A cruise from Punta Arenas is the ideal way of exploring Patagonia. We’ve previously discussed the main highlights you can expect to see by setting sail from southern Chile’s largest city, but whether you’re ready to book or are still looking for inspiration, we’re here to help with this guide to planning your cruise.
From itinerary advice to sorting out any niggling logistical issues, these tips should make organizing a cruise through the southernmost waters of Patagonia nothing but plain sailing.
Give yourself enough time to explore other parts of Patagonia
Although a Patagonian cruise at the “ends of the earth” will certainly be the absolute highlight of your time spent in Patagonia, it’s safe to say that there are plenty of other attractions you must see in the region.
To make sure you don’t miss out, plan a week or two at the beginning or at the end of your cruise to allow you to maximize your vacation in Patagonia. Some of the most popular sights and activities that draw the crowds – and which you should consider visiting too – include:
- Hiking in Torres del Paine National Park
- Marveling at Patagonia’s most famous glaciers, including Glacier Perito Moreno
- Ushuaia and day trips to the surrounding countryside
- The relaxed ambiance of El Bolsón
- Trekking in Los Glaciares National Park to the picturesque Laguna de Los Tres or around Swiss-influenced Bariloche
If you’re stuck for inspiration, let us whet your appetite for travel in Patagonia with our list of eight places you won’t believe exist and our expert tips for planning a two-week vacation in the region.
Consider how best to get to your cruise from Punta Arenas (and back again!)
With Punta Arenas situated 1,878-miles (3,023.0 km) south of Santiago, it hardly needs to be said that planning how you’ll get to your ship is an important consideration. What’s more, with shorter cruise itineraries often one-way and their final port in Ushuaia, Argentina, you’ll need to know how to get back to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago for your flight home.
An easy solution is to select a longer, round-trip cruise, but if that’s not possible, you will need to arrange onward travel from Ushuaia. Although the city has an airport, flights between Argentine and Chilean Patagonia are extremely expensive, so it makes more sense to cross back into Chile by public bus.
Bring appropriate clothing and equipment
Cruises sailing from Punta Arenas generally fall into the adventure category and while you can expect facilities on board to be very comfortable, it’s essential to be aware that excursions may take you to places requiring more specialist outdoor clothing and where you’ll experience extreme weather conditions.
For example, if visiting the Magellanic penguin colony on Isla Magdalena, hiking boots or comfortable trekking shoes are essential as you’ll be walking on uneven ground as you take the path that winds between the birds’ burrows.
Similarly, cruises departing from Punta Arenas with a period spent hiking through forest and alongside glaciers in Alberto de Agostini National Park – one of the remotest places it’s possible to visit in the Patagonian fjords – require passengers to wear suitable footwear and clothing appropriate to a climate that can pass between cold, wet and sunny in the space of an hour.
Whichever cruise from Punta Arenas you book, be sure to follow the guidance provided by the company, particularly when it comes to essential equipment for on-shore excursions. After all, they’re the experts!