Latin America updates

By Deanna Palić

by Deanna Palic


Clipper Cruise Line, a division of INTRAV, offers spectacular savings on South American cruises this fall aboard the 122-passenger expedition vessel M/S Clipper Adventurer.

On a space-available basis, the discount offer applies to any Category 1-5 cabins booked on Clipper’s 13-day cruise “Exploring the Route of the Conquistadors” (departing Colón, Panama, on Oct. 16 for Callao, Peru) and the 16-day “Treasures of Western South America” (departing Callao on Oct. 18 for Puerto Montt, Chile).

Through this special offer, guests can receive a 25% savings on individual voyages and more than 40% by combining the two journeys back to back. Special rates for the “Exploring” itinerary start at $3,653 per person, double occupancy, for a Category 1 cabin. For “Treasures,” rates start at $4,185 per person, double. Combined cruise rates start at $6,180 per person, double, for a Category 1 cabin (a savings of more than $4,100 off the full fare for both trips).

In addition, the single supplement for these cruises has been lowered to $500. Call 800/325-0010 or visit

• Luxury cruise specialist Crystal Cruises has announced its 2006 Value Collection sailings, allowing savvy travelers to realize extraordinary savings of up to 50% off regular cruise fares aboard the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

New in 2006, Crystal Society benefits (repeat guest savings and rewards) and onboard bookings discounts are combinable with Value Collection sailings. With fares starting at less than $200 per person per day, the Value Collection includes such itineraries as a 15-day Tampa-to-Los Angeles cruise and a 16-day South American cruise from Buenos Aires to Miami.

The World Cruise, aboard the Crystal Serenity, departs Los Angeles on Jan. 18, 2006, and ends in Miami on April 29. A maiden port call will be Pisco, Peru, and overnight stays in some of South America’s most fascinating cities are featured: Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Ushuaia, Punta Arenas, Manaus and Buenos Aires.

The cruise need not be taken in its entirety; seven separate itineraries are offered. Phone 888/799-4625 or visit


• United Airlines will fly twice a week from Chicago to Liberia in the northern Pacific province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Flights will operate December 2005 through April 2006, the high tourist season. Also serving the area are American Airlines, from Miami; Delta, from Atlanta, Continental, from Houston, and US Airways, from Charlotte.

Prompting United’s decision was the 122% increase in tourism to this region during the last year. Set on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Guanacaste is like a microcosm of Costa Rica. The region started off as cattle ranch territory with its own culture, folk music, traditional clothing, contagious rhythms and literature.

Guanacaste has become a tourist magnet. Several years ago several airline carriers joined with the Four Seasons, Sol Melia and Allegro chains, along with the renovated Occidental Grand Papagayo, to develop the region. A consortium, with American capital, will invest some $200 million in new hotel projects in the province during 2005. Three hotels will be located at the beaches of Carmel, Guacamaya and Zapotal. Hotels will be built by American franchises Rose Word and Crown Plaza.

• Varig Airlines, Brazil’s largest airline and the largest carrier in Latin America, filed for bankruptcy protection in Brazil and the U.S. on June 17. Varig, which at press time had until mid-August to present its creditors and the court with a restructuring plan, said its operations will not be affected by this filing.

Varig is saddled with $4 billion in debt and has been losing domestic market share to low-cost carriers within Brazil. Internationally, Varig still provides the vast majority of service from this country.

• Grupo TACA is promoting “Executive Class for Less” fares to Latin America. For example, Miami to San José, Costa Rica, is $579 including U.S. taxes. Fares do not include local or airport taxes. The last day to purchase is Sept. 15, and travel must be completed by Nov. 15, 2005.


• Travel & Leisure, in their June 2005 issue, published the results of their Readers’ Poll. They asked their readers to rate the quality of service at properties around the globe in their annual World’s Best Awards survey. Those mentioned in South America were Explora in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile; Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Llao Llao Hotel & Resort, San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.

• Sheraton Barra da Tijuca is the newest and first 5-star hotel in Barra da Tijuca, in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. All of their 292 guest rooms and suites offer ocean views with balconies overlooking Barra Beach. Including tax but not breakfast, rates start at $136 per night. Call 800/325-3535 or visit

• Hotel Vilamar Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro is truly a bargain, according to friends who have stayed there. Located two blocks from Copacabana Beach, the hotel is surrounded by reasonably priced restaurants. At $72 single and $80 double, plus taxes, rates include a buffet breakfast and are in effect until Dec. 28, 2005.

Contact the hotel directly at Rua Bolivar 75, Copacabana, Cep 22061-020, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; tel. 011-55-21-3461-5601, fax 011-55-21-2547-7528 or visit