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Home > Member Reviews > FL Golfer's Port Reviews of Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Stanley, Ushuaia, Punta Arenas

FL Golfer's Port Reviews of Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Stanley, Ushuaia, Punta Arenas
Crown Princess cruise in February 2014
Member Name: FL Golfer
Cruise Date: February 2014
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Destination: South America & Antarctica
Member Review: FL Golfer's Crown Princess Review
Rio de Janeiro
City Tour Rating: 1.0 out of 5+

Absolutely the dirtiest city of any developed country I have ever been in. We were in Rio during Carnival which contributed to the trash everywhere but it was also prominent in parts of the city where Carnival did not impact. Buildings everywhere are crumbling and look in disrepair with electrical service wires/cables frayed and exposed. There is hardly a building or wall in the city center that is not covered with graffiti. We were in Rio on a Sat & Sun and all the businesses that were closed either day had metal shutters covering all their windows which has not been a common observation in other major cities so we wondered about the reasons for this extreme level of security. If all of this is not bad enough, the management of vehicle traffic in Rio is atrocious and puts Rio as having the worst traffic congestion of any major city we have ever lived in or visited. I-95 in to Washington DC, I-5 in LA or the Lincoln Tunnel/GW Bridge to NYC would all be rush hour speedways compared to Rio. We repeatedly experienced traffic gridlock even with our driver and tour guide continually trying alternate routes, none of which speeded up our journey. World Cup Soccer and the 2016 Summer Olympics are coming to Rio but we did not see any significant progress in their creation of a city infrastructure which could support events of this magnitude. There are several interesting sights to see; Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ Te Redeemer statue, Copacabana Beach, Impenema Beach, Metropolitan Cathedral, etc. but the negatives make it a heavy price to pay to visit them. We have met about 12-people on our trip and two of them were pick-pocketed in Rio; one on the street and one at Christ the Redeemer statue. Our advise, DON’T GO!!




Copacabana Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

stopped during city tour




Corcovado Mountain & Christ Redeemer statue Rating: Not Rated

stopped during city tour




Sugarloaf Mountain Rating: Not Rated

stopped during city tour




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Buenos Aires
La Boca District Rating: Not Rated

In stark contrast to Rio, Buenos Aires is very clean, buildings are well maintained, very little graffiti and public spaces are attractive and inviting to tourists. While the city is large, the traffic was very manageable. The most interesting part of the city is where Italian immigrants congregated to settle, La Boca. The streets are cobble stone and the original buildings and homes were constructed from materials salvaged from derelict ships. Corrugated metal is widely used and each building is painted in random colors based on what they were able to scavenge. This area is now a tourist area with lots of shops and restaurants of interest to tourists and several streets are pedestrian only and filled with cart merchants. Recoleta Cemetery has the mausoleums of many important families of Buenos Aires including Evita Parone so it is an extremely interesting place to visit however we suggest you have a guide to tell you some of the history of these families as your tour this above ground cemetery. For Cruisers, the port if very commercial and the cruise ships will likely be docked adjacent to stacks of containers 5 or 6 high so less than nothing to see from your stateroom.




Plaza de Mayo Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

In stark contrast to Rio, Buenos Aires is very clean, buildings are well maintained, very little graffiti and public spaces are attractive and inviting to tourists. While the city is large, the traffic was very manageable. The most interesting part of the city is where Italian immigrants congregated to settle, La Boca. The streets are cobble stone and the original buildings and homes were constructed from materials salvaged from derelict ships. Corrugated metal is widely used and each building is painted in random colors based on what they were able to scavenge. This area is now a tourist area with lots of shops and restaurants of interest to tourists and several streets are pedestrian only and filled with cart merchants. Recoleta Cemetery has the mausoleums of many important families of Buenos Aires including Evita Parone so it is an extremely interesting place to visit however we suggest you have a guide to tell you some of the history of these families as your tour this above ground cemetery. For Cruisers, the port if very commercial and the cruise ships will likely be docked adjacent to stacks of containers 5 or 6 high so less than nothing to see from your stateroom.




