Woman sat on the edge of a pool in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Editorial Team

Author

Explore these destinations and more on Aurora’s long cruises. She’ll embark on a 65-night cruise to South America in 2025 and a 75-night Amazon and Caribbean Discovery cruise in 2026.

Brazil

Beautiful, vibrant and diverse, Brazil wows at every turn. Rio de Janeiro is the country’s cultural capital, with more than its fair share of iconic sights: to start, stand at the feet of the 30-metre-tall Christ the Redeemer statue or take the cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain for spectacular views.


‘I didn’t need the alarm to be out on deck early as the sun burnt off the mist to reveal Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer’, say Susan Kershaw, who booked Aurora’s 65-night South American 2023 Grand Tour with her husband Garry to escape the British winter and experience new cultures. ‘We booked a tour of Rio with four other couples from the cruise, which included visiting the statue where we enjoyed absolutely awesome views of the city below. As Aurora departed, we had a romantic dinner at an outside table in The Beach House so we could experience the final views as we sailed away.’

 

Compared to raucous Rio, Buzios feels positively quaint. Once a fishing village, the elegant seaside resort town and its abundance of beaches was put on the map in the 1960s by actress Brigitte Bardot. Today, it’s a haven of resorts and an escape for glamourous Brazilian holidaymakers. 

Peru

The cruise port of Callao is the gateway to the modern, eclectic metropolis of Lima, a city set dramatically on the Pacific coast and adjacent to the mighty Andes. Lima’s old town is full of historical and architectural wonders, but it’s far from a relic. Wander its streets and discover colourful art and a sensational culinary scene: the city is considered South America’s food capital, a crossroads for European, South American and Japanese cooking.

 

This is also your jumping-off point for some of the most incredible travel experiences on the planet – you can tee up an overnight trip to the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu or the ecological wonders of Galapagos.

Top shore experience recommendation

Overland to Machu Picchu

Take this opportunity to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and take a three-night overland tour into Peru. This fascinating, high-altitude trip takes you through cities, cultures ancient and modern, and to one of the New Seven Wonders. Visit the World Heritage Site of Cusco and Machu Picchu before flying to Ecuador to re-join the ship.

Lima, Peru
Lima, Peru
Lima, Peru
Lima, Peru

Chile

Stretching 4,300 kilometres north to south down the Pacific coast, Chile has huge variation in climate, geography, and culture. In Punta Arenas near the country’s southern tip, you’ll find the rugged scenery of the Patagonian landscape.

 

San Antonio, mid-way up, is the gateway to the bustling city of Santiago, as well as some unforgettable experiences on shore:

"On our first day here we visited the coastal city of Valparaiso, we had a wine tasting trip booked at the Casas del Bosque vineyard, which has fabulous gardens and wildlife. The second day we stayed local and went into San Antonio, where we saw sea lions and seals playing in the ocean and on the rocks."

Susan and Garry, travelled on Aurora in 2023

Further north near the port of Coquimbo is the Elqui Valley, a narrow valley with a fertile strip of land in the middle of the Andean mountain desert where the air is astoundingly clear and pisco grapes are grown – try the local tipple, a neat pisco brandy, or opt for a classic pisco sour cocktail.

 

The Chilean scenery you’ll cruise by is unforgettable – few seafaring experiences are more awe-inspiring than sailing around Cape Horn and the Magellan Straits or soaking up the sights of the Beagle Channel.

Elqui Pisco Valley, Coquimbo, Chile.
Elqui Pisco Valley, Coquimbo, Chile.
Elqui Pisco Valley, Coquimbo, Chile.
Elqui Pisco Valley, Coquimbo, Chile.

Mexico

From its days as an escape for Hollywood’s rich and famous in the 1970s to its world-class resorts of today, Cabo San Lucas has long drawn visitors looking for relaxation and revelry. But this gem on Baja California’s coast is so much more than a party town. Its position where the Pacific Ocean becomes the Gulf of California gives it a spectacularly rugged and beautiful coastline. Take to the waters to spot sea-bathing sealions and distinctive arched rock formations, including Land’s End.

