South Amer­i­can cruis­ing means lots of fun in the sun

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - CRUISING - Chris Hunoldt

CRUIS­ING from vi­brant Rio de Janeiro to cos­mopoli­tan Buenos Aires is a new itin­er­ary to ri­val the is­lands of the In­dian Ocean dur­ing the sum­mer sea­son. More and more cruise lines are real­is­ing that this stun­ningly beau­ti­ful stretch of South Amer­ica of­fers more to see and do than most sum­mer des­ti­na­tions for the ever-needy trav­ellers from north­ern hemi­sphere coun­tries which seem to be gripped by ever more se­vere win­ters each year. Add to this the ben­e­fit of bet­ter value for money in the south­ern hemi­sphere coun­tries which of­fer at­trac­tive sum­mer hol­i­day play­grounds.

What bet­ter way to start a cruise than in Rio de Janeiro – lo­cated in one of the world’s most spec­tac­u­lar bays at the foot of Cor­co­v­ado – and end­ing in Buenos Aires, the Paris of the south­ern hemi­sphere?

Rio de Janeiro lies at the foot of the Christ the Redeemer statue which looks down on t he golden beaches of Copaca­bana and Ipanema, beaches which stretch as far as the eye can see – a play­ground for the rich and fa­mous.

En route to Buenos Aires you can visit the charm­ing fish­ing vil­lage of Buzios with splen­did beaches made fa­mous by Brid­get Bar­dot who vis­ited dur­ing the height of her fame, putting this sleepy vil­lage on the map. Sit in the lap of her statue lo­cated on the Orla Bar­dot for a pho­to­graph with this celebrity. Then on to Ilha Grande, a nat­u­ral trea­sure with one of the l ast pro­tected rem­nants of the At­lantic rain­for­est, a rich, di­verse ecosys­tem. Vis­i­tors can snorkel in tran­quil la­goons or hike one of the 16 jun­gle trails that wind through trop­i­cal forests amid pris­tine wa­ter­falls.

Paraty is a colo­nial town on the coast of Brazil which is al­most frozen in time, once one of the world’s most im­por­tant ports dur­ing the gold rush era of the 18th cen­tury. The colo­nial struc­tures re­main un­touched, mak­ing the town a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion be­cause of its wel­lpre­served build­ings. Paraty also has beau­ti­ful beaches.

San­tos is usu­ally the next port of call and the port of em­barka­tion or de­barka- tion for the shorter five to seven-night cruises. Made fa­mous by the San­tos Fute­bol Club, the home team of the leg­endary soc­cer player Pelé, San­tos boasts the largest beach­front gar­den in world, more than five kilo­me­tres long. This is a mod­ern cos­mopoli­tan city once the cof­fee pow­er­house of the world.

Rio Grande do Sol is the Rio of the south, one of the places many trav­ellers want to add to their bucket list, mainly be­cause of the 245km Praia do Cassino, one of the long­est beaches in the world. In­flu­enced by Euro­pean cul­tures, mainly Por­tuguese and Span­ish, the city is won­der­fully in­fused with gau­cho cul­ture, rhyth­mic mu­sic and de­li­cious cui­sine.

Then travel from Brazil to Uruguay to find the city of Punta del Este, a favourite hol­i­day spot for the rich and glamorous. Be­sides the ex­clu­sive casi­nos, ho­tels, restau­rants and night­clubs, here too can sun wor­ship­pers en­joy many kilo­me­tres of beau­ti­ful beaches.

The last port of call on a typ­i­cal 12night itin­er­ary is the cap­i­tal city of Uruguay: Mon­te­v­ideo. Le­gend has it that the name orig­i­nated from the words “monte vide eu” mean­ing “I see a moun­tain” as ex­claimed by an ea­ger look­out when Mag­el­lan’s fleet first ar­rived in 1520. It is a beau­ti­ful Span­ish­in­flu­enced city lo­cated on the River Plates’ shore, also the grave of the well­known Ger­man bat­tle­ship, the Ad­mi­ral Graf Spee.

The cruise ends in the vi­brant shop­ping cap­i­tal of South Amer­ica, Buenos Aires, the cap­i­tal of Ar­gentina. This is a won­der­ful city in which to spend an ex­tra night or two af­ter a cruise, en­joy­ing the in­ter­est­ing and colour­ful at­trac­tions of Caminito, San Tel mo, Reco­leta and shop­ping in the pedestri a n- onl y Florida Street, not to speak of din­ing at any of the ex­cel­lent restau­rants spe­cial­is­ing in seafood and , in par­tic­u­lar, suc­cu­lent steaks which are con­sid­ered to be the best in the world. And don’t miss a tango show in a for­mal din­ner theatre en­vi­ron­ment or ca­su­ally in Caminito. Buenos Aires is a won­der­ful end to a cruise.

This cruise can also be taken in re­verse, with a variation of itin­er­ar­ies of­fered by Crys­tal Cruises, Ocea­nia Cruises, Re­gent Seven Seas Cruises, Sil­versea Cruises, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises.

Why not join Cruises-for-Africa on a 12-day cruise from Rio de Janeiro aboard one of the world’s most lux­u­ri­ous ships, the Crys­tal Sym­phony, from De­cem­ber 9 to 21, 2013 start­ing from US$3 347 a per­son, in­clud­ing all meals, all drinks and gra­tu­ities. See the ad­ver­tise­ment on this page.

SUN-DRENCHED: Copaca­bana beach.

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