Turmoil in South America

January 3, 2002
At the height of cruise lines' South American season -- this being summer in the southern Hemisphere -- the recent turmoil in Argentina, particularly in Buenos Aires, is causing cruise lines to watch that port of call carefully. Still, despite occasionally violent demonstrations and ever-changing leadership, cruise lines like Princess and Holland America report they have made scheduled stops in Buenos Aires and all shore excursions and sightseeing expeditions occurred as planned. According to Holland America’s Erik Elvejord, “we stopped there a few days ago and everything was quiet. Shore excursions went as scheduled.” The only difference on the two-day call, he says, was that passengers “didn’t wander out at night maybe as much as they night have.” Adds Elvejord, “Our position is to monitor the safety issues for our passengers in case anything comes up. But our plans are to go back. There is (right now) no indication from our end that there will be a problem but we are being cautious and careful about having contingency plans right now. Princess Cruises’ Denise Seomin reports that the line is taking a similar approach. “At this time, we have not altered the South America itinerary for Royal Princess. So, as of today, she will still be calling in Buenos Aires. We are, however, monitoring the situation very closely.” In the meantime, the U.S. Department of State has issued a public announcement on travel to Argentina, saying that while demonstrations and security issues have largely receded in the capital, Americans should monitor media reports and simply exercise common-sense caution: “Avoid large public gatherings, as sporadic demonstrations or riots could pose a risk to those who may be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There have been no reports of injuries to U.S. citizens, and demonstrations and looting have not been specifically aimed at foreign visitors or residents. Travelers should be aware that public disorder may also affect medical services, access to banking and ATM machines, as well as to airline and other public transportation, and possibly limit free movement. In addition, Argentine government economic regulations and local bank cash shortages occasionally limit a traveler's ability to withdraw funds from ATM machines.”