Set out beyond the Tropic of Capricorn to experience an unforgettable South American journey. Curated to show you the perfect balance of cosmopolitan charm and natural splendor, South America: Coasts & Cultures will take you to three distinct nations along the Atlantic. Start in the African-Portuguese influenced nation of Brazil, sailing Atlantic waters to Spanish-speaking — and Italian influenced — Uruguay and Argentina. From Brazil’s emerald coast and the opulent Punta del Este to the colorful alleys of La Boca, this is the perfect journey to discover destinations off the beaten path and cross off bucket list items. See Christ the Redeemer, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, up close, as well as gorgeous UNESCO sites like Ilha Grande and Paraty.
Embark the Ocean Explorer to traipse the Southern Cone in luxury. This 5-star vessel has all the amenities you could wish for while at sea. Watch the horizon fade from the two-story observation deck, read up on Eva Perón or Pelé in the library, or relax your muscles in the sauna. Enjoy the service on an onboard Concierge who can procure tickets to your desired onshore excursion or help organize a special dinner for you and your travel companions. And thanks to the size of our small ship— while you’ll have to tender inland in some ports — in most we’ll dock onshore, allowing you to walk right off the ship and spend more time in the heart of your destination. From the famous Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro to the glamorous metropolis of Buenos Aires, you’ll enjoy thoughtfully prepared meals, onboard lectures, and superb service.
Discover dazzling panoramas of Brazil’s Costa Verde, go hiking in the lush forests of Camboriú, and marvel at the stunning bay of Río de la Plata. With 24 included features and Cultural Discoveries, this journey will show you what distinguishes these three incredible nations from each other. Watch a samba performance in Rio de Janeiro, visit the cliffside home of late Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, and learn how to dance the sensual tango in Buenos Aires. You’ll also savor Brazilian churrasco and sip mate in Argentina’s pampas while watching a polo demonstration. You won’t want to miss a second of this deep dive into South American culture and natural wonders!
If you're interested in this itinerary and want to revel in even more Cultural Discoveries and immersive experiences, check out our combination cruise America’s Explorer: Montréal to Buenos Aires. Explore more and save.
When Eleanor Roosevelt first laid eyes on Iguassu Falls, she is famously said to have uttered, “Poor Niagara”! It’s easy to understand what overwhelmed the First Lady. This torrent of water separating Brazil and Argentina plunges over 200-foot-high cliffs in a roaring fury of water. (In fact, Iguaçu translates roughly from the local Tupi-Guarani into “great water.”) Judging from Ms. Roosevelt’s reaction, you’ll want to extend your expedition to view Brazil’s other breathtaking natural wonder. Explore the cataracts from both countries, getting as close to the falls as the spraying mist allows. Join us on this thrilling adventure!
Fly to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Rio de Janeiro. Or, depart earlier for a thrilling pre-trip extension to Iguassu Falls.
Arrive in Rio
Welcome to Rio! One of South America’s most thrilling and sophisticated cities, a cidade maravilhosa (or, the wonderful city) enjoys a breathtaking setting, ringed by long crescent beaches and towering monolithic mountains. No other city compares to Rio. This afternoon, get acquainted with Rio on a city tour. You’ll conclude your day over a hearty Welcome Dinner at a typical churrascaria, a classic steakhouse for which Brazil is widely known.
Did you know that both the city and its state share the same name? There’s enough Rio de Janeiro for all!
Get an insider’s samba lesson and explore on your own
For the four states (Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Bahia, and Pernambuco) that go big in Carnaval, samba is much more than music. It’s culture, heritage, dance, and history. This morning, you’ll go behind the scenes as you learn about the beloved samba and even try out a few steps! Your afternoon is free to discover more of Rio on your own. Perhaps you'll explore the city's proliferation of street art, from the largest spray-paint mural in the world on Olympic Boulevard to the multicolored mosaic of Escadaria Selarón (Selaron Steps). Or, marvel at both the exteriors and the inner riches of landmarks such as the Museum of Tomorrow and the National Library of Brazil — the largest library in Latin America and 7th largest in the world.
Explore Rio de Janeiro, a cidade maravilhosa, and embark the Ocean Explorer
See Rio’s iconic sites up close today. Ascend to the spectacular Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain. The 125-foot soapstone figure has an arm span of 98 feet. Then, visit the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro and admire its modernist design inspired by Mayan pyramids. Head from the sacred to the footloose when you next visit Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, celebrated in song and frequented by the city’s carefree partygoers. Enjoy lunch at a Rio institution — Confeitaria Colombo. The old-style café — set in a cavernous ballroom crowned with a stunning stained-glass ceiling — has been serving delicious meals and decadent desserts to local cariocas for over 120 years.
This afternoon, you embark the Ocean Explorer. There’ll be time to settle in and perhaps have a drink on the deck and give the breathtaking landscapes of Rio one final glimpse before you cast off on your expedition. Tonight, attend the Captain's Welcome Dinner.
