Why You Should See South America by Sea
South America is a continent of extremes -- it's home to the world's driest desert, the largest rain forest, ice-strewn fjords, massive glaciers, pristine beaches and mountainous peaks. There are remote islands teeming with wildlife; massive cities bustling with energy; ruins that are millennia old; and buildings that belong in the next century.
Luxury cruise line Silversea covers this continent with everything from classic cruises to more adventurous Expedition sailings. Its 69-day South America "Grand Voyage" tours depart from Fort Lauderdale in October 2017 and January 2018, with stops in 29 South American cities. But if your boss won't approve a two-month vacation, opt to take one of the shorter routes. For example, sail Valparaiso, Chile, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 17 days, or Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 10.
Regardless of the length of your trip, you'll get a broad view of the diverse cultures and landscapes, waking up in a different "world" each day. And every night, you'll retreat to your luxurious suite on one of the newest ships at sea, where butlers take care of your every wish, dining is always gourmet (we're talking Relais & Châteaux-level) and the drinks flow easily. Better yet, all of these perks are covered by your fare.
Here's why you need to get a port's-eye view of each of these South American destinations ...
Peru: See Pristine National Parks and the Oldest Distillery in the Americas
Travel back in time with a trip to a distillery that's been making traditional Pisco brandy since the 1600s. After a taste, Silversea can send you on a flight over the Nazca Lines to see where the desert meets the sea in Paracas National Park. Or take advantage of the line's local connections with a ceviche lesson: learn the art of "cooking" fish in leche de tigre ("tiger's milk," a tangy citrus marinade) from a Peruvian chef before you're off to the next port.
The line also offers a scenic rail journey to the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu -- one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Ecuador's Galapagos: Snorkel with Sea Lions and Watch Darwin's Finches Flutter
Silversea also has a way to take a deep dive into less-traveled areas with its Expedition sailings. These unique cruise adventures pair daring exploration with pampering service and amenities. Their specially-built small ships pull right up to Galapagos Islands where guests come face-to-face with intriguing native species -- blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, marine iguanas and the finches that spawned Charles Darwin's idea of natural selection.
With guidance from a team of Ecuadorian geologists, biologists and historians, hike along lava fields, snorkel with penguins and watch flightless cormorants dry their stunted wings in the sun. On these unique itineraries, the land activities are included (along with just about everything else, from room service to locally sourced gourmet cuisine to gratuities), so there's little to pay out of pocket.
Chile: Marvel at Fjords and Ancient Glaciers
The view from the bottom of the continent is an entirely different experience.
Silversea's small and nimble vessels take you from southern Patagonia's ancient glaciers to breathtaking fjords, sailing so close to mountains that you'll nearly catch the spray of a waterfall. This seems like a good time to ask your butler for a cup of hot cocoa (or a hot toddy).
Your ship gives you a safe haven from which to take in the austere beauty, putting within reach a nature encounter that would otherwise be reserved for glacier trekkers with lots of grit (and lots of gear).
Argentina: Witness Tango, Evita & Wild Foxes
Instantly find yourself on the famous dance floors of Buenos Aires, thanks to guidance from Silversea's destination experts. Grab a mate and watch the steamy dance unfold. Hit up one of the parrillas (steakhouses) that occupy nearly every corner or just ask for an ojo de bife (rib eye) on board at one of the ship's eight included gourmet restaurants.
You can also take an escorted tour of the capital's highlights (like the Evita Peron Museum) or a daytrip to Argentina's fertile lowlands, the Pampas, where you'll taste local wines and spot intriguing wildlife like four-foot-tall birds and wild foxes.
Brazil: Coves, Carnival and Jungle
Experience Brazil's diverse landscapes and vibes in one trip.
See Paraty, an eclectic coastal area with secluded beaches, green mountains and historic architecture at the center of a quaint, pedestrian-only town. (If you weren't cruising, you'd have to drive seven hours roundtrip from the Rio airport to visit.) In town, say hello to the monkeys who roam the cobblestone streets and peruse local art galleries before comparing notes with new friends at the pool bar. Silversea is one of only a handful of cruise lines that can take you to this incredible port, thanks to its dynamic small ships.
Silver Muse also docks in Buzios, Brazil, a resort town that was put on the map by French siren Brigitte Bardot, just in time to partake in the music, dancing and drinking of the city's five-day Carnival. When you're ready to relax, there's plenty of personal space aboard the intimate 298-suite ship.
In Macapa, the equator stretches across a football stadium, so you can literally stand at the center of the world. This historic city is also home to museums and a massive fort.
Then, sail through seemingly endless stretches of blue and green before stopping in Boca Da Valeria, where you'll explore the Brazilian rain forest and meet its indigenous people. Buy crafts from the village's 75 residents, see the lush foliage and spy monkeys before returning to the creature comforts of the ship.
A New Way to See South America
The South America Grand Voyage all happens aboard Silver Muse, the newest luxury ship on the water, which launched in spring of 2017. Its shiny new amenities include a casino, spa, a pool deck and Jacuzzi, a gym and spacious suites, most of which have private balconies. A typical sailing holds just 596 guests and 411 crew members, making for some of the most impressive guest-to-space and guest-to-staff ratios on the sea.
Whether you choose a two-week adventure or an epic two-month jaunt, you can experience more of South America by sea. And with its exceptional service, decadent dining, expert staff and agile small ships from which to take in some of the world's most striking landscapes, we think Silversea is a great pick to take you there.