South America has an appeal like no other place on earth. The experiences I love most are basic ones: strolling Ipanema and Copacabana and climbing Sugarloaf and Corcovado, location of the famous Christ the Redeemer atop Rio …
A visit to Evita’s Casa Rosada, chic Recolletta shopping and tango at Cafe Tortoni in beautiful Buenos Aires … sitting for a full day under the spray from Iguazu Falls, drinking in pure, awesome, nature.
Browsing travel brochures for the region recently, my attention was drawn to a “southern fjord” cruise from the Peruvian capital, Lima, around Cape Horn, ending in Buenos Aires next February. Many attractions are offered, for an additional charge, including many you couldn’t pay me to do, such as trekking frigid wildernesses and kayaking the Magellan Straits. But chacun a son gout. I must be such a pleb, if price is any guide, for the cost of the penthouse on board this vessel was $62,000 a person for the 24-day trip, reduced from $125,000 a person – twin share! That’s cruise only, not including port fees of $685 each, on-shore excursions, or the forward and return flights. Of course, you could get your name on the manifest in a humbler stateroom from a mere $26,890 a couple, although you might get tired of deck quoits as your only diversion for three weeks on a sometimes squally sea.
But I did find a cruise that piqued my interest. It’s for five weeks, cruising from BA to Sydney in January next year. The route takes in Cape Horn and the sights of South American glacier country, then plies the islands of the South Pacific, to Sydney. P&O’s 83,000t Arcadia – adults only – embarks with some 2000 passengers on January 23 on its voyage from the civilian/military docks district of BA. Its itinerary includes a full day each in Puerto Madryn in Argentine Patagonia (penguins, whales), the Falklands/Malvinas capital Port Stanley, rounding Cape Horn, a day each in historic Ushuaia (‘world’s southernmost city”), Punta Arenas in Chile, sail-bys of the Amalia and Pio X (Pope Pius 10th) glaciers, and a full day each in Chacabuco, visually arresting Puerto Montt and historic Valparaiso, port city of the Chilean capital, Santiago. The vessel’s trans-Pacific crossing passes by unforgettable Easter Island and, several days later, tiny Pitcairn. Then it’s on to two of my favourite places: Bora Bora and Noumea. The cruise first visits the Tahitian capital, Papeete, for a day (roulottes food vans by the port; Gaugin Museum) and moves the following day to the superb blue lagoons of Bora Bora. Sure, it’s something of a “cook’s tour” – with only one day to play here, as elsewhere – but seeing Bora Bora is ordinarily expensive so it’s a taste of what would, after all, only be more of the same were you able to linger longer: endless, exotic, indolent stretches sun, sand and swimming!
Across the international date line, Arcadia calls next at the Fijian capital and market town of Suva, before allowing a precious mere half-day in Noumea, New Caledonia: enjoy a snatch of superb French culture and food, and lovely beaches. Brisbane is the penultimate port of call; the cruise ends in Sydney on February 28.
Prices begin from $6935pp twin share including the one-way economy flight Sydney-BA, two nights pre-cruise at Hotel Madero, Buenos Aires, all meals and entertainment on 4-star Arcadia, all port, government and air taxes. (Note: tips are extra). Arcadia has six restaurants, cafés, grills and a food court, nine bars/lounges, a theatre, casino, internet centre, pool, spa, gym, sports court, library and art gallery and, repeating, is an adults only liner. On sale until November 23 unless sold out earlier. See www.pocruises.com.au; seek further info from specialist cruise travel agent Cruiseco at www.cruising.com.au; or at www.cruiseexpress.com.au/Arcadia-roundworld; other specialist cruise websites; or your local travel agent.
This story was published in issue 81 of the Greater Port Macquarie Focus