Ilha Grande: Island penitentiary turned lush paradise
Arrive this morning on the lush shores of Ilha Grande, or Big Island, the largest of a breathtaking archipelago of 360 islands dotting the Bay of Kings. Along with Paraty, Ilha Grande was named a new UNESCO World Heritage Site for 2019. Once home to a prison and leprosarium, this largely unspoiled paradise — free of vehicles and other signs of civilization — is today ringed by sand beaches and blanketed in Atlantic forest and palms. You’ll join your guide for a walk into Abraão Village, stopping at the San Sebastian church. Then, follow the footpaths into the woodlands of the state park, hearing tales of the island’s buccaneer days and its once-prosperous coffee and sugar barons as you pass through the ruins of what was once a leprosarium and then the Cândido Mendes high-security prison, before it closed in 1994. Keep your eyes and ears open for howler monkeys, sloths, and countless birds. There’ll be time for a refreshing swim at Black Beach in the natural pools of an aqueduct.
After lunch, learn what cultural and historic treasures await during an onboard lecture. Enjoy the afternoon on the sun deck or pampering yourself with a spa treatment. Dinner tonight is on board, featuring a festive Brazilian show to set the mood for this expedition!
Exploring the colonial treasures of Paraty
Step back in time today when you explore Paraty, a remarkably preserved Portuguese colonial town along Brazil’s lush, green coastal corridor, and a new UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with Ilha Grande). Once a port for the export of gold to the Old World, Paraty enjoys a stunning setting surrounded by tropical islands and soaring mountains. Your walking tour along narrow cobbled lanes leads you into its heart. Admire original 18th-century architectural gems, including the 1722 Santa Rita de Cássia Church and the colonial mansion that hosts the House of Culture, which provides a fascinating chronicle of the town’s role in Brazil’s past. Pause to peruse charming boutiques and art galleries as you explore, perhaps meeting some artists in residence.
As you sail on to your next destination after lunch on board, gain more insight into Brazil’s fertile coast during a lecture from one of our onboard experts.
Discover the vibrant urban center of Santos
Today, enjoy a glimpse of one of Brazil’s major urban centers. Built on the prosperity of the coffee industry, today Santos is home to the largest beachfront garden in the world. A city tour reveals its cosmopolitan air and rich history. Visit the Coffee Museum, located in a former palace. Stop by the Museum of the Santos Football Club, proud to have called Pelé its star player for 18 years. And explore the aquarium, Brazil’s largest.
Another onboard lecture today uncovers more of the region’s fascinating history and rich culture.
The natural and cultural splendors of Camboriú
One of Brazil’s most popular resort towns welcomes you today. Brazilians from all over the country come to Camboriú for the beaches, the lively culture, the mouthwatering seafood, and the vistas of steep slopes draping down to the sea. To get a bird’s-eye view of it all, you’ll embark on an ecological tour and board the city’s famous teleférico, or cable car, to the Atlantic Forest Station. Take a walk into these magnificent hilltop woods with an interpretive guide and ample opportunities to take in stunning panoramas. Your cable car continues to Laranjeiras Beach. Feel free to bring your suit along; there are changing rooms there if you’d like to go for a swim.
More Brazilian history and culture stimulates your mind and your curiosity during an onboard lecture this afternoon. In the evening, enjoy another divine meal prepared by your chef.
Two days at sea along the Brazilian coast
The indulgent amenities of the Ocean Explorer are yours as you continue your expedition along Brazil’s Costa Verde, or Green Coast. Perhaps you’ll treat yourself to the spa. And you’re sure to find the observation lounge the ideal spot for reflection and for looking for seabirds as you ply the waters of the Atlantic. You’ll turn your attention again to Brazil’s colorful culture and history during an onboard lecture today.
Explore the artistic side of Punta del Este
After breakfast on board today, we’ll head off on tour that gets us closer to Punta del Este’s artistic side. Following a visit of one of the residential areas, we’ll head to Playa Brave to see one of the area’s most popular attractions: La Mano (The Hand). Designed as part of an open-air sculpture exhibition in 1982, the massive five-fingered sculpture is the creation of Chilean artist Mario Irarrázaba. We’ll proceed to the MACA Museum of Contemporary Art. Created by Uruguayan sculptor Pablo Atchugarry, the museum houses his collection of paintings and sculptures by Latin American and European artists such as Julio Le Parc, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Joaquín Torres García, Ernesto Neto and Carmelo Arden Quin, among others.
We’ll depart the museum and head to Finca Narbona, a farm specializing in creating a variety of cheeses, dulce de leche, yogurt, ice cream, jam, preserved foods and more. After a visit of the grounds, you’ll get to sample some of the onsite restaurant’s culinary delights during an included lunch. You’ll have free time after lunch to explore more of the farm for yourself.
