Set sail aboard Vantage Deluxe World Travel's 5-star Ocean Explorer on this small ship ocean cruise. This diverse, new-for-2023 itinerary gets you closer to the rich cultures and unique charms of three countries - Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil - letting you savor the sights, sounds, and flavors of this beautiful continent. You’ll witness unparalleled wildlife in the Amazon, fall in love with the charm of Uruguay, immerse yourself in the history and traditions of Carnival, and visit iconic sites throughout your journey along the southeastern coastline of South America.
Start in Buenos Aires, where you’ll enjoy a tantalizing UNESCO-designated private tango performance. You’ll go behind the scenes of Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous Carnival with an exclusive peek at the extravagant floats and a private samba lesson. Fish for exotic piranha in Santarem’s Lake Maica. And get swept away by the picturesque beauty of Ilhabela during a private sailing excursion as you sip on a caipirinha. From lush, dense jungle to modern, cosmopolitan cities, South America is a study in contrasts, and this is your moment to experience the conviviality and history of this famed region on a luxury small ship journey.
With 17 included features and 10 Cultural Discoveries – including four UNESCO World Heritage experiences – this South America small ship cruise is sure to enchant and inspire you. You’ll also explore off the beaten path, thanks to the small size of Vantage Travel’s state-of-the-art Ocean Explorer. Guided by an expert Cruise Director, you’ll enjoy enlightening lectures onboard and immersive excursions ashore. Our ship’s small size also lets you navigate to exclusive ports larger ships can’t reach, with some tendering where you will be required to have the physical agility to maneuver getting on and off of tenders/Zodiac boats.
This elegant ship and its amenities will also keep you pampered and relaxed throughout your journey. This luxury vessel offers gourmet dining, free beer and wine with dinner, complimentary Wi-Fi, Deluxe spa, gym, and spacious staterooms, most with private balconies. As the leader in solo travel, Vantage has created exclusive Solo Connections events on board and shoreside experiences — plus, a landmark 15 solo cabins onboard and FREE Single Supplements for independent explorers. Our dedicated and professional guides will help you encounter a more intimate side of South America than you ever imagined, along with comfort and luxury that is unmatched.
Before your South American exploration, why not cross a few incredible natural wonders off your bucket list and add another country to your passport? Travel to spectacular Iguassu Falls National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of 275 thundering falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina. Second in size only to Victoria Falls, this series of cataracts once prompted Eleanor Roosevelt to take pity on her country’s most famous falls, saying “Poor Niagara!” as she gazed upon mighty Iguassu. All the falls are impressive, but the most spectacular is the Devil’s Throat, the 2,300-foot-long spectacle that separates Argentina and Brazil.
Depart home and fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina
Your journey begins! Today, board an overnight flight from your home city to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Or, depart earlier for your pre-trip extension to Iguassu Falls, Brazil.
Arrive in Buenos Aires
Welcome to Argentina! If you purchased your airfare or transfer from Vantage, upon arrival in Buenos Aires, a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located hotel. Settle in and enjoy a brief orientation walk in the historic center near your hotel. This evening, you’ll join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception and Dinner.
No visit to Buenos Aires would be complete without a little taste of the Argentine tango. Originating in the Rio de la Plata region in the 1880s – and merging influences from African, European, and indigenous cultures – the tango is so intrinsically woven into the fabric of Argentina’s cultural identity that it was designated as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the World by UNESCO in 2009. Tonight, you will enjoy a private professional tango performance during dinner at your hotel, giving you a firsthand demonstration of Argentina’s most passionate dance.
Discover the best of Buenos Aires
The richly cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires feels a lot like Europe — graced with splendid architecture and a hint of glamour. But its spirit is distinctly Argentine.
A city tour reveals its most magnificent sites. Visit the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada, La Boca (a neighborhood full of colorfully painted homes), and the neoclassical Catedral Metropolitana, the church home of Pope Francis.