Recoleta Cemetery Rating: Not Rated

In stark contrast to Rio, Buenos Aires is very clean, buildings are well maintained, very little graffiti and public spaces are attractive and inviting to tourists. While the city is large, the traffic was very manageable. The most interesting part of the city is where Italian immigrants congregated to settle, La Boca. The streets are cobble stone and the original buildings and homes were constructed from materials salvaged from derelict ships. Corrugated metal is widely used and each building is painted in random colors based on what they were able to scavenge. This area is now a tourist area with lots of shops and restaurants of interest to tourists and several streets are pedestrian only and filled with cart merchants. Recoleta Cemetery has the mausoleums of many important families of Buenos Aires including Evita Parone so it is an extremely interesting place to visit however we suggest you have a guide to tell you some of the history of these families as your tour this above ground cemetery. For Cruisers, the port if very commercial and the cruise ships will likely be docked adjacent to stacks of containers 5 or 6 high so less than nothing to see from your stateroom.




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Montevideo
City Tour Rating: Not Rated

Knowing nothing about Uruguay, we were very pleasantly surprised with Montevideo where 2/3rds of the country’s population lives. The country is very progressive supporting free education thru college, socialized medicine, gay marriage & rights, legalized prostitution & marijuana, private numbered account banking but surprisingly they don’t condone women’s soccer. Apparently the Spanish male macho still prevails where sports are concerned. All of the beaches are public and It is against the law to own property on the beach side of roads boarding the ocean. They have a number of public squares(parks) that have historical importance to them and are very interesting to visit. All are very clean and groomed to perfection. There is an old town section of the city which was originally walled in completely to protect the inhabitants from invasion. All that remains now is the arch of the entry gate. The old town section is not mostly gift shops and restaurants with an interesting market to visit. The rest of the downtown is modern with lots of tall office buildings. A ½-day tour is adequate to gain an appreciation on Montevideo.
• Grania San Francisco- A Ranch with the city of Montevideo where weddings and parties are held. The property previously was a chicken farm. Your group will be greeted with a selection of cold beverages, empanadas and other local delicacies as you tour around the grounds seeing the owners collection of old family furniture and artifacts which have been handed down for several generations and the animals of the farm. At the conclusion of the tour you are served appetizers wood fire roasted sausages, peppers & onions, potatoes and cheese along with more cold beverages all while standing around the serving tables enjoying the company of fellow guests. The appetizers were ample enough to serve as a meal all by themselves but you then proceed to the main hall for a Uruguayan BBQ meal consisting of wood fire cooked chicken, pork and beef served from the skewer to your plate along with salads and vegetables. The red wine served with the meal had more of a sangria taste which is popular in Uruguay. The owner accompanied us all the time we were there telling us thru our guide the history and operation of the ranch and how important it was for them to farm natural & organic.




Winery Tour Rating: Not Rated

• Pizzorno Winery- This was hands down the best wine tour/tasting we have ever had. This is a 3rd generation winery with the grandson of the founder now running the business and his 20-year old son following in his footsteps. This winery makes eight verities of wine totaling only 140,000 bottles and only grapes from their vineyard are used. Our group of four were the only visitors on a glorious Saturday morning where the owner spent 3-hours with us showing us their fields, where they were in harvest then how they make their wine in part, using decades old concrete casks then potting into barrels followed by bottling & aging then labeling and packaging and finally we sat down for tasting the wine accompanied by bread, cheese and sliced meat plates. The wines were delicious and one of their wines won 1st place in a tasting competition of Uruguayan wines. This is a fantastic experience and personal beyond anything you can imagine.




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Stanley
Port Rating: Not Rated

