Travel Story: South America On Oceania Cruises Ship, Sirena
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
South America was always one of those exotic destinations we wanted to visit and for a while it wasn't the easiest of places to go from Australia, the launch of Air New Zealand's Auckland to Buenos Aires route changed that and gave us the ability to hop across the ditch to Auckland from Australia's east coast and fly direct to South America. When we booked the flights Air New Zealand was a Virgin Australia partner which meant we would earn points, however that partnership ended before we went on this trip. As Air New Zealand is a Star Alliance Partner we instead used our Singapore Airlines Kris Flyer account to earn points, after the trip we then transferred those points from Kris Flyer back to Virgin's Velocity program. We had booked this cruise while we were travelling the mediterranean on another cruise with Oceania Cruises. Oceania offers exclusive discounts for booking a new cruise whilst on a cruise plus on board credit on your new cruise and an on board credit for the cruise you are currently on. And just in case your still not sure they have a pricing guarantee which means if the price drops between when you book and the sailing date they will refund you the difference so all good reasons for booking whilst on board. Oceania uses their smaller ships for the South American itineraries and on this cruise it was their newest addition to the fleet Sirena.
Day 1: Buenos Aires, Argentina - Buenos Aires Grand Tour
Last night we arrived in Buenos Aires after our excellent business class flight with Air New Zealand and headed straight to the ship for a quick meal and a good nights sleep after our long journey. This morning we boarded our coach for the Buenos Aires Grand Tour which we had booked through the ship, first we visited Evita's Mausoleum and then the colourful precinct of La Boca in the city where the buildings have all been painted in bright colours. We then headed out of the city for a delta river cruise where we stopped at Gato Blanco a local restaurant on an island and had a traditional Argentinian BBQ lunch, accompanied with local beer and wine of course, the food and drinks were very good as was the river cruise and tour in general.
Day 2: Montevideo, Uruguay - City & Wine Tasting Tour
Today the ship arrived in Montevideo after a short overnight hop across the extremely wide river mouth of the Rio de La Plata where we boarded our coach for our City & Wine Tasting Tour which we had booked through the ship. First we headed in to the the CBD to visit the Plaza Independencia (Independence Plaza) and then we headed on a coach tour down the coast to see the beautiful seaside suburbs, resorts, the cities stadiums and the legislative parliament building. After our tour around the city the bus headed out of town to the country where we visited South America's oldest winery Juanico where they provided us with a traditional Uruguayan lunch with wine tasting. As an added bonus they arranged for two tango dancers to do a show for us after lunch, the food, wine and show were fantastic and we even took a case of wine back to the ship with us to enjoy back on board.
Day 3: Montevideo, Uruguay - Exploring On Foot
Today was our second day in Montevideo, we were due to arrive in the port of Punta Del Este today but the captain made the decision last night to stay in Montevideo as the wind was too strong in Punta Del Este for the ship to dock. As our plans had been cancelled we headed out to explore Montevideo on foot. There is some really beautiful architecture in this city with a lot of Spanish and European influence, unfortunately many buildings are in various states of disrepair but they are still beautiful to look at. The city has many public squares in amongst the buildings and you would be forgiven for thinking you were in Barcelona as it certainly has that feel. In one of the squares they were filming a movie as we passed, not sure which movie it was but you never know we may be a film extra and not know it! As the ship departed at lunchtime we decided to spend the afternoon on the pool deck relaxing with a good book and a few cocktails.
Days 4&5: Rio Grande, Brazil - Cancelled Port & Sea Day
On day four of our trip the ship docked in Rio Grande, Brazil. Unfortunately as it turns out it was a public holiday which meant that the dockworkers, immigration officers and police were not working. As there was nothing open due to the public holiday the ships officers did not recommend we get off the ship for two reasons, the first was there was nothing open and the second being that as the police were not working that day they could not guarantee our safety. So based on that the ship departed again and we had an extra sea day to add to our itinerary. We spent the sea days doing French wine tastings, lazing by the pool and also getting massages at the day spa. In the evening we got invited to a private party in one of the ships owners suites by one of the lovely couples we met on the winery tour in Montevideo. The owners suites on the ship are enormous complete with grand piano and as part of staying in these suites you get a private butler and pianist as well as a full catering staff when you host a party in your suite. It was a fun night filled with lots of good food, wine and laughter.
Day 6: Porto Bello, Brazil - Historic Blumenau Tour
Today we arrived in the beautiful seaside resort town of Porto Bello where we tendered ashore and boarded our coach for our tour to Blumenau which we booked through the ship. This particular town in Brazil is where many Germans settled after the first and second world wars and the towns architecture is supposed to reflect the towns German heritage. To be honest after doing this tour we have to say that we were disappointed with Blumenau as they don't tell you prior to doing the tour that most of the historic buildings were lost when the river flooded in the 1980's so there are only two original buildings to see in the German style left standing. As part of our tour we were taken to a restaurant in a tourist area which has been created in the German style so people can get an idea of what the town used to look like, it was very colourful but felt a lot like a theme park. We had buffet style lunch which was ok but not great and then following lunch we wandered around the tourist area and then boarded the coach to head back to the ship. All in all it was a disappointing tour, if we were to do it over again we would probably of spent our time in Porto Bello rather than head inland to Blumenau as Porto Bello is a really pretty little town.