Discover the pleasures of polo in Argentina and embark the Ocean Explorer
Today you will be introduced to Argentina’s rich polo culture. The country is known for its champion polo players, and you’ll learn about the sport’s rich history and tradition during an excursion to an estancia (ranch) in the Argentinean Pampas, the vast lowland plains. At a renowned polo ranch, you’ll learn about the sport and horses, and witness some impressive horsemanship during a private exhibition of two chukkers. You’ll also enjoy a delicious barbecue lunch. Afterwards, you’ll embark the elegant Ocean Explorer and set off to your next destination. While some ports on this small ship cruise will require us to anchor offshore and board a tender to reach the shore, in Buenos Aires the ship will be docked in the port, allowing you to easily walk aboard.
After checking in to your stateroom, head to the lounge and grab a drink with your fellow travelers as you toast to the new experiences that await you on your journey. The Ocean Explorer’s luxury amenities, elegant design, and attentive service ensure an unparalleled experience as you set sail on your South America cruise today.
Uncover the international spirit of Montevideo
This morning you’ll arrive in Montevideo, Uruguay, consistently ranked at the top of “quality of life” lists among Latin American cities. Get acquainted with the vibrant and sophisticated cultural capital on a far-reaching city tour that takes in the major monuments, parks, and gardens. At Independence Square, begin a walking tour that features the cathedral, City Hall, the Government House, and the renowned Teatro Solís. Then, drive along the celebrated 18 de Julio Avenue, stopping to view the Legislative Palace, built with 52 types of local marble and 12 different kinds of wood. Continue to El Prado, an elegant neighborhood of sprawling botanical gardens and colonial mansions. At the Plaza Virgilio, enjoy sweeping views of the city.
Spend the remainder of the day exploring on your own. Perhaps you’ll walk to Plaza Cagancha and stop at Mercado de los Artesanos – or Craftsmen Market – to pick out a souvenir amid the swirl of local art and handcrafted goods. Alternatively, your onboard Concierge can help you set up a tour catered to your interests.
Lifestyles of the rich and famous in Punta del Este
Known for its resort style and well-heeled visitors, Punta del Este is the jewel of Uruguay at the wide mouth of Rio de la Plata. Today, we’ll anchor off the coast of this posh resort town and you will board a tender inland, then set out on a scenic panoramic tour through tiny residential neighborhoods and past stunning beaches. Stop to visit Casapueblo, the self-built curvilinear home and studio of the late artist Carlos Paez Vilaro perched on a cliffside overlooking the Atlantic. A picturesque coastal road will lead you back to the pier.
Enjoy two days at sea along the Brazilian coast
The indulgent amenities of the Ocean Explorer, your South America small ship, are yours to explore as we sail along the beautiful coastline of Brazil, South America’s largest country. Lounge on sun deck with a cocktail and a bestselling book. Get your heart racing with a cardio workout at the gym or indulge in a soothing treatment at the onboard luxury spa. The days are yours to spend at leisure, whatever you choose to do.
During mealtimes, savor incredible culinary creations – inspired by the regional flavors of the destinations you’ll visit and thoughtfully prepared by your skilled onboard chefs – with the picturesque beauty of the Brazilian coastline and the Atlantic Forest as a backdrop. In the evening, head up to the Observation Deck for a post-dinner cocktail accompanied by magnificent stargazing.
Panoramic schooner sailing in Ilhabela
Today, we will anchor offshore and board a tender into Ilhabela, the largest island in the country and known as the sailing capital of Brazil. Long before attracting visitors with its charm, this was a popular destination for pirates and buccaneers who used its bays and canals for shelter. You’ll have the opportunity to sail the day away aboard a two-masted schooner. The unspoiled beauty of this island, with its numerous waterfalls and immeasurable flora and fauna, will take your breath away as you motor through the São Sebastião Channel. You’ll head towards Pereque Beach and its downtown area as your guide regales you with fascinating stories about this captivating locale as you sip on caipirinha, the country’s national cocktail.
