From money matters to packing tips, we’ve got all the information you need to prepare for your upcoming Vantage journey. Just click on an item below to read more about it.
- ATMs are widely used in South America (there might be a bank fee for using the ATM)
You MUST NOTIFY your bank with exact dates of your trip to be able to use ATM and credit cards (otherwise ATMs will keep your card since it is considered a suspicious operation.)
- Credit cards are widely accepted at restaurants and some stores.
- Major credit cards are accepted onboard the ms Midnatsol.
- Travelers’ checks are not recommended at all as they cannot be easily cashed.
- CASH (in USD) is still the most convenient and widely accepted currency in South America:
Bring small bills (1s, 5s and10s) for small tips and purchases;
bring $100 bills for cashing into local currency as you will get a better exchange rate.
Be sure the bills are not torn or dirty; bills in poor condition won’t be accepted.
Chile's Currency & Exchange Rate:
Only ATMs in larger cities will accept international debit systems like Plus or Cirrus. Credit cards are widely accepted. Travelers’ checks can be cashed in large cities, but usually with very high commissions.
The unit of currency in Chile is the peso. Banknote and coin denominations are as follows:
- Banknotes: 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, and 20,000 pesos
- Coins: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 pesos
The unit of currency in Uruguay is the peso, divided into 100 centesimos. Banknotes and coin denominations are as follows:
- Banknotes: 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 and 2,000
- Coins: 1, 2, 5, and 10
Money can be changed at some hotels (not at the best rate), banks or exchange offices known as Casas de Cambio.
They are typically open during regular American banking hours on weekdays and on some weekends.
Your Adventure Leader will assist you on this matter at arrival.
How much to bring?
We suggest bringing $400-$500 per person in U.S. cash; bring even more if you are planning on shopping.
Allow about $13-20 for lunches and $25-$35 for dinners that are not included in your adventure in major cities.
What to Pack
Items can be expensive to buy once in South America, and sizes will create additional issues. Please take everything you are likely to need other than food, especially medicines and health supplies like contact lenses, insect repellent and SPF. If you are bringing these items in a carry-on bag, please make sure they are in containers of 3 oz. or less.
Please visit us online at www.vantageadventures or www.vantageadventurestore.com for a selection of products that may be helpful as you determine the packing list that’s best for you. The following suggestions are also available online by referencing the “Before You Go” section of our website.
This adventure is casual since the ms Midnastol is an expedition vessel. Comfortable and casual clothing is recommended while on board the ship and when you’re ashore. Slacks, sweaters, turtlenecks, etc. are suggested for both men and women. Appropriate footwear includes at least one or two pairs of deck-type, rubber-soled shoes such as crocs. Air is a very good insulator. Therefore, if you trap air in several layers of clothing, you have a better chance of staying warm than if you wear one or two very heavy items. You will also be able to add or subtract layers more easily to remain comfortable at all times. Wool and silk are superior to cotton because they can trap warm air. Synthetic fabrics that spring back into shape after being compressed are also good. Polypropylene and Polar fleece gloves, turtlenecks and pants may be purchased from most outdoor stores.
NOTE: The 2 heaviest items you will need in Antarctica will be complimentary for you onboard the ms Fram so you do not have to worry about them:
1- RUBBER BOOTS: Waterproof boots are essential gear for your shore excursions on the “White Continent.” These will be typical pull-in rubber, unlined, waterproof knee-high boots with strong rubber-ridged nonskid soles. Your pants should fit over your boots to maximize dryness.
2- PARKA: a hooded hi-tech parka
Suggested Packing List
Bringing the right clothing for this trip is very important, since you will not be able to participate in the excursions unless you are properly dressed for Antarctic conditions.
This is one of the most challenging trips for packing, since your adventure starts in Santiago or Montevideo with temperatures reaching the mid-80s F and then continues to Antarctica, where temperatures drop to the low 30s or low 40s depending on wind factors! And if you join us on the Easter Island extension, temperatures will reach the high 80s with very high humidity due to its subtropical climate. We suggest 2 different bags (1 for the base program and one for the extension so you can leave heavier clothing in Santiago de Chile while on Easter Island).
For Antarctica, the key is wearing layers to stay warm and comfortable. Wool and silk are superior to cotton as they can trap warm air. Synthetic fabrics such as Polar fleece and polypropylene are excellent for gloves, turtlenecks, etc.