The remainder of your afternoon and evening are yours to spend as you wish. Dinner this evening will be served on board.
Lifestyles of the rich and famous in Punta del Este
Often compared to Miami and Cannes for its resort style and well-heeled visitors, Punta del Este is the jewel of Uruguay at the wide mouth of Río de la Plata. Head into this posh resort town and set out on a scenic panoramic tour through tony residential neighborhoods and past stunning beaches.
You’ll have time to take some photos at beautiful Punta Ballena, a scenic peninsula bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, before heading to Casapueblo for a visit. Perched on a cliffside overlooking the ocean, this self-built curvilinear home and studio once belonged to the late artist Carlos Páez Vilaró.
Following your visit to Casapueblo, you’ll head to Viña Edén, a gorgeous vineyard sitting on Pueblo Eden’s rocky mountains slopes. The mineral character of the soil and it’s oceanic influence create the ideal conditions for the sustainable production of the vineyards unique wines, which you’ll sample for yourself during an included wine tasting.
After your morning of explorations, you’ll head back to the ship for lunch on board. The rest of the day is yours to spend at your leisure. You can head back to Punta del Esta for some more sightseeing on your own, or choose to spend the evening relaxing on board.
Tonight’s dinner will be served on board.
Uncover the international spirit of Montevideo
Around breakfast time, arrive in Montevideo, consistently ranked at the top of “quality of life” lists among Latin American cities. Get acquainted with the vibrant and sophisticated cultural capital on a far-reaching city tour that takes in the major monuments, parks, and gardens. At Independence Square, begin a walking tour that features the cathedral, City Hall, the Government House, and the renowned Solis Theater. Then, drive along the celebrated 18 de Julio Avenue, stopping to view the Legislative Palace, built with 52 types of local marble and 12 different kinds of wood. Continue to El Prado, an elegant neighborhood of sprawling botanical gardens and colonial mansions. At the Plaza Virgilio, enjoy sweeping views of the city.
Spend the remainder of the day exploring on your own. Perhaps you’ll walk to Plaza Cagancha and make a stop at Mercado de los Artesanos, or Craftsmen Market, to pick out a souvenir amid the swirl of local art and handcrafted goods. Alternatively, your onboard Concierge may help you set up a tour catered to your interests. This evening, be delighted by a dance show on board!
The UNESCO treasures of Colonia del Sacramento
Visit the oldest city in Uruguay today, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Colonia del Sacramento, spread on a small peninsula on the Río de la Plata. A rich Spanish and Portuguese past whispers from its remarkably preserved colonial buildings. As you stroll its cobbled streets, stop to view the Matriz Church; the Calle de los Suspiros, or Street of Sighs, named for its breathtaking historic authenticity; the Puerta del Campo city gate; and the Plaza Mayor 25 de Mayo.
A final captivating talk on board the ship rounds out our lecture series.
Disembark the Ocean Explorer and explore Buenos Aires: Latin America with more than a hint of Europe
Wake up early for your last sunrise aboard and enjoy the scenery and downtown skyline as we enter Buenos Aires, the sultry capital of Argentina.
You'll disembark the Ocean Explorer — we hope you enjoyed your expedition on Vantage's first small ship oceangoing expedition vessel! This richly cosmopolitan city feels a lot like Europe — graced with splendid architecture and a hint of glamour. But its spirit is distinctly Argentine. A city tour reveals its most magnificent sites. Visit the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada, La Boca (a neighborhood full of colorfully painted homes), and the neoclassical Catedral Metropolitana, the church home of Pope Francis. No Buenos Aires visit is complete without a visit to the famous Café Tortoni, and we’ll lunch in this institution today. Founded in 1858 by an enigmatic Frenchman, the café’s European ambience, intricate moldings, and marble-topped counters have lured artists and scholars alike for more than 150 years. After, check into your hotel and have the afternoon and evening free to pursue your own interests.
Discover the pleasures of polo in the Argentinean Pampas
Today you will be introduced to Argentina’s rich polo culture. The country is known for its champion polo players, and you’ll learn about the sport’s rich history and tradition during an excursion to an estancia (ranch) in the Argentinean Pampas, the vast lowland plains. At a renowned polo ranch, you’ll learn about the sport and horses, and witness some impressive horsemanship during a private exhibition of two chukkers. You’ll also enjoy a delicious barbecue lunch. Back in Buenos Aires, the balance of the day and evening is at leisure. Tonight, get a last taste of Argentina during a special dinner featuring a sensual tango performance!
Explore Buenos Aires on your own and return home
Flights from Buenos Aires typically depart late in the evening, so you’ve got another day to take in the wonders of the city!
Later, you’ll transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home. Or, extend your trip in Santiago, Chile’s sophisticated capital.
Please Note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.