[Holland America’s Veendam rounds Cape Horn on a series of cruises between now and March 2010.]
From Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, around Cape Horn to Valparaiso, Chile, or in the reverse direction, “Round Cape Horn” cruises are South America’s most popular itineraries. You’ll typically spend two weeks on board ship, and overnight in some ports.
For example, Veendam overnights in Buenos Aires (on select sailings), giving you sufficient time to take in the Argentine capital (you can even get to Iquacu Falls on the Argentine-Brazil border while docked in Buenos Aires).
For a full taste of Santiago (about 90 minutes from the port of Valparaiso), you’ll want to build in extra time before or after your cruise. You may want to plan on three nights to see the sights around Santiago — particularly if you plan to visit the area’s wine country.
You’ll find the two capital cities distinctly different. Buenos Aires, still reeling from Argentina’s economic collapse in 2002 and the recent financial crisis, is cheaper, more colorful and livelier than Santiago, but the Chilean capital offers easy access to wine country in a nation increasingly renowned for its quality vineyards. Plus Chile itself offers some of the most striking geography in South America.
Dust off your Spanish phrasebook, but be prepared for some surprises. Argentines pronounce the double “l” as “sh,” so that a phonetic phrase such as “me yamo (me llamo),” is pronounced “me shamo.” Chileans use different words altogether. Avocado, known as aguacate throughout most of the Spanish-speaking world, is “palta” in Chile. Still, grade-school Spanish will help, although English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
Remember that South America’s seasons are reverse from North America’s, so the summer cruise season is staged during the North American winter.
Over the next few days, look to this space for highlights in some of the ports of call on “Round Cape Horn” itineraries.