Why go to Rio de Janeiro?
The port is a short distance from the museums, restaurants and nightlife of the downtown area
The port area is not safe for walking around at night and petty crime is common
Offers easy access to the city, but it's a distance from the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches
Rio de Janeiro Cruise Port Facilities?
There's absolutely no reason to stay around the pier -- it's a working cargo port with no services. Ships may arrange transportation to Copacabana, the Ipanema beaches, and the city center, or you can simply hail a taxi.
Good to Know?
Because Rio has been so famous for its relatively high crime rate -- particularly for pickpocketing -- this is a port of call where organized ship tours can be a good idea. But in recent years, the city government has made an effort to "clean up" the city, and there are abundant tourist police in major areas which has helped deter some crime. Whichever option you choose, absolutely leave anything valuable in your stateroom safe (including items like earrings, wedding rings and expensive cameras). Follow the lead of locals: When Cariocas go to the local beaches, they just carry a towel, sunscreen and some petty cash to buy snacks and drinks from the numerous beach vendors.
The central part of Rio de Janeiro where the major sights are located is very walkable. Taxis are also readily available. While Rio has an excellent public transportation system (buses and metro), they can be tricky to figure out for first-timers. The metro extends along Copacabana beach and includes Ipanema.
Another option many cruise passengers have is free transportation, courtesy of internationally known jewelers; companies like H. Stern often offer complimentary roundtrip sedan rides to its jewelry store in Rio, which is in Ipanema -- the city's chic-est neighborhood. No purchase is required and passengers who don't buy aren't hassled about it. But if you do accept the free ride (cars go back and forth between the ship and the store all day), be courteous and at least browse the store before heading off to the beach or town.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Brazilian Portuguese. English is widely understood in hotels and shops. If spoken slowly, Spanish is understood by many residents as well.