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Cruises to Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas (Photo:Pablo Rogat/Shutterstock)
Punta Arenas (Photo:Pablo Rogat/Shutterstock)

About Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas is no longer the important stop on South America trade routes it once was, but the gateway to Chilean Patagonia still has some stuff to strut: a couple of penguin colonies, a trippy municipal cemetery and some surprisingly good restaurant choices.

With roughly 150,000 inhabitants, Punta Arenas – or Sandy Point – bills itself as the southernmost city on the planet. (The far smaller Ushuaia, Argentina, a day's cruise away, is the southernmost "town.") And if it feels like you're in the middle of nowhere, that's because you are.

Looking out over the Strait of Magellan, this windswept shore marks the dividing line between Patagonia to the north with its maze of fjords, rivers, steppes and mountains, and, to the south, the great frozen mass of Antarctica.

Until the Panama Canal was built in 1914, the Strait of Magellan was the main shipping route for commercial vessels traveling between the Atlantic and the Pacific. At the same time, it was also a major world supplier of wool. Today, as the center of Chile's only oil reserves and more than half of its lamb production, the region has rediscovered some of its previous grandeur. It doesn't hurt, either, that dozens of cruise ships call on Punta Arenas between November and March, the summer high season.

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14 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Montevideo, Puerto Madryn ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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13 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Stanley, Elephant Island ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Montevideo, Punta del Este ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Lima

20 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Lima
Visiting:
Pisco, Coquimbo ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Montevideo, Punta del Este ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
San Antonio
Visiting:
Puerto Montt, Puerto Chcabuco ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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62 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
San Juan, St. Kitts ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Puerto Madryn, Punta Arenas ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
San Antonio
Visiting:
Puerto Montt, Puerto Chcabuco ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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20 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

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

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Montevideo, Puerto Madryn ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
San Antonio
Visiting:
Puerto Montt, Chilean Fjords ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
San Antonio
Visiting:
Puerto Montt, Chilean Fjords ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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19 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Santiago
Visiting:
Puerto Montt, Puerto Chcabuco ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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22 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Montevideo, Punta del Este ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Montevideo, Stanley ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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22 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
San Antonio
Visiting:
Puerto Montt, Puerto Chcabuco ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Punta del Este, Stanley ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

16 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Montevideo, Stanley ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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16 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
San Antonio
Visiting:
Punta Arenas, Ushuaia ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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16 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
San Antonio
Visiting:
Punta Arenas, Ushuaia ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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74 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Santa Marta, San Blas Islands ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
San Antonio
Visiting:
Puerto Montt, Puerto Chcabuco ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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20 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Lima
Visiting:
Pisco, Coquimbo ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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16 Night
Cruise to Punta Arenas

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Montevideo, Stanley ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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Why go to Punta Arenas?

Pros:

A good base for tours to penguin colonies, Torres del Paine National Park and even Antarctica

Cons:

Not a ton to do in this tender port city; tours can be long and pricy if flights are needed

Bottom Line:

For bucket list cruisers, Punta Arenas is a jumping-off point for memorable adventures

Punta Arenas Cruise Port Facilities?

The yellow marine terminal has restrooms, a coffee shop, souvenir stands and an internet café. Just around the corner from it is a nice handicrafts shop that also offers a respectable selection of Chilean wines. Other than that, there's not much to hang around for.

Good to Know?

While the vendors in Plaza Munoz Gamero offer a decent price point for their locally made goods, make sure you are in fact "buying local" and not purchasing a Chinese knockoff. Also, quite a few stray dogs tend to hang around the square, which can be a bit offputting. And don't even think about bringing ashore dairy products or any other consumable fresh food item or they will be confiscated upon arrival by agriculture department inspectors.

Getting Around?

With its compact grid, Punta Arenas is imminently walkable. Plaza Munoz Gamero is a 10- or 15-minute walk or a $5 taxi ride. To get there from the terminal, walk up the hill one block on Avenida Independencia, then turn right on 21 de Mayo and continue for three blocks. The cathedral, museums, restaurants and main shopping avenue, Avenida Bories, all spin right off the square. There's also a tourism kiosk in the plaza, offering maps and other helpful brochures.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Chile's currency is the peso. Visit www.oanda.com for current rates and a handy cheat sheet that fits nicely into a wallet. ATM's, and there are several located off the city's central plaza, tend to be the cheapest way to acquire pesos. However, there's no need to bulk up on local currency. Most sidewalk vendors, taxis, museums, restaurants and shops accept U.S. dollars and some will take euros. Credit cards are widely accepted as well.

Language?

Spanish. Very little English is spoken – even in museums and restaurants. Those eateries that do cater to tourists often have English translations on the menu.

Where You're Docked?

Passengers are ferried into town aboard tenders, a 10-minute ride.


Punta Arenas Cruise Reviews

Star Princess
dwflorida
Sail Date: Jan 2019
city tour - including museum. Tour guide walked us through museum and gave us history of Puerto Arenas.... Read More
Norwegian Star
Rude1
Sail Date: Jan 2020
Took a walk around the town. Had some interesting view points and the cemetery was really beautiful.... Read More
Norwegian Star
Greyhorse
Sail Date: Feb 2020
We used a van for our group and toured around the city... Read More
Seabourn Quest
PBennett13
Sail Date: Nov 2019
So much graffiti every where.... Read More
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