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Cruises to Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires (Photo:javarman/Shutterstock)
Buenos Aires (Photo:javarman/Shutterstock)

About Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is often referred to as "The Paris of South America," but it's so much more than that. The city features characteristics of great global cities like Paris, Vienna, Rome, Barcelona, Havana, San Juan, Miami and others. But Buenos Aires stands alone, a sprawling metropolis of more than 12 million people, located well below the equator (closer to Antarctica, in fact) in the upper-eastern quadrant of Argentina. 

Anyone who has seen the stage or movie version of "Evita" has witnessed the colorful history of the city. Buenos Aires (which, roughly translated, means "fresh air") was founded originally in 1536, but the Spaniards sent to colonize the mouth of the Rio de la Plata were forced away by the indigenous population. A second, more successful attempt was made in 1580, and it wasn't until the early 1800s that the city and then the country emancipated itself from the Spanish crown, becoming the Republic of Argentina. 

You might think that planning by the French, buildings by the Spanish and statuary by the Italians would lend a schizophrenic air to this sprawling capital. But the fact that the populace is a melting pot of European and South American cultures (half of Buenos Aires' citizens are of Italian descent) makes the city more open and cosmopolitan, celebrating differences and welcoming tourists from around the world. 

But don't be deceived by appearances -- Buenos Aires may have the look and feel of European city, but scratch the surface and you'll soon realize that Buenos Aires is a South American city with very real South American challenges. The main ones are massive unemployment and a huge influx of migrant workers from neighboring countries, the majority of which live in slums either side of the main highways in area called Villa 31. Though not as (in)famous as Rio's favelas, these shantytowns lack running water, electricity, basic sanitation and schooling and the authorities are trying to figure out how to incorporate them into the city.

The country also wrestles with high inflation and unemployment. More than anywhere else in the country, Buenos Aires felt the effects of years of more than 2,000 percent inflation and that is still felt today. When the Argentine economy collapsed in 2001, the "Portenos" -- as the city's residents call themselves, in a reference to the city's origins as a port -- took to the streets demanding someone be held accountable. Others formed collectives to purchase and run their places of business. The flip side, of course, was that the devaluation of the Argentine peso made a visit to the city very affordable, and tourism thrived. 

Even today, most of the city's goods and services remain a tremendous bargain for visitors from Europe or North America. (Subway rides total 30 cents, and a steak main course costs around $15.) Hoteliers have gotten wise to this attractiveness, and accommodation prices have increased. However, the opening of more properties, particularly of the boutique variety, and the rise of Airbnb means there is plenty of competition, and good rates can be found. Compared to stays in other world-class cities, a trip to Buenos Aires is a bargain, and once you visit, you'll likely want to return. 

The city features numerous draws: architecture, acres and acres of woods and parks, fabulous meals of traditional grilled meats and hearty Argentine wines. Visitors also enjoy the Latin sizzle, the soul of the portenos and the genuine warmth and humor of the people. Bask in the camaraderie you feel at a cafe (even if you don't speak Spanish), the thrill you get from watching a couple performing a tango on a San Telmo street corner, the smile of a child wearing a Boca Juniors T-shirt. Maybe you'll be privileged to be offered a sip of yerba tea from a stranger's mate (pronounced mah-tay) cup, a social tradition in Argentina. Perhaps a shopkeeper will point you in the direction of a fabulous tavern. And, maybe you'll dance the tango in an after-hours social club.

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13 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires
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20 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Lisbon
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14 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires
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Norwegian Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires
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Celebrity Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires
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Ushuaia, Cape Horn ...
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Celebrity Cruises
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14 Night
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Buenos Aires
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Montevideo, Punta del Este ...
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Norwegian Cruise Line
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20 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Lima
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Pisco, Coquimbo ...
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Oceania Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires
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Puerto Madryn, Punta Arenas ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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10 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires
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Montevideo, Punta del Este ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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20 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Lima
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Pisco, Coquimbo ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Rio de Janeiro
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Buzios, Ilha Grande ...
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Oceania Cruises
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12 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
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Montevideo, Punta del Este ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

Leaving:
San Antonio
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Puerto Montt, Chilean Fjords ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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20 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires
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Montevideo, Punta del Este ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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20 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
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Montevideo, Stanley ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
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Punta del Este, Santos ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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San Antonio
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Puerto Montt, Chilean Fjords ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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San Antonio
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Puerto Montt, Chilean Fjords ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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74 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
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Santa Marta, San Blas Islands ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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30 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

Leaving:
Lima
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Pisco, Coquimbo ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

Leaving:
San Antonio
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Puerto Montt, Puerto Chcabuco ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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10 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires
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Montevideo, Punta del Este ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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22 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

Leaving:
San Antonio
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Puerto Montt, Castro ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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16 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

Leaving:
San Antonio
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Punta Arenas, Ushuaia ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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6 Night
Cruise to Buenos Aires

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
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Punta del Este, Santos ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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Why go to Buenos Aires?

