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Why A South America Cruise Is A Unique Experience - with Holland America

By TRAVELINK on December 7, 2023

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There are many reasons to take a South America cruise, from ports rich in culture to shore excursions that immerse you into each destination. Many places offer experiences like these though, so what is it about this continent that deserves a top spot on your travel wish list? Here’s why a South America cruise with our partners at Holland America is a unique experience you must have on your travel bucket list:

Iconic UNESCO World Heritage Sites

When you join us on an unforgettable journey to South America, you open yourself up to visiting breathtaking World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves. Designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves are part of an esteemed collection representing the best of human heritage and the natural world. These sites and wonders are recognized for having outstanding universal value to humanity, and a South America cruise delights guests with the opportunity to explore 16 of them.

Imagine walking the steps of Machu Picchu (pictured above). You’ll be captivated by this ancient citadel, with its steep terraces, intricate stone construction and natural grandeur. Are you a wanderluster for natural wonders? Picture yourself at Iguazú Falls, with its misty waterfalls, emerald-green rainforests and ever-present rainbows. The enchanting list goes on and on.

Two Galapagos tortoises look at each other on the Galapagos Islands.

Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are located nearly 600 miles west of Ecuador’s coast. Here you can explore the volcanic archipelago’s unspoiled landscapes, colorful plants and one-of-a-kind ecosystem. In fact, it’s home to a bounty of endemic wildlife found nowhere else on the planet.

Though the islands are named after giant tortoises, many are now extinct. Recognized as an endangered species, the Galápagos giant tortoise has an average lifespan of 100 years and can weigh up to 550 lbs. The islands are also an active volcanic area with more than 13 active volcanoes.

Machu Picchu

Do you have a heart for history and tales of ancient cities? If so, you’ll love exploring Machu Picchu, where you can immerse yourself in the timeless history and intangible magic of the ancient citadel.

View of Machu Picchu, an ancient citadel in South America, surrounded by mountains and green …

Located nearly 50 miles from Cuzco in Peru, you can soak up the sights of its steep terraces, intricate stone construction, and breathtaking natural grandeur – all of which were found nearly intact when discovered by explorers.

View of snow-capped mountains with green vegetation and water in the valley at Torres del Paine …

Torres Del Paine National Park

Looking for glaciers and snowcapped mountains in South America? Discover the best of Chilean Patagonia’s glacial lakes, granite spires, windswept plains, and diverse wildlife at Torres del Paine National Park and Perito Moreno Glacier on an overland adventure.

The Torres del Paine, or Blue Towers, have three granite peaks along the mountain range: Torres d’Agostini, Torres Central and Torres Monzino. They reach upwards of more than 8,000 feet above sea level, overlooking a massive area of lakes, glaciers and rivers.

Iguazú Falls

If you love waterfalls, you won’t want to miss Iguazú Falls on an in-depth shore excursion to Buenos Aires in Argentina. The crashing waterfalls and misty air will have you mesmerized, as will the emerald rainforests, wildlife and rainbows.

View of Iguazu Falls, a waterfall in South America, surrounded by green landscape and blue sky.

Located along the Iguazú River, the waterfalls are shaped like a horseshoe and extend nearly two miles. That means they’re almost three times wider than Niagara Falls. Rich in vegetation, you’ll find a unique variety of plants and flowers, from orchids to bamboos to palm trees.

View of two black and white Magellanic penguins near the water on the Valdes Peninsula in South …

Valdés Peninsula

When in Argentina, you may want to visit the Valdés Peninsula as well. Its terrain supports a coastal and marine ecosystem that’s incredibly valuable to conservation efforts. Extending nearly 250 miles, its shoreline is comprised of cliffs, lagoons and mudflats.

You may see orcas, Southern right whales, sea lions, elephant seals, Magellanic penguins and nearly 200 different bird species. Though orca sightings are common from August through October, you could catch a glimpse of them in March and April when they beach themselves to hunt sea lions.

Map showing UNESCO World Heritage Sites near the coasts of South America.

Explore up to 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites across South America cruise itineraries.

Spectacular Scenery

There are many sights to behold on a Holland America Line cruise to South America. You may find yourself marveling at tumbling blue glaciers. Marine wildlife will likely make you smile as they splash around and play with each other. Prepare to be in awe as you sail along the Chilean Fjords with remote mountains and surrounding ice fields contributing to its natural beauty. If the wanderlust in you craves extra time on board, you’ll want to consider the South America & Antarctica cruise itineraries. This will have you cruising the bays, islands and inlets of the “White Continent,” where you’ll bask in the beauty of towering icebergs and untouched landscapes. Plus, there are the penguins in Antarctica. Let’s say that again: penguins!

Immersive Experiences

A Holland America Line cruise gives you the opportunity to both see the world from your doorstep and immerse yourself in amazing destinations throughout the journey. What does that mean when exploring South America? Swim with sea lions on a shore excursion. Discover the unique sights, sounds and experiences in ports and capitals. Enhance your ultimate vacation with an overland adventure in the Galápagos Islands, journeying to a land lost in time with giant Galápagos tortoises.

You could also venture nearly 8,000 feet above sea level and spend extra days in Cusco – the former capital of the Inca Empire and gateway to Machu Picchu – on an overland adventure. Another way you can find delight in destinations is by diving into authentic cultural experiences. Visit an indigenous Emberá tribe. Meet a real Chilean huaso (a.k.a. cowboy). Learn to craft a traditional Panama hat, or enjoy an intimate dinner at an Argentine “closed-door restaurant.”

Penguins resting on icy landscape in Antarctica, surrounded by blue water and sky.

Enjoy the views of penguins as they rest on Antarctica’s icy-blue landscape.

Fresh Regional Cuisine

Your taste buds will delight in the cruise dining experience, where our cuisine goes beyond the plate. With native fresh fish and ingredients sourced directly from those who know them best, our destination dining tells the story of each region through unique flavors. Peruvian ceviche or Patagonian toothfish, anyone? Yum! And if you’re looking for even more authentic tastes of the region, you’ll want to check out some of the shore excursions with delicious culinary tours. Just imagine sampling Peruvian pisco, Argentine asados (roast meats), Uruguayan olive oil and other tasty tidbits.

When you're ready to explore the best of South America (or another destination), let our Travelink advisors know by submitting a Trip Request via the button below to get started. 

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Right now, we have a great offer from Holland America to help you get the best value for your cruising dollar. 

Topics: New, Cruises, Leisure Travel, Vacations