Falkland Islands- Estancia Tours to Volunteer Point- The use of the term “tour” is a misnomer as this tour company, the renowned Patrick Watts tours or any other Volunteer Point tour company really just provide transportation from the port in Stanley to Volunteer Point in 4-wheel drive vehicles that could comfortably seat 3-passengers but are crammed with four people so take pity on the middle passenger in the back seat. The vehicles are owned, maintained and driven by locals who only have “OJT” training as tour guides and off road driving skills. All have regular “day jobs” that they are taking a personal leave day from to take you to/from Volunteer Point.
Your experience will be “luck-of-the-draw”, hopefully getting a driver who has done this for many years who is knowledgeable with a well maintained vehicle. Our driver was very friendly and talked thru the entire journey but has just started doing tours beginning this year and had only 5-prior trips to Volunteer Point in his recently acquired fairly old Toyota 4-wheel drive vehicle. The ride to Volunteer Point takes 2-hours with the first hour of travel over paved and gravel roads which later you will appreciate. When you reach Johnson’s Harbor you will stop for a bathroom break before spending the next hour traveling extreme off-road navigation to Volunteer Point. The driver described a lot of the scenery as we drove and it is interesting to see the massive rock slide areas created from centuries of freezing and thawing. After Johnson’s Harbor it is slow going 4-wheel drive through and around mud holes and ditches with the vehicle constantly moving left & right then up & down as you navigate the difficult track (or lack of). It is a fun and interesting off-road journey for the 1st 5-10 minutes but remember while the vehicle is moving left & right then up & down, so are the passenger so by the time you reach Volunteer Point you feel somewhat beat up and are ready to get out of the vehicle. Our driver was the 1st of our group to get stuck in the mud and we were pulled out by another vehicle which is common. Over their radio we heard of 4-5 other vehicles who got stuck as well.
At Volunteer Point All Drivers, regardless of the tour company, point you in the direction of the penguin colonies and you are on your own to explore for 2-hours as the drivers congregate in each others vehicles. No one takes you to the different areas are to explain the types of penguins or anything else about them. In spite of not being guided, the penguin colonies are an incredible sight to see. At Volunteer Point we saw two varieties of penguins which numbered about 1,000.
You are provided a very low budget bag lunch prepared by the family of one of the drivers consisting of two- ½ sandwiches, one tuna and one local cheese with jam, an apple, a cookie and a bottle of water. At Volunteer Point there is a small building that contains several port-a-potty restrooms, a room where info about Volunteer Point and their Penguins and a room that can accommodate about 12-people to get out of the prevailing strong winds and makes a good place eat your lunch.
Between looking at penguins, eating lunch and using the facilities we were done in one of our 2-hours at Volunteer Point so our group of 5-vehicles headed back to Stanley. Looking back on the experience, while it was expensive at $180pp and not really a legitimate tour there is no other way to have that type of penguin experience.



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Ushuaia
Tierra del Fuego National Park Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

Nature at its best
A visit to the Southern most province of Argentina is very chilly even when it is their summer. It is also the southern end of the snow capped Andes Mountains which provide a beautiful backdrop for this small port city. The city has little to offer to see beyond their local architecture which are small frame or concrete block homes with steep sloped corrugated steel roofs. The main reason to come to this area is to visit Tierra del Fuego National Park by traveling through it on replicas of the prison train which provides a narration in 3-languages; Portuguese, Spanish and English. They are stunning views of the mountains, lakes, streams, foliage and wild life. We saw several red foxes along the way and they had no fear of humans or vehicles. While at the park it is a must to visit the southern most post office in the world and send postcards from there with their special markings.




Train to the End of the World Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

Great ride on narrow gauge train thru the National Park. Very scenic.
A visit to the Southern most province of Argentina is very chilly even when it is their summer. It is also the southern end of the snow capped Andes Mountains which provide a beautiful backdrop for this small port city. The city has little to offer to see beyond their local architecture which are small frame or concrete block homes with steep sloped corrugated steel roofs. The main reason to come to this area is to visit Tierra del Fuego National Park by traveling through it on replicas of the prison train which provides a narration in 3-languages; Portuguese, Spanish and English. They are stunning views of the mountains, lakes, streams, foliage and wild life. We saw several red foxes along the way and they had no fear of humans or vehicles. While at the park it is a must to visit the southern most post office in the world and send postcards from there with their special markings.




Ushuaia Prison Museum Rating: 4.0 out of 5+

Lots and lots of craft items and souvenirs for sale. Each former jail cell is a different shop.
A visit to the Southern most province of Argentina is very chilly even when it is their summer. It is also the southern end of the snow capped Andes Mountains which provide a beautiful backdrop for this small port city. The city has little to offer to see beyond their local architecture which are small frame or concrete block homes with steep sloped corrugated steel roofs. The main reason to come to this area is to visit Tierra del Fuego National Park by traveling through it on replicas of the prison train which provides a narration in 3-languages; Portuguese, Spanish and English. They are stunning views of the mountains, lakes, streams, foliage and wild life. We saw several red foxes along the way and they had no fear of humans or vehicles. While at the park it is a must to visit the southern most post office in the world and send postcards from there with their special markings.