Day 7: Santos, Brazil - Sao Paulo City Tour
Today we arrived in to the port of Santos where we had booked a tour through the ship to visit Sao Paulo. We boarded a coach for the two hour drive inland to Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil. It was an incredible drive as Sao Paulo is located 760m above sea level on the top of a mountainous plateau, the roads are built on viaducts over the jungle below and heads through many tunnels as well. Once in Sao Paulo we did a bus tour of the city and visited the Brazilian Gallery of Modern Art, followed by lunch at Estio a Brazilian BBQ restaurant where we had an absolute meat feast with local beer. After lunch we reboarded the coach to head on the 2 hour drive back to the ship, the tour and lunch were good although we would of loved to of had some time to walk around Sao Paulo.
Day 8: Paraty, Brazil - 4WD Rainforest Tour & Exploring On Foot
Today the ship anchored in the bay off of Paraty, a historical Portuguese town. After tendering from the ship we jumped in our guides 4WD to head out of town to the rainforest and also to a distillery to try the local Brazilian spirit Cachaca which is made from sugar cane grown in this region. We booked this tour through the ship, the cachaca and waterfalls were good but nowhere near as good as this amazing little historic town. This town is arguably one of the only remaining examples of historic Portuguese architecture in Brazil and it is definitely a must see. The colourful buildings are under threat from rising sea levels but the locals get around this by putting wooden planks across the street from sidewalk to sidewalk so you can cross the roads at high tide without getting your feet wet. We also headed to the beach to sit back and relax with a local beer. This stop has definitely been the best so far and we would love to come back here and stay for a few days, if you get the chance to see Paraty definitely do so before the sea reclaims this incredible piece of history.
Day 9: Ilha Grande, Brazil - Schooner Snorkelling Adventure
Today we anchored in the bay of Ilha Grande where we had booked a schooner snorkelling adventure tour through the ship. We boarded a local schooner straight off the ship and headed to blue lagoon to do some snorkelling with fish and sea turtles, we were then taken to Praia de Fora a nearby beach where we relaxed with some beach time. We also tried the local cocktail a Caprinha which is made from the spirit we tried yesterday Cachaca. After the tour we were taken to Vila do Abraao the main resort town on the island where we did some exploring on foot before boarding a tender back to the ship. It was one of the best days so far on this cruise.
Day 10: Buzios, Brazil - Another Schooner Snorkelling Adventure
Today the ship anchored in Buzios an island resort town where we tendered ashore to board our schooner for another snorkelling adventure booked through the ship, you cant come to this region which is arguably the most beautiful part of Brazil and not take every opportunity to check out the wildlife. We headed to two local dive spots where we saw lots of fish and more sea turtles and then after returning to the town we explored on foot and headed to a local waterfront bar to try the local beer and food. Although Buzios is a beautiful place it is very crowded compared to Ilha Grande as this is where the ferry's depart for the mainland so there were lots of tourists around compared to yesterday.
Day 11: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil - Best of Rio City Tour
Today the ship docked in Rio our final stop for this cruise, we headed ashore and boarded our coach for our Best of Rio Tour booked through the ship. First our guide took us to sugar loaf mountain where the views of Rio were spectacular, we then headed along Copacabana, and Ipanema beaches filled with people then past the notorious favelas to a local restaurant where we had our final Brazilian BBQ for this trip. By this stage of the trip we were a little over all the BBQ meats but it was a good way to end the cruise. After lunch we headed up to see the statue of Christ The Redeemer before returning back to the ship to pack our bags and to attend the farewell dinner with the friends we had made during the cruise as this was our last night on board.
Day 12: Rio, Brazil - Disembarkation & Flight Home
After saying our final farewells to everyone we boarded the coach to head to the airport for our flight home to Australia with Air New Zealand via Buenos Aires and Auckland. We enjoyed our cruise in South America especially Paraty and Ilha Grande in Brazil and would highly recommend Oceania's South American cruises to anyone interested in travelling to this part of the world. We would have loved to have had a little more time to explore Rio on foot and if we were to do it again we would have added an extra nights stay in Rio. So that ends this travel story, if you have any questions about this trip feel free to comment on the blog, Until next time!
Want More Information?
If you would like more information about Oceania Cruises destinations, staterooms, dining options and fares you can visit their website www.oceaniacruises.com
For more information about Air New Zealand's services you can visit their website www.airnewzealand.com.au
About The Author
Rob has been passionate about cruise ship holidays and exploring the world since the first cruise he went on when he was only seven years old. Since then Rob who is a Photographer and his partner Mike of 18 years have travelled the world on over 25 cruises with over 10 different cruise lines visiting every continent across the globe as well as many remote tropical islands along the way. In addition to cruise holidays they enjoy relaxing at beach side holiday resorts and first/business class air travel as well as transcontinental rail journeys. Between them both Robert and Michael have worked out the best way to maximise frequent flyer reward points allowing them to travel first/business class at economy class prices or in some cases travelling first/business class for free.