 

South-east of Cancun, in the Caribbean Sea, is the divers’ paradise island of Cozumel. Sitting on the second biggest coral reef in the world, it’s a destination popular with divers, snorkellers and lovers of marine life. It’s also a draw for lovers of history: you’ll find Mayan ruins at San Gervasio and El Caracol, and the ruins of Chichén Itzá can be reached a few hours in on the mainland.

Top shore experience recommendation

Three Reef Snorkel

Take to Cozumel’s crystal-clear waters and snorkel among three thriving coral reefs. Beneath the island’s sparkling Caribbean seas, there are showstopping reefs, teeming with tropical marine life. Enjoy a breezy boat ride to the famous Paradise Hallow Reef, get your snorkelling kit on and explore an exceptionally beautiful underwater world with a kaleidoscopic array of fish. Paradise Reef was one of Jacques Cousteau’s favourites. Just 200 yards from shore, it’s home to green turtles, sea fans, schools of angelfish and yellowtail. If you have an underwater camera, bring it along. Dazzling coral gardens roll out beneath you at Dzul Ha Reef. Spot lobsters and crabs scuttling below and watch for graceful rays gliding by.

Diving in Cozumel, Mexico
Diving in Cozumel, Mexico
Diving in Cozumel, Mexico
Diving in Cozumel, Mexico

Costa Rica

With about a quarter of its jungles and mountains protected, Costa Rica is famous for the extraordinary richness of its biodiversity. Hummingbirds, toucans, parrots, sloths and jaguars all abound – in fact, there are more than half a million different species of wildlife and flora compared to only 70,000 in the UK. The cruise port of Puerto Limón is close to incredible nature reserves where expert guides can help you spot notable animals and plants. The country is also covered with beautiful mountain trails that allow for spectacular hikes and, on some, the chance to bathe in a crystal-clear waterfall pool.

Uruguay

Sandwiched between two giants – Argentina and Brazil – Uruguay’s location means it is often overlooked. While it might be the second smallest country in South America, it’s all relative – it’s still five times bigger than the Netherlands. The country has much to offer visitors, from a verdant interior to stunning Atlantic beaches and beautiful Art Deco architecture in the capital, Montevideo.

 

‘We had an overnight stay in Montevideo on our trip,’ say Susan and Garry. ‘On the first day we went out of the city into the countryside to sample some of the famous wines grown there. Local homemade food was brought out, and we sampled four different wines and a white port.’

 

Travel east from Montevideo and you’ll hit popular beach resorts such as Piriápolis and Punta del Este, while the road west leads to the UNESCO-listed colonial city of Colonia del Sacramento and the mouth of the mighty Río de la Plata.

Plaza Independencia (Independence Square) in Montevideo, Uruguay
Plaza Independencia (Independence Square) in Montevideo, Uruguay
Plaza Independencia (Independence Square) in Montevideo, Uruguay
Plaza Independencia (Independence Square) in Montevideo, Uruguay

Panama Canal

When it comes to bucket-list experiences, cruising through the Panama Canal is likely to be near the top.

 

When the 65-kilometre-long canal opened in 1914, it transformed the world, cutting more than three weeks off the average journey from the Atlantic side’s Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean’s Gulf of Panama and vice versa. Today, the canal comprises a system of two independent transit lanes with a combined total of 12 locks. If water levels allow, up to 40 ships can pass through the canal each day, navigating a series of locks that elevate and lower vessels by 26 metres.

 

Depending on the cruise, our ships will perform either a full transit (taking in Miraflores Locks, Pedro Miguel Locks, Gaillard Cut and Gatun Locks) or a partial transit, which typically negotiates the canal from Colón on the Caribbean side to the Gatun Lake, where your ship is lifted 26 metres to the level of the lake.

Panama Canal
Panama Canal
Panama Canal
Panama Canal

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