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Punta Arenas
City Tour Rating: Not Rated

This was a tender port for our ship and the AM 10-minute journey was smooth sailing while the afternoon return tender trip started with a 55-minute wait in line due to strong winds & high seas which made docking & loading the tenders difficult and time consuming followed by a boat ride to the ship that could not be outdone by Disney World with seas splashing high over the bow. Our guide told us that this is common and the wind can blow much stronger on a regular basis.
The city of Punta Arenas is attractive and well maintained with a typical town square surrounded by historic buildings that originally were residences and are now museums and commercial businesses. You don’t have an appreciation of good roads until your travels take you to places in South America where they are poor so it was surprising that the roads in Punta Arenas were among the best we have traveled in South America.
There is not a lot to see in Punta Arenas but learning about the history of the square and the families who built the surrounding buildings is interesting. Punta Arenas also has a city cemetery filled with personal family mausoleums with expertly manicured grounds which is well worth a visit and rivals the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires where Evita Parone is buried.
• On the Road Patagonia!- Micah(co-owner) as tour guide This is a new small private tour company that has created a fun tour combining a small group city tour with visits to small local food & beverage establishments. Even though They call the tour Gastronomic City Tour. Before the tour we were uncertain if Micha was male or female and did not know the nationality nor English language quality. Much to our delight Micha is a young American woman from Seattle who married a Chilean man who is a native of Punta Arenas. Micha is incredibly knowledgeable of the area and its history presenting the information in a concise easily understood manner. We had an informative walk around the square where she shared interesting nuggets of information followed by a visit to Kiosko Roca which is the #1 place to eat the famous choriqueso and leche con platano one of the most popular dishes in Punta Arenas. We then went to the cemetery which is every bit as beautiful & interesting as Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. We then stopped at a local shop who specializes in making/selling calafate based sweet products and artisan chocolates where we enjoyed a complementary tasting. The calafate berry only grows in the Punta Arenas area in the wild and is similar to a blueberry and has 10X the antioxidants as the blueberry so they are attempting to figure out how to create an large scale production agricultural version which would be easier to grow and harvest. We stopped at several excellent picturesque view sites as we toured. Our final stop was a beer tasting at a micro brewery that was started by a husband & wife team in their garage. They now make three beer varieties in a very modern brewery with all the proper equipment to consistently duplicate their recipes and have been in business for 2-years. The wife gave us a tour of their operation focusing on their step-by-step brewing process which was interesting and concluded with a tasting and discussion of each of their three brews. This was an outstanding tour and the only one like it in Punta Arenas. We highly recommend this tour and if English is your primary language be sure to ask for Micha to be your guide.




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Puerto Montt
City Tour Rating: 4.0 out of 5+

This port is of the most interest to hikers, bicyclists, climbers and other outdoor/nature enthusiasts as there is nothing for typical tourists to see other than one of Chile’s national parks which is very picturesque and has some very attractive rock formations in and around a strong flowing stream with an area of non-navigatable rapids which they refer to as a waterfalls. The park is in the process of building an attractive welcome center which will be a nice addition. The park is a +1-hour drive from Puerto Mont so a questionable decision to make the trip. Along the way you may get to see a volcano in the far distance. It seems like the mornings are cloudy with gray skies so the afternoon is the best hope for the sun burning through to see blue skies which give a nice contrast to the mountains. If we ever went back to Puerto Mont on a cruise we would not get off the ship.




Alerce Andino National Park Rating: 4.0 out of 5+

This port is of the most interest to hikers, bicyclists, climbers and other outdoor/nature enthusiasts as there is nothing for typical tourists to see other than one of Chile’s national parks which is very picturesque and has some very attractive rock formations in and around a strong flowing stream with an area of non-navigatable rapids which they refer to as a waterfalls. The park is in the process of building an attractive welcome center which will be a nice addition. The park is a +1-hour drive from Puerto Mont so a questionable decision to make the trip. Along the way you may get to see a volcano in the far distance. It seems like the mornings are cloudy with gray skies so the afternoon is the best hope for the sun burning through to see blue skies which give a nice contrast to the mountains. If we ever went back to Puerto Mont on a cruise we would not get off the ship.




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