- High-quality pull-on waterproof rain pants – these are a MUST. You will not be allowed to participate in the landings or cruise in the Zodiacs without these. The pants must be big enough to fit the long insulated underwear you’ll need to wear underneath them, and you must be able to zip the pants over your boots
- Waterproof mittens or gloves (we highly recommended you get 1 pair of lightweight glove liners for warmth + 1 pair of waterproof mittens to go over them for avoiding spray while onboard the Zodiacs)
- Warm socks (several pairs as you may be wearing 2 pairs at a time)
- Warm pants to be worn under waterproof pants – for example polypropylene , wool slacks, corduroy or jeans. Thermal or silk underwear is highly recommended for comfort.
- Sweatshirts and turtlenecks are good insulators, and work best if they’re made of silk.
- Light fleece/soft shell or wool sweater
- Woolen hat, scarf or neck gaiters (some people bring earmuffs)
- High U/V sunglasses and sunscreen. The glare from the water, snow and ice can be very penetrating even with the most overcast skies. Get sunglasses with protection from the wind. Some people prefer ski goggles (which are only used in very windy conditions)
- Day pack for camera and layers since you must have both hands free
For the land portion of the trip and the extension to Easter Island, temperatures may reach the high 80s with high humidity:
- 1 short-sleeved cotton shirt — for sun protection as well as for warmth
- Lightweight safari-style convertible trousers that zip off at the knee to be worn as shorts. They are available at most outdoor outfitting and clothing stores. Also consider taking one pair of smart casual-style trousers that you can wear for evenings out, as we will be staying mostly in cities.
- 1 pair of walking shorts
- Rain jacket or poncho
- 5 or 6 changes of underwear
- Safety neck wallet or money belt to protect your valuables
- Sundries and toiletries
- While onboard, deck-type, rubber-soled shoes such as crocs have proven to be very comfortable and safe. Keep in mind you will be given rubber boots onboard the ship for landings in Antarctica.
- Comfortable walking or running shoes for the cities.
- Hiking boots are highly recommended for landing at Cape Horn, the Falklands and also on the Easter Island extension (due to uneven volcanic terrain, you’ll need them for safety).
Here are suggested items:
- Hiking poles for Antarctica
- Swimsuit (especially for the Easter Island extension)
- Travel alarm
- Travel journal/note pad
- Extra pair of reading glasses (these are expensive to buy in South America)
- Earplugs & eye cover masks (due to long daylight)
While on Tour
While on Tour
The information below applies in general to Vantage journeys.
Prior to arriving at most ports, your Vantage Cruise Director will conduct an informative
briefing concerning the daily schedule, local customs, and the included features
of the program. It is strongly advised that all tour members attend the briefings.
Extending Your Trip
Vantage offers specially arranged pre- and post-extensions on many of our journeys. See specific river cruises for details.
Additionally, if you would like to do some exploring on your own, either before
or after your river cruise, Vantage can help arrange the details. In most cases,
your flights can be adjusted for an earlier arrival date or a later return date.
A non-refundable administrative fee will be assessed, plus any additional
costs that may apply to the air ticket and hotel. Transfers to and from your hotel
are not included when traveling independent of a Vantage group. Please ask a Vantage
Sales Representative for additional details. Note also that some airline contracts
may exclude changes to routing.
NOTE: Should you wish to make any changes to your plans to extend your trip, please
do so no later than 60 days prior to your scheduled date of departure. Change and
cancellation penalties apply to changes made after airline tickets have been issued.
Your Health & Comfort
Vantage wants you to have a safe, healthy, and happy journey. Our river cruises
are planned to combine just the right amount of activity and leisure.
For personal medical attention while on your river cruise, your Vantage Cruise Director can refer you to reliable physicians in the cities on your tour.
Please note that Medicare and U.S health insurance are generally not accepted in
foreign destinations. If you have an insurance claim, it should be made upon your
return to the USA and filed through your health insurance provider or through the
Vantage Travel Protection Plan if you have purchased it. Keep relevant receipts
and doctors' reports for processing your claim.
Jet Lag Precautions
When you cross several time zones to reach your destination, you often lose many
hours of regular sleep. Upon arrival your body must quickly adjust to new sleeping
and eating patterns. The result is jet lag. Its symptoms may include fatigue, irritability,
and vague disorientation. You cannot completely avoid jet lag but you can minimize
it. Here's how:
- Try to sleep on overnight flights
- Avoid heavy eating and drinking caffeine or alcoholic beverages right before - and
during - your flight
- Drink plenty of water and/or fruit juice while flying
- Try to stay awake your first day until after dinner
Pace of the Journey
Vantage journeys are planned to provide a well-balanced mix of activities and
free time. Certain journeys, however, may prove to be more challenging than
others, particularly for passengers with physical limitations.