Pros:

A cosmopolitan city with attractions like tango shows, an elaborate cemetery and leather goods to buy

Cons:

It's hard to see everything in just one day; look for itineraries with overnights

Bottom Line:

History and culture buffs, foodies, shoppers and active types will all find much to do here

Buenos Aires Cruise Port Facilities?

The port is on the same stretch of river as the regenerated Puerto Madero docklands area. There you will find all the cafes, ATMs, etc., that the main port lacks. Although a little bland compared to the rest of the city, this spruced up area of 19th-century warehouses and new dockside buildings is worth a few hours. It is home to the Fortabat Art Collection, housed in a spectacular modernist building complete with retractable roof.

You arrive on the vast River Plate estuary, with Uruguay on the opposite side. The pier is about a half-mile from the city center. Cabs are reasonably priced and the best way to get there, but make sure the meter is switched on. You can walk to the Puerto Madero docklands area or Plaza San Martin, both of which are about a mile away.

Good to Know?

Buenos Aires has more than its share of pickpockets and bag-snatchers. Avoid wearing jewelry, brandishing your phone or expensive watches, and don't drape your bag over the back of a chair or place your phone on the table when dining outdoors, as thieves can be very sneaky. 

If you take reasonable care, the main tourist sections are quite safe. Older neighborhoods, such as La Boca and San Telmo, while fine by day, are best avoided on your own at night. 

And don't forget: Buenos Aires contains a permanent memorial to the soldiers who died in the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands) during the war with Britain in 1982. If you are British, it is still a touchy subject and one that is best not broached with Argentines.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Though it is a sprawling city covering some 80 square miles, the historic, cultural and business hub of Buenos Aires is within a compact and easily walkable area. The central district is known as the "Micro Center" and extends south from the elegant Plaza San Martin, the area where many hotels are located, to the Plaza de Mayo, the historic center of government, a distance of about 12 blocks. Connecting the two is Calle Florida, a pedestrian-only street that serves as an international magnet for shoppers. West of Plaza de Mayo is Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the world's widest boulevards, which gives the scale of this city's ambition in the 1930s. The road spans an entire city block and contains the city's famous Obelisk at Plaza de la Republica. 

By Subway: For visitors on a budget who plan to explore on their own, the subway ("Subte") system is simple to follow and is the quickest way to get around and avoid downtown traffic. Latin America's oldest underground railway warrants a ride just to see some of the beautiful tiled murals that decorate stations. A fare only costs a few cents. There are six lines and 80 stations, the nearest to the port being Retiro on Av. San Martin. 

By Bus: Buses also crisscross the city. Bus fare boxes return change, so exact fare is not required, but you must have coins, as the driver does not change bills. 

If you have limited time, consider the Buenos Aires Bus, the surest way to reach all of the city's special neighborhoods, as well as the Recoleta Cemetery. The hop-on, hop-off tour visits 24 stops, with the round trip taking just more than three hours. 

By Bike: One of the best ways to see this sprawling but almost completely flat city is by bike. Buenos Aires has an excellent network of dedicated cycle lanes covering more than 130 km. You can hop on one for free (for an hour) with the government-sponsored EcoBici scheme, which has 32 bike stations dotted throughout the city, or hire one from a number of companies including Urban Biking and La Bicicleta Naranja, or book a city bike tour. The latter is offered by the aforementioned hire shops, as well as Biking Buenos Aires, which offers excellent private guided tours for one or more people of varying lengths and which take in all the major sites.

By Taxi: Buenos Aires is a walkable city, but distances between attractions can be large, so at some point you might want to hail a taxi. Cabs are plentiful and cheap, but carry a map and a card with your hotel address to point to your location.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The peso is Argentina's currency. Bank hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but ATMs are plentiful. Credit cards are widely accepted. Note if you're only here for the day, do not take a lot of money as the Argentine peso is not internationally traded.

Language?

The official language is Spanish, but English is widely understood in hotels and shops.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2018 Top-Rated South America & Antarctica Destinations
  • 2017 Top-Rated South America & Antarctica Destinations
  • 2015 Top-Rated Mexican Riviera & South America Destinations

Buenos Aires Cruise Reviews

Norwegian Star
Annedee
Sail Date: Feb 2020
Cruise started in Buenos Aires... Read More
Celebrity Eclipse
linnibelle
Sail Date: Feb 2020
Stayed in Buenos Aires 3 times during this holiday. Lively place with plenty to do. Visit the markets, Opera House, Cathedral and do a Hop on Hop off bus.... Read More
Norwegian Star
The Cruise Curmudgeon
Sail Date: Feb 2020
Buenos Aires is a nice city. We walked around close to our hotel.... Read More
GYPSEA2010
Sail Date: Dec 2019
Loved Buenos Aires overall - just need to be mindful of pocketbook and make safe travel arrangements/transfers in advance... Read More
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