Stanley (Photo:jo Crebbin/Shutterstock)
3.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Stanley

Stanley, capital of the Falklands, is the only town in the archipelago of 778 islands and is home to almost 75 percent of the total population of 2,932 people. Its human population is greatly outnumbered by about one million penguins and half a million sheep.

The Falklands are a remote island group in the South Atlantic, about 300 miles east of South America's Patagonian coast. They cover about 4,700 square miles -- roughly the size of Connecticut or half the size of Wales. The landscape is harsh and windswept, boggy and treeless.

The islands are a British Overseas Territory but Argentina claims sovereignty and invaded the islands, which it refers to as Las Malvinas, in 1982. The resultant Falklands War lasted 74 days -- from April 2, with the invasion of South Georgia, until the Argentine surrender on June 14. Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth 2 and P&O's Canberra were among the merchant vessels drafted in as a troop carrier and hospital ship. In total, 255 British military personnel, 649 Argentines, and three Falkland Islanders were killed during the conflict. Argentina still maintains its claims to the islands and a garrison of about 1,300 U.K. military personnel and civil servants is stationed there. In a referendum held in March 2013, 99.8 percent of voters declared they wished to remain under British rule.

The island receives about 40 visits a year from medium and large-sized cruise ships and is on the itineraries of a number of smaller expedition vessels. The five-month season runs from early November to the end of March. Ships anchor some way off shore and tender passengers to a jetty in Port Stanley. High winds and rough seas can occasionally prevent landings. It comes as little surprise to learn that the harbour and surrounding waters contain more 19th century shipwrecks than anywhere else in the world -- 20 are visible from the town at low tide.

Cruise ship excursion teams are anxious to warn passengers not to stray from well-trodden paths because of unexploded mines left over from 1982, though here have been no recorded cases of any civilians being injured by mines.

About Stanley


Pro

See five species of penguins while checking a remote locale off your bucket list

Con

High winds and rough seas can easily cancel your port call; island still has unexploded land mines

Bottom Line

Though Stanley doesn't offer a ton of activities, it's worth a visit for the bragging rights


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Where You're Docked

After a 15 to 20-minute tender ride, passengers disembark at the jetty, a few steps from the visitor centre in the middle of the waterfront.

Good to Know

The weather. Falkland islanders may boast their climate is milder than you might expect, but it can get windy, cold, and wet -- very quickly. Be prepared for four seasons in one day and don't get caught without waterproofs or you could soon be scurrying back to the ship. Look out for lamb -- in sandwiches or roast lunches. If you're eating ashore, then eat local rather than running up food miles with the frozen meals lined up in Stanley's busy West Store supermarket.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The Falklands pound is on a par with U.K. sterling. Souvenir shops and cafes accept pounds and dollars. Credit cards are accepted by most establishments in Stanley, although rarely outside the town.

Language

Resolutely English. There's one red telephone box on the jetty and more at the post office; motorists drive on the left.

Shopping

Penguins (see also Don't Miss, below). You can't take a real one home, but there are countless opportunities for penguin souvenirs in all shapes and sizes. The Visitor Centre is packed with racks of T-shirts, sweats, hoodies and caps bearing the tourist board logo of six penguins in a row. Souvenir stores on Ross Road are packed with penguin-themed gifts from tea sets to trinkets, pictures to pencils, and from coasters to Christmas decorations. The Jane Healey range of decorated chinaware at The Harbour View Gift shop is actually quite classy.