Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by Priusprof
- Sail Date: February 2008
- Destination: South America
- Cabin Type: Superior Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony
Brazil is a beautiful country and is much larger and has more people than most realize. It is about as big as the US and has 180 million people. Sao Paulo is the third largest city in the world with 18-20 million people. It goes on forever. Rio is large as well and these cities are very European. As you travel to the north the culture and population become more African. The big cities were very modern and the countryside was a little 3rd worldish. We visited Salvador, Ilheus, and Buzios and each had it's own unique culture. Salvador was a new city/ old town combination and we spent our time there in the old town seeing the old cathedrals and getting a taste of the culture. Ilheus was a visit to a cocoa plantation, where we saw how chocolate was made. In Buzios we visited the beach and had a relaxing day in the sun. Lots of great shops to visit as well. The focal point of the trip was Rio for Carnaval and it was our first stop. The city is one of great contrasts. The sights from the top of Sugarloaf mountain and Corcovado are truly spectacular. Just seeing the "Christ the Redeemer" statue was awesome. Great restaurants and beaches too. We had rain so the beaches were deserted but the street celebrations for Carnaval were amazing to behold. The Carnaval parade competition is unlike anything you will see in this country. The Samba schools spend an entire year preparing for the parade. There are floats, dancers, and entire percussion bands for each school. The number of people that parade by the judges for each school number in the thousands!! It takes more than a hour for each school to parade through the Sambodrome.The costumes are elaborate beyond description and the floats are handcrafted. This is not an amateur competition. The clubs are sponsored by the biggest corporations and the prizes are in the millions for the winning clubs. The whole country shuts down for 4 days and people party and celebrate non stop. The Super Bowl was our first night in Rio and about 20 or 30 people watched the game. The rest of the ship was partying for Carnaval. The excursion price to go to the parade was almost $500 per person. We hired RioPlus Tours for the two days we were in Rio and it was the best thing we have ever done. For the 4 of us it was no more than 1 tour to see Rio and we had the luxury of individual attention and touring at our own pace. We saw a lot that the ships tours would never see and picked the best places to eat as well. We were careful to stay on the safe places and our guide Valeria made sure that we saw everything of interest without any risks. When the cruise ended we spent the last day touring Sao Paulo before heading for the airport. It is like visiting NYC but without the tall buildings. It is the commercial center of South America and with so many people it has huge ethnic communities. Large Japanese and middle eastern groups have settled in Brazil. If you have "been there and done that" a South American cruise as a winter get away can't be beaten.Just remember you need to check the "American Ego" at the door because Brazilians do it their way and love every minute of it! As for RCCL, they provided the ideal venue to travel and experience it all. Just spend time and do what you need to do. Get Brazilian currency a couple of weeks before you go cause you just don't walk into the bank or currency exchange and get Reals. Learn to Samba and love it.
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