Visit the lush paradise of Ilha Grande
Arrive this morning — via tender — on the lush shores of Ilha Grande, or Big Island, the largest of a breathtaking archipelago of 360 islands dotting the Bay of Kings. This largely unspoiled paradise — named a new UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019 and free of vehicles and other signs of civilization — is today ringed by sand beaches and blanketed in forest and palms. You’ll join your guide for a walk into Abraão Village, stopping at the San Sebastião church. Then, follow the footpaths into the woodlands of the state park, hearing tales of the island’s buccaneer days and its once-prosperous coffee and sugar barons. Keep your eyes and ears open for howler monkeys, sloths, and countless birds. There’ll be time for a refreshing swim at Black Beach in the natural pools of an aqueduct.
After lunch, learn what cultural and historic treasures await during an onboard lecture. Enjoy the afternoon pampering yourself with a spa treatment. Dinner tonight is on board.
Explore the best of Rio de Janeiro
Today you’ll visit Brazil’s 19th UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Rio de Janeiro. You’ll get up close to its most iconic landmark as you ascend to the spectacular Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain. The 124-foot soapstone figure has an arm span of 98 feet. Then, visit the cathedral and admire its modernist design inspired by Mayan pyramids, before heading to the beach for sun and surf. The rest of the afternoon is yours to spend as you wish.
Brazil’s cuisine is as diverse and exciting as the country itself and, this evening, you will enjoy dinner at a local steakhouse, also known as a churrascaria. Servers will come to your table with skewers of perfectly prepared meats and slice them directly from the skewer as you watch. This style of dining is known as rodizio and is a much-loved part of Brazilian dining.
After dinner you’ll attend a samba show featuring professional local performers. The history of samba in Brazil is believed to date back to the 17th century and is considered by many to be the soul of the country. The word “samba” is thought to be derived from the Kimbundu term semba, which means “invitation to dance,” and you’re invited to witness this lively, colorful dance for yourself before heading back to the Ocean Explorer.
Get an insider’s samba lesson in Rio de Janeiro
For the four states (Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Bahia, and Pernambuco) that go big in Carnival, samba is much more than music. It’s about culture, heritage, dance, and history. The tradition of Carnival in Rio dates back to 1723 and today you’ll get an inside look into the history of this epic event, considered by many to be the biggest in the world. You’ll partake in an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the warehouse where the extravagant parade floats are stored and learn about the ins and outs of the construction process. Your tour includes a private samba lesson, where you’ll learn about the types of costumes worn by the performers, how they are made, and the significance of each. You’ll even have an opportunity to try on a few and have your photo taken while wearing them. You’ll conclude your behind-the-scenes tour with a private samba lesson where you’ll get to show off your fancy footwork!
In the afternoon, you’ll visit Sugarloaf Mountain, a landmark overlooking Rio and the entrance of Guanabara Bay. At the base of this conical peak sits the São João Fortress. Built over a span of 262 years, from 1602 to 1864, the site is now a museum still used by the Brazilian army.
The best of Búzios’ beaches
This morning you’ll board a tender into the buzzing resort town of Armação dos Búzios, a destination favored by glamorous jetsetters the world over. Made famous by French actress Brigitte Bardot when she visited in 1964, this little fishing village has transformed into the St. Tropez of South America. With more than 23 beaches gracing this peninsular region, it is the place for members of high society to be seen. On an included tour by open-air trolley, you’ll see many of these beaches for yourself, including the wild and scenic Brava Beach, the pink sands of Forno Beach, and the unique rock formations of Point Lagoinha — known as the Brazilian Himalayas. There’ll be time to linger and to swim if you wish, after which you may browse the posh shops downtown.
