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Home > Member Reviews > Roger I Baxter's Port Reviews of Punta Arenas, Manzanillo, Aruba

Roger I Baxter's Port Reviews of Punta Arenas, Manzanillo, Aruba
Queen Victoria cruise in December 2011
Member Name: Roger I Baxter
Cruise Date: December 2011
Embarkation: Miami
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Member Review: Roger I Baxter's Queen Victoria Review
Punta Arenas
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
No fuss docking and well organised on the dock so far as third party excursions and taxis were concerned. Reassuringly good control and security by local authorities. Very good quality souvenir shopping just beyond the port compound.

Quality of third party excursions high and reliable - we went on a river crocodile cruise which far exceeded our expectations, including hand-feeding a 2.5 metre wild crocodile by the tour guide (who survived and still has all limbs and digits).

We also did zip-lining (whizzing down a long cable at a great height between trees for up to 150 metres) in the rain-forest and loved it (despite the rain and spray) - well-trained experienced instructors and good equipment (never felt unsafe and I have vertigo!). All-in-all a very good destination port.

Everyone friendly and helpful, without exception, though little English spoken apart from tour operatives and port-side shops. Useful to know some Spanish!

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Manzanillo
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Quite impressive coming into port, though pretty large and industrialised to some extent. Good view of volcano ranges all round. Very established shops and reception area. Usual Mexican security arrangements to ensure no drug-running problems to bother tourists - armed sailors on the dock and coastguard cutters offshore. No safety concerns outside port compound and plenty of life. Very hot. Plenty of shops and plenty of novelty kiosks. Prices higher than Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala with quality and choice OK but Guatemala still better.

Didn't fancy or do any excursions there - all too far away anyway and you could in any case certainly get a pretty good idea of Mexican life by staying in the port area and exploring that. People friendly as in Huatulco but more cosmopolitan - still mostly Spanish-speakers but more English spoken.

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Aruba
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Quite pretty coming into port and good docking arrangements - no problems with security and good tourist info within port compound.

Port compound next to main street for shopping and bars - a bit tacky and quite expensive. Don't expect beer to be cheap either, even if local. Language spoken is a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch! Not a lot of English spoken in shops.

Not much to see on island which is small anyway, but beaches claimed to be good. Fiercely hot - sunburn inevitable if don't use suncream on any exposed areas, including neck (back and front),face (if no hat), lips (whether wear hat or not!)and back of hands. So don't think you won't get burnt, even if you aren't trying to be suntanned!

Away from front it is surprisingly run-down in built-up areas.

There is a small extinct volcano which can be seen from the port and is approx 3 miles away. No public transport available to it except for seasoned locals who know the routes, so it's taxi or on foot. No signs to it. Locals are quite friendly and charming, however, even if they have difficulty understanding you! If you manage to get to the volcano, the access to the top is via 560+ steps, to be found on the opposite side to the port (near the water-park access). Very good view from the top, as to be expected - the whole island!

Very picturesque views on way out - but still prefer St Maarten!

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