On a two-week “Round Cape Horn” cruise, I, and a group of travel writers, visited eight ports, including the port of departure, Buenos Aires, and the disembarkation port, Valparaiso.
With few exceptions, shore excursions on our cruise got two thumbs up. “It was hard to choose a favorite,” says Michelle Dill, an editor at Alaska Airlines Magazine, “because I went on three shore excursions that were among the best I’ve ever done in nearly 15 cruises.”
Michelle’s favorite: Day at the Estancia (duration 6.5 hours, cost $175 per person), Montevideo, Uruguay. “What made this tour wonderful was the warm welcome of the family and the variety of activities. We had an hourlong lunch consisting of the region’s renowned grass-fed beef (from our hosts’ cattle) while a professional group performed traditional dances. Afterward, we rode through the farm where green parakeets flew past, and then continued down to a huge beach by the river. We returned to milk a cow, sheer a sheep — and my personal favorite, I galloped around a field for 30 minutes on one of their horses. I can’t say enough good things about this excursion. It was just a perfect day. On the way back to the ship, our guide asked, ‘How did you like your day?’ One passenger called out, ‘It was our best shore excursion ever. They treated us just like family.’ I have to agree.”
Harry Shattuck, (former) travel editor for the Houston Chronicle, traveling with his wife: Montevideo (Uruguay) Highlights (duration 3.5 hours, cost $46 per person). “We normally shy away from city bus tours, because too often you just stay on the bus except for ‘shopping’ stops. In Montevideo, the tour made six or seven stops, and we got good insight into the city’s history as well as its diverse neighborhoods. Those who wanted to stay in the city’s Old Town afterward for shopping had that option. We can easily recommend this city highlights tour.”
Ralph Grizzle, traveling with a buddy: On Our Own in Montevideo (duration 5 hours, cost $0). We headed straight from the ship to the market near the dock. Actually, it was more of a food court housed in an old building with interesting architecture, large stone floors and a dozen or so food vendors each trying with equal and unrestrained relish to get us to take a seat in their restaurants. The restaurants were attractive grills, with the grill surface tilted toward the bar so that passersby would be tempted by the sights and smells of meats and vegetables. Before stopping, however, we walked through the old town, into the city center and around the sea wall, returning to the market three hours later for a “light” lunch of chorizo, grilled peppers and a large “Patricia” beer that we shared. Cost: $5 each. No need to change money here, because the restaurants accept dollars.
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