Passengers with physical difficulties or concerns about the pace of the travel program
should contact their Vantage Customer Relations Representative for tips on which
travel programs best suit their individual needs and abilities. See also Medical
Your Personal Safety
Please keep in mind that in any tourist destination, you need to be aware of your
surroundings. We recommend that you use a money protector that can be worn around
your neck. Flashy jewelry should be left at home. Never place your camera or purse
down, or hang it on the back of your chair. Although incidents of theft and pickpocketing
while on tour are rare, it is important to be cautious and aware.
Click here to
read important information about travelers with physical, emotional, or mental conditions
that may require professional attention or the use of special equipment. "Medical
Issues" information also appears in the "Tour Participation Agreement - Terms and
Conditions" found on our website and printed on the back of your Vantage
If your Vantage river cruise includes a stay in a hotel, please note that Vantage
makes every effort to reserve only hotels that offer well-appointed rooms and a
convenient location. We remind you that quality of accommodations may vary from
destination to destination. Vantage strives to provide the best hotels available
that meet our standards of quality.
How We Rate Our Hotels
While some tour companies devise their own ratings systems (based on their particular
standards), Vantage ranks hotels based on the industry-accepted classifications
published by the Hotel & Travel Index
- the travel industry standard.
Deluxe/Moderate Deluxe ***** Outstanding accommodations in every way, offering superior
service, facilities, and location.
Superior First-Class ****+ Above average accommodations, with many special amenities,
including more restaurants, shops, and usually a fitness center.
First-Class/Moderate First-Class **** Comfortable, well-equipped standard rooms
with private bath and attractive public areas and amenities.
Please Note: In some areas where the hotels aren't rated, it's often due to the
fact that the hotel may be too new, too remote, or too small. However, the hotel
where you stay has been inspected and approved by Vantage personnel.
At Vantage, we count individuals from all walks of life and all religious denominations
among our customers. Although we do not offer religious services on our travel programs,
services may be available in the cities and towns you visit while on tour. Your
Vantage Cruise Director can advise you when religious services are available. Please
keep in mind that not all religious denominations have a presence in every travel
destination. We cannot guarantee the availability of religious services.
Shopping for local merchandise is always a part of the travel experience. We are
aware that local guides do recommend shops on their tours. Always keep in mind that
a purchase is between the buyer and the seller. Always keep receipts and credit
card copies. Shipping should always include insurance in the event of breakage.
Some credit cards such as American Express also include insurance protection for
purchases, but it is best to check with your card issuer for any insurance that
may be included when you use your card.
Sightseeing & Cultural Connections
Vantage offers a variety of included sightseeing tours and special cultural events
to enrich your travel experience and bring you "closer to the world." Our tours
are specially designed for Vantage travelers. They let you feel the atmosphere,
gain a cultural understanding, and become a part of the area you are visiting. They
include all transportation and the services of expert local guides.
Vantage makes every effort to provide the right balance of both included activities
and time for exploring on your own. We've found, however, that many of our passengers
prefer an additional guided activity in lieu of free time. For that reason, some
of our journeys may include a limited number of optional tours and activities,
which you may choose to take at a moderate fee. In no case do we replace an included
sightseeing tour with an optional tour. Optional tours are strictly voluntary, providing
you with the opportunity to visit an attraction that you may not see otherwise.
All transfers between airport and hotel/pier are included when purchasing Vantage
air. However, travelers purchasing their own airline tickets will be responsible
for their own round-trip transfers to and from the airport/hotel/pier based on the
Each Vantage River Cruise is planned with two criteria in mind: It must be an interesting
destination and the tour must offer good quality at an exceptional value.
Although everything is planned well in advance of your departure, our ultimate goal
is to ensure that each departure is enjoyable, interesting, and safe. Therefore,
the day-by-day itinerary provided is subject to change depending upon local conditions.
If any significant changes occur in advance of your departure, Vantage will notify
you by phone or by mail. If changes occur while on tour, your Vantage Cruise Director or local representative will notify you.
Your Vantage Cruise Director
During your journey you'll be accompanied by an experienced, English-speaking
Vantage Cruise Director. You
will also benefit from the insights of Regional Expert guides. Both your found Cruise Director and Regional Experts can give you suggestions on the best restaurants,
shops, and local sights; help coordinate optional tours and excursions; and assist
in any manner possible.
Vantage Hospitality Desk
For your convenience, a Vantage Hospitality Desk will be available during scheduled
hours aboard your ship (staffed by an experienced team of local travel
professionals or by your Vantage Cruise Director). The desk hours vary, depending
on your daily scheduling. Tour members will be advised of the desk.