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Best cruises to South America

Your cruise to the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro, the mysterious Nazca lines of Peru and the wilderness of the Amazon awaits.

Updated

Aerial view of Christ the Redeemer monument in Rio de Janeiro

South America’s size lends itself to a whole host of cruising opportunities: a short blast around the Horn, an intimate adventure to visit the Indigenous communities of the Amazon — or the chance to step foot on Antarctica.

Surrounded by two oceans — the Atlantic and Pacific — and topped by the Caribbean Sea, it comes as no surprise that a cruise is one of the best ways to get the most out of everything this diverse continent has to offer.

Best cruises to South America

Multigenerational families, adventurous solo travelers, long-term voyagers and those who prefer the finer things in life will all find something to suit them on a cruise to South America.

Best for families: MSC

MSC’s large cruise ships house a range of activities to keep children of any age entertained. The young ones will have a ball in the kids’ clubs, manned by trained professionals, while the older ones can head to the video games rooms and teens-only parties to find some cruise buddies their own age.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for exploring Patagonia: Holland America

If the Andes Mountains and beautifully serene deserts of Patagonia are calling your name, you’ll be in good hands with Holland America. From the port of Buenos Aires, you can spend 15days or more exploring Chilean Fjords, Falkland Islands and Argentina's glaciers before grabbing a flight home from San Antonio.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for circumnavigating the continent: Princess

Along with its smaller bite-size cruises around South America, Princess is offering a fantastic opportunity to embark on a 50-day voyage around the continent in 2020 and 2021. Setting sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida guests will visit more than 18 ports along the east and west coast of the continent and sail through four different oceans before disembarking in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card, JCB
Price ($-$$$):

Best for solo travelers: Costa

With more people than ever choosing to explore the world by themselves, Costa is making every effort to accommodate them. Over half of its fleet offers affordable solo cabins including suites on Costa Fascinosa and Costa Pacific that are set to sail South America in 2020/2021. You’ll also be invited to a series of exclusive parties to meet other like-minded solo adventurers.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for cruising through the Amazon: Seabourn

Hosting no more than 450 people at once, Seabourn’s intimate cruise ships are ideal for visiting a few off-the-beaten-track destinations, including the largest city in the Amazon, Manaus. Lasting anywhere from 15 to 45 days, you can visit this untouched gem of Brazil no matter how much time you have to spare.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for shorter luxury cruises: Silversea

Silversea offers nine-, twelve- and eleven-day cruises from Buenos Aires to Punta Arenas or Ushuaia, all of which are perfect for an introduction into the wonders of this southern continent. Shorter cruises don’t mean lesser amenities, though, as all suites are spacious, dining options fantastic and some even come with a private butler.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

How we picked the best cruises

We’ve taken the time to siphon out the best cruise liners heading to South America this year so you don’t have to. We used our own first-hand experiences, as well as the opinions of travel blogs, online reviews and travel websites, to bring you the most up-to-date information.

With so much to see on this vast continent, cruises with well-curated and carefully chosen itineraries came top of our list. Afterward, we checked out the full range of facilities offered such as cabins, restaurants and daily entertainment, and assessed the quality and range of shore excursions. Finally, we made sure the price point reflected the quality of what was on offer so you can be sure you’re getting the best value.

When is the best time to go to South America?

Summer in South America falls during our colder months, making it the perfect destination to escape those winter blues. The cruising season begins around late November and continues until early May. There’s no need to worry about peak season and overcrowding, the continent is so big that you’ll rarely see another cruise ship docking in the same port as you.

Do remember, that South America is vast, and while this is generally the best season to cruise for the best overall weather conditions, you might find temperatures in the south to be a little cooler, and there may even still be some snow on the mountains.

What are the must-do cruise excursions in South America?

Shore excursions around South America attract those in search of isolated natural beauty, wildlife encounters, and the odd vibrant city here and there.

  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Perhaps one of South America’s most well-known names, Rio promises fantastic city beaches and vibrant streets. Take the trip to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain for unbeatable city views.
  • Ushuaia, Argentina. Found almost as south as you can get in South America, Ushuaia is the gateway town to the fantastic glaciers in Tierra del Fuego National Park.
  • Galapagos, Ecuador. Sitting off the coast of Ecuador, this small cluster of islands are some of the most protected in the world and are teeming with wildlife including giant tortoises, Darwin’s finches and sea lions.
  • Manaus, Brazil. Jump onboard a much smaller boat to explore the winding Amazon River, keeping a beady eye open for monkeys, crocodiles, and sloths.
  • Lima, Peru. Visit the UNESCO world heritage ruins of Machu Picchu with a guided tour to the Sun Gate, Intihuatana and Temple of the Condor.

Current cruise deals

Sandals Resorts Sandals Resorts

Goodbye summer, hello fall sale and get a $250 photo credit

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Avoya Travel Avoya Travel

Royal Caribbean sale: buy 1 get 1 60% off cruise fares, up to $150 free onboard credit and kids sail free

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Orbitz Orbitz

Vacation with freedom and flexibility - free cancellation hotels

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CheapTickets CheapTickets

Car sale - take up to 20% off when you book with Avis or budget

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Travelocity Travelocity

Up to 20% off Avis and budget car sale

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Orbitz Orbitz

Up to 20% off your rental car when you book with avis or budget

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CheapTickets CheapTickets

Save an extra 16% on select hotels

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Travelocity Travelocity

Smart Savings: Over 40% off Sale

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Bottom line

Choosing when, where and how to spend your time in South America can be overwhelming. When you’ve decided on what to do, check out these latest deals that can help you to save money on your cruise fare.

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