continent.
With the statue of Christ the Redeemer looming over the vast, coastal metropolis of Rio, the Brazilian city is one of the most iconic in the world. As the home of samba dancing and the greatest carnival in the world, there is a vibrant party spirit that sits comfortably alongside Rio's well-established and extremely sophisticated, arts and fashion scenes.
Further south on the coast of South America lies arguably the continent's most cosmopolitan metropolis. Buenos Aires is reminiscent of the great cities of Europe and simultaneously uniquely Argentinian, an affluent and architecturally stunning city with some of the finest wines and cuisine in the region.
Quieter highlights of the area include Puerto Montt, a small coastal city on the Chilean coast that maintains a reminiscence of the 19th century German settlers and lies within excellent proximity to the stunning lake and fjord lands of the area.
For some more rugged landscapes, the towns of Punta Arenas in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina at the southern most point of the continent, nicknamed "Fin del Mundo", or "End of the Earth", still uphold traditional Patagonian ways of life, and are home to both penguin and seal colonies.
The countries of Central America are rich in Mayan ruins and ancient archaeological sites. Passengers looking to explore such sites will enjoy stops in Belize, a country that boasts the highest concentration of Mayan ruins of all the countries in the region. In addition, off the coast of this tiny country lie stunning, unbroken reefs that make for some world-class diving and snorkelling.
The region offers plenty more for the eco-tourist. There is a wilderness of jungle and rainforest in Panama and Costa Rica to explore, while Nicaragua is home to some volcanic national park lands. Alternatively, relax on the white sand beaches of Roatan, just off the coast of Honduras.
Popular ports of call in South America include Buenos Aires, Puerto Madryn and Ushuaia, Argentina; Buzios, Itajai, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia, Brazil; Arica, Puerto Montt, Puerto Natales, Santiago and Valparaiso, Chile; Galapagos, Ecuador; Cuzco and Lima, Peru; Montevideo and Punta del Este, Uruguay.
Popular ports of call in Central America include Belize City, Belize; Limon and Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Roatan, Honduras; Puerto Queztal, Guatemala; San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua; Cristobal, Panama.
There are two main routes that cruise ships run within this region. Many lines run beneath the Patagonian peninsular, usually between Buenos Aires and Santiago although some lines do travel further up the respective coasts. The second preferred route is over the top of the continent, through the Panama Canal. This route most commonly runs between Lima and Rio de Janeiro, with various stops in Central America. Some lines run cruises up the east coast, exploring Brazil's coastlines.
There are many cruises through the Panama Canal and Central America that run between Miami and Los Angeles or San Diego.
Celebrity Xpedition runs a specialist route around the Galapagos.
Luxury cruise lines that sail to Central and South America include Azamara Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Ponant Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Star Clippers Cruises, Windstar Cruises and Yachts of Seabourn cruises.
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