Make the most of the many amenities and activities on board during these two days of leisure aboard the luxurious 5-star Ocean Explorer. Take part in a meditative yoga class. The hot tub is a perfect place to relax and take in the passing scenery. Or head to the gym for a heart-pumping workout as you take in the views of the Brazilian coastline. The Latitude Bar & Lounge is the perfect place for a pre-dinner cocktail with new friends, before making your way to the lavish Main Dining Room to savor incredible culinary creations perfectly prepared by your onboard chefs. After dinner, make your way to the Observation Deck for magnificent stargazing and relive your favorite moments of your trip so far.
Cultural charm in Recife
Spend time getting to know the Brazilian city of Recife, which has a long, rich history, dating back to its founding by the Portuguese in 1537. Today’s excursion will take you on a scenic drive through Old Recife before stopping at Republic Square where you’ll see the Governor’s Palace, Justice Hall, and St. Isabel Theater. Next, you’ll be taken to the historic town center of Olinda, a UNESCO World Heritage Site populated with dozens of centuries-old churches and colonial homes. Visit local artisans and shop for handcrafted items before heading to your next stop, São Bento Monastery. Enjoy a choir performance at the 17th-century baroque-style Capela Dourada – the Golden Chapel – and stroll down the hill to see colorful homes and Casa de Cultura, a former prison that has been converted into a market for local handicrafts. You’ll return to your ship in the afternoon.
Explore the beautiful beaches and culture of Natal
Natal means “Christmas” in Portuguese, and the time you’ll spend exploring this culturally rich and diverse city will certainly feel like a gift. You’ll start the day with a visit to Ribeira, where you will become acquainted with the history of the area, before heading downtown, where you’ll stop at the Governor’s Palace and the mayor’s office. Next, you’ll pass scenic Ponta Negra on the way to Pirangi Beach, where you’ll visit the world’s largest cashew tree. So named by the Guinness Book of Records, this astonishing behemoth spans almost 86,000 square feet and produces approximately 80,000 cashews every harvest. After the beach you’ll visit Fortaleza dos Reis Magos, a star-shaped Portuguese fortress dating back to the 16th century, before heading back to your ship in the afternoon.
Enjoy four blissful days at sea
Treat yourself to more of the Ocean Explorer’s amenities as you cruise around the easternmost coast of Brazil. Take advantage of this time to read a book from our onboard library, enjoy a drink with fellow travelers at the top-deck bar, try your hand at the ancient art of hot-rock cooking in our onboard restaurant, or ask for a tour of the bridge. Practice self-care with a visit to the full-service hair salon or center yourself with a yoga class.
At mealtimes, our skilled chefs will continue to amaze you with their culinary expertise. After dinner, head to the Observation Lounge for panoramic views of the picturesque coastline. Spend time with your fellow travelers and relive the highlights of your luxurious journey through South America as you recount stories of all the new discoveries and experiences you’ve enjoyed.
One of the highlights of your South America small ship cruise is an exclusive Equator Crossing Ceremony. This long-standing maritime tradition is meant to commemorate a person’s first time crossing the Equator. Also known as equatorial baptism, the tradition dates back several centuries, and signifies an initiation into the court of King Neptune, the mythological Roman god of the sea. It is a unique highlight of any sailing that crosses the Equator, and one you will remember for a lifetime.
Piranha fishing and a nature cruise out of Santarém
Arrive today in Santarém, Brazil, nicknamed “The Amazonian Caribbean” for its 60 miles of white-sand beaches. Spend the morning on a spectacular on an Amazon River cruise, to learn how locals fish for the notorious piranha. You’ll head downriver on a small boat to witness the Meeting of Waters, where the Amazon and the Tapajόs rivers converge. You’ll soon arrive at Lake Maica, home to abundant wildlife, where your captain will cut the motor so you can cast a line into the water in the hopes of catching and releasing a piranha. Or you can just sit back and take in the lush flora and plentiful fauna of the Amazon.
This small group excursion is one you won’t soon forget! Explore the immensely biodiverse environment of the Amazon on a kayaking adventure! Led by knowledgeable and experienced Expedition Leaders, you will go to places that Zodiac boats can’t reach. These unique excursions let you experience the flora and fauna of the Amazon in a responsible way. Tours take place with only two individuals per kayak, making your discoveries even more intimate. This optional tour is perfect for adventurous adults. Participants must possess the appropriate fitness level and previous kayaking experience is a plus. You must read the Kayaking Preparation Notes and the Kayaking Terms and Conditions, and complete the Kayaking Participation Statement in order to confirm your spot on the tour. Download the Kayaking Participation Statement form here.
A medical declaration for this journey must be completed and submitted to the ship’s doctor upon embarkation. Download the Medical Form here.
*Optional kayak excursions are offered in place of regular excursions. The number of available excursions will depend on itinerary and weather conditions.
Please note: This optional tour is available for pre-booking only. All guests must complete a medical declaration and submit it to the ship's doctor upon embarkation. Reservations will close 30 days prior to departure. All prices are per person and subject to change. All optional tours are offered by Vantage Deluxe World Travel. Descriptions and scheduling are subject to change. Minimum tour participation is required to operate optional tours. Optional tours cancelled by passengers within 48 hours of the excursion are non-refundable.
Get to know Parintins
Continue taking in the Amazon’s splendor as you visit Parintins. Located just west of Santarém, this town is renowned for its Parintins Folklore Festival, which is second only to Carnival. Today, we’ll anchor offshore and you will board a tender inland, where you’ll explore this municipality, which is known for its rich biodiversity. Because of its central location in the Amazon, you’ll discover its riverside beaches along the Uaicurapá and the Amazon rivers during low tide.
Starting outside the port, you’ll get to know this incredible province, including Caprichoso Boi, Liberty Square, and Bumbódromo — where the annual festival is held. With a tricycle tour of Parintins you’ll have the opportunity to interact with locals.
Disembark the Ocean Explorer and discover Manaus
Arrive in Manaus this morning and bid farewell to the Ocean Explorer. Manaus is known as the Paris of the Tropics, owing to its great economic and social growth during the era of the Amazon rubber boom. This is the capital of the Amazonas State and the main metropolitan area in the region. Despite its modernization, it remains the heart of the Amazon and the entrance of the Amazon Forest.
You’ll enjoy breakfast onboard before heading out to for a tour of Manaus and a visit to the municipal market, Mercado Adolpho Lisboa. Fashioned after the Les Halles market of Paris in 1882, it is the city’s oldest market and a scintillating way to immerse yourself in the local culture. Cross the street to see how the goods and produce arrive at the market, aboard an armada of boats sailing along the Amazon River. Enjoy a traditional lunch at a local restaurant before checking into your hotel.
Discover Manaus, gateway to the Amazon
You'll enjoy breakfast at your hotel before heading out to explore Manaus at your leisure. Stroll through the streets of downtown Manaus and admire the charming 19th-century mansions inspired by European architecture. You'll have time to do some shopping and enjoy lunch on your own before heading out on a guided tour of Manaus' highlights, including the Manaus Opera House. This stunning vision in pink - an enchanting representation of Rennaisance architecture - is home to the Amazonas Philharmonic and hosts the annual Amazonas Opera Festival.
Following dinner, you will return to your hotel for one more restful evening before returning home.
Fly home today
Today, you will board your return flight to the U.S. Or join an optional post-trip extension to the Amazon Jungle.
When Eleanor Roosevelt first laid eyes on Iguassu Falls, she is famously said to have uttered, “Poor Niagara”! It’s easy to understand what overwhelmed the First Lady. This torrent of water separating Brazil and Argentina plunges over 200-foot-high cliffs in a roaring fury of water. (In fact, Iguaçu translates roughly from the local Tupi-Guarani into “great water.”) Judging from Ms. Roosevelt’s reaction, you’ll want to extend your expedition to view Brazil’s other breathtaking natural wonder. Explore the cataracts from both countries, getting as close to the falls as the spraying mist allows. Join us on this thrilling adventure